Glass Itself Is Deeply Symbolic
Anything that’s fragile could be shattered, so why glass?
Hajioff writes that glass is shattered rather than, say, ceramic or fine china because it can be remelted and reblown.
“Similarly, we humans can have moments where we are ‘broken’ or even ‘shattered,'” Hajioff writes. “Like glass we can reform as new beings if need be. So we break glass because it recalls our mortality but also the divine promise of immortality of the soul.”
Usually the actual glass the couple crushes is a cup used earlier in the ceremony, when a blessing is said over a glass of wine.
Sometimes a plate is used as the glass. It’s thought to be a reference to a separate tradition of breaking a plate when a binding contract is sealed, symbolizing its irreversibility. It’s also traditional to break a plate following an engagement agreement between the couple.
Wedding Shard Mezuzah Keepsake
Once the glass-smashing has been done and you are man and wife, I think its a beautiful idea to create a mezuzah keepsake out of the smashed glass from your wedding ceremony. There are quite a few crafts-y people on Etsy who will create one for you from your shards of glass such as the one below from Enid Traisman
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We conclude this ceremony with the Breaking of the Glass.
In Jewish tradition, the Breaking of the Glass at a wedding is a symbolic prayer and hope that your love for one another will remain until the pieces of the glass come together again, or in other words, that your love will last forever.
The fragile nature of the glass also suggests the frailty of human relationships.
Even the strongest of relationships is subject to disintegration.
The glass then, is broken to PROTECT the marriage with the implied prayer MAY your bond of love be as difficult to break as it would be to put together the pieces of this glass.
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Why Do Jews Break Glass At Weddings
As Judith Seid explains in God-Optional Judaism, If you are having a Jewish wedding, you probably have to break a glass. You can forgo almost every other element, but if you arent breaking the glass, folks will not believe you are really married.
Progressive or traditional, religious or secular, Jewish weddings almost always include a breaking of glass at the end of the ceremony. Traditionally, the man alone broke the glass today, some couples break the glass together or break two glasses. The glass-breaking is typically followed by a communal Mazel tov!, which means good fortune in Yiddish and is the equivalent of Congratulations! In addition to the communal congratulations, Siman Tov uMazel Tov is usually sung after the breaking of the glass. Watch this video to learn the words.
To avoid injury, the glass is typically covered in cloth. Some people use a wineglass, others a lightbulbwhich breaks very easily.
There are countless interpretations for the tradition of breaking glass. Some see it as a reminder of the destruction of the First Temple of Jerusalem. Others say it is meant to remind us that marriage is as fragile as glass. It also has been interpreted to demonstrate how life is so fragile that the couple should enjoy every day as if it were their last together.
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Like your marriage, this glass is a beautiful thing.
Its clean and clear, allowing sunshine to flow through it.
If cared for properly, it can last a lifetime.
Like a marriage though, it can also be quite frail.
We stomp the glass at the end of a wedding ceremony to remind you that just as your foot can shatter this glass, so too a single thoughtless act cause irreparable harm to your marriage.
When you entered into marriage today, you committed an irrevocable act permanent and final.
As you stomp this glass at the finish of the ceremony, so too will you be committing an irrevocable act.
It can no more be undone than this glass could be made whole again.
Cherish each other with the love and respect the love of your life deserves.
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How To Break The Glass
I suggest using a incandescent lightbulb wrapped in a tea towel. Get a cheap towel from Home Goods or TJMaxx as it will be ruined and youll throw it away afterwards. Do not use a compact fluorescent lightbulb since it contains mercury which is dangerous. Some people use a wine glass and even others buy special glass made to break easily .
Immediately upon the breaking of the glass the crowd shouts Mazel tov! which means Good luck! in Hebrew. If youre not Jewish and you dont want to use the Hebrew, just have your guests shout Congratulations! Its such a fun and festive way to end your ceremony and leaves everyone feeling happy and energized!
Ive written a couple other posts about Jewish traditions to incorporate into you wedding ceremony.
