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Marriage: The Jewish Perspective

Marriage for the Jews is, indeed, considered something that is sacred as it greatly reflects their faith. This tradition that unites a man and a woman through a solemn ritual traces its history way back from the Biblical times. What happened at Mt. Sinai between God and the Israelites had influenced the symbolisms carried by marriage and by the bride and the groom, themselves. Upon the installation of the Ten Commandments through Moses, He and God’s people—where God was the groom and His people, His bride—were married to each other through a covenant that entailed binding responsibilities and rewarding promises.

In the same way, a man and a woman who decides to get married considers the shouldering of future responsibilities involved with married life and makes the commitment to such. Officially, the Torah or the Jewish Bible serves as a guide of the Jews in living a life of faith. The Jewish Wedding Every Jewish wedding is a very elaborate celebration as it includes many heavily symbolic rituals not only during but also before and after the wedding, itself. Prior to the baddeken , the bride and the groom are not allowed to see each other for a period of one week. This is done to increase their yearning for each other.

Within this period, the bride and the groom individually hold the kabbalat panim in two separate venues that are in close proximity to each other. During this festive celebration, they are treated as queen and king. Hors d’oeuvres are being served as the guests give their mazal tov to the couple. Such celebration may be juxtaposed with what people commonly know as the bridal shower and the stag party. While at the bride’s reception the guests are merely fed and the exchanges of mazal tov takes place, at the groom’s reception several rituals are practiced.

The groom is first made to listen to songs that are sung to him by his guests after which the reading of the Torah is carried out. The formulation of conditions (tena’im) of the obligations of each party to one another is also carried out, thus, the finalization of the “engagement” contract. Both the mother of the bride and that of the groom will be breaking plates after such formulation and completion of contract in order to symbolize its finality, hence, its binding nature. Following the reception of the kabbalat panim is the procession of the groom to the bride’s reception area, where the baddeken or the veiling ceremony will be done.

Demonstratively, the groom is the one who puts the veil on his bride’s face. Like the other rituals that have been mentioned earlier, the baddeken is a practice coined from the Biblical story of Rebecca and Isaac, when Rebecca upon meeting her groom, Isaac, hid her face with a veil. The baddeken carries rich symbolisms. What the veiling of the bride signifies is a transcendental kind of love that both parties must possess. It should be the kind of love that overlooks physical beauty and focuses rather on the goodness that buds forth from within.

Once the baddeken is done, the groom leaves the bride in her reception and starts to prepare for the ceremony under the chupah . The couple don on their best white clothing—kittel for the groom, and white gown for the bride—to signify their purity because of the forgiveness that has been bestowed upon them. After the preparations, the bride and the groom are escorted by a married couple, usually their very parents, to the chupah. This married couple serves as light and guide to the road that lies ahead of the married life.

The groom is the first one to be escorted to the chupah and there, he stands and awaits the coming of his bride who is escorted by her parents. Once they are both there, the actual chupah ceremony can then, begin. The ceremony is done outdoors because the Jews believe that during such moment the ancestors of both the bride and the groom come to honor the couple with their presence. In the same way, the Shechinah is invoked during the celebration. Apparently, a Jewish marriage undergoes two processes. Both the kiddushin (first stage) and the nisu’in (second and final stage) take place beneath the chupah.

Kiddushin involves the groom’s giving of the ring or the wedding band to the bride to signify his love and commitment. At such point the ceremony, the bride and the groom becomes officially husband and wife. The ketubah or the marriage contract is, then, read after the kiddushin. Nisu’in, the final stage, soon follows. It is when the couple profess their commitment of building a home that is spiritually well-guided and is open for everyone. Originally, the use of the chupah was taken from the biblical characters, Abraham and Sarah, who humbly lived and built a home in a tent.

