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Why does the bride circle the groom beneath the chupah?

by Rabbi Naftali Silberberg

  

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Several reasons have been given for this custom.1 According to Kabbalah, the circling symbolizes the lofty "encircling" G-dly light (Or Soveiv) which dwells upon the married couple. (This "encircling" light is also symbolized by the ring which surrounds the bride's finger and the Chupah which encompasses both of them.)

Perhaps this tradition is also an allusion to the prophecy2 regarding the Messianic Era: "The female will surround the male."

The seven circles allude to the seven chupahs which G-d erected in the Garden of Eden in honor of the wedding of Adam and Eve.

See also Wedding Customs Unveiled.

Footnotes

  • 1. See Nitei Gavriel laws of Marriage 17:8 footnote 15 - for some of these and other reasons.
  • 2. Jeremiah 31:21.

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RELATED CATEGORIES

Life Cycle » Marriage » The Wedding

Kabbalah
Jewish mysticism. The word Kaballah means "reception," for we cannot physically perceive the Divine, we merely study the mystical truths which were transmitted to us by G-d Himself through His righteous servants.
Adam
The first man, created by G-d on the sixth day of creation. He was banished from the Garden of Eden after eating from the forbidden fruit of the forbidden knowledge. Died in 2830 BCE.
Chupah
Wedding canopy. Under this canopy, the groom betroths the bride with the customary ring, and the traditional marriage benedictions are recited.
G-d
It is forbidden to erase or deface the name of G-d. It is therefore customary to insert a dash in middle of G-d's name, allowing us to erase or discard the paper it is written on if necessary.