Symbolism in Jewish Weddings
By Veronica Toro
Translated by Nyima Bieber
At the time of meeting, the “chatan” (groom) covers the face of the “kallah” (bride) with the veil. This signifies that from that moment on, the man is responsible for protecting his wife and therefore, she is inaccessible to other men.
The couple is accompanied by their parents to the Huppah (four-column tent). The “kallah” does 7 turns around the groom, symbolizing the days when the world was built, just like the world they are to establish together. It also means that the woman will be like a protective light around the man for the rest of his life.
The bride then stands to the right of the groom; in accordance with Psalm 45, “The queen stands at the right of the king.”
Two glasses are used; the first is for the blessing of the commitment, in which the bride and groom must drink a small amount of wine. The second represents the consecration of the marriage, when the husband-wife union becomes official with the delivery of the ring. The “chatan” gives an object of value to the “kallah” before two witnesses to declare the consecration “according to the Law of Moses and Israel.” The ring is placed on the index finger of the right hand of the bride.
The reading of the “Ketubah” by the rabbi proceeds, and the recitation of the seven blessings (Sheva Brachot or nissuin).
Breaking of the Glass
After the formality of the ceremony, the groom breaks a glass by stepping on it with his right foot. This symbolizes the Jewish people’s pain and remembrance of their past, with the destruction of the people of Jerusalem. It also means the end of bachelorhood and the irrevocability of marriage.
The ceremony ends with the cry of joy and congratulations: Mazel Tov!