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Why Does a Bride Wear a Veil?

Why Does a Bride Wear a Veil?

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“The Badeken” (bride veiling ceremony)—a painting by chassidic artist Zalman Kleinman
“The Badeken” (bride veiling ceremony)—a painting by chassidic artist Zalman Kleinman

Question:

I’m getting married in a few weeks, and I want to ask about the custom of the bride wearing a veil. I want to do things right, but I’m not particularly turned on by the veil thing. It seems a bit outdated.

Answer:

There’s a common misconception that the groom covers the bride’s face before the wedding because he has to check that he is marrying the right bride, ostensibly to avoid what happened to our patriarch Jacob, who was tricked into marrying Leah instead of Rachel. But this doesn’t make much sense: After all, the groom covers his bride’s face, and if he were meant to identify her, he should be uncovering her!

Rather, by covering the bride’s face, the groom is making a statement: “As beautiful as you look today, my love for you is not skin-deep. It is not just your eyes that dazzle me; it is your persona, your character, your views on life—the real you. I can cover your sweet face with a veil and marry you because your face is just one level of your true beauty.”

Another reason for the veil: The Torah says that when Moses came down from Mount Sinai, his face was so bright with holiness that no one dared look at him. He had to wear a veil whenever he spoke to the people in order to filter the Divine glare. (This is the source for Michelangelo’s depiction of Moses with horns: The words for “beaming” and “horns” have the same letters in Hebrew; an old Greek translation mistakenly rendered this verse, “And Moses had horns.”)

When the bride and groom stand under the chupah, they are in an elevated state, as they are about to unite as one. In the bride, this elevated state is more revealed. She radiates a special holiness; the Divine Presence (Shechinah), the feminine aspect of G‑d, shines through the face of the bride.

This light is so intense that it must be veiled, just as the light that emanated from Moses’ face had to be covered. Holiness needs privacy.

Those moments under the chupah are potent. As your day approaches, make sure to soak in and utilize every holy second.

Aron Moss is rabbi of the Nefesh Community in Sydney, Australia, and is a frequent contributor to Chabad.org.
Painting by Chassidic artist Zalman Kleinman.
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Anonymous Texas November 29, 2016

Veil The veil is also her uncut hair for " the woman's glory is her hair". The young man's glory is his strength , the elder's glory is his grey hair. Very interesting point about ' beaming and horns, as horns depict power, and the beaming speaks of G-d's glory. Eg. Glory of G-d = power? Reply

Anonymous Jerusalem November 17, 2015

I bought my veil at Walmart on the morning of our chuppah because the day before I went to the mikvah for the first time as a new convert. We had a small ceremony in our local Kollel surrounded by friends, no family. The veil is in a special place on a shelf in my closet and I get a special feeling of joy each time I open the door and see it, remembering how thrilled I was to be finally marrying my beloved under a chupah in an orthodox wedding. Your veil is a sign of the modesty that will stay with you for the rest of your B"H happy married life. All the best! Reply

Kev Lancashire December 25, 2014

Is this made up? Reply

Curtis Portland March 23, 2014

Moses and the veil If you read Exodus carefully, Moses did NOT wear the veil when he talked to the people - he wore it AFTER he talked with them, to conceal the fading of the glory. He wanted only God's glory to shine, so he veiled himself when it began to fade.
In a wedding, when the veil is pulled back, it might symbolize the way God's glory is shared with his people - and so the Bride (God's people) begins to radiate the glory that comes from the Groom (God). Reply

Anonymous Nigeria December 29, 2012

Is a typical jewish wedding done in the synagogue? Reply

Anonymous mumbai November 1, 2011

nice article very nice article Reply

Shoshanah Yerushalayim, Israel November 6, 2010

abandonned-orlando If you were abandonned by your filrst husband, make sure he gives you a "get"
(Jewish devorce according to Orthodox Jewish law) otherwise you are still married to him and cannot marry someone else,
because obviously you can only have one husband!
With best wishes. Reply

AJB Adelaide, Australia May 23, 2010

The Veil I always understood the veil to represent the virginity of the bride.

