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What is a Bedeken?

Question of the Month:

We've been invited to a wedding this weekend. Before the services [at a Chabad center], the bride is going to have a "Bedeken". Could you tell me what this is all about.

Rabbi Mark's answer:

A Bedeken is the term for the Veiling of the bride just prior to the start of a Jewish wedding ceremony. The Torah tells us that when Rebecca gazed upon Isaac for the first time, "she took her veil and covered herself" (Genesis 24:60). The veil symbolizes the value of modesty. The word itself means to "check" or confirm and is drawn from the Biblical story of Jacob's wedding. He has fallen in love with Rachel and they are to be married. Jacob does not look under the veil and discovers after the ceremony that he has married her older sister Leah. And so today, at the veiling of the bride, the groom is present to make sure that he is marrying his intended.

The Bedeken can be a private ceremony, done with the wedding party while the guests are being seated for the ceremony. Alternatively, it can be done as a public ceremony for all to see. Generally, at a public Bedeken there is a large whicker chair for the bride; she is danced into the room by her attendants and seated. The veil is lowered in the grooms presence and some Biblical verses are read by the Rabbi or the Bedeken Officiant (who may also provide explanation) and then the bride is danced out of the room by her attendants to await the start of the wedding ceremony.

Mon, August 10 2020 20 Av 5780