Wedding Ceremony Part IV: Nesuin
Perspective by Rivka
• Nesuin: The
• Why do we recite the
• The Sheva Brachot
- The Seven Blessings
• Who Recites the Blesings?
The Marriage Ceremony
Nesuin is the formal marriage ceremony. The ceremony’s name
is derived from “nasoh,” to accompany, and referred to the
bride as she was escorted to the groom’s home. Couples enter
Nesuin as sons and daughters and emerge from it as a new family
unto themselves. Status switching lends itself to the other meaning
of Nesuin, which is to “take” or “lift.”
Nesuin begins with another blessing over the wine, followed by the
recital of the marital blessings – sheva berachot, and ends
with the crushing of a glass. Once Sheva Brachot are said,
the couple is permitted to be physically intimate with each other.
Though they may want to attend the reception first.
Nowhere does the Jewish admiration of marriage come through as
strongly as it does in the Sheva Brachot (seven marital
blessings) in the Nesuin ceremony.
Why are Seven Blessings
Nowhere does the Jewish admiration of marriage come through as strongly
as it does in the sheva berachot (seven marital blessings) in
the nesuin ceremony. Up until the time of the Talmud, the
rabbis debated whether the five, six or seven blessings should be
said. Seven won out.
Each marriage is seen as the beginning of a new world. The children
who will be born figure into this thought, but each couple renews
the world as they bring the radiant light of committed loving to the
world. Five of the seven marital blessings, sheva berachot,
speak of creation.
The creation theme further underscores Judaism’s view of marriage as
the natural state of adults and recalls the role marriage plays in
continuing the process of creation.
Another reference to the new world created by the newlyweds is the
seven blessings which recall the Torah’s seven days of creation.
Seven is a particular significant number in Judaism. Shabbat is on
the seventh day. Rosh Hashanah, the New Year, is in the seventh
Biblical month. There is a biblical command to let the land lay
unplanted every seventh year.
The Sheva Brachot are
Kiddush – blessing over the wine. Jewish milestones are consecrated with
2. Blessing God for creating all things.
God’s created the potential, marriage brings creation to wholeness.
3. Blessing God for creating humankind
4. Blessing God for fashioning people in the divine image. God is blessed
for creating a means to perpetuate the ultimate creation – humankind -
through the institution of marriage.
5. Praying for the joy that will result when the world achieves its ultimate
repair and “Zion is united with her children.”
6. Wishing the couple the same joy and peace that Adam and Eve found in each
other while in the paradise of Eden.
The couple is termed “reim ahuvim,” which is often translated as
“dearly beloved,” but literally means “loving friends.”
7. Praying that the couple’s love will bring happiness to the world.
God is blessed for creating “happiness and joy, bridegroom and bride,
rejoicing and song, delight and cheer, love and harmony, peace and
Note only the last
two blessings mention the bride and groom. Throughout the rest of the
blessings the perfection of the first moments of creation stand as symbols
for the happiness a couple can achieve. With unity and love, the couple can
live in the harmony of Eden, the serene perfection of the end of days.
Immediately after the last blessing is recited, the couple sips from the
wine cup. Reciting two blessings over the very same cup would be using
God’s name in vain. So a second or refilled cup is used.
Depending on the rabbi, the ceremony may end with a wedding sermon or with
“and by the power vested in me by the state of…” Other rabbis and cantors
bless the couple with a traditional blessing once said by the kohen
priests: “May the Lord bless you and keep you. May the Lord’s face shine
upon you and be gracious to you. May God’s countenance turn to you grant you
peace.” (Numbers 6:23-24)
Who Says the Blessings
groom cannot say his own wedding blessings, but the divvying up of the
Sheva Brachot honors is otherwise quite flexible. One person can say
all seven blessings. Or, one person can say the blessing over the wine and
the “created all things for His glory” blessing and five other people for
the rest of the blessings. Another variation is to have one person say the
first six blessings and honoring a different guest with the last, long
(often sung) blessing.
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