In the last five weeks on Smashing The Glass, we’ve made it through from waking up on the morning of the wedding to standing under the chuppah. One key part of the ceremony is The Seven Blessings, or as they’re known in Hebrew the Sheva Brachot.
The Seven Blessings are a key part of a traditional Jewish wedding ceremony. The blessings are adapted from ancient rabbinic teachings, beginning with the blessing over the wine and ending with a communal expression of joy.
Seven blessings are said (or sung) over a cup of wine, which the couple then drink from, giving them these blessings for the rest of their life together. Sometimes the Rabbi, or Chazan, will sing these blessings to the couple under the chuppah.
In many ceremonies, the prayers are read or chanted in both Hebrew and English. There are also numerous modern English variations on the blessings.
Many couples also ask friends or relatives to read some or all of the blessings, or may ask all the guests in attendance to read the blessings from a wedding program. Some couples create their blessings or ask honoured guests to create their own.
The traditional Hebrew transliteration and English translation of the blessings follow:
The Seven Benedictions (the Sheva Brachot)
The seven benedictions under the chuppah are recited by the rabbi or others who are given the honour. They should be read-only in the presence of a minyan, which may include the rabbi, the groom, witnesses, and parents. The benedictions are not to be recited by the groom, although the tradition refers to them as birkhot chattanim, the groom’s blessing. Maimonides expressed shock that a groom should recite the blessings since the benedictions are designed to bless, congratulate, and pray for him and his bride. If no one else can recite them but the groom, he may do so.
The benedictions cover many themes—the creation of the world and humanity, the survival of the Jewish people and Israel, the marriage, the couple’s happiness and the raising of the family. It puts the state of marriage into a dynamic relationship with the beginning and end of history—the Garden of Eden and the expectation of the Messiah. The first three blessings have nothing directly to say about the marriage itself, but they form the foundation of the nuptial benedictions that follow. The last blessing is the climax of rejoicing, with the chanting of ten synonyms of joy that reach a crescendo in the praising of G‑d who rejoices the groom with the bride. The seven blessings are as follows:
May the life you share together be as sweet as this wine you drink today. Blessed is the Source of Life, who created the fruit of the vine.
May your love for one another always be a source of inspiration and happiness. Blessed is the Source of Joy, who creates a wonderful, brilliant world.
May your journey together be blessed with generosity and forgiveness. May you enable each other to fulfil your dreams, and may you be committed to the paths of courage and hope. Blessed is the Source of Generosity who created such good, remarkable people you two!
Wherever you travel, and wherever life takes you, may the love of your family and friends always echo in your hearts…even across great distances and times. Blessed is the Source of Love who supports the edifice of love.
With the strength of your relationship, may you help transform the world in big ways and small ways? May your love for each other be a source of warmth and inspiration for your community. Blessed is the Source of Healing who brings wellbeing to the world through Her children.
May you always find a refuge tucked within your love – a place to hide out, and a place to reflect. Blessed is the Source of Safety, who brings joy to the brides.
Blessed is the Source of Life, who creates wonder, pleasure, song, and delight! May the bride and groom be filled with gladness, and rejoicing, love, harmony, and companionship. And may they be blessed with lots and lots of peace! Blessed is the Source of Life, who is the Source of Peace.
The Seven Blessings
Blessed are you, YHVH our elo’ah, cosmic majesty, which shapes the fruit of the tree of knowledge.
Blessed are you, YHVH our elo’ah, cosmic majesty, who creates everything as their glorious signifier!
Blessed are you, YHVH our elo’ah, cosmic majesty, who fashions our cosmic potential!
Blessed are you, YHVH our elo’ah, cosmic majesty, who fashions each person in their likeness. You have planted within us your creative potential and given us the means that we may perpetually flourish. Blessed are you YHVH, a fashioner of our cosmic potential!
May she who was left bereft of her children, now delight as they gather together in joy. Blessed are you YHVH, who delights in Tziyon with her children!
Let these loving friends taste of the bliss you gave to the first man and woman in the Garden of Eden in our earliest memory. Blessed are you YHVH, who delights with bridegroom and bride!
Blessed are You, YHVH our elo’ah, cosmic majesty, which illuminates the world with happiness and contentment, love and companionship, peace and friendship, bridegroom and bride. Speedily, YHVH our elo’ah, let it be heard in all the intentional Jewish communities, and in the gates of the City of Peace, cries of joy, song, merriment, and delight — the voice of the groom and the voice of the bride, the jubilant voice of bridegrooms from their canopies, and of youths from their feasts of song. Blessed are you YHVH, who delights in bridegroom and bride together!
The Seven Blessings
Adapted from Deena Metzger
Blessed is the one who created the fruit of the vine. Bless the two of you who come out of long traditions of struggling to find out what it is to be human. May you be full of the wine of life. May the life force and the knowledge of the human heart always be with you.
