Off the Pulpit

Breaking the Glass

Before the groom steps on a glass to conclude the wedding ceremony, there is a tradition of reciting part of the 137th Psalm, “If I forget thee O Jerusalem…”

The most immediate explanation of this is that stepping on the glass commemorates the tragedies of Jewish history, particularly the destruction of the Temple. So as we mark the destruction and exile, we promise not to forget.

On a more subtle level is the reality that to fall in love is not only to fall in love with the person, but to love things in the world together. Even as they intensify their concern for another, couples must learn to transcend the duality of love and embrace the world, to share as one that which matters to them both. They must stand face to face and shoulder to shoulder at the same time.

To affirm the memory of Jerusalem is to declare— we will not forget and we will ever love this place, this idea, as a couple. It is an affirmation and a promise as they build a home among the Jewish people.