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The Merging of Two Souls

The Merging of Two Souls

A Bride Describes the Experience of an Orthodox Jewish Wedding

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It has been an entire week. As per our tradition, I have not seen him or spoken with him. I have not even heard his voice. And yet I have his picture in my mind, his words in my heart, and his being engraved in my soul.

It is the day of our wedding and I wake early to prepare. Externally I am having my hair done, my nails, my makeup. But within I am in a completely different world. I recite psalms, trying to infuse every moment with holiness. I fast, as it is my personal Yom Kippur, my Day of Atonement, and I ask forgiveness for my past while cleansing and preparing for our new future.

Just as a crown rises above the head and yet connects with it as well, so too the Jewish woman binds together the spiritual and the physical, theory with reality

In my wedding dress I represent a queen, and I pray for the ability to be a crown to my husband. Not to be his decoration, but to be the tie between his superconscious and his conscious, to enable him to be his best. Just as a crown rises above the head and yet connects with it as well, so too the Jewish woman binds together the spiritual and the physical, theory with reality. The crown rests on the temples, the most sensitive part of the head. Spiritually the woman rests on the temples as well. She is able to massage where there is pain, while simultaneously ensuring that the head does not inflate, for she serves as its borders. And yet she holds the head up high. Because she is queen, she allows him to be king.

I take off my earrings, bracelet and necklace. In another room he empties his pockets, undoes his tie and unties his shoelaces. He is not marrying me for my physical beauty or external jewels. I am not marrying him for the money in his pockets. He comes to me unbound, with no ties, with no connection to anyone or anything but to me and our commitment, to each other.

The music starts and my chatan, my groom, is about to be led to me. He will cover my face with a veil, in order to shield the holiness, the Divine Presence, which rests on the face of a bride. My veil will be opaque so that I cannot see out and no one can see in. My eyes will anyway be closed, to more highly sensitize my ability to think and feel. We recognize that we are marrying what we see, but we are also marrying what we don’t see I want the utmost privacy at this moment, and to not be distracted by the stares from our hundreds of guests.

By veiling me, we make an important unspoken statement to one another. We recognize that we are marrying what we see, but we are also marrying what we don’t see. With utmost belief we are sure that each of us is half of our mutual soul. Only together can we complete ourselves and complete each other. Yet it will take work, hard work. He is not the answer to my incompleteness, but rather the means for me to get there. So we recognize that we love what we know and what we are aware of, but we are also marrying the parts that are hidden now from each other, and even to ourselves. We are determined to love these parts as well, and to learn to understand how they are also an integral part of our healing and growth.

Finally, after the longest week of my life, my chatan, my groom, approaches me. It is almost too intense to look. I glance at my husband-to-be for a moment, but then my eyes well up with tears. I can no longer see, but I don’t need to. We are about to be bound together. But we are not just two people. Our marriage represents the continuity of the Jewish people. We are not only about to be bound to each other, but in doing so, we bind together the past, the present and the future.

We will now reunite again under the chuppah, the marriage canopy, to become husband and wife. The canopy is open on all sides, to represent how our home and hearts should be, welcoming and open to all around. We will be outside, under the stars, to bring heaven down to earth while elevating ourselves closer to heaven.

Now it is I who is led to him, as he awaits me under the chuppah. As I approach, I encircle him seven times. As there are seven days of the week culminating in the holiness of the Sabbath, so too I will surround him, enveloping him in love and commitment, culminating with my standing by his side. Just as I am his crown which sits as a circle around his head, now I too create Our marriage represents the continuity of the Jewish people that bond, that foundation, that security.

In a circle all sides are equally close to its center, and there exists perfect harmony. Once I have completed my seven circles, he returns to encircle me by placing an unblemished and unmarked simple gold ring on my finger. This is our eighth circle, one above the natural, the days of the week, and uniting us with the supernatural, the One Above. Seven blessings are now recited, imbuing additional holiness into our relationship and commitment. But right before we turn to celebrate with each other, with our guests, as husband and wife, we first must break a glass.

The last thing my new husband does under our wedding canopy is that he steps on this glass. It is silent, and we all hear the glass shatter. The shattered glass represents the suffering that must always be remembered, even in our joy. Even though we are imbued with happiness, we as a people, as a world, are not in such a state. And therefore it is our responsibility to remember that as we rejoice, we need to create a world where all can rejoice. And we must live our lives with a sensitivity to those less fortunate than ourselves, and be grateful for all the good that has been bestowed upon us.

After the glass is broken, it is now time for us to celebrate our joy. I remove the veil, as my husband and I gaze at each other for the first time as a married couple. The music begins, our guests start singing and dancing, and we are led from the canopy to begin our new life together.

Sara Esther Crispe, a writer, inspirational speaker and mother of four, is the co-director of Interinclusion, a nonprofit multi-layered educational initiative celebrating the convergence between contemporary arts and sciences and timeless Jewish wisdom. Prior to that she was the editor of TheJewishWoman.org, and wrote the popular weekly blog Musing for Meaning. To book Sara Esther for a speaking engagement, please click here.
Painting by Chassidic artist Zalman Kleinman.
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shelly St Albert Alberta Canada March 24, 2015

Thank you for sharing your heart and experience on your blessed wedding day. Xo I am engaged and can not express how thankful I am to Hashem for my fiancee and his family. Reply

Noble Sirius July 3, 2014

Noble @Niki, I would say that in the African American cultural experience- the woman nor the man has been deemed Queen & King. I am a Black Man who too finds much wisdom in the Judaism. It is sad to a degree that we have been disconnected from these spiritual laws although Judaism has been in Ethiopia for thousands of years (Beta Israel).

