Our Grounding Moment

Last night as we sat with Rabbi Berman, I was so exhausted that I was loopy.  My new job at JPS is in my brain all the time and I was having a hard time turning my brain chatter down so that I could pay attention to the most important task at hand.

We were talking ritual.

Rabbi Berman is totally down with our questioning of rituals and our desire to make them our own.  This is exactly why we knew she would be the right fit.  We had so much to talk about and decide upon and I think in the end, we were left with more to ponder than we walked in the door with.  You know.  This is a good thing.

Something that came up, that Lu and I just love, is the idea of a Bedeken.

Now.  Traditionally a Bedeken Ceremony in an Orthodox wedding takes place right before the actual wedding ceremony and is the unveiling of the Bride.  The story here (traditionally speaking) is that the groom should see the bride’s face before the magic happens so that he doesn’t marry the wrong woman—Like how Jacob married Leah accidentally when he meant to marry Rachel in Genesis:29

So.  Not only is this custom out of date and totally weird, but you wouldn’t even think that it could be a positive thing—a spiritual moment–the connotation that the woman would be trying to get over on the man, and that the man is so distrusting of his wife-to-be that he has to check to make sure that she is who she claims to be. Preposterous!  Lu and I are just way too liberal for that!

So Rabbi Berman presented an alternative idea—Let me elaborate.

In the weeks leading up to the wedding, Lu and I will be hectic.  Crazy, pull out your hair, yell at each other, and maybe even start drinking-hectic.  We will be making last minute plans, gathering family, and working to make our wedding, a wedding.  On the big day there will be getting dressed and taking pictures and decorating and flower arranging.  We will be totally hectic right up until the moment when we stand there-under the huppah- and look into each other’s eyes.

So why not make THAT our bedeken?

As Lu and I meet, for the first time, under the huppah, on our nuptial day, we will take a moment.  We will be silent and we will ground ourselves.  We will be sure that we are there completely; leaving behind all of the hectic life that was the wedding-prep and we will unveil each other by taking a breath.  By looking into each others eyes and be sure that we are there with each other and for each other.

We know that we can only remain in silent meditation for a few moments without causing our guests to stir.  But with any hope, the moment will feel like an eternity.  It will be the most calming, grounding, humbling moment that a couple could ask for.

I for one am looking forward to that little break.

-Alx

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One thought on “Our Grounding Moment

  1. Indulge me in a few moments of nostalgia. My hubby and I also spent alot of time picking and choosing rituals.

    Before the full ceremony we had a private ketubah signing, just for the immediate families.

    There we did the mother’s traditional Tenaim tradition of breaking a plate to symbolize the end of their responsibilities to feed and take care of us, and the beginning of our responsibilities to care for each other. This was probably not worht it. We didn’t have an engagement contract anyway, and both Mom’s were afraid of shards. We wound up asking the hotel to locate a towel to wrap the plate and two mallets….kind of anticlimatic.

    We did a bedeken there too. Like you, we found it meaningful that the metaphorical veils we use to protect us in the world would be lifted to each other. (The rabbi tried to convince us to include a special covering meaning, but we didn’t go for that.)

    Both sets of parents both said a few words of blessing, it was nice to have that in a semi-private environment. Not a Jewish thing, but it made the Ketubah signing ceremony extra personal for us.

    I would also strongly recommend a Yichud. Five and a half years later it’s the moment I remember most vividly. Instead of a receiving line, after the ceremony, Hubby and I had a few minutes to spend alone appreciating the giddy enormity of what we had just done for each other. “You are really my wife now, you are really my husband now” It was a moment that really transcends words. Don’t leave it out. Really.

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