Tuesday, June 20, 2017

The “Big Day”

Popular culture refers to one’s wedding as “The Big Day,” and it is, indeed, the beginning of an entirely new stage in one’s life. According to Jewish tradition, “there are three people whose iniquities are forgiven...[the third is] one who marries” (commentary of Rashi on Genesis 36:3).

Because the wedding day is considered a day of renewal on which one receives atonement, many communities have customs for the bride and groom that are similar to Yom Kippur. For this reason, it is customary in many communities for the bride and groom to fast from waking in the morning until after the chuppah (the wedding canopy, used to refer to the whole ceremony). However, there are numerous days on which fasting is not permitted, and the bride and groom may eat. These are Rosh Chodesh* (new month), Isru Chag (the day after a festival), Chanukah, Purim, Shushan Purim and the 15th of the months of Av and Shevat (Tu B’Av and Tu B’Shevat).

It is interesting to note that another reason given for the pre-wedding fast is to prevent having an intoxicated groom (or bride). If the formal marriage ceremony were to be completed while one of the parties was inebriated, the marriage could be questioned.

Additionally, in most traditions the bride and groom recite the same prayer service as is recited on the afternoon before the Day of Atonement, which includes the Vidui (confessional) service.

*with the exception of Rosh Chodesh Nissan

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