Why Lift the Bride and Groom on Chairs at Jewish Weddings? – Chabad.org

Posted By on January 14, 2020

If youve been to a Jewish wedding, you mayhave witnessed the bride and groom being lifted on chairs (or even on tables)and danced around by joyous well-wishers. Where did this custom come from?

Itis considered a great mitzvah to make the bride and groom joyful at theirwedding. Many of thegreat sages in the Talmud would dance and do all sorts of tricks to entertainthe couple. For example, Rabbi Yehuda bar Ilai would take a myrtle branch anddance before the bride, calling her a fair and attractive bride. And RavShmuel bar Rav Yitzchak would dance while juggling three branches of myrtle.

One rabbi, Rabbi Zeira, felt it was demeaning for suchan honorable person to caper about like that. But when Rav Shmuel passed away,Rabbi Zeira saw a heavenly pillar of fire appear before Rav Shmuels body. Hethen proclaimed that this was due to the great enthusiasm with which thedeceased had fulfilled the mitzvah of bringing joy to the bride and groom.

It appears that the chair dance is just anothermanifestation of this happy (and sometimes silly) expression of joy.

Some, however, speculate that this custom developeddue to the mechitzah (partition)between the men and women at traditional Jewish weddings. By lifting the coupleup on chairs, the bride and groom are able to see each other over thepartition.

Another possibility is that the chair recalls a royalthrone, since the bride and groom are compared to a queen and king.

The Talmud records that there was a custom forsome to hoist the bride on their shoulders and dance.

It is interesting to note that there is noactual source for lifting the couple on chairs. However, there is a referenceto the special chairs on which the bride and groom are seated.

We read in Proverbs: Shehas sent forth her maidens; she calls upon the top of the highest places of thecity . . .on a seat in the high places of the city.

The Talmud explainsthat these verses are a reference to Adam and Eve, the first couple. Themetaphor of being upon the top versus seated implies a change in theirstatus.

Some explain that before the sin of the forbiddenfruit, Adam and Eve were on the greatest spiritual plane, and they were lowereddown after the sin. Tosafotexplains just the opposite: Initially, before being paired with Eve, Adam wasaloof, alone and isolated. Once they married, they were ensconced on a seatspecially set for a bride and groom.This is cited as a source for the custom of seating the bride and groom onspecial chairs.

Despite our speculations, there doesnt seem to beclear precedents for the custom to lift the bride and groom on chairs and dancewith them. But its a mitzvah to make them happy, so if this is something thatwill bring them joy, then go for it! The Talmud tells us that those who bringjoy to the bride and groom merit to acquire Torah, and it is as if they rebuiltpart of Jerusalem and brought a thanksgiving offering there.

May Jerusalem be completely rebuilt speedily in ourdays!

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Why Lift the Bride and Groom on Chairs at Jewish Weddings? - Chabad.org

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