The jewish wedding.
The Jewish wedding has always been very present throughout the history of the Hebrew people.
I have searched in the Torah and I have seen that I have not found the word “unmarried “.
You can do the same exercise, searching the Torah, in English, on the web and do a search for the word mentioned.
The non-existence of the word “unmarried” in the ancient biblical text is an insinuation that there was no need to use it in the early days of the Jewish people.
The idea of a person not marrying was unacceptable to ancient Jewish canons.
Many centuries later, we can see in the Talmud phrases against singleness and in favor of Jewish marriage.
It is written in the Talmud: “He who has no good wife, has no good, has no joy, has no blessing, has no peace, cannot be called a man; and he who loves his wife and honors her more than himself, and leads his sons and daughters in the right path, and is united in marriage in due time, shall have the peace promised by God to the righteous”.
Evidently throughout the centuries Judaism was influenced by the cultures and customs of the dominant peoples of the time.
During the Greco-Roman period, when certain members of the Jewish community were inclined to remain single, the rabbis encouraged them to marry.
The Hebrew tradition always showed a passionate devotion to Jewish marriage.
Until very recent years a Jew could not be ordained as a rabbi unless he was married.
In most, or perhaps all orthodox strands of Judaism, this maxim is still in force.
In the Torah there are 613 precepts, divine commands. The first of these is found in the book of Genesis, chapter 1, verse 28:
וַיְבָ֣רֶךְ אֹתָם֮ אֱלֹהִים֒ וַיֹּ֨אמֶר לָהֶ֜ם אֱלֹהִ֗ים פְּר֥וּ וּרְב֛וּ וּמִלְא֥וּ אֶת־הָאָ֖רֶץ וְכִבְשֻׁ֑הָ וּרְד֞וּ בִּדְגַ֤ת הַיָּם֙ וּבְע֣וֹף הַשָּׁמַ֔יִם וּבְכָל־חַיָּ֖ה הָֽרֹמֶ֥שֶׂת עַל־הָאָֽרֶץ׃
“God blessed them and God said to them (Adam and Eve): Be fruitful and multiply, fill the earth and conquer it……”.
Although in the Jewish tradition we find several reasons that impel us to get married, there are a couple of them that we can place under a religious aspect.
The first is in the Jewish concept that creation is a constant process and therefore we must recreate it incessantly.
Therefore, the human being would have as an obligation or precept to help God fulfill one of the primordial objectives of human existence through procreation within the Jewish marriage.
The second reason is that when the people of Israel received the divine commandments on Mount Sinai, they committed themselves to transmit spirituality, knowledge, ethics and morality from parents to children through the generations.
This promise leads us to the need to procreate; in ancient times, the children of Israel did so under the institution of marriage.
In order to transmit spirituality, knowledge, ethics and morality from generation to generation, it was not enough to preserve themselves as a people, but there was a need for population growth.
This was achieved through Jewish marriage sanctified by God.
In ancient times there was already the custom of performing the Jewish wedding ceremony, under the chuppah, under the stars, to symbolize the promise that God made to the patriarch Abraham, which appears in the Torah, in the book of Genesis, chapter 15, verse 5:
וַיּוֹצֵ֨א אֹת֜וֹ הַח֗וּצָה וַיֹּ֙אמֶר֙ הַבֶּט־נָ֣א הַשָּׁמַ֗יְמָה וּסְפֹר֙ הַכּ֣וֹכָבִ֔ים אִם־תּוּכַ֖ל לִסְפֹּ֣ר אֹתָ֑ם וַיֹּ֣אמֶר ל֔וֹ כֹּ֥ה יִהְיֶ֖ה זַרְעֶֽךָ׃
“And he led him out (God to Abraham), and said unto him, Look now toward heaven, and number the stars, if thou be able to number them. And he said unto him, So shall thy seed be.”
The promise of this exuberant future fertility, “as the stars that are in heaven,” points us to the need for growth as a people.
We have seen throughout history, since biblical times, that during different periods, the endurance of existence as a people has been in danger.
The way to sustain the permanence of the people of Israel, in their ancestral land, the Land of Israel, was with a constant population increase.
Throughout the centuries, in the Land of Israel, their children were invaded, decimated, deported, dispersed, etc.
But they were always able to recover as a people and maintain a constant presence.
That is why a Jewish wedding is celebrated with much jubilation and rejoicing.
The ceremonies are melodic and exciting.
A Jewish wedding brings joy and happiness not only to the bride and groom but also to the entire community.
The birth of a child brings joy to the whole community, because with this new life the creation is recreated, it is a symbol of the continuity and eternity of the Jewish people.
The Hebrew tradition
For the Hebrew tradition, the Jewish wedding was sanctified and the bride and groom consecrated.
In ancient times, the fundamental ingredients that sustained the Jewish marriage were mutual respect, care, devotion, protection, dedication and kindness.
These concepts could be reflected in the ketubah, the marriage contract.
For a Jew, fulfilling the above obligations was considered a religious commandment.
It was their way of fulfilling the divine will and associating themselves with God in the recreation of Genesis.
Since ancient times and throughout the centuries, it was the parents who were responsible for finding a mate for their sons and daughters.
But Judaism has always emphasized that a Jewish wedding had to be celebrated with the consent of the bride and groom.
Above all, it was the bride with the greatest veto power.
Jewish weddings could not be celebrated out of obligation.
In a historically macho world, the rabbis wanted to protect and protect the woman, giving her all the necessary protection so that she could freely choose her husband.
In this way they also protected the bride from paternal coercion.
It was obligatory for the bride to approve the person chosen by her parents.
It was not appropriate to exert any kind of pressure on the woman in making her decision.
Although it may seem complicated to understand, especially in function of the information that currently comes to us from the media, referring to the orthodox currents; the sages of antiquity did not contemplate a Jewish marriage that was not for love.
They said that in a home where the Jewish marriage was based on interests, there could not be love, only a continuous conflict.
The Talmud went further in this regard, stating that “he who marries for money, will have wicked children.”
One of the clearest examples of marrying for love is seen in the great Tannaitic sage, Rabbi Akiva.
He was a shepherd, semi-illiterate, who worked for a very wealthy man named Kalba Sabua.
Akiva fell madly in love with his daughter and evidently her father would not approve of his daughter, Rachel, marrying a poor shepherd.
Rachel decided to live her love story with Akiva even though this meant that she had to leave the luxuries and comfort of her father’s house to live a hard life of deprivation.
But love was the force that always guided them.
Rachel imposed only one condition on Akiva, that he would study the Holy Scriptures. He accepted her and they were secretly married.
Had it not been for Rachel, Akiva would have lived his whole life as a simple and ignorant shepherd.
She always had great confidence in her husband.
Rachel gave up an existence of great wealth to build a home with Akiva based on love.
She very wisely trusted her husband to achieve renown and greatness.
It took a lot of faith and patience for Rachel to see her illusion become reality.
She urged him to leave home to study. Akiva agreed and studied, intensely, deeply and continuously.
After 24 years
The Talmud relates that after 24 years, Rabbi Akiva became a great, successful and renowned scholar.
Continuing with the Talmudic account, Rabbi Akiva returned to his hometown as the leader of his generation.
He had an entourage of 24,000 students.
Rachel, who always wore simple garments, came to greet him and upon seeing her beloved, collapsed at his feet.
Rabbi Akiva’s followers, who did not know Rachel, hastened to remove her, but he prevented them by saying: “Leave her alone. What is mine and yours, is hers.”
Rabbi Akiva knew that everything he had achieved was thanks to his wife’s unconditional love