This article is draw dropping and transcends color lines - Todah Sara. Reply

Niki L. Covington memphis,tn March 7, 2013

the merging of two souls. I am not a Jewish woman but I do admire the way they are thought of and cared for in their community. I am an African American woman. As much as I love and admire the African American man, I could not have expressed it this way. And our women are not looked at as beautiful individuals such as this. I am printing this as an example for all my friends and family to see. Reply

Malka PA February 14, 2013

I distinctly remember learning about the components of a traditional Jewish wedding (though I had been to a cousin's Chabad wedding as a young girl, I wasn't so in tune with the details) as a college student when a family friend was about to get married. They sounded so amazing and beautiful that I knew then and there this is how I would have my own wedding. The idea of a bedeken and tisch, the excitement and ruach that accompanied and the amazing dancing all sounded right up my alley. It took a few years to get there after college but thank gd I did and now am in my 12th year of marriage. Reply

Anonymous Sellersburg, IN, USA September 24, 2012

Marriage I stumbled upon this and thought how very beautifully you had written this. All the beautiful spirituality is present in the Catholic ceremony too and how sad it is when those who marry in a civil ceremony miss out on the depth of this and the promise it gives of the couple's future wrapped in God above. Reply

Anonymous Melbourne, Victoria March 16, 2012

A beautiful story, which i could have written about my wife and myself. Our marriage is 'made in Heaven'. It is nice to know, you have the same feeling of sanctity with your spouse.
Good Shabbos.
Frits. Reply

Anonymous Mesa, Arizona, USA January 30, 2012

The Mergin of Two Souls What a beautiful piece to dream about and make it happen. I never had anything like this in my thoughts except for being the bride of the Most High, blessed be He. Growing up in no nonsense family and seeing a bad example. Getting married to a nightmare and then being a single mother. All I have left is in me is a dream non-come-true. But living Torah as a celibate for 37 years. All the fears that a mind could have are there, especially seeing how the world is turning. My hope is for a better world outside and inside of me. My prayers go to all future brides, who truly love Hashem and are raised with such wonderful principles as you describe them here in this article. There most be a gentle man out there who love Hashem as much as I do, but would he be my soul mate? Only Hashem knows. It is too late for me to even try to find out. Today I am 64 yrs old. I was born 1/30/1948 today. Thank you Hashem for bringing me to Your Truth in Torah!! Reply

Hadassa va October 3, 2011

Depth of Insight As my daughter prepares for her wedding, I was looking for something to send her....this is the perfect piece, along with my letter to her. Thank you for putting it so perfectly for those of us less eloquent.....I wish this were the case for so many of us, but is not, what a sweet dream, that some people actually LIVE.....Chaim..... Reply

Anonymous Oak Park, Michigan, USA June 16, 2011

merging of two souls what a beautiful depiction of what a true marriage is. our commitment to one another, how are souls "feel" on that beautiful special day..This article should be definite reading material to any groom & bride.
- signed - bride of 19 years in Nov 2011! Reply

anon :) June 15, 2011

i have never been so moved by a piece of writing Sarah, i cant stop crying, it is soo beautiful. Reply

No one san diego, ca May 10, 2011

Coming together as man an wife This must be the most sensual dream dreamt, and here it is in writing. Reply

Anna Toronto, Ontario February 15, 2011

With G-d's help I will experiance this beautiful joy one day soon. Thank you for sharing this story. You write with your Heart and Soul Sarah. Reply

Kathleen Klass Cape Town, South Africa February 15, 2011

The mmerging of two souls What beautiful article. i will be married 17 years this year. Your description is spot on how I felt.
Marriage is hard work My life without it would be a sad state of affairs. All the best Reply

Phyllis Pearson Paeroa, NZ February 13, 2011

The merging of two souls. I think we Christians can learn so much from this. Amazing insights into a Jewish wedding, and I feel quite cheated not to have had that experience on my wedding day.

Thanks you for sharing this. Reply

Kayo Tokyo, Japan February 13, 2011

You quench my thirst I am a non Jew, grew up in secular society. I did not know the notion of sanctification, or holiness. Since I was a child, I did not know the sanctity of marriage institution. Lack of the notion of holiness of marriage led me to relationships I now regret. As I am trying to convert and eventually marry a Jewish man, It is critical that I can not only able to see intellectually but also feel emotionally the sanctity of marriage. Thank you for sharing your precious experience. Chabad education always brings me to higher plane. Reply

Natana Pesya Kulakofski Worester, MA February 1, 2011

It Made Me Cry "I fast as it is my personal Yom Kippur" made me cry. Yom Kippur is one of my favorite holy days: as its conclusion I feel cleansed and forgiven of all my misdeeds.
This article was written with warmth and sensitivity as well as insight into the pre-chuppah experience for the bride. As a widow for the past nine years, and as a witness to the yearning to be married by my younger, single friends, may it come to pass soon that G-d grant everyone his soulmate soon. Reply

Shoshana Sugarland, Texas December 14, 2010

What a sweet article. I was touched it's fuel for dreamers like me. Reply

Mrs. Sara Esther Crispe December 6, 2010

Author Response Hi! Just wanted to clarify that this is an article that I wrote soon after our wedding almost 14 years ago! You can see that the earliest comments are from 2004 when I believe it was first posted on the site (I got married in 1997). Hope that explains :) Reply

Anonymous Paris December 6, 2010

Wedding I was touched by the description given by Ms Crispe but I am rather confused. I see that Ms Sara Esther Crispe is already a mother of four - so is this a recital of a wedding that took place some time ago? Is it her persional experience of her wedding or that of somebody else? Who is the bride?. Reply

Miss Mandy Jade Kramer November 24, 2010

This is so beautiful, Sara!! It was such an inspiration to read! Thank you! Reply

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