Blessed is the One. All creation mirrors your splendour and reflects your radiance. Bless the two of you. May the two of you know that all beauty comes from the Great Heart, and may you always live in its radiance.
Blessed is the one who created human beings. Bless the two of you. May you know it all–joy and struggle, beauty and sorrow, sweat, tears, solitude, companionship, laughter and ecstasy. May your marriage be strong enough to support you to experience whatever you must as you come to know yourselves and each other and to discover the entire range of your humanity in the process of soul-making.
Emily and Jose, seven blessings blessed, is the one who created us in the divine image so that we may live, love and perpetuate life. Bless the two of you. May you delight in the wonder and impossibility of the fact that you are so similar and so different–may the difficulty and enormous pleasure of being a man and woman continually fascinate and engage you and be the source of your bonding.
Blessed is the one who brings people together and unites the divided. In joy, we have come to witness this marriage of many cultures. It is said that everyone gets married at a wedding. Bless the two of you who bring us together through your union today.
Blessed is the one who rejoices that the love between these two people is as the very first love in the Garden. Bless the two of you who recreate the world for us and yourselves. May your love be as old and as new as the first love, and may you also bring new life, in all its forms, into the world.
Blessed is the creation of joy and celebration, lover and beloved, gladness and jubilation, pleasure and delight, love and solidarity, friendship and peace. Soon may we hear in the streets of the city and the paths of the fields the voice of joy, the voice of gladness, the voice of a lover, the voice of beloved, the triumphant voice of lovers from the canopy and the voice of youths from their feasts of song. Blessed is the joy of lovers, one with another.
A New Seven Blessings from “The New Jewish Wedding”
By Anita Diamant
We acknowledge the Unity of all within the sovereignty of God, expressing our appreciation for this wine, symbol, and aid of our rejoicing.
We acknowledge the Unity of all within the sovereignty of God, realizing that each separate moment and every distinct object points to and shares in this oneness.
We acknowledge the Unity of all within the sovereignty of God, recognizing and appreciating the blessing of being human.
We acknowledge the Unity of all within the sovereignty of God, realizing the special gift of awareness that permits us to perceive this unity and the wonder we experience as a man and a woman joined to live together.
May rejoicing resound throughout the world as the homeless are given homes, persecution and oppression cease, and all people learn to live in peace with each other and in harmony with their environment.
From the Divine, source of all energy, we call forth an abundance of love to envelop this couple. May they be for each other lovers and friends, and may their love partake of the same innocence, purity, and sense of discovery that we imagine the first couple to have experienced.
We acknowledge the Unity of all within the sovereignty of God, and we highlight today joy and gladness, bridegroom and bride, delight and cheer, love and harmony, peace and companionship. May we all witness the day when the dominant sounds throughout the world will be these sounds of happiness, the voices of lovers, the sounds of feasting and singing.
Praised is love; blessed be this marriage. May the bride and bridegroom rejoice together.
Secular Seven Benedictions
Blessed is the wonder of creation, the earth, the provider of all things. May you be inspired each day by the abundance of the natural world, science and technology, as well as art, music, literature, and creative expression.
Blessed is the essence of humankind. People have the capacity for love and friendship, generosity, kindness, and compassion. May you express these qualities freely and be blessed to receive them throughout your lives.
Blessed is the design of humankind. The diversity of humanity is remarkable: out of the same basic shape, infinite variations. May you find comfort in the similarities shared by all of the world’s cultures and celebrate the qualities which make us different.
Blessed is the joy of this gathering. Despite its blessings, we live in a broken world. May you be blessed to live in a world where there is food for those who are hungry, homes for those who are homeless, freedom for those who are oppressed, and peace and equality for all.
Blessed is the joy of lovers. Today we celebrate with this couple as they freely unite in marriage. May you live in a world where this freedom is extended to all couples, allowing anyone to marry without judgment, impediment, or persecution.
Blessed is the joy of gladness and celebration. With the breaking of the glass, today’s ceremony will end, and celebration begins. As we shout “Mazel Tov” let us wish good luck for this couple and make this wish for ourselves and our loved ones: May every day be full of happiness, love, friendship, harmony, laughter, and rejoicing.
Blessed is the human capacity for joy, embodied in the symbol of wine. The ritual of drinking wine at Jewish celebrations is an expression of joy and sanctification. May you find something to celebrate every day of your life, and may your cup runneth over.
Another Secular Seven Blessings
Praised be the enlightened one amongst humans, who understands that the world was not created for him.
Praised be the one who is thankful for the evolution of humans.
Praised be the one, who loves all humans as one’s self, as one’s very own self, and loves every human as one loves one’s spouse. Praised be the one who is thankful for the evolution of humans.
Let the barren (city) be joyful and exulted at the ingathering of her children into her midst in gladness. Praised be the one who shares in the gladness of Zion at the return of her children.