Wedding Tradition: Breaking The Glass
Breaking the glass is a lovely wedding tradition | Photo by Greta Tucker Photography
The breaking of the glass at a wedding is one of my all-time favorite traditions. I just love the symbolism of this tradition. There are many interpretations of the meaning of this Jewish tradition, but the one I like this best, and the one I use in many of my ceremonies, is this:
The breaking of the glass at a wedding is a symbolic hope that you will spend as many years together in happiness as it would take to collect all the pieces of the glass and reassemble it.
Its simple, secular and so meaningful! You dont have to even be Jewish to use this and appreciate its intent.
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Breaking The Glass Tradition
The breaking of the glass at the end of the Jewish wedding ceremony is quite possibly the most well-known tradition that takes place at Jewish weddings. Traditionally it is the man that stomps on the glass followed by a loud Mazel tov! There are multiple interpretations for the symbolism of this event. Some believe that it is a reminder of the destruction of the First Temple of Jerusalem, while others say it is a reminder that marriage is as fragile as glass. The breaking of the glass, like the commitment that the couple has just made, is irreversible and permanent.
Choose The Interpretation That Is Most Meaningful To You
Whatever reason resonates with you best, feel free to ask your rabbi or officiant to mention, just before the breaking of the glass, an interpretation that is the most meaningful for you.
And on the subject of breaking the glass, there are all sorts of alternative variations that you can make eg. why not both break the glass together with one swift smash in unison? Be creative and choose the interpretation of the breaking the glass that means the most to you as a couple and it will make that element of your ceremony more momentous.
Image: Hatunot Blog / Dima Vazinovich
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The Breaking Of The Glass Under The Chuppah
The end of the public wedding ceremony is marked by the breaking of a glass, usually a thin glass wrapped in a napkin to contain the fragments. It is smashed under foot by the groom after the seven benedictions, or after the rabbis address if it follows the benedictions. Some customs placed it after the betrothals, but our western tradition is to perform it at the very end.
Ancient custom designated that one of the wine cups be broken, although there was a difference of opinion as to which of the two wine cups. Maharil held that it was the nuptials cups, because the breaking immediately followed the nuptial blessings. Rema and most others held that it was the betrothal cup, and for good reason: Breaking the nuptials cup, over which the seven benedictions were recited, is a gross symbol when great concern at this moment is for making the marriage, not breaking it. However, once the nuptials are recited the betrothal has been accomplished, and the breaking of that cup signifies that the nuptials have been satisfactorily completed. The author of Match Moshe held that it may be any glass at all. Originally, the blessing was recited over a glass cup which was then smashed. But when silver cups began to be used, any other glass was used for breaking. One commentator held that smashing either of the wine glasses was not an auspicious sign and that another glass should be used.
The Tradition Dates Back To At Least The Fourth Century Ce
The oldest reference to breaking glass during a wedding in Jewish literature is in the Talmud, an important Jewish legal text. In an esoteric discussion among rabbis about happiness and solemnity during prayer, there’s a story of a rabbi who hosts a wedding for his son.
During the wedding, he sees the attending rabbis are excessively joyous, so he gets an expensive cup, breaks it in front of them, and they become sad.
It’s a cryptic story. Why make the wedding guests sad? One explanation offered in the Talmud is to make sure they don’t get too carried away in their merriment and end up sinning.
The more generally understood reason is that it all refers to a verse from Psalm 137, often recited before breaking the glass, which values keeping “Jerusalem in memory even at the happiest hour.”
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Birkat Hamazon And Sheva Brachot
After the meal, is recited, followed by sheva brachot. At a wedding banquet, the wording of the blessings preceding Birkat Hamazon is slightly different from the everyday version. Prayer booklets called bentshers may be handed out to guests. After the prayers, the blessing over the wine is recited, with two glasses of wine poured together into a third, symbolising the creation of a new life together.
Sermon Resources: Lgbt: Breaking The Glass
Its wedding season and we are booked. Our weekends are filled witnessing couples walking down the aisle and standing together under the Chuppah. We are filled with emotion as they sign the Ketubah, exchange rings, offer Gods blessings, share from the two cups of wine and break the glass. Tears of joy are shared as loving souls affirm their commitment with the traditions and symbols of our Jewish heritage.
