Jewish Wedding Ceremony

Question

What are the Laws and Customs of a Jewish Wedding?

, 11 years

Answers

  1. In traditional Jewish literature marriage is actually called kiddushin, which translates as “sanctification” or “dedication.” “Sanctification,” indicates that what is happening is not just a social arrangement or contractual agreement, but a spiritual bonding and the fulfillment of a mitzvah, a Divine precept. “Dedication,” indicates that the couple now have an exclusive relationship, that involves total dedication of the bride and groom to each other, to the extent of them becoming, as the Kabbalists state, “one soul in two bodies.”

    Shidduch

    The very first stage of a traditional Jewish marriage, is the shidduch, or matchmaking. This means that the process of finding a partner is not haphazard or based on purely external aspects. Rather, a close friend or relative of the young man or woman, who knows someone that they feel may be a compatible partner, suggests that they meet. The purpose of the meeting is for the prospective bride and groom to determine if they are indeed compatible. The meetings usually focus on discussion of issues important to marriage as well as casual conversation. The Talmud states that the couple must also be physically attractive to each other, something that can only be determined by meeting. According to Jewish law physical contact is not allowed between a man and a woman until they are married (except for certain close relatives), and also they may not be alone together in a closed room or secluded area. This helps to ensure that one’s choice of partner will be based on the intellect and emotion as opposed to physical desire alone.

    Vort – engagement
    When the families have met, and the young couple have decided to marry, the families usually announce the occasion with a small reception, known as a vort. Some families sign a contract, the tenaim, meaning “conditions,” that delineates the obligations of each side regarding the wedding and a final date for the wedding. Others do this at the wedding reception an hour or so before the marriage. One week before the wedding the bride and groom, the chosson and kallah, stop seeing each other, in order to enhance the joy of their wedding through their separation.

    Ketuvah
    At the reception itself, the first thing usually done is the completion, signing and witnessing of the ketuvah, or marriage contract. This contract is ordained by Mishnaic law (circa 170 CE) and according to some authorities dates back to Biblical times. The ketuvah, written in Aramaic, details the husband’s obligations to his wife: food, clothing, dwelling and pleasure. It also creates a lien on all his property to pay her a sum of money and support should he divorce her, or predecease her. The document is signed by the groom and witnessed by two people, and has the standing of a legally binding agreement, that in many countries is enforceable by secular law. The ketuvah is often written as an illuminated manuscript, and becomes a work of art in itself, and many couples frame it and display it in their home.
    Bedekin
    Best wishes from the AskTheRabbi.org Team