The Jewish wedding ceremony is a mix of symbols, customs, and liturgical elements neatly designed alongside distinct sections that easily allow for interpolations of poetry, declarations, songs, and like in every great symphony, silences.
The structural backbone of the ceremony consists in an invocation, a benediction over engagement promises, the ring ceremony, the reading of the ketubah, seven blessings recited over a second cup of wine which have a primary purpose to bless the couple with success, joy, and happiness and the ancient priestly blessing. The ceremony concludes with the stepping on a glass cup.
The dominant liturgical form here is the “berakha” (blessing), the quintessential form of expressing gratitude in Judaism.
Derived from the root-word “BeReKh”, (the current word in modern Hebrew for “knee,”) “berakha” originally meant “to bend one’s knee” in gratitude.
Gratitude is more than a feeling, it contains an element of recognition, a force that compels the return of the benefit received. Gratitude is an I. O. U. that in Judaism is made public at every momentous passage in life.
The Jewish wedding ceremony proclaims that a couple’s life together begins by expressing gratitude for having encountered each other, for the myriad of hopes this union engenders, for family, friends, for being a responsible part of the world’s continuation.
The “berakhot” (blessings) of the Jewish ceremony express the gratitude of two individuals now becoming one family, a new creative force in the world, members of the communities that preceded them.