Take 2, add 10, to gain 7 blessings

Breaking a glass under the chuppah

Preface: I recently attended a wedding that made me think about the content on the topic that I had written over the years. One of the pieces had shifted outside this blog and so was no longer visible. So here it is:

7 Brachos [blessings]

The nesuin part of the wedding ceremony takes place after the kethuba is read. A minyan [quorum of ten] must be present for the recitation of the sheva brachos [the seven blessings]. The Biblical source for this appears in Megillas Ruth. Boaz publicizes his marriage to Ruth by gathering ten men (4:2). The blessings begin with a blessing on a cup of wine, which is separate from the cup used as part of the order of the birchas erusin [blessings on betrothal].

These blessing resonate with significance inherent in the number seven. There are, of course, seven days to the week, which culminate in the Sabbath. The cup of wine  is passed to groom and bride after the conclusion of all seven blessings, so that they may each sip from it.

  Reciting the blessings is considered an honor. While one person may be designated to recite all of them, they are usually distributed among six different people. The one who recites the blessing on the wine also recites the blessing that follows it, shehakol bara lichvodo [who created all things for His glory], so that there are six parts in all.

The third blessing is yotzer ha’adam [creator of man]. The fourth blessing is a longer version of that begins asher yatzar es ha’adam betzalmo [who created man in His image]. 

The fifth blessing evokes the rejoicing of the barren land when its children are gathered back to Zion in the future,sos tasis vethagel ha’akara, bekibutz baneyha lethocha besimcha. Rabbi Kaplan points out inMade in Heaven: A Jewish Wedding Guide, (Moznaim Publishing, 1983 p. 193) that this blessing precedes the blessing of joy for the couple in keeping with the principle of “na’ale es Yeushalyim as rosh simchasi” [I will place Jerusalem on top of my joy] (Psalms: 137:6) which is also evoked by breaking a glass at the culmination of the nesuin.

The sixth blessing is sameach tisamach reyim ahuvim, kesamchecha yetzircha began eden midedem and concludes, mesameach chasson vekallah [May you gladden these beloved friends as You gladdened the work of Your hands in the Garden of Eden long ago . . . the One who gladdens the groom and bride. The seventh is the longest and is sometimes sung. It is the one that juxtaposes the happiness of the wedding celebration with the rejoicing of brides and grooms to be heard in the cities of Judah.

 After all the blessings are recited, and the bride and groom have sipped from the cup of wine, a glass is broken to remind us that we are not completely joyful in while our Temple remains in a state of churban [destruction]. 

As people have become accustomed to taking the sound of stomping on the glass to signal the culmination of the wedding ceremony, they usually shout out “Mazel tov!” right after hearing it. Consequently, some people have taken to singing “Im eshkachech Yerushalayim tishkach yemini” [If I forget you, Jerusalem, let my right hand be forgotten (from Tehillim [Psalms] 137) to remind the assembled of what the broken glass is intended to signify. Some frown on the addition to the traditional ceremony and so will refrain from singing. In any case, it is proper to pause between the sound of the breaking glass and the shouts of congratulations to mark that one is a memorial and the other a celebration.  


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