Also such ceremony is a reminder of God’s abundant promises to the faithful. For example, Abraham and the line of the generations that came after him were blessed opulently because of their unwavering faith in God. At the same stage, the Sheva Brachot or the Seven Benedictions is being recited after which the breaking of the glass by the groom takes place. The breaking of the glass signifies the acceptance of the flaws of each other by the newlyweds. This officially ends the ceremony after which everyone shouts Mazal tov!. On Sex

Sex, for the Jews, is a very sacred act that is not something to be done outside the boundaries of marriage. As stated in the Jewish law (contained in the Torah), sex should not be seen as evil when it is executed for procreative functions. Furthermore, sex done by a husband and wife out of their overflowing love for each other is not to be seen as concupiscent as it promotes unity and companionship between the married couple and as it aims toward the production of offspring. Jewish law dictates that sex is not merely for the satisfaction of the cravings of the flesh.

Instead, it is an act that entails both “commitment and responsibility” . Marriage is the sacrament that ensures a couple’s acceptance of commitment and responsibility as their uniting act is geared towards their personal growth as individual persons. Other than the intercourse, lustful acts that may lead to the actual intercourse are also prohibited by the Jewish law. Sex within marriage should only be experienced during mirthful moments. It is the right of the woman that her physical needs be satisfied by her husband.

When she demands it, her request should be deemed by her husband. However, when the husband seeks to have sex, his wife may or may not give in to his desire. Hence, the wife is not to be forced into having sexual intercourse. The Torah, in fact, narrates a man’s obligation to his wife regarding the quantity and quality of sex that he is expected to render. If he is not to answer to this particular obligation, then, it can be a possible ground for divorce. He is also not allowed to have sex with his wife when she is menstruating as this is considered impure.

After the seventh “clean day” of the menstruating period, the wife is to immerse herself in a ritual pool to cleanse her body from ritual impurities . On Children Jews believe that every human life is significant from the moment of birth. It is considered sacred because every human being is created in God’s very own image and likeness. Anything destructive to it is to be avoided. Such is the very reason why from the moment of a child’s conception every careful measure is taken to preserve the life of the unborn. The same goes for the newly born child as he grows up.

As in any other country or society, Jews view children as the hope for the coming future. For them, however, more than hope, the children are considered as “guarantors” of their future. They are the ones in charge of the coming age, thus, they are brought up in such way that will prepare them for their responsibilities. One good example is providing them the education that they need. Because their youth is filled with innocence, the children, for the Jews, should be treated with gentleness and should be brought up in such way that they are given enough love and care.

But if given the situation that some children were left and neglected by their parents, the responsibility of rearing them is to be shouldered by the society. Specifically, this happens to orphans. On Family Life The family being the very core of a society is rendered great relevance in Jewish communities. Jewish families live rather religious lives as the engraining of beliefs and practices within the minds of the children is an obligation of a Jewish father. The mother, similar to many traditional societies, takes care of household matters and certain preparations for particular Jewish festivals.

It is also the mother’s task to properly educate her daughters regarding their future roles in society. On Divorce Wikipedia defines divorce as a legal process through which marriage is dissolved rendering both parties free to marry another. According to Aron Moss’s (2009) article, Jews view divorce as the final choice when considering solutions to marital disputes between husband and wife. As much as possible, disputes are to be resolved through open communication between married couples. However, given certain situations that curtail the individual personal growth of the parties involved, a divorce might just be the best resort.

For example, a wife being physically attacked by her husband on a repetitive manner needs to save herself from total destruction. By filing a divorce, she may be able to rid herself of the painful situation and achieve growth on her own. Succinctly, divorce is to be only picked as an option when grave destructive cases occur. Old and Current Practices As it was said earlier, the traditional Jewish wedding has the Biblical times as the origin of its rituals and practices. But certain traditional practices of the olden times have been reformed through the years.

Marlena Thompson’s (1996-2007) article on wedding customs enumerates some of these practices. For example, the kinyan has been an established practice in Jewish weddings. It is the groom’s giving of a gift—a considerably valuable object—to the bride. The bride is expected to accept such gift. Prior to the 7th century of the Christian Era, grooms used to give their brides coins. Eventually, the coins have been replaced by wedding bands or rings. Some critiques say that it is because of the symbolic value of rings that such have come to replace the coins.

