Wisdom for Love: The Blessings at a Jewish Wedding
How the blessings recited under the chuppah help guide the couple to live together in harmony.
At a recent wedding I was struck by the innocence and radiant love the young couple exuded. The bride’s gown billowed in the breeze as the groom placed the ring upon her finger. Together they whispered their silent prayers. A new life together was beckoning.
The blessings recited under the chuppah contain wisdom that help guide the couple to live together in harmony. Let’s explore the inner meaning of four blessings.
1. The Blessing of Light Within: “Blessed Are You God Who Formed Man in His Image”
It’s easy to take the gift of our spouse for granted. What started as an incredible explosion of the cosmos can sadly become dull over time. We lose the awesomeness of couplehood.
Looking at our spouse and recognizing that within him or her lies a mysterious particle of God gives us the direction needed for reverence. Each of us contains a soul that has been bequeathed to us from Above. Husband and wife come together to reveal that hidden majesty that each marriage contains. One soul that had been separated into two at birth is now being reunited. This awareness nurtures profound respect for our spouse’s extraordinary light.
See your partner as a source of goodness to be discovered. Concentrate on focusing on the qualities that attracted you to one another. The easy laughter, the sensitive nature, the honest being, the giving heart-whatever you saw is still there. Sometimes pressure or challenges dim the light. Our mission is to appreciate, value and even magnify that G-d given soul that is waiting to be revealed.
Life together is an adventure in capturing that Godly essence and bringing it into our homes and everyday life. We are asked to make the mundane holy. Marriage is the formula through which we can elevate an ordinary apartment and transform it into a mikdash me’at - a mini sanctuary. We do this with our soulmate who is also our life mate. Together we plug into each other’s light.
2. The Blessing of Friendship: “Grant Abundant Happiness to the Beloved Friends”
In a world where people have hundreds of Facebook friends but suffer from loneliness, marriage provides the blessing of genuine friendship.
Adam lived in the Garden of Eden. He had it all. Good food, great weather, and paradise itself. Nothing was lacking. He had no bills to pay, no problems, no pressure. And yet God said, “It is not good for man to be alone.” What was missing?
A life partner. Companionship. The ability to soar higher accompanied by the energy of another.
Despite having it all, paradise was meaningless. Adam needed his ‘helpmate’ to gain purpose.
One of the deepest layers of love is the unique friendship that marriage brings. Sharing joy and yes, even struggle together can bring us to accomplish our life mission for which we were created.
This friendship is unlike any other. The union is oneness that binds the couple together for eternity.
How can we build this blessing of friendship in our marriage?
Work on being kind and compassionate towards your spouse. Listen with your heart. Be considerate. Be dedicated. Be careful not to cause pain. Make time for each other. Leave a loving note or text just because. Go the extra mile. Smile. Ask yourself how you can show your spouse that (s)he is important to you. Look into each other’s eyes and remember the first time you saw each other. Even the smallest acts, like a call in middle of the day to say “I love you” can be a conduit to happiness and beloved friendship.
3. The Blessing of Soul Mates: “Grant Happiness… as in the Garden of Eden”
Why is the Garden of Eden considered the zenith of happiness? Why mention the Garden of Eden where Adam and Eve were sent out from their home, and not other couples in the Torah whose stories teach the definition of love?
When Adam was faced with difficulty he did not say, “You know what? I’m done with you Eve! Let me just find somebody else.” He could not say that because there was nobody else on the entire planet for Adam to find.
This is the mindset that is needed to get through the challenges that life brings. You are my sole soulmate. There is no other soul I am looking at, comparing you to, or wishing to be with. You are the only one for me and together we will make this marriage work.
The serious problem that social media introduces to marriage cannot be overlooked. Too many couples are comparing their spouse, vacation, home, children and very lives to others. Feeling that they fall short causes grave unhappiness.
We become our largest obstacles towards attaining happiness. We measure our lives through focusing on other people’s blessings and grow disenchanted. In the process we fail to see our own blessings. We forget that we are glancing at photo shopped images. No one posts the pain, the tears, the squabbling. Ultimately we sabotage ourselves.
The key to enduring love is to call out to one another as Adam did to his wife: “There is no one else but you. Together we will make it.”
4. The Blessing of Communication: “Let There be Heard the Voice of the Groom and Bride”
Listen to how newlyweds speak.
“Honey, what can I get you?”
“Sweetie, I miss you. When are you coming home?”
Then what happens? We forget how we spoke, we don’t recall the sweetness, the softness that we once displayed. This is the voice of the groom and bride.
The wisdom of this blessing is the importance of communication in marriage. Before we even think about our words, we must consider our tone. We can say the same thing, like “Where are my keys?” but the level of our voice can make all the difference.
And then consider our words. Words can build, and they can also destroy.
Use your words to create bridges of connection. Think before criticizing. If something bothers you, weigh your words and be thoughtful in how you will convey your message. Don’t be disparaging. Don’t be stingy with words of affection. Be generous with words of love.
May we be worthy to celebrate our joys together and see our love endure from generation to generation.