Nissuin: The Second of the Two Ceremonies

The substance of nissuin, the actual marriage ceremony, are seven blessings that reflect the themes of creation, joy, and bride and groom.

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"Beneath its articulated Jewish historical meaning (remembrance of the destruction of the Temple), this act has symbolic sexual-anthropological meaning. It is an obvious representation of the sexual consummation of the marriage by the breaking of the hymen. It also is an act of noisemaking employed to chase away demons that might attack the couple as they pass through that liminal period between unmarried and married status."

This evaluation of the tradition of breaking the glass is extraordinarily novel. Whether these anthropological factors actually played a role in the origins of the ceremony is difficult to say.

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Rabbi Daniel Gordis

Rabbi Daniel H. Gordis is Director of the Jerusalem Fellows program and a member of the Senior Staff of the Mandel Foundation Sector on Jewish Education and Continuity. His most recent book, on the demise of peace in Israel, is entitled If a Place Can Make You Cry: Dispatches from an Anxious State; other books include God Was Not in the Fire: The Search for a Spiritual Judaism.