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The Week Beforehand

The Week Beforehand

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For several days before the wedding it is customary that the bride and groom not be left alone. There should always be another individual present with them in their residences, and they should be accompanied by a "watchperson" whenever they leave home. Every Jewish wedding is an event of colossal spiritual importance, drawing down upon the couple -- and by extension upon the entire world -- a transcendent Divine energy of the highest level. According to Kabbala, this impending phenomenon can potentially elicit negative spiritual energy, known as "kelipah," to combat it. The presence of two Jewish souls, that of the bride or groom and their watchperson, is powerful enough to repel any forces of kelipah which may strive to cause harm and prevent the wedding.

The traditional Jewish custom is that the bride and groom do not see or speak to each other for the week preceding the wedding.

Following a week of proper preparations, the bride immerses in a mikvah the night before the wedding. If the bride is unable to immerse before the wedding, the newlywed couple follows a special set of rules until the bride is able to go to the mikvah. In this event, the officiating rabbi should be notified of the situation, and he will advise the couple regarding the appropriate protocol.

The "Aufruf Shabbat"

It is customary to call the groom up to the Torah for an aliyah on the Shabbat before the weddingIt is customary to call the groom up to the Torah for an aliyah on the Shabbat before the wedding. After his portion is read and he has completed the after-blessing on the Torah, the congregation sings and rejoices together with the groom and pelts him with nuts and candies. The candies are soft so no one will be injured... The children then scamper around the bimah (Torah-reading table) and collect their spoils. According to the Zohar, every week's blessings emanate from the previous Shabbat. Since Torah is the root of all blessings, we call the groom up to the Torah on the Shabbat before his wedding, to shower Torah-blessings on the auspicious upcoming week.

The candy pelting is intended as a symbolic blessing: may the couple be fruitful and have a sweet life together! It has been said that the young man is pelted with bags of nuts and candies so that any hard knocks due to him are now taken care of by those who love and respect him -- and even those have a sweet ending!

This entire ritual is known as an "aufruf" (aufruf is a Yiddish word which means "to call up"). Sephardic Jews generally do not observe the aufruf custom.

After the services, it is customary for the family of the groom to sponsor a special Kiddush in honor of the soon-to-be-married couple.

The bride does not join the groom's festivities because, as aforementioned, the bride and groom do not see each other during the week before the wedding. Instead, it is customary for the bride to have a festive gathering for her friends on this same Shabbat. This event is known as the "Shabbat Kallah," or -- in Yiddish -- a fohrshpiel.

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Shaul Wolf Chabad.org October 26, 2015

Re: There is much significance attributed to the groom being called up to the Torah specifically on the Shabbat before his wedding. If one wishes they may be called to the Torah at an earlier time as well, but they should make an effort to receive another call-up on the Shabbat preceding the wedding. Reply

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