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by Rabbi Michoel Gourarie

There is something puzzling me about the Jewish wedding ceremony. At the end of the Chuppah the groom breaks a glass with his foot. In response, all of the guests scream out "Mazel Tov" with great jubilation normally followed by a joyous wedding song. What is it about the broken glass that seems to evoke such celebration?

Let me do this the Jewish way - to answer a question with a question. A wedding is indeed a time of intense celebration. In Jewish tradition, the time under the Chuppah, when a couple come together to lay the foundations of a new Jewish home are auspicious moments and an experience of deep intense joy. Yet the ceremony takes place under a flimsy canopy that can hardly stand on its own. The Chuppah has no walls, just four thin poles, nor does it have a steady roof just a flapping tallit or thin piece of velvet. Often the pole holders struggle to make sure it doesn't collapse or fly away in the wind. Would it not be more appropriate to mark this special experience under a beautifully designed strong structure?

The answer to both these questions is a simple but profound lesson.

Happiness does not come from anything external. Unhappiness cannot be rectified by external material gifts or possessions. True happiness is an internal state of mind. To be really happy means to have an inner sense of purpose and fulfillment. In a relationship happiness and harmony come from mutual respect, unconditional love and a set of common higher values and principles.
During the sacred moments of the Chuppah the couple make a commitment. They pledge to live a life dedicated to and focused on internal values. They promise to focus on those deeper parts of life that bring true happiness. They understand that it is neither the strength of physical buildings nor the beauty of the material possessions that will ensure a happy lasting relationship. They will invest effort to build their relationship from within by creating a home of love, respect, kindness and spiritual warmth.

They know that that with this focus even if the physical surrounding is sometimes a little shaky or some of the material objects are broken there is still a resounding joyous Mazel Tov!!

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