Jewish wedding customs with the Tallit
If you’re like many people, you probably associate the tallit with a bar mitzvah ceremony, picturing a scrawny boy of 13 pulling one on over his shoulders to go read the Torah. But there are a lot more uses for the tallit (or tallis, as it’s sometimes known), and the Jewish wedding is one area where it can really be front and center at the heart of meaningful Jewish rituals.
Here are three beautiful (and some ancient) wedding customs using a tallit:
1) Among many families in Europe, it was traditional for bride and groom to be married under a tallit held up by poles or by tall friends or relatives. To add even more meaning, this could be the tallit of a beloved or revered relative, or any other tallit that has special significance to the couple.
2) It is a custom for the bride, or the bride’s family, to present the groom with a brand-new tallit in honor of the wedding. Some Sephardim even have the groom walk down the aisle wrapped in the tallit, since it is traditionally thought of as having protective powers.
3) Some drape the tallit over both the bride and groom beneath the chuppah, extending its protection and symbolizing the bonds that will unite them throughout their marriage.
Including the tallit, a ritual object going back millennia, into a modern wedding ceremony is all about creating sacred space: in this case, the space for a couple to build a meaningful and lasting relationship. It seems only fitting that a new tallit can be one of the best ways to start out on the journey together.