Much preparation goes into planning a Jewish wedding. It is steeped in ancient tradition and customs which vary among Sephardic and Ashkenazi Jews, and those of varying levels of religious observance. As an example, the date of the wedding cannot take place on Shabbat which includes Friday night after sundown to Saturday night after sundown. There are several other dates that are out of the question also, and consulting a Jewish calendar is part of the planning process. The date is only one of the strict rules that accompany a Jewish marriage. Jewish law also dictates the selection of the brides wedding ring.
Selecting the Ring
After a Jewish man proposes to his intended, he must set about the serious task of buying a wedding ring. Just any wedding ring won’t do though; a traditional Jewish wedding ring is required. Under Jewish law, established 1400 years ago, the groom gave the bride something worth at least a Cent; otherwise the marriage would not be considered legal. Conveniently, the wedding ring has always fulfilled this requirement.
Although wedding rings no longer cost only a Cent, the Jewish groom gets by fairly inexpensively compared to the gentile groom who, preferably purchases a diamond wedding ring. However a few important stipulations go along with the Jewish wedding ring:
- The wedding band must be of solid gold, silver or platinum
- It must be a simple band
- It cannot contain piercing or precious stones
- It must be smooth on the outside
Although, the groom may include engraving of any nature on the inside of the band.
The smooth surface and circular shape represent the unbroken union of a Jewish marriage.
The Wedding Ceremony
During the wedding ceremony, the groom places the wedding ring on the bride’s right index finger.
Fourteen-hundred years ago it was believed that the right index finger was connected to the heart. Some Jewish wedding experts say the index is closest to the seated wedding guests and the purpose is so the guests have a better view of the ring being placed on the brides finger. Regardless of the reason, the bride can change it to her left ring finger later if she wishes.
As the groom places the ring on the bride’s finger he recites the Haray Aht, from the Talmud in Aramaic: “Haray aht m’kudeshhet li b’taba’at zu k’dat Moshe v’Yisrael,” In English it translates to, “By this ring you are consecrated to me, as my wife, in accordance with the traditions of Moses and Israel.”
The groom is expected to have the phrase memorized for the wedding ceremony. It contains 32 letters. The number 32 in Hebrew is written with the same letters that spell the word “heart.” This fact symbolizes the groom giving his heart.
This article is a guest post by Yoram Baltinester, owner of baltinesterjewelry.com which offers wide selection of Jewish wedding rings.
You might also be interested in our selection of Jewish Rings (for other events)