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Why Break a Glass at a Jewish Wedding?

Why Break a Glass at a Jewish Wedding?

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Question:

I understand that the reason I will be breaking a glass with my foot at the end of the wedding ceremony is to commemorate the destruction of the Temple in Jerusalem some 2,000 years ago. This was indeed a significant event in Jewish history, but it doesn't seem to have any relevance to me. What does a destroyed building have to do with my wedding?

Answer:

The destruction of the Holy Temple has extreme personal relevance. It happened to you. It is true that shattering the glass primarily commemorates the fall of Jerusalem; however, it is also a reminder of another cataclysmic shattering – that of your very own temple, your soul.

Before you were born, you and your soulmate were one, a single soul.

Then, as your time to enter this world approached, G‑d shattered that single soul into two parts, one male and one female. These two half-souls were then born into the world with a mission to try to find each other and reunite.

At the time, the split seemed tragic and incomprehensible. Why create fragmentation where there was once completion? Why break something just so it could be fixed? And if you were meant to be together, why didn't G‑d leave you together?

It is under the chupah, the wedding canopy, that these questions can be answered. With marriage, two halves are reuniting, never to part again. Not only that, but you can look back at the painful experience of being separated and actually celebrate it. For now it is clear that the separation brought you closer than you would otherwise have been.

Ironically, it was only by being torn apart and living lives away from each other that were you able to develop as individuals, to mature and grow. Your coming together is something you had to achieve and choose, and therefore it is appreciated deeply. With the joyous reunion at the wedding it becomes clear that your soul was only split in order to reunite and become one on a higher and deeper level.

And so you break a glass under the chupah and immediately say congratulatory wish of Mazel Tov! Because now, in retrospect, even the splitting of souls is reason to be joyous, for it gave your connection the possibility for real depth and meaning.

We see a parallel story in the destruction of the Temple in Jerusalem.

The Temple was not merely a building; it was the meeting place of heaven and earth, the ideal and the real, G‑d and creation. When theTemple was lost, so was the open relationship between G‑d and the world. Our souls were ripped away from our Soulmate.

The only antidote to fragmentation is unity. And the deepest unity is experienced at a wedding. Every wedding is a healing, a mending of one fragmented soul, a rebuilding of Jerusalem in miniature. Our sages teach us, "Whoever celebrates with a bride and groom, it is as if he rebuilt one of the ruins of Jerusalem." When soulmates reunite in a holy marriage, an energy of love and oneness is generated, elevating the world and bringing it one step closer to mending its broken relationship with G‑d.

So you see, your personal story and the story of Jerusalem's destruction are inextricably linked. The shattering that happened to Jerusalem happened to your soul; and the joy you are experiencing now will one day be experienced by Jerusalem, too.

One day soon, when the Temple is rebuilt, our souls will reunite with G‑d, our Soulmate, in a true relationship that we built together. We will no longer mourn the destruction, but looking back we will finally understand its purpose, and we will celebrate.

Then, even the shattering will deserve the blessing of Mazel Tov.

Please see our Jewish Wedding site for more insights into the wedding rituals.

Aron Moss is rabbi of the Nefesh Community in Sydney, Australia, and is a frequent contributor to Chabad.org.
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Discussion (8)
December 15, 2013
shape of glass
Does the glass that is broken at a wedding have to be an actual glass? Can it be shaped like a ball, a capsule, etc?
Eli
Brookline
November 26, 2013
This is truly beautiful! I am not Jewish. However, I have always loved the breaking of the glasses by the bride and groom at the end of the wedding ceremony. Now I know the appeal. Warm wishes to all!
GPM
Chicago, Illinois
April 30, 2013
Breaking the Jewish Wine Glass
Reform Judaism has a new tradition, where the bride and groom break the glass together!
Lisa
Providence, RI
April 5, 2013
"Then, as your time to enter this world approached, G‑d shattered that single soul into two parts, one male and one female. These two half-souls were then born into the world with a mission to try to find each other and reunite."

Seriously! The tradition mentioned above is a religious, Jewish event. And you are trying to throw in this metaphysical description! I don't know whether to be irritated with you or just laugh.
Jj
A different planet than that poster, apparently.
March 12, 2011
breaking the glass...destruction of the temple
My wife Rivka and I feel that Rabbi Moss's words should be read under every chupah at all Jewish weddings . Keats wrote: "Truth is beauty and beauty is truth".

Despite our separate meanderings through this life, we always believed we were b'shairt (meant to be). Strangely enough, we share the same birthday (different year), She plays viola and I am a devote of classical music. and both our fathers happen to not only speak hungarian, but were born not too far apart---my father in Transylvania (Uivaros, near Szatmar, and her father in Soellisch, near Maromarasziget in the Carpathians...

G-d indeed works in mysterious and unsearchable ways.
Yehuda Roth
Hamburg, , NJ/USA
March 4, 2011
I love this explanation i appreciated the linking between Jerusalem and our soul. It is something i always wondered.
Lioness
St Joseph, T''dad
March 1, 2011
Breaking of Glass at Wedding
Where is this written? Where can this be found in history. Where did this theory come from?
Anonymous
Las Vegas, Nevada
February 15, 2011
yes.. but
i understand the temple was destroyed....but did not G-d destroy it if he is the creator? so turn that frown upside down.
john smith
fort lauderdale, fl

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