Let us gladden the loving couple, (so they may enjoy gladness) like the legendary gladness of paradise. Praised be the one, who gladdens the bridegroom and the bride.
Praised be those who increase, joy and gladness, bridegroom and bride, exultation, song, pleasure and delight, love and brotherhood, peace and friendship. May there soon be heard, all over the world, as in the cities of Judea and as in the streets of Jerusalem, the sound of joy and the sound of gladness, the voice of the bridegroom and the voice of the bride, the happy shouting of bridegrooms from their weddings and of young men and women from their song-filled feasts. Praised be the one, who causes the bridegroom and bride to be glad together.
Praised be those who made this wine.
Seven Wishes for the Couple
Secular Jews sometimes replace the traditional seven benedictions by asking seven close friends or family members to each give a personal wish for the marriage and the future. Others instead ask everyone to recite seven values they feel are important for strong marriages. Examples include trust, love, communication, honesty, respect, happiness, and compassion.
Other Traditional Jewish Wedding Readings
From the Talmud (Ketubot 8a)
Blessed art though, O Lord, King of the Universe, who created mirth and joy, bridegroom and bride, gladness, jubilation, dancing, and delight, love and brotherhood, peace and fellowship. Quickly, O Lord our God, may the sound of mirth and joy be heard in the streets of Judah and Jerusalem, the voice of bridegroom and bride, jubilant voices of bridegrooms from their canopies and youths from the feasts of song. Blessed art though, O Lord, who makes the bridegroom rejoice with the bride.
A Hebrew Wedding Prayer
Blessed art thou, O Lord our God, King of the universe, who hath created joy and gladness, bridegroom and bride, mirth and exultation, pleasure and delight, love and brotherhood, peace and friendship. May there soon be heard in the cities of Judah, and in the streets of Jerusalem, the voice of joy and gladness, the voice of the bridegroom and the voice of the bride, the jubilant voice of bridegrooms from the wedding canopy, and of youths from their feasts of song. Blessed art thou, O Lord, who gives the Bridegroom joy in his bride.
Song of Solomon, from the Old Testament
I am my beloveds, and my beloved is mine.
My beloved speaks and says to me: Arise, my love, my fair one, and come away; for lo, the winter is past, the rain is over and gone. The flowers appear on the earth, the time of singing has come, and the voice of the turtledove is heard in our land. The fig tree puts forth its figs, and the vines are in blossom; they give forth fragrance.
Arise, my love, my fair one, and come away. I am my beloveds, and my beloved is mine O my dove, in the clefts of the rock, in the covert of the cliff, let me see your face, let me hear your voice, for your voice is sweet, and your face is comely. Set me as a seal upon your heart and seal upon your arm; for love is strong as death, jealousy cruel as the grave.
Its flashes are flashes of fire, a most vehement flame.
Many waters cannot quench love; neither can floods drown it. If a man offered for love all the wealth of his house, it would be utterly scorned. I am my beloveds, and my beloved is mine.
A Wedding Reading from Ruth 1:16–17
Ruth said: Entreat me not to leave thee, Or to return from following after thee: For whither thou goest, I will go, And where thou lodgest, I will lodge. Thy people shall be my people, And thy God my God. Where thou diest, will I die, And there will I be buried. The Lord do so to me, and more also, If ought but death part thee and me.
New Jewish and Secular Jewish Wedding Readings
The True Nature of Soul Mates
The Zohar, book of Jewish Mysticism Each soul and spirit, prior to it’s entering into this word, consist of male and female united into one being. When it descends on this earth, the two parts separate and animate two different bodies. At the time of Marriage, The Holy One, blessed he be, who knows all souls and spirits, unites them again as there were before, and they again constitute one body and one soul, forming as it were the right and left of one individual.
The final blessing is the one that is most specifically about the wedding, the couple, and in many communities, it is encouraged for those who know the words to sing along. It’s also the longest, so if you are planning on asking friends or family members to read these in Hebrew, perhaps choose a fluent reader for this one! You may have heard this beautiful melody famous for the words ‘Kol Sasson v’Kol Simcha’, which means “the sound of joy and the sound of happiness”.
It blesses God for creating “joy and happiness, Groom and Bride, gladness, jubilation, cheer and delight, love, friendship, harmony and fellowship.” It also prays to G-d, to “let there speedily be heard in the cities of Judah and the streets of Jerusalem the sound of joy and the sound of happiness, the sound of a Groom and the sound of a Bride, the sound of the joy of Grooms from under their chuppah, and youths from their joyous banquets.” It ends with “Blessed are you who bestows happiness upon the Groom with the Bride.”
For couples who plan on doing Grace After Meals later on in their day, the Sheva Brachot are also traditionally sung again at the end of this prayer, so it’s another opportunity to get close friends and family involved, and to honour them by making them an essential part of the wedding.