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Adar 25, 5773, 3/7/2013
When I was younger, I always used to laugh at older women dabbing at their eyes with hankies while crying at weddings, but now that I am older, I see I'll have to start bringing kleenex to weddings with me too.
I cried this week. Not from happiness, but because of the Jewish People's National tragedy that we still are suffering from today.
A few nights ago I was at a wedding, and though I was so happy for the beautiful young couple, I got very sad at one point. It was when just after the groom picked up his foot and broke the glass. I heard the SMASH. Immediately, tears welled up in my eyes, and I almost broke down and cried - you know, the whole nine yards, with gulps and heaves and shaking shoulders, BUT I was able to put a cork on it as they say. I certainly didn't want to draw attention to myself.
It is usual at Jewish weddings to shout 'Mazal tov!' immediately upon hearing the glass break. However, this is actually a mistaken custom that we see today. When one understands the meaning of the breaking of the glass, they remember that though we are at a happy occasion, we cannot be completely joyous, as long as the Holy Temple (The Bet HaMikdash) is not here. The breaking of the glass at a wedding symbolizes the Jewish heartbreak at the destruction of G-d's Temple, and our longing for it to be rebuilt. It is a national trauma that we still suffer today, though many cannot contemplate this emptiness, because we are either too desensitized, or too removed. If we had experienced having the Temple, and then having it taken away from the world, then all of us would realize the enormous magnitude of this tremendous loss, and we would be sitting in sack cloth and ashes, knowing what we lost. But we alive today do not feel this pain, though the trauma is apparent.
I have been at other weddings that one does not yell 'mazal tov' immediately following the breaking of the glass. Rather, after hearing the crushing of the glass, and contemplating a moment what it is symbolizing, we softly sing Psalm 137:
"By the rivers of Babylon, there we sat down, yea, we wept, when we remembered Zion.... ...If I forget thee, O Jerusalem, let my right hand forget her cunning. Let my tongue cleave to the roof of my mouth, if I remember thee not; If I set not Jerusalem above my chiefest joy."
Only after this pause, of singing this Psalm, do we shout out a congratulations or 'mazal tov' to the newly wedded couple. This 'pause' between the breaking of the glass, and the reflecting on the loss, and rebuilding of, the Temple, is becoming more common today because of reignited awareness and the coming back to our land and roots. Jewish learning and returning to Torah is growing and growing today.
At the next wedding we go to, we should take a pause and reflect on the reason for the breaking of the glass, and remember the Holy Temple. We can then cry from joy for the new couple and shout a hearty 'mazal tov', with the hopes to not have to break glasses at weddings anymore!
May this sign become real, G-d willing, very soon in peace and happiness and joy, for all the nations of the world!
Isaiah 56:7: " ...for My house (The Temple) shall be called a house of prayer for ALL nations."