Betrothal is Binding in Jewish Marriage Customs
In Jewish marriage customs, the betrothal is as binding as marriage. You will find that it can only be undone by divorce on proper grounds–such as the bride not being found a virgin.Next in the ceremonial order is the placement of the sealed cup of acceptance before the bride and groom as per the ancient Jewish Wedding custom during the betrothal ceremony.
You will be surprised to know that the groom actually proposes to the bride during this ceremony! The groom is expected to pour out the wine from the cup for his bride and wait for her to drink it as a token of her love for him and acceptance of his marriage proposal. This cup is regarded as a blood covenant. If the bride drinks the wine, the celebration begins with the groom giving his gifts to the bride. The groom then takes his leave of the bride to prepare the Chuppah. The bride promises to wait for him.
In the interregnum between the betrothal and the wedding, the groom has certain jobs to complete. You may be surprised to know that the Chuppah or Huppah is to be prepared by the groom with his own hands.
This is a canopy that is to be prepared by the groom at his home to receive his bride as per the dictates of the ancient Jewish marriage customs. It is also the honeymoon room in the groom’s house, where the wedding is consummated. You will also note
that it is symbolized by the chuppah or canopy under which the wedding ceremony is conducted. Significantly the groom is not allowed to skimp on the quality of work in preparing this room or canopy.
The preparations have to be approved by the groom’s father before he can consider it ready for his bride. The groom, therefore, cannot declare with any certainty the date of his wedding. It is incumbent upon the approval of the Chuppah by his father. Consequently you will find that as per the Ancient Jewish marriage customs the groom must answer “Only my father knows” to any query regarding the date of his wedding. The bride spoken for or betrothed will spend the time between the betrothal and the wedding under a veil whenever she steps out of the house.
The Nissuin or the Marriage
The Jewish wedding ceremony is called Nissuin. As we said above, you will note that the date will be fixed whenever the groom’s father considers the Chuppah ready to receive the bride. This can happen at any time so in ancient Jewish marriage custom, the term Nissuin also refers to the abduction of the bride from the home of her father. Consequently the bride must be ready for her groom at all times after the betrothal ceremony. She must keep her lamp, her veil and other things she needs beside her bed. Her bridesmaids must also be ready and waiting with oil in their lamps.
You will find that the groom needs to shout “Shofar” as he nears the house of the bride. The purpose is to warn the bride that the groom is coming to claim her and she must be ready to depart to her new home!
As with wedding round the world, you will note that the bride and the groom are richly attired and crowned. They pledge themselves to eternal happiness. All guests are then invited to partake of the marriage feast.
A Quaint Custom and Virginity of Bride
You may find this a quaint custom. The bride and the groom spend seven days continuously, in the honeymoon chamber prepared by the groom. The groom’s best friend stands guard outside the chamber to receive the news that the marriage has been consummated and the proof of the first intercourse is to be testified to by the blood on the bed sheets.
You may note that the ancient Jewish marriage customs dictate that blood on the sheets is an indication that the bride is a virgin and the marriage is pure. It is also a blood covenant that the bride and groom have been joined in marriage. The guests will continue the celebrations for seven days till the bride and groom emerge from the chamber. A final wedding supper is then held on the seventh day.
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