A “Jewish Lifecycle event” is a transition in the rights or responsibilities of a member of the Jewish community. They recommit to their community and take on a new set of obligations for themselves. When one gets married in Judaism, they are committed to their partner and obligated to partake in a monogamous marriage. The bride and groom are now considered promised to each other, whereas before the wedding, they were together, but not bound to each other. This, among other things, is results in the recommitment to themselves, each other, and the community around them.
How Our Wedding Falls
Into Place in our
Anatomy of a Jewish Wedding
A Jewish wedding consists of three parts: Pre-wedding, Erusin, and Nissuin. The last two ceremonies, Erusin and Nissuin, used to be separated by an "interlude" of up to a year. The two were joined for three reasons: The two ceremonies were financially stressful on the families, the duration of the year could result in the death of the groom leaving the woman as an "Agunah," and the joining of the two ceremonies rid the temptations of a couple who was legally married but unable to touch for a year. The next three pages will give you a brief outline of each part for your own interest.
Legal Betrothal Statement
הרי את, directly translated to “behold you,” is the act of the groom placing a ring on the bride’s finger. It is the factor that makes the couple married. This is considered the legal statement, or the marriage formula. It is recited in both Hebrew and English. In the Hebrew text, הרי את has 32 letters. 32 can be written as לב in Hebrew, which is also the two letters that make the word “heart.” This can be interpreted to imply that the groom is giving his heart as he recites these words. The ring that the groom gives acts like a circle: it excludes all others, since as a newlywed couple, we are only focused on each other and the compassion, love, and confidence in our relationship. Contradicting to this, the ring includes by pointing to society and their Jewish obligation to include us as a new family. The circular ring implies no end, and permanence, that is hoped to carry into the marriage. Our rings are simple silver bands. Although traditionally, the bride did not give a ring in return or say the formula because it would make the ceremony more of an exchange than a transaction, we chose to view the ring-giving as “gifts” that we both own and give as a sign of equality in the marriage. The simplicity of our bands dates back to a tradition that has been used for many years. A simple band was used to show the bride that she is being given something of value, but it is unclear as to how much. She can not be definite about it’s worth, and therefore not obligated to repay the groom. No stones or adornments mask the ring’s pure state of simplicity or give a pretense of a worth that it is not, just as a marriage should not be based off of false foundations or be deceived as something it is not.
The act of breaking a glass can come across as a random act without significance to someone who does not know the background of it. If you fall under that category, do not worry! The whole purpose of this booklet is to educate you about everything you need to know. The breaking of a glass is a secular tradition that is now a common part of Jewish weddings. The origin of this tradition may be traced back to Talmudic times. Mar Bar Rabina, when observing that the Rabbis who were guests at his son’s wedding were becoming too joyous and boisterous, smashed a glass to gather their attention and tone the mood down. Though a marriage is something to celebrate, Rabina used the original breaking of the glass to ironically make a point of that when there is rejoicing, there should also be trembling. There are many interpretations given for why this tradition was continued and what the meaning is in modern times. One of them is that the ability of the glass to break with ease symbolizes the fragility of human relationships. It is a way to say and wish that the glass breaks so the marriage does not have to. Another reason is that the glass cannot be mended to be the way it was before it was broken, which is reflected on a marriage. Like a glass, marriage, if broken by divorce or another factor that disturbs it, cannot be perfectly mended. Although a glass can be glued back together, it will still visibly be different than it’s original state, like a marriage will be if reconciled after something “breaks” it. These clarifications are only three of many, but we like them because we feel that the three help depict important morals that we, Adam and Reilly, feel are essential to marriage.
Breaking a Glass Background
In addition to these meanings, the breaking of a class is another opportunity for us and any couple to fulfil the act of הידור מצווה. A couple can take the time to find a goblet that they find beautiful to use in the breaking. We chose a glass with the Tree of Life etched on it for the same reason we chose to include the tree in our כתובה: The tree symbolizes the Tree of Life, which we believe to be a fitting way to reflect Jewish marriages, although one of the most common. Like a tree, a marriage needs to be tended to and taken care of, and if one neglects to do so, both the tree and marriage will dwindle. The bag that we are smashing the glass in is a bag that has been passed down in Reilly’s family for longer than they can remember. In order to condense the remnants of the broken glass, it is often broken in a bag. We chose to customize this otherwise simple procedure and continue the tradition that has been an essential part of marriages in the Lowell family for so long. After the ceremony, the glass’s pieces will be put into another bag that we as a couple have pre-selected, and the bag that is an heirloom will be kept with us as a couple until the next couple gets married.
Making the Break Beautiful
THANK YOU ALL FOR COMING!! WE HOPE YOU ENJOYED THIS WEDDING AS MUCH AS WE DID AND FOUND THIS BOOKLET HELPFUL.