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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 split only 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 the 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 the Temple 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 (17)
July 16, 2015
Aron I hear what you say. But honestly I prefer Stephens explanation from Australia. With all due respect Aron, and please I'm not criticizing, I just find the "two souls splitting" sounds like a Ron Hubbard from the church of Scientology fantasy.
Whatever the reason is, is not important. We got two stories take your pick!
Being a Jew doings good deeds and tradition is what's important.
Lechaim Yidden
Cheers
Jeff Blesovsky
South Africa
July 16, 2015
nice
Avi
MALOT
July 15, 2015
Broken glass a sign of fidelity
My understanding is that a covenant between the husband and wife to drink of the same cup, and no other will drink from it. This is assured by its destruction. It therefore represents a vow of fidelity, one to the other, and no other will enter into it. Your thoughts?
Stephen
Australia
July 15, 2015
I find it strange that all the critics remain anonymous. The same people criticize farmers with their mouths full. We break a glass. It's tradition! The reason why is not as important as the tradition.. I was born an Orthodox Jew and this is the first time I've learned why. And quite frankly I don't care. Lechiam to tradition.
Jeff Blesovsky
South Africa
July 14, 2015
there is still free choice and divorce.
Anonymous
July 14, 2015
"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." Is that true?
Daniel Baruch Dobrin
Georgia
April 26, 2015
Sharing appreciated!!
Thanks!....great explanation, always wondered about this. Chabad rocks!
Beth Newhall
Chicagi
April 21, 2015
Hilarious
You cannot seriously believe this. It's preposterous:

<<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. >>>
Anonymous
New York, NY
October 27, 2014
The concept of soulmates reuniting is so romantic that it feels almost at odds with the very business-like matching that takes place in the Jewish tradition. An acceptable mate is found, and with loyalty to G-d and respect for the institution of marriage it somehow work. I can see how all those matches are predestined but finding the part of you that is lost seems like something else altogether. I don't believe I will marry my soulmate, just someone kind and very religious. It's lucky then i suppose that I have such a romantic connection to G-d or I would live the rest of my life in grief over my incompleteness, which is what I imagine most people in the secular world experience.
Julie
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
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