Whether you are in the wedding or an honored guest, the breaking of the glass is one of the most well known elements of the Jewish wedding. But like many things Jewish and all things ancient, the explanations for the broken glass are many and varied. We learn from the Talmud that Mar bar Rabina held a wedding feast for his son. He noticed that during the reception his guests were drunk and full of undisciplined excitement. Unhappy with the behavior of his guests, Mar bar Rabina stood up and broke a valued wine goblet and his guests quickly sobered. After this moment in our Talmudic history the breaking of glass became a custom at weddings throughout the world. This explanation of the tradition teaches us that, in moments of great joy we should not create environments of reckless behavior.
Although remembering the Temple may not be a priority at most modern Jewish weddings, the breaking of glass does provide us a moment to pause, step outside of ourselves and reflect on the brokenness that is in our world. What a blessed and holy moment.
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Signing Of The Marriage Contract
Before the wedding ceremony, the groom agrees to be bound by the terms of the ketubah in the presence of two witnesses, whereupon the witnesses sign the ketubah. The ketubah details the obligations of the groom to the bride, among which are food, clothing, and marital relations. This document has the standing of a legally binding agreement, though it may be hard to collect these amounts in a secular court. It is often written as an illuminated manuscript that is framed and displayed in their home. Under the chuppah, it is traditional to read the signed ketubah aloud, usually in the Aramaic original, but sometimes in translation. Traditionally, this is done to separate the two basic parts of the wedding. Non-Orthodox Jewish couples may opt for a bilingual ketubah, or for a shortened version to be read out.
Why Break A Glass At A Jewish Wedding
I understand that the reason I will be breaking a glass with my foot at the end of the wedding ceremony is to commemorate the destruction of the Temple in Jerusalem some 2,000 years ago. This was indeed a significant event in Jewish history, but it doesnt seem to have any relevance to me. What does a destroyed building have to do with my wedding?
The destruction of the Holy Temple has extreme personal relevance. It happened to you. It is true that shattering the glass primarily commemorates the fall of however, it is also a reminder of another cataclysmic shatteringthat of your very own temple, your soul.
Before you were born, you and your soulmate were one, a single soul.
Then, as your time to enter this world approached, Gd shattered that single soul into two parts, one male and one female. These two half-souls were then born into the world with a mission to try to find each other and reunite.
At the time, the split seemed tragic and incomprehensible. Why create fragmentation where there was once completion? Why break something just so it could be fixed? And if you were meant to be together, why didnt leave you together?
It is under the chupah, , that these questions can be answered. With marriage, , never to part again. Not only that, but you can look back at the painful experience of being separated and actually celebrate it. For now it is clear that the separation brought you closer than you would otherwise have been.
The Jewish Wedding And Breaking The Glass Why
Image: Dave & Charlotte
Nothing says Jewish wedding more than the sound of the smashing of the glass, so its the natural joyous title for my Jewish wedding blog but why is breaking the glass such an important ritual of the Jewish wedding ceremony?
First and foremost it is the official signal to cheer, dance, shout Mazal Tov! and start partying! But there are various other explanations depending on whom you ask. Some of them are that it:
1. is a representation of the fragility of human relationships and a reminder that marriage will change your life forever.2. is a superstition and the loud noise is supposed to drive away evil spirits.3. is a break with the past: the marriage is to last as long as the glass remains broken, ie. forever.4. symbolises the destruction of the Temple in Jerusalem some 2000 years ago.5. symbolises a hope that your happiness will be as plentiful as the shards of glass, or that your children will be as plentiful as the shards of glass.
And so it goes on. And as with many symbolic acts in Judaism, you can see that there are a host of reasons available to explain why we break the glass at a Jewish wedding. Some Jewish men may also joke that this is the last time the groom gets to put his foot down!
Image: Hatunot Blog / Alexey Kudrik