Ask The Rabbi

Breaking a Glass at a Wedding

The Color of HeavenArtscroll
Topic: Breaking A Glass At A Wedding

David F. Scott asks:

I have a question for your "Ask the Rabbi" series. At a Jewish wedding the groom places the glass under his foot and smashes it into several pieces. What is the significance of this act? I have a friend who is soon to be married and he asked me this question.


Dear David,

One reason is in order to remember The Temple and the glory of Jerusalem during The Temple era as it says in the verse in Psalm 137:

If I forget you, O Jerusalem, let my right hand forget its skill. Let my tongue adhere to my palate if I fail to recall you, if I fail to elevate Jerusalem above my foremost joy.

So even at a time of "foremost joy," we smash a glass in order to remember the destruction of The Temple.

Another reason is based on the Talmud in Tractate Berachot:

"[The Torah] says 'Serve G-d with fear and rejoice with trembling'... Rav Ashi made a wedding for his son. When he saw that the Rabbis were getting 'carried away' in their rejoicing, he brought out a crystal glass and broke it before them and they became subdued."

The authors of the Tosefot state that this is the source for the breaking of the glass at weddings. We learn from this that even at an occasion of great rejoicing, one must take measures to ensure that the celebration remains within bounds of propriety.

Sources:

  • Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chaim 560:2.
  • Tractate Berachot, pages 30b-31a.
  • Tosefot - Tractate Berachot, page 31a, "Aissi...."

 
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