As wedding season approaches, I wanted to offer a new perspective on the Wedding Ritual.
Many rituals in Judaism are designed to re-enact Jewish history and to bring people into a direct and living experience of the past. It’s through the process of re-enactment that gives people a living experience of an historical event and enables them to create and find their own personal meaning in the process.
Passover is a re-enactment of the Exodus from Slavery to Freedom. Shabbat is a re-enactment of the 7th Day of Creation. The Jewish Wedding is a re-enactment of the entire Seven Day period of Creation – the Jewish master story of how the World came into being.
Think about the symbols of the Wedding ceremony. The traditional ceremony begins with the bride circling the groom seven times. Saying the words of Shehechiyanu and making a Kiddush blessing for wine as the next act, sanctifies the element of time. Next is time to exchange the rings – the act of consecrating the unity of the lovers bond. What was once dual, is now one.
Now come the sheva brachot, seven wedding blessings, a reminder of the seven days of creation. Finally, the breaking of the glass which has a myriad of meanings. The mystical interpretation of the breaking of the glass symbolizes the shards of light that went forth at the moment of creation from the Ain Sof as matter that would fill the universe.
All this happens under a chuppah, which symbolizes the idea of home, but even more, the new and unique home of these lovers which they will create together.
Taken together, these individual rituals come to represent the creation of a new world and the wedding ceremony becomes the re-enactment of creation. Seven circles, seven wedding blessings, the breaking of the glass, these symbols parallel the biblical story of Creation which lasted seven days. Who knows what new world will emerge forth from what this couple will create? Family, children, goodness, discovery, healing, and more. Every new world is an opportunity to create something unique and special and whole. By re-enacting Creation, time and again at Jewish weddings, the world gets one step closer to perfection.
Mazel tov and congratulations to you and your families,
Rabbi Darren Levine