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Lechayim! Wine at a Wedding

Updated: Sep 18, 2023

So why do we bless and drink wine at a Jewish wedding ceremony? When I meet with brides and grooms who are planning their wedding and looking to me to officiate their wedding, they often ask me this question. explains that wine, in the Jewish tradition, is closely associated with the Sabbath and with festivals. At the onset of the Holy Day, wine ushers in the spirit of sanctity, kiddush, and at the end wine closes it, havdalah. This accomplishes a significant task: It marks the boundary lines and separates the holiness of the Holy Day from the secular character of the ordinary day. At the wedding, the wine symbolizes both kiddush, sanctity, and havdalah, separation, as the blessing itself indicates: "...who has sanctified us with His commandments and commanded us about [some say 'separated us from'] illicit relations…" As wine is used at the threshold of the Sabbath to sanctify it and to separate it, so it is used at the threshold of marriage to separate it from the prohibited and to sanctify the bonds of proper marriage.

Wine is associated in Jewish tradition with shirah, song and festivity. As such it is appropriate to joyous occasions like the Sabbath and marriage. Both are not only to be observed, but need to be celebrated. Marriage is very similar to the Sabbath.

Just as wine is used in the jewish wedding ceremony to end the sabbath and start the regular work week, wine at a wedding separates the life of a single person with one who is committed and connected to another human being. This doesn’t mean that you lose your identity and become one with your spouse. I see it meaning that you look for opportunities to put your partner’s needs ahead of your own. Doing whatever it takes to make your partner happy and satisfied. It can mean bringing them a coffee to start their day or letting them have time to relax after a long day and taking on chores to give them a break. Doesn’t have yo be big stuff. Small kind gestures can go a long way. It also means making joint decisions on your finances - budgeting and investments. And of course how you are going to raise your kids - what style of parenting. What style of punishment. Team work makes the dream work!

How do you see the separation of being single to being married - what changes in yourself and your outlook?

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