More than a White Gown


Shavuot is almost here. Similarly, spring is often associated with weddings. Therefore, I got to thinking about the association between the two.


A Jewish wedding is more than a white gown, a broken glass, or a billowing chuppah. When a Jewish man and a Jewish woman stand together beneath a matrimonial canopy, they are not only pledging their troth, but they are also elevating themselves, and by dint of that exaltation, all of Am Yisrael, all of the people of Israel. 


Consider that the Jewish wedding ceremony is reminiscent of our people’s joining, at Har Sinai, with Hashem. Just as Shavuot is the culmination of our nation’s reaching, step by step, toward greater heights of spiritual unification, so, too, is a Jewish wedding the culmination of a couple reaching, step by step, toward greater heights of interpersonal attachment. An individual is as incomplete without their tie to their preordained help-opposite, their beshert, their eizer knegdo, as are we, the Jewish Nation, without our link to The Almighty.


Jewish wedding tradition maintains, for instance, that akin to Mt. Sinai sprouting flowers in anticipation of the Jewish people receiving the Torah, a Jewish bride adorns herself in anticipation of her accepting her groom. Whereas a ketubah, marriage contract, might promise, on behalf of the chatan, the groom, that his kallah, his bride, will be provided with food, shelter, clothing, and emotional needs, concurrently, his Jewish bride’s mindful countenance promises that he will receive from her an understanding of Torah. In Yiddishkeit, “wife” is viewed as synonymous with “home” and “home” is viewed as the foundation of Jewish spirituality.


Accordingly, when a Jewish wedding is guided by custom, a bride telegraphs to the world that she means to endear herself to her mate. Her husband, in turn, announces, by means of the same, that he intends to fill himself with Torah. Modest demander in a wife is considered attractive to men. Torah learning in a husband is considered desirable to women.


So, the next time that you are smiling when: witnessing a badeken, a veiling of a bride; hearing kiddushin, the blessings of a betrothal; clapping after a newly formed couple exits a yechud room, a chamber designated for lofty seclusion; delighting in the tastes and smells of a wedding seudah, a festive meal; or are otherwise experiencing one of the many time-honored aspects of a Jewish wedding, consider that you are experiencing more than just the legal union of a man and his wife. You are experiencing, as well, an adoration that brings us closer to G-d.