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Is a "Double Ring" Wedding Ceremony Kosher?

Is a "Double Ring" Wedding Ceremony Kosher?


A wedding ring is symbolic of many spiritual concepts and truths, and there are many laws and customs pertaining to it. It is interesting to note that although it is universally accepted Jewish custom to use a ring to affect the marriage, from a purely technical standpoint, the ring itself is merely a custom; the Talmud contains no actual reference to it.

Technically, the groom needs only to give the bride a gift of value (worth at least a perutah, a small coin used in Talmudic times). He could instead give her a cell phone or a blender and... mazel tov, they're married!

We won't delve into all the mystical symbolism of the wedding ring. However, in order to answer the question, let's examine what the ring given at a Jewish wedding represents legally, in terms of the validity of the wedding.

According to Jewish law, there are different ways to purchase something. One method is by giving cash, kesef. When a groom gives something of value (a ring or blender) to the bride, he is obviously not buying her. She is a human being, not a piece of property. So this is not a perfect analogy. However, he is acquiring exclusive rights to her hand in marriage. From this moment onwards no other man can be intimate with her. Thus the ring isn't merely a sentimental gift given to the beloved; it actually effects the "transaction."

When a woman gives a man a ring in return, they are simply exchanging articles of value. They could exchange blenders, too...When a woman gives a man a ring in return, they are simply exchanging articles of value. They could exchange blenders, too. Now they have just made a trade, and not effected a change of her status, to a married woman. The legal transaction implied by the groom giving the bride a ring has now been matched one for one, and thereby cancelled. Her status remains unchanged. It is as if the bride has not received anything at all, or as if she has given back the gift.

One may ask, but what about the feelings and intentions of the groom and/or bride as they give their rings? Don't the feelings and intentions count for something? What if the bride has in mind that she is giving a ring simply to express her profound love for her groom, and not for any legal purpose?

Nevertheless, a) the external factor is quite compelling. While one couple may have this intention, another may not. b) When dealing with a ceremony as sensitive and important as marriage – a ceremony whose ramifications will (hopefully) affect all future generations, we want to avoid even the appearance of impropriety.

Under the chupah, the groom recites the words "You are betrothed to me...according to the laws of Moses and Israel." It is important, especially in matters with long-lasting ramifications such as a wedding, that we put aside our own desires and ask ourselves, what is the Torah really asking of me, and what is the law?

Jewish marriage is known as "kiddushin," which means holiness and separation. A Jewish bride and groom elevate themselves to new heights of holiness by going through a proper Jewish wedding ceremony. When it comes to such momentous occasions in life, it is important to respect halachah, so as to avoid creating any doubt.

If the bride feels that she must give a ring to your groom, it may possibly be done after the chupah is over, in private.

Getting married in a manner that is fully in keeping with Jewish law is the best way to start out your life together with blessings and happiness!1

For a different approach to this issue, please see this question and answer as well.


Sources: Made in Heaven, by Rabbi Aryeh Kaplan. Moznaim Publishers, 1983. The Jewish Way in Love and Marriage, by Rabbi Maurice Lamm. Jonathan David Publishers, 1991. The Laws and Customs of the Jewish Wedding, by Rabbi Gavriel Zinner. CIS Publishers, 1993.

Rabbi Yosef Resnick is a certified scribe, Torah educator, professional musician, and writer. His column on chassidut and parenting appears regularly in Natural Jewish Parenting magazine. He resides in Sharon, Massachusetts, with his wife and four children.
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Discussion (16)
July 2, 2015
To Anonymous
A traditional Jewish wedding is not at all a marriage in the modern sense. Expressions of mutual dedication and love are present--and encouraged--throughout the couple's married life. But the ceremony that actually effects their union remains the same as it always was.
Eliezer Zalmanov
July 1, 2015
As I understood, the Ketubah focuses on a husband's financial responsibility. Moreover, Jewish men used to be able to marry more than one woman and I think the ceremony and the Ketubah were just the same then. So in that case the bride isn't acquiring exclusive rights to his hand. The ceremony than endorses this being a one way street instead of a mutual dedication, love and a certain sense of oneness. Even when the groom places the ring on the bride he says that now you are betrothed to me with this ring not that now you are betrothed to me and I to you with this ring.

I really wish that I'm overlooking something, but if the ceremony hasn't even been adjusted since polygamy was acceptable, how does it reflect the definition of marriage? Marriage in the modern sense where two people become one and dedicate themselves to each other for the rest of their lives - not where a woman is acquired by a man
June 30, 2015
The bride's rights and her husband's responsibilities to her are addressed in the ketubah.
Eliezer Zalmanov
June 30, 2015
"However, he is acquiring exclusive rights to her hand in marriage. From this moment onwards no other man can be intimate with her. Thus the ring isn't merely a sentimental gift given to the beloved; it actually effects the "transaction."

So how is the bride acquiring exclusive rights to his hand in the ceremony?
June 1, 2015
Re: Rings before a wedding?
Ideally no rings should be exchanged before the wedding. Even the engagement ring is often only given after the chupah, so as not to confuse it with the ring that actually effects the marriage.
Eliezer Zalmanov
May 22, 2015
Rings before a wedding?
Is it acceptable for a bride and groom to be to exchange rings before the wedding, with the groom giving a second ring to the bride under the chuppah? The article addresses cases where the couple exchange rings after the wedding, but not before.
February 19, 2015
Gifts in marriage in general
No, giving gifts after the wedding has no impact whatsoever on the status of a marriage. The ring during the wedding is not a "purchase price" for the bride, but rather the act of giving it is a "kinyan" (a symbolic act of acquisition). Once the wedding is completed, the marriage can only be undone by giving a Get (a religious divorce document.)

If the wife wants to give the husband a ring to wear after the wedding (even immediately afterward - like while in Yichud or during the reception), there is no halachic problem with it. The value doesn't matter.
David C.
Purcellville, VA
February 15, 2015
So, are gifts in marriage bad in general then?
So, once they are married is it ever all right for a wife to give her husband a valuable gift? Are gifts above the value of her wedding ring supposed to imply a desire to divorce, because she's no longer in a contract with him where she owes him something? You say, "He provides her a ring, thereby saying, "I have begun to become your husband" and she accepts it, thereby saying, "...and in return, I have begun to be your wife." If, however, she would return a ring to him, what would that be stating?" Is this just a problem under the chuppah? In which case, surely her giving him a love token that obviously has no/low value (a handwritten card, a plastic ring or something) would be acceptable? Something to fulfil that impulse to acknowledge the beloved's comittment by actively showing comittment and thoughtfulness in return. For modern brides it isn't enough to stand there and silently consent.
February 18, 2014
As Rabbi Freeman wrote in reply to my comment back in 2009, there is always the matter of appearance. If it appears to the attendees that halacha is being violated, even if it is all technically legit, then it is a problem. Those who are observant may incorrectly conclude that the marriage is invalid. Those who know less may think that what they think they are seeing is OK when it is not.

Ultimately, you need to consult with your rabbi, discuss the issues and be prepared to abide by his decision.
Vienna, VA
February 18, 2014
questions from Anonymous
Yes, you can exchange some of great value for something of little value. People do it all the time.

The couple can give each other many gifts and make all the ceremonies they like—before and after the chuppah. Under the chuppah, things should be kept as simple and transparent as possible.

Once you understand the meanings and deeper significance of everything that happens under the chuppah (as I've touched upon very briefly in comments below), you won't want to add a thing. It's like touching up a Rembrandt.
Tzvi Freeman

Jewish Wedding—Step by Step
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