“It is not good for man to be alone: I will make a fitting helper for him.” These are the words that God spoke in the book of Genesis shortly after creating the first human being, Adam. After this proclamation God created Eve to be Adam’s partner in life. Thus it is from God’s own words and actions that we understand the human impulse for companionship and life-long partnership with a “fitting helper.”
Finding the right partner is so important that there is a midrash (rabbinic teaching on the Torah) that says that since God’s creation of the world, God has been working hard at arranging matches for people. This indicates the high priority our tradition gives to each of us finding our soul-mate. As Rabbi Maurice Lamm once wrote, “If God created man, woman, and their marriage relationship; and if the creation of man and woman is good and marriage a blessing; then God is a conscious, albeit silent, partner in the marriage. Thus the ideal Jewish marriage is a triangle composed of two human beings and their Creator….Jewish marriage is naturally sanctified by God.”
If you are reading this because you are planning your Jewish wedding, let us offer you a mazel tov! Finding your soul-mate and planning to begin your life together is a wonderful and exciting event.
There is much to do in planning a wedding. The first step is picking a date. There are certain days and times of the year when Jewish weddings don’t take place, so it’s best to check with a rabbi before picking your date. Now, as you begin your planning, let us offer a brief description of Jewish weddings.
The belief that God is an interested party in each marriage suffuses all that we do at a Jewish wedding. Prior to the ceremony some couples participate in a ritual called bedeken in which the groom makes sure the woman beneath the veil is indeed his intended! This hearkens back to our ancestor Jacob who married the wrong sister! Following the bedeken is the signing of the ketubah (the marriage contract). Finally, the ceremony itself consists of several parts. The first is called kiddushin (sanctification) or erusin (betrothal). During this initial phase there is the recitation of a blessing, the drinking of wine by those being married, and the exchanging of rings. The second part is called nisuin (the nuptials) and consists of the recitation of the sheva brachot (seven blessings) concerning creation, joy, and the bride and groom and another drink of wine. The two parts of the ceremony are most often separated by the reading of the ketubah (wedding contract) as well as words of wisdom and inspiration by the officiant.
It is truly a mechaya – a delightful life affirming action – to marry one’s soul-mate. We at CBE are here to help you during this special time. We encourage you to consider getting married in our beautiful sanctuary, signifying both your commitment to our tradition and one another. There have been many beautiful weddings (and wedding receptions) here at CBE over the decades. Whether you choose to hold the ceremony here or at another venue, Rabbi Mina is able to make your wedding even more special, combining the basic elements of all Jewish weddings with the personal touches you want.
For more information about planning your wedding, please contact Rabbi Mina at 703-860-4515 or [email protected]. Finally, if you would like more detailed information about Jewish weddings we recommend reading either The New Jewish Wedding, Revised by Anita Diamont or The Everything Jewish Wedding Book by Rabbi Hyim Shafner.