The Walk To The Chuppah
In Jewish ceremonies, the processional and recessional order is slightly different than traditional non-Jewish ceremonies. In the Jewish tradition, both of the groom’s parents walk him down the aisle to the chuppah, the altar beneath which the couple exchanges vows. Then the bride and her parents follow. Traditionally, both sets of parents stand under the chuppah during the ceremony, alongside the bride, groom, and rabbi.
For Some Jews Breaking Glass Was Used To Keep Demons Away
In Eastern Europe, the idea of demons associated with different sins became popular in Jewish life. People were thought to be particularly susceptible to demonic possession and curses during rites of passage, like circumcision ceremonies and weddings.
Shattering glass, some scholars suggest, would keep demons away. It would frighten them with a loud noise, or otherwise confuse them into thinking it was an event of mourning, not of celebration.
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.
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BRIDE and GROOM, this glass symbolizes the clarity of your love for each other and the shattering of your old separate lives as you begin anew together.
As you break the glass, all of our blessings will be bestowed upon you.
It is the tradition for everyone present to shout mazeltov as the groom stomps the wedding goblet.
In Hebrew, this means congratulations.
The sound of the glass breaking is also a signal saying, Let the party begin!
Vows Under The Chuppah
A chuppah has four corners and a covered roof to symbolize the new home the bride and groom are building together. In some ceremonies, the four posts of the chuppah are held up by friends or family members throughout the ceremony, supporting the life the couple is building together, while in other instances it may be a freestanding structure decorated with flowers. The canopy is often made of a tallit, or prayer shawl, belonging to a member of the couple or their families.
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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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Sheva B’rachot: Seven Blessings
The seven blessings, called the Sheva B’rachot, come from ancient teachings. They are often read in both Hebrew and English, and shared by a variety of family members or friends, just as friends and family are invited to perform readings in other types of ceremonies. The blessings focus on joy, celebration, and the power of love. They begin with the blessing over a cup wine, then progress to more grand and celebratory statements, ending with a blessing of joy, peace, companionship, and the opportunity for the bride and groom to rejoice together.
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Let’s Talk About This
Breaking a glass seems like an odd way to celebrate an important life event. After all, broken glasses in literally any other setting typically connotes clumsiness, litter, or an unwelcome kitchen accident. Yet at Jewish weddings, the act of breaking a glass instead cues guests to break out in mazal tovs, song, and joyous dancing. So, what’s the story behind this strange tradition?
One explanation is that even in our happiest moments of life, breaking the glass is a reminder that we must not forget the destruction of the Holy Temple of Jerusalem. The act of breaking a glass is an expression of sadness that we cannot celebrate the marriage with our Temple still standing. In a way though, the broken glass is bittersweet. Building a Jewish home with ones partner is likened to creating a mini version of the Temple for G-d. Shattering the glass is a token reminder that although the Temple of Jerusalem is destroyed, a marriage is a renewed sacred temple for love and spirituality.
Who Breaks The Glass At A Jewish Wedding
Who will step on the glass at Jewish weddings? Traditionally, the groom stomped on the glass at the end of a Jewish wedding ceremony or after the bride was given a ring.
For safety reasons, the glass is inside a cloth bag, and the groom will be invited to step on it until its crushed by his right foot. However, it can also be a piece of glass or two inside the bag, and both the bride and groom will be stomping on it.
Since some related the glass breaking as a way to frighten demons or bad luck, glass is sometimes substituted with a lightbulb as well. Lightbulb is easier to break, making a louder noise during stomping.
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Understanding Tradition: Why Breaking A Glass Is A Jewish Wedding Tradition
If youve ever been to a Jewish wedding, you probably know that the ceremony culminates with the groom breaking a piece of glass with his foot. Its usually followed by a kiss and lots of cheers from the crowd in attendance. But do you know what the significance of this tradition is?
While the breaking of glass at the end of a wedding ceremony might seem like a silly tradition, it actually has a lot of significance in the Jewish faith. Modern couples who are getting married will tell you that the breaking of the glass signifies that they are officially married and their life together has just begun.
However, the story goes much deeper than that. As MyJewishLearning notes, for many Jews, the breaking of the glass symbolizes the fall of the Temple of Jerusalem, which was the beginning of the Jewish peoples exile to Babylonia, a fulfillment of prophecy that ultimately strengthened the Jewish faith.
The breaking of the glass also traditionally symbolizes the idea that married life will bring both great joy and difficult sorrow to the couple, but that they will now face those things together. Some say that this tradition also reminds the couple that their marriage is fragile, and should be treated with the utmost care.
The Memory Isn’t A Happy One
Two of the most important events in Jewish history are the destructions of the first and second temples in Jerusalem.
In Judaism, the temple is supposed to be the physical focal point of faith and worship. The first one was destroyed by the Neo-Babylonian king Nebuchadnezzar II. It was replaced by a second temple at around 530 BCE, while Jerusalem was occupied by the Persian Empire, and then destroyed in 70 CE by the Roman army. Now, the only accessible remains are a small section of its outer western wall.
