O level Notes : FRS - Marriage ritual in Judaism

Marriage rituals are so many in Judaism and these include circling the bride, veiling of the bride, betrothal and wedding ritual.

Marriage ritual


Marriage rituals are so many in Judaism and these include circling the bride, veiling of the bride, betrothal and wedding ritual.

(a) Veiling the bride (Bedeken)

This is done only for a bride’s first marriage. The bride is veiled in the morning before the evening wedding. It was done by the groom and in some cases where the groom is not present, the rabbi ceremonially veiled the bride. The practice of veiling is derived from the Bible. According  to Genesis 38:14, Tamar veils herself before Judah approaches. The purpose of veiling is hidding the identity of the bride from her father in-law. The other example is that of Rebecca who veiled herself as she was told that Isaac is approaching  (Genesis

24:64). According to the Jewish custom, veiling is not a mere social formality but a legal requirement which is a concluding procedure before the wedding. A veil carries various symbols like being a symbol of being married as well as a symbol of unapproachability  to others and a symbol of modest.

(b) Betrothal (Kiddushin)

According  to the Jewish law, marriage is a two-way process.  The first step is kiddushin (betrothal) and the second is nisuin (actual wedding). Betrothal rendered the bride and groom as full-fledged husband and wife. The groom betroths the bride by giving  her a ring and this is preceded by a blessing from the priest recited by the rabbi.  When the two are betrothed, they cannot divorce because they are considered  as husband  and wife. The two are not allowed  to engage  in a sexual relationship  before the second step (nusuin) is completed.

Since  rituals in  Judaism  emanate  from the Torah, marriage  is considered  an important  ritual in line

with Genesis 1:20-28 where instructions regarding the union of male and female were given to the Jews by God during the Adam and Eve era. The marriage ritual is usually done in the synagogue  and conducted by a priest. It begins with the recitation of the sheva Brachot (seven benedections). The bride circles the groom seven times, a ritual of blessing denoting the seven days of God’s creation. The bride and the groom sign the ‘ketuba’, a contract of responsibilities for both parties who are wedding. The wedding  concludes with the groom breaking the glass.

Importance of the marriage ritual in Judaism

  • The ritual is carried out in respect of God’s command in Genesis 1:28, ‘be fruitful and multiply.’
  • The marriage ritual secures a union between male and female to share life experiences such as pleasures, hardships and the rearing of children born within the wedlock.
  • Families are joined together through the marriage ritual.
  • The blessings  conducted  by a Priest in the synagogue  during the marriage ritual offer protection from evil for the newly weds.
  • Marriage is done within the Jewish community, not outside, the practice maintains Jewish culture and identity.
  • Marrying a foreigner, that is someone from another tribe, brings foreign beliefs and practices that are forbidden in Judaism, a monotheist religion and so cannot be part of the ritual.