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Why do people throw sweets at the groom on the Shabbat before his wedding?

by Rabbi Moshe Miller

  

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The candy throwing ritual is known as an "Aufruf."

It is customary to call up (aufruf = the Yiddish word which means to call up) the groom to the Torah on the Shabbat before the wedding. After his portion is read and he has recited the blessing after reading the Torah it is customary to sing and rejoice together with him. The congregation then throws nuts and candies at the groom as a blessing that the couple should be fruitful and have a sweet life together. (The candies are soft so no one will be injured).

I've heard it said that they pelt the young man with bags of nuts and candies so that any hard knocks due to him are already fulfilled by those who love and respect him, and even those have a sweet ending!

We call up the groom to the Torah on the Shabbat before his wedding, to shower Torah-blessings on the auspicious upcoming week
According to the Zohar, the blessings for the entire week emanate from the Shabbat beforehand. Furthermore, since Torah is the root of all blessings, we call up the groom to the Torah on the Shabbat before his wedding, to shower Torah-blessings on the auspicious upcoming week.

The entire ancient custom seems to be related to the statement in the Talmud1 that everyone who brings joy to a groom is worthy of Torah (and this is why it is done when he is called up to the Torah).

After the services, it is customary for the family of the groom to sponsor a sumptuous Kiddush in honor of the soon-to-be-married couple.

The bride does not join the groom’s festivities because the bride and groom do not see each other for an entire week before the wedding. Instead, it is customary for the bride to have a festive gathering for her friends on this same Shabbat. This event is known as the “Shabbat Kallah,” or in Yiddish it is known as a fahrshpil.

Sephardic Jews generally do not observe the aufruf custom.

Footnotes

  • 1. Berachot 6b

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RELATED CATEGORIES

Life Cycle » Marriage » The Wedding
Shabbat » Reading of the Torah » Torah Reading

Shabbat
(pl: Shabbatot). Hebrew word meaning "rest." It is a Biblical commandment to sanctify and rest on Saturday, the seventh day of the week. This commemorates the fact that after creating the world in six days, G-d rested on the seventh.
Torah
Torah is G–d’s teaching to man. In general terms, we refer to the Five Books of Moses as “The Torah.” But in truth, all Jewish beliefs and laws are part of the Torah.
Talmud
Usually referring to the Babylonian edition, it is a compilation of Rabbinic law, commentary and analysis compiled over a 600 year period (200 BCE - 427 CE). Talmudic verse serves as the bedrock of all classic and modern-day Torah-Jewish literature.
Zohar
The most basic work of Jewish mysticism. Authored by Rabbi Shimeon bar Yochai in the 2nd century.
Kiddush
Prayer recited at the beginning of the Sabbath or Holiday meal--both the evening and afternoon meals. This prayer, acknowledging the sanctity of the day, is recited over a cup of wine or grape juice.
Sephardic
(adj.) A Jew whose ancestors stem from Southern Italy, Spain, Portugal, North Africa or the Arabian countries.
Yiddish
Language closely related to German commonly spoken by European Jews.