Quote of the Day: A Delicate Balance

“The classical explanation for breaking a glass at the end of the wedding is to recall the destruction of Jerusalem. As the glass is broken, everyone screams out Mazel Tov! There is something peculiar, not only about recalling an historic tragedy at that exact moment, but also shouting for joy just as it is recalled.

Yet the message is the same as bitter herbs on Passover. We do not only eat bitter herbs, we make a blessing over them. Then we dip them into haroset, which is sweet. The duality of life is symbolized by the historical memory wrapped in a wedding, and the bitter herb mixed with the haroset. Bitterness is not incidental and not fleeting but it is also not final. In defiance of hundreds of years of slavery (bitter herbs) or national catastrophe (the broken glass) we affirm the essential goodness of life that can be so painful.

It is tricky to be optimistic without being simultaneously in denial. Judaism manages the delicate balancing act: pain is real, even at our most celebratory moments. But final victory belongs to the sweetness, the embrace, the promise that one day all weeping will give way to joy.”

-Rabbi David Wolpe

About Rabbi Joshua

I'm a Rabbi, writer, thinker, mountain biker, father and husband ... not necessarily in that order. According to my wife, however, I'm just a big nerd. I have degrees in dead languages and ancient stuff. I have studied in various Jewish institutions, including an Orthodox yeshiva in Europe. I get in trouble for making friends with perfect strangers, and for standing on chairs to sing during Shabbos dinner. In addition to being the Senior Rabbi of Simchat Yisrael Messianic Synagogue in West Haven, CT, I write regularly for several publications and speak widely in congregations and conferences. My wife is a Southern-fried Jewish Beltway bandit and a smokin' hot human rights attorney... and please don’t take offense if I dump Tabasco sauce on your cooking.
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1 Response to Quote of the Day: A Delicate Balance

  1. Alan Levy says:

    The earliest rationale for breaking something at a wedding is in the Talmud (can’t find citation). A rabbi was afraid all the merrymaking would attract the Evil One so he broke a plate to sound a discordant note. The explanation of the destruction of the Temple came much later…but so what? Jews are always re-inventing themselves and Judaism…500 years from now it will have a whole new explanation.

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