A woman marrying for the second time would not wear a veil. Reply

Menachem Posner for Chabad.org October 16, 2009

RE: Isn't there still another spiritual reason? If either the bride of the groom are getting married for the first time, the veil placing ceremony is exactly like it is by any other first-time wedding.

In the event that both the bride and the groom were previously married, a veil is placed over the bride's face before the chupah, but not by the groom. Reply

Anonymous Orlando, fl October 16, 2009

Isn't there still another spiritual reason? Wearing a veil is for those who never marrie ? Can someone who was abandon from her first husband can not wear one on her next marrage ? Reply

Anonymous NL April 16, 2008

wow this makes me feel happy to wear my veil
I will Make sure to soak in and utilize every holy second. Reply

Teresa Garcia Antioch, ca June 17, 2007

moses veil When studied thoroughly you will come to find out that Moses came down from the mountain with out the veil on and then he had to put it on so people would not see the glory of God fade away from him. That said I beleive the veil is worn for modesty and the husband does receive the extra excitement from lifting. I plan on wearing one on my wedding day. Reply

Shoshannah Louisville, KY March 24, 2007

Why does a bride wear a veil? If the tradition of the bride wearing a veil started with Moses, how would Laban have been able to use a veil on Leah to deceive Jacob?

I thought the veil of a bride had some sort of symbolism with the veil in the Temple. Reply

Patsy Lubbock, Tx March 23, 2007

Why a brides veil? What a beautiful explanation, fitting for the holiness of the moment. Reply

Anonymous Houston, Texas March 22, 2007

Isn't there still another spiritual reason? I was at a hasidic wedding in Houston last summer. The bride was veiled and someone told me the Hasidic spiritual meaning. It was profound and beautiful and it was different from any of those I've seen posted so far. Someone please tell us what I heard? Thank you! Reply

Jim Rook Indianapolis, Indiana March 22, 2007

Meaningful Thank you for the explanation. With so many people that do not read nor do they study, it is wonderful to have this access to logical and sagacious answers. Reply

Maham Saleem Willingboro, NJ December 25, 2006

Veil I remember reading about veiling and brides in Reader's Digest story the Sotah. It is very interesting for me to explore the veiling in Judaism.
In Islam, it means modesty and protection from the gazes and getting pervy men to look at you and imagine yada-yada-yada.
It is to safeguard a woman from the evils of soceity.
I do not agree with the psychological study in which the people were veiled and the result was they acted more violent or deviant. Perhaps, this is how a westerner would feel when they wear a veil.
But when a Muslim woman or a Jewish bride wears a veil it is sacred and Holy and religious. And not like an act of a thief in the dark of the night.
Some men in Middle East and Asia are so pervy that they dont even let alone the veiled women and hit on them. In the west it is known as veil fetisicism.
I remember someone telling me he and his friends would be more attracted to girls in the Catholic School dress code. Gosh! It kills the whole veiling purpose. Reply

Jeremy Priest Livonia, MI December 19, 2006

Veils It seems to me that veils had a liturgical or ceremonial usage as well. A veil must be lifted, uncovered, in order that what lies beneath might be revealed, be made known.
Therefore, the uncovering or unveiling that takes place in the marriage ceremony is a symbol of what will take place in the marriage bed. Just as the two become one through their words, so these words are only a sign of the physical oneness that they will consumate later on. The lifting of the veil is an anticipation of this.
Certainly the veil covers what is holy, but it is worn in the ceremony only so it can be removed by the one to whom the bride gives herself.
The Most Holy Place in the Temple was veiled. Perhaps this images the relation ship between G-d and His bride, Israel, as she waits for Him to lift the veil and bring her completely to Himself, that she might "know" Him and He know her. Reply

Jenny Houston , TX August 21, 2006

Idea Great idea, I think that I will wear the kippah and my fiancee the makeup and high heels... don't you get it, we all have our own missions, the man his and the woman hers Reply

Haley June 9, 2006

kippah instead of shaving her head, and weaaring a wig, can't a woman wear i kippah instead? Reply

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