A couple just starting their lives together inspires joy and hope, and everyone wants to wish them success. These blessings of good will are so important to a new couple that the Jewish marriage ceremony begins* with blessings. Seven of them, to be exact, known as the Sheva Brachoht, the seven blessings. (Sheva Brachoht is also the name used to refer to dinner parties held in honor of the bride and groom during the week after their wedding.)
Generally, the Sheva Brachoht are recited under the chuppah over a cup of wine. The blessings, which are discussed at great length in the Talmud, Ketuboht 7b-8a, are either recited by a rabbi/chazan or are assigned as honors to be recited by distinguished wedding guests.
The seven blessings begin with the blessing over the wine, as a sign of joy and a means of sanctifying the ceremony. The second blessing lauds God as He “who created everything for His glory,” which reminds the bride, groom and all wedding guests that, at such a joyous celebration, there is no better time to praise God the Creator.
The third and fourth blessings are similar, in that they refer back to the Creation of humankind. The third blessing praises God, “the Creator of Adam” and the fourth blessing details how God created Adam in His image and “provided for the perpetuation of his kind.” According to tradition, God created Adam as a creature both male and female, and then separated them. When a man and woman come together in marriage, it is as if they are recreating the original ideal merged creation.
The last three blessings, praise God for bringing joy and happiness to the Jewish people and to the bride and groom. The seventh blessing, which is the longest, is often sung at the chuppah (with the wedding guests frequently joining in).
* The second part of the wedding is Nis’oo’in, which consecrates the marriage. (The first half is actually Eyr’oo’sin, a formal engagement.)
**For a translation of the Sheva Brachoht, please click here.
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