Do You Know Your Bride?

Why does the groom place an opaque veil over his bride’s face?

The father of the first Jewish family, Jacob, was a victim of a last-minute switch. His father-in-law substituted Leah, the older of his two daughters, for Rachel, the one whom Jacob loved. Jacob discovered the deception only after he had consummated the marriage with Leah. Jacob, choosing to accept his fate, remained with Leah, and later also married Rachel, the bride of his choice.

Why did the first Jewish family have to emerge in such an enigmatic manner?

Leah represents fate – she is the woman who Jacob ended up marrying. Rachel represents choice – she is the woman who Jacob chose to marry. When you get married, although you may think you are marrying Rachel, there is bound to be some element of surprise, and you will discover that you also ended up with Leah, who represents those elements of your spouse you never knew you were getting. These elements, however, may be exactly what you need.

When the groom veils his bride, he is saying, “I will love, cherish and respect not only the ‘you,’ which is revealed to me, but also those elements of your personality that are hidden from me. As I am bonding with you in marriage, I am committed to creating a space within me for the totality of your being – for all of you, all of the time.”

Under the Veil

Our Sages say that “Abraham our father instituted the morning prayers (Shacharis), Isaac the afternoon prayers (Mincha) and Jacob the evening prayer (Maariv).”

The Chassidic Masters offer the following homoletical interpretation: Jacob instituted the prayer for the bride under the veil. Just as the evening service occurs when night falls and one’s sight is eclipsed, so too the bride’s prayer under the veil is eclipsed. However, unlike the evening service that has words, the bride’s prayer is a prayer that has never been put into words, for it transcends the human vocabulary.

The Circle

A Jewish wedding consists of three circles: the feminine circle, the masculine circle and the Divine circle. The chupa ceremony begins with the bride encircling the groom. She walks around her husband-to-be seven times; the groom then encircles her finger with a circle-ring. All of this occurs under a canopy, which represents G‑d’s encircling embrace of the couple.

A circle, which has no beginning and no end, represents infinity. It is only through marriage that the bride and the groom become infinite, as they are empowered to become G‑d-like and create life.


Under the chupa the groom says to the bride: “You are hereby consecrated to me with this ring, in accordance with the law of Moses and Israel.” The bride remains silent. She does not even verbally acknowledge her groom's words and gift.

For if the bride were to speak during these moments, she would reveal the deepest secrets of the soul, and the world is not yet ready to hear them.

When Moshiach comes – when the world will have reached its spiritual zenith – the bride will speak under the chupa canopy. As the prophet Jeremiah says, “There will be heard in the cities of Judah and in the streets of Jerusalem, the sound of joy and the sound of gladness, the sound of the groom and the sound of the bride” (Jeremiah 33, 10-11).

Mistakes in Life

When the groom breaks the glass under the Chupa, everyone shouts: “Mazal Tov!”

When your husband ‘breaks something’ during your life together; when your wife ‘breaks something’ in the years to follow, what should you do? You too should shout, “Mazal Tov!” and give thanks.

Say, “Thank you G‑d for giving me a real person in my life, not an angel: A mortal human being who is characterized by fluctuating moods, inconsistencies and flaws.”

Who’s Coming?

The holy Reb Yisroel of Ruzhin said: “Not only is it announced in heaven whom you will marry, they also announce the location, the date and the people who will attend the wedding.”


The holy Rebbe of Socotshav said: “It is only through marriage, when man sheds his individualistic character for the sake of his wife, that a Jew can begin experiencing himself as part of the collective Jewish people.”

Do the Dishes

A man once came to the Rebbe, lamenting the fact that his relationship with his wife was on the down side.

“I heard,” said the man to the Rebbe, “that folding one's prayer shawl on Saturday night, after Shabbos, is propitious for bringing peace and harmony to the Jewish home. Should I begin following that custom?” asked the man.

“That might be a good idea,” responded the Rebbe, “but I have a better idea: wash the dishes after Shabbos.”

Men are from Za, Women are from Malchus

In the Kabbala, man is compared to a soul, women to a body.

The source of the body is infinitely deeper then the source of the soul. The soul originates in G‑d’s projective self; the body stems from G‑d’s intimate self.

That is why the elements of Jewish observance that were granted to men are projective oriented, for the most part, whereas the elements of Jewish observance granted to the female are of an intimate and subtle nature.

Paradoxically, it is only the soul that brings to the fore the tremendous depth embedded in the body.

In Kabbala, the story of man and women is put thus: Men are from Za, G‑d’s projective attributes; women are from Malchus, G‑d’s inner dignity.

“Mine Says”

Once, as Rabbi Schneur Zalman of Liadi, stepped out of his room, he overheard his wife remarking to several women, “Mine says…”

The Rebbe responded, “With one commandment I am yours, with how many are we G‑d’s!” whereupon he fell onto the doorpost in deep transcendental meditation.

