If you have ever wondered when the custom of giving Jewish wedding rings or other jewelry as part of the marriage ceremony began, in Judaism this custom originated in the time of the patriarch Abraham. When Abraham decided it was time for Yitzchak (Isaac) to marry, he sent his manservant to search for an appropriate woman. When the manservant found this woman Rivka (Rebbeca) one of the first things he did was you guessed it: he gave her Jewelry.
Since then, and still today, a traditional Jewish wedding ceremony is incomplete without the groom giving the bride a Jewish wedding ring. And we don’t mean that only as a figure of speech. In fact, the giving of the ring in the traditional Jewish marriage ceremony is an essential part of the ceremony. Without it, the marriage is not only null and void, but it is as if the ceremony never happened in the first place!
How can this be possible?
Well, according to Torah Jewish law, an oral declaration by the groom taking his bride as his wife is not enough to indicate the marriage as legally binding. The declaration is important, for sure: when the groom declares, out loud, in front of two witnesses (one is not enough), that this woman is his wife, it is obvious to all that this man and this woman are betrothed to each other. However, the act of marriage has not yet been completed.
Only when the groom puts a ring, that he bought with his own money and is therefore his personal possession, on the index finger of the bride and declares “Behold, you are consecrated to me with this ring, according to the law of Moses and Israel” is the marriage contract legally binding. Only now is the bride truly the groom’s wife.
What’s so important about the ring?
Well, actually, it doesn’t have to be a ring. The groom can give the bride any possession of worth, that belongs to him, in order to make the marriage legally binding. However, the custom of giving a ring is so ancient about two thousand years old! that nobody has a Jewish wedding ceremony without one.
The act of giving the bride a ring (that is always worth quite a bit) is a manifestation of the groom’s new responsibility in his life. He is now a husband who must not only love his wife, but it is also his legal duty to care for his wife’s material needs and all her other needs as well.
It’s true that wedding rings are a symbol of undying love and an expression of everlasting partnership, but Jewish Wedding Rings are also about responsibility that shouldn’t be taken lightly. In Judaism, giving a ring goes to show that only through responsibility can a marriage really last forever. Mazal Tov!