The rings, being circular in shape, are known to signify eternal love and companionship between husband and wife. Current practices also include an exchange of rings between the bride and the groom, which some contradict because it is said to invalidate the kinyan. Another example of a Jewish tradition that has been reformed is the bride’s wearing of a white gown because there are already other Jews from Morocco and Yemen, for example, who have worn colorful gowns with veils carefully adorned with coins. White has been the usual color of Jewish wedding gowns but such is not really a requirement.

It is only seen as the best option because it signifies cleanliness from the impurities of sin which the bride achieves during her wedding. Meanwhile, the ritual bath called mikvah is a cleansing ritual that every bride used to indulge into before her wedding. However, because menstruating women—who are considered impure—immerse their bodies in the ritual pool, many brides have opted to neglect the practice to save themselves from being contaminated by the impurities. Currently, though, mikvah is recovering a good reputation as many are starting to view it as of spiritual significance.

Even the ketubah have already been reformed. If previously, it only contained a man’s obligation to his wife, now, the ketubah created contain both the obligations of the husband and wife to each other. The contents are also more egalitarian as such are being made suitable to contemporary times. Apparently, the chupah or the wedding canopies void of any specifications based on Jewish laws, have mostly been personalized based on the whims of either only the bride or both the bride and the groom. Indeed, Jewish weddings are very much elaborate and the particulars need to be carefully prepared and are not to be taken for granted.

The laws on sex, divorce, and other aspects are distinctly very specific. But however strict the laws of the Jews are, certain reformations have been made throughout the years to match and make suitable their practices with the constantly changing times. Outline Title: Marriage: The Jewish Perspective I. Introduction A. Jewish view on marriage -sacred ceremony that unites a man and a woman in love and lifelong commitment and responsibility B. A brief trace of history -the Biblical times II. The Jewish wedding A. Kabbalat panim (pre-nuptial reception) 1. The bride’s reception 2. The groom’s reception

B. Baddeken (veiling ceremony) C. Chupah (wedding canopy) 1. kiddushin (first stage) 2. nisu’in (second and final stage) III. On sex -a sacred act done to satisfy a married couple’s need for companionship and physical compatibility and to serve a procreative function IV. On children -“guarantors” of the future that need to be reared appropriately V. On family life -the father and the mother carry the sole responsibility of educating their children in religious aspects

VI. On divorce -the final resort among a myriad of solutions to marital disputes VII. Old and current practices A. From coins to rings B. From white gowns to colorful gowns C. The shunning of the ritual bath D. The reformation of the ketubah E. The personalized chupah VIII. Brief Conclusion References Family Life Notes. Retrieved April 8, 2009, from http://re- xs. ucsm. ac. uk/gcsere/revision/judaism/jud2/page5. html Judaism 101. (1995-1999). Kosher Sex. Jewfaq. org. Retrieved April 7, 2009, from http://www. jewfaq. org/sex. htm Kittel. Retrieved April 8, 2009, from http://en. wikipedia. org/wiki/Kittel Moss, A. (2009).

The Jewish Views of Divorce. Chabad. org. Retrieved April 3, 2009, from http://www. Jewish-View-of-Divorce. htm Rosen, D. (2004, October 12). How Children are valued in the Jewish Tradition. Rabbidavidrosen. net. Retrieved April 7, 2009, from http://rabbidavidrosen. net/Articles/Judaism/How%20Children%20are%20Valued%20in%20the%20Jewish%20Tradition%20Oct%2004. doc. The Wedding. Retrieved April 4, 2009, from http://www. chabad. org/library/howto/wizard_cdo/aid/476761/jewish/Introduction. htm Thompson, M. (1996-2007). Wedding Customs: Old, New, Renovated. Retrieved April 10, 2009, from http://jewishfamily. com/jc/lifecycle/wedding_customs_old. phtml

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