Upon awakening he said, “Go out and see daughters of Zion” (Song of Songs 3:11). Stepping out of one’s self and perceiving the Divine Truth, comes from the daughters of Zion, Malchus arousing Za. In the future, “A women of valor shall be the crown of her husband.”

“What” and “Who”

Feminine energy is who you are; masculine energy is what you do. Man conquers; woman reveals. Man is aggressive; woman is subtle. Man gives love; woman is love.

That is the reason that the status of a Kohanite, Levite or Israelite is established through the father, and the status of a human being as Jew or non-Jew follows the matriarchal lineage:

A Kohanite, Levite and Israelite vary in their occupational work. A Jew and non-Jew vary in their essence.

From your father you learn the things you must do. From your mother you learn who you are.

A Soul

The body readily submits to the guidance and inspiration of its soul, because it knows that it is in good hands.

A woman will readily commit herself with joy and gladness to her husband, if he behaves like a soul, not like a beast.

Who is the Boss?

A man once came to the Rebbe lamenting the fact that his wife did not listen to him. “A wife is supposed to obey her husband,” said the man to the Rebbe.

“Of course,” said the Rebbe, “I agree. But why, indeed, should a woman listen to her husband?”

“What do you mean?” replied the frustrated husband, “because the man is the master of his home.”

“Wrong,” said the Rebbe with a smile, “because the man ought to behave in such a noble way that his wife gladly wishes to do things for him.”

The Miracle of Marriage

Marriage is the most supra-rational and supra-natural event in life.

The basic rule in existence is that one and one makes two.

Marriage is a declaration, that one and one makes one.

That is why it is so important to have G‑d as a third partner in your marriage, so that He will perpetuate that miracle every moment of your life.

A Taste of Infinity

In many Jewish communities, a man begins donning a prayer shawl during prayers only after he enters into marriage.

There are two types of garments: One type is a garment that is measured to fit the body of the wearer, such as a suit, a shirt, a coat, and so forth. The other type of garment is not measured because it does not need to have a specific size, like a prayer shawl, which envelopes the entire body – an infinite attire, an unlimited garment.

It is the woman who grants her husband the taste of infinity.

One, Two, Three

Marriage comes in three forms: The singular marriage, the twosome marriage and the three-dimensional marriage.

In the singular marriage, one individual is dominated and consumed by the other party. The ego of one swallows up the partner's existence.

In the twosome marriage, each partner preserves his/her distinctions, making their marriage an exercise in argumentation, divisiveness and strife.

Then there is marriage in its true sense – the three-dimensional marriage, where two individual people join to create a third reality – a life together.

That is why the Torah was given in the third month of the Jewish calendar, the month of Sivan: The purpose of Torah is to create a three-dimensional marriage between G‑d and his world.


The role of a husband is to subdue his ego to his wife, and thus create an atmosphere where the women’s energy can emerge.

The role of a wife is to give her husband a sense of safety and confidence to subdue his ego and celebrate his vulnerability.


Why is intimacy so awesomely powerful?

Because it is the only experience in life that allows us to become truly G‑dlike, in that it gives the husband and wife the power to create.

Nothing else we do as human beings is as G‑dlike as creating a new life, which in turn can create more life, on and on into eternity.

This G‑dly nature is what gives sexuality its mystique. It is the one opportunity man has to ‘taste’ G‑d – to think as He thinks and to create as He creates.

King and Queen

“A groom is likened to a king; a bride to a queen. How long does this continue?” a groom asked his rabbi.

“As long as you treat your wife as a queen, you are a king,” the rabbi responded.

Defining Love

“Love,” the Rebbe explained to me, “is not as portrayed in romance novels. It isn’t an overwhelming, blinding emotion.”

“These books do not portray real life,” the Rebbe said. “It is a fantasy, a make-believe world with made-up emotions. Fiction is just that – fiction. Real life is different.”

I had been discussing with the Rebbe some suggested matches, and explained why none of them appealed to me.

Then, as father to daughter, he explained the meaning of real love.

“Love,” he told me, “is an emotion that increases in strength throughout life. It is sharing and caring, and respecting one another. It is building a life together, a unit of family and home.

“The love that you feel as a young bride,” he continued, “is only the beginning of real love. It is through the small, everyday acts of living together that love grows and flourishes.

“The love you feel after five or ten years is a gradual strengthening of bonds. As two lives unite to form one, with time, one reaches a point where neither partner can visualize life without their mate by their side.”

Smiling, the Rebbe told me to put the romantic notions developed by my literary involvement aside, and view love and marriage in a meaningful way.

I walked out of the Rebbe’s office with a huge smile. The Rebbe knew how to communicate with a dreamy young girl. He knew what to say and how to say it. His words, spoken from the heart, reverberated within my heart.

—Excerpts of an article by Chana Sharfstein

“It is more important to go together
than to know where you are going.”


“If you are close when you should be far,
you will be far when you should be close.”

—The Rebbe

“Men may be from Mars and woman from Venus;
the challenge is to make it work on Earth.”


“Love does not consist of gazing at each other,
but of looking in the same direction.”