Breaking the glass is supposed to recall the destruction of the temples. It’s a way of remembering the tragedy of Jerusalem “even at the happiest hour” that is to say, your wedding.
For the same reason, weddings are prohibited, according to Jewish custom, in the three weeks leading up to Tisha b’Av, the date on the Jewish calendar when both temples were destroyed.
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It is a Jewish custom to end the wedding ceremony with the breaking of a glass.
We do not know the exact origin of the custom.
Some people say that the breaking of the glass symbolizes the irrevocable change in the lives of the couple standing before us other say it has its roots in superstition when people broke glasses to scare away evil spirits from such lucky people as the bride and groom.
Whatever its beginnings, the breaking of the glass now has many interpretations, one of which says that even in the moment of our greatest joy, we should have a responsibility to help relieve some of that pain and suffering.
And, of course, the breaking of the glass marks the beginning of the celebration.
The Fragility Of Life
Another reason for this custom is that the glass is a symbol that marriage, and life itself, are fragile like glass. Its a reminder for the couple to cherish, protect, and actively work on their relationship. More broadly, the glass signifies the fragility of life, and that we truly never know what the next day will bring.
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The final act of this ceremony is the shattering of the glass.
This old custom has many traditions, with many interpretations.
At one time it was meant to scare off demons who frequent celebrations.
Today, the fragility of the glass suggests the frailty of human relationships.
The bride and groom and everyone that they should consider these marriage vows as an IRREVOCABLE ACT.
Just as permanent and final as the breaking of this glass is unchangeable.
The glass is broken to protect this marriage with the implied prayer.
May your bond of love be as difficult to break, as it would be to put back together these pieces of glass.
Knowing that this marriage is permanent, the Bride and Groom should strive every day to show each other love and respect and happiness.
After GROOM breaks the glass, I invite everyone to shout the Hebrew words Mazel Tov, meaning Good Luck and Congratulations.
Covering Of The Bride
Prior to the ceremony, Ashkenazi Jews have a custom to cover the face of the bride , and a prayer is often said for her based on the words spoken to Rebecca in Genesis 24:60. The veiling ritual is known in Yiddish as badeken. Various reasons are given for the veil and the ceremony, a commonly accepted reason is that it reminds the Jewish people of how Jacob was tricked by Laban into marrying Leah before Rachel, as her face was covered by her veil #Commandments rel=nofollow> Vayetze). Another reasoning is that Rebecca is said to have veiled herself when approached by Isaac, who would become her husband. do not perform this ceremony. Additionally, the veil emphasizes that the groom is not solely interested in the brides external beauty, which fades with time but rather in her inner beauty which she will never lose.
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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.
Why We Break The Glass At Jewish Weddings
Sure its fun to break things, but thats not the only reason that we break aglass at Jewish weddings! There are many different interpretations of this tradition. Watch this video to learn about three of these interpretations.
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Breaking Glass In Jewish Weddings
- Region of Origin: 20th c. Europe
- Informant: Brian Flansburg
- Date Collected: 5-21-2019
- Brian Flansburg is a 52 year old man living in Safety Harbor, Florida. He grew up in a non-practicing Protestant household and married the daughter of a rabbi after college. Before marrying her, he had to covert to Judaism. He studied engineering at the University of Central Florida and has two children.
- After a Jewish groom or gives the bride the ring at the end of the ceremony, traditionally chatan breaks a glass wine goblet wrapped in a towel or velvet pouch, crushing it with his right foot, and the guests shout congratulations on the union. The sound of the breaking glass is the last part of the wedding. It sharply ends the formality and reverence of the ceremony under the canopy , and transitions to the lively celebration. . The broken glass is also a reminder for the couple to rebuild the destroyed Temple in their own lives by building their own Jewish home and to foster their spiritual life. A wedding union is a healing, sometimes considered a reunion, mending a broken relationship between Jews and G_d when the last Temple was destroyed.
Collectors Name: Molly Carpenter
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The breaking of the glass is one of the most beloved traditions of a Jewish wedding ceremony.
This goblet was created especially for the treasured moment when the BRIDE and GROOM sanctify their marriage.
This ancient practice has been interpreted in many ways.
As a symbol of the destruction of the Temple in Jerusalem, the glass reminds us of sadness even in during the most joyous of occasions.
Another view is that a broken glass cannot be mended and this reflects the permanence of marriage.
After the wedding, the BRIDE and GROOM will be changed forever.
Some consider the fragility of glass as a symbol of the frailty of human relationships.
Even as BRIDE and GROOM strengthens their relationship with the act of marriage, they must remember the care required to maintain this bond as they settle into their life together.
No matter what the interpretation, the breaking of the glass is an important part of any Jewish wedding and marks the beginning of a new life together.
After GROOM breaks the glass, I invite everyone to shout the Hebrew words Mazel Tov, meaning Good Luck and Congratulations.