November/December 2010 – Shabbat Chayei Sarah—Spiritual Lessons From The Jewish Wedding Ceremony
Kehilat Ariel Messianic Synagogue Newsletter
Volume 27, Number 2 November/December 2010 Kislev/Tevet 5771
**One day Yeshiva Class on Prayer- Nov.6
**KA Fundraiser International Dinner – Nov.13
**Kid’s Hebrew School starts December 11
|Shabbat Chayei Sarah—Spiritual Lessons From The Jewish Wedding Ceremony
By Rabbi Barney Kasdan
Kehilat Ariel Messianic Synagogue, San Diego
For joy, fun and a great time of celebration, it is hard to find an event more wonderful than a Jewish wedding! Of course, just about any wedding is a great occasion but there are some unique elements of the Jewish wedding which make it stand out among religious celebrations. For some people it could be the beautiful liturgy which is chanted. For others perhaps it is the symbolism of the two cups and the chuppah. Everyone seems to agree that the reception and chair dance are a high point. Parasha Chayei Sarah records many of the details of the ancient biblical ceremony as it describes the wedding of our forefather Yitzak/Isaac. As beautiful as the Jewish wedding ceremony is, it also contains some amazing spiritual pictures of God’s love for us and His plan for our future. This becomes especially illuminating when we study the wedding ceremony of antiquity. While some of the details of changed today, many of the distinctive elements are still observed within the 21st century Jewish wedding.
The first step of the ancient ceremony came to be known as Shiddukhin/arrangement. This is seen in the Parasha when Abraham charges his servant to “take a wife for my son Isaac” (Bresheet/Genesis 24:4). Evidently, Abraham was getting a little anxious as his aging son was not yet married. How could Isaac fulfill his destiny of continuing the chosen line if he is still hanging around the tent! It was customary for many generations of Jews for the parents to arrange the future marriage of their children. If they had a difficult time with this, they could recruit the services of a matchmaker (shadkhin) as seen in this case. It was assumed that the parents or a qualified professional would have more wisdom on these matters than a young kid. Although this step of shiddukhin has mostly gone by the wayside in our modern culture, it is interesting to note the growth of matchmaking services (eg. JDate, etc) still within the Jewish community. In ancient times, it was considered the duty of the father of the groom to make such an arrangement and we see Abraham fulfilling his responsibility here. There is also a vital spiritual lesson to be found in this step of shiddukhin. Our Heavenly Father is seeking a relationship with all His people, especially His people of the covenant Israel. If the paradigm of the Jewish wedding is followed, it should be noted that it is not so much us seeking God but first God seeking us! Rabbi Shaul makes this point in the New Covenant when he states that it is the Father who “chose us in Messiah before the foundation of the world” (Ephesians 1:4). Those of us who are followers of Yeshua understand that ultimately it is the Father who arranged this relationship. That is indeed a beautiful truth which should give us fresh understanding of God’s love!
The second step of the ancient Jewish wedding is called Erusin/engagement. Even though the young kids were arranged for a future marriage through Shiddukhin, there came a point in time where they would have to publicly affirm that it is agreeable to them. In biblical times, this was usually portrayed in a public wedding ceremony to make a statement of their consent. In the parasha it is the potential bride, Rivkah/Rebekah, who gives her consent as she is asked “Will you go with this man? And she said, “I will go” (Bresheet 24:58). Over time, this Erusin statement developed into the first part of the Jewish public ceremony. The young couple (sometimes young teenagers!) would come under the chuppah, sign a ketubah/wedding contract and share the first cup of wine representing the Erusin/engagement commitment. Unlike our modern understanding of “engagement”, the Jewish Erusin in ancient times was considered a binding covenant stating that the couple was actually married. So binding was it that if the engagement was broken up, a religious divorce (Hebrew get) would be required. Yet the young couple was not to live together quite yet or have sexual relations. Instead, they entered a one-year time of preparation: the bride preparing her dowry and garments while the groom worked on the future housing for the couple. In biblical times this usually meant adding a room (or tent) to the father’s existing home as the entire family often lived under one roof. Once again, we can appreciate the beauty of the historical custom but there are deeper spiritual pictures to be seen if we open our spiritual eyes. At the Last Passover Seder of Yeshua, he seemed to allude to the Erusin picture when he told his Jewish disciples: “In my Father’s house are many dwelling places…I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to myself” (Yochanan/John 14:2-3). Yeshua and his disciples shared a cup at that Seder to illustrate that they were giving their consent to this new relationship. Thus engaged, He would be going to prepare the home during this time and his disciples (us as well!) were called to tend to our spiritual responsibilities. What an amazing picture! We believers in Yeshua have partaken of the Erusin cup and, in a sense, we renew that statement every time we celebrate the third cup of Passover. We are temporarily separated from our groom but make no mistake; the marriage vows are binding. With the Erusin established we are now called to get ready for our full wedding.
After the one-year engagement time, the third step of the ancient Jewish wedding arrives calledNisuin/marriage. In the parasha it is said that Isaac “took Rebekah and she became his wife and he loved her” (Bresheet 24:67). In later history this became the time where the groom would come for his bride and literally carry her (Hebrew nasa) in a processional to the final part of the ceremony. They would meet under the chuppah once again, exchange solemn vows and partake of the second cup with the Sheva Brachot (Seven Blessings). Upon completion of these things (and a joyous reception), the couple could now live together fully as husband and wife. In our contemporary Jewish wedding ceremony, even we Jews sometimes lose perspective of some of these details. Because of the difficult times so often facing the Jewish community, the one-year engagement has become optional. In fact, as you probably know from the last Jewish wedding you attended, there are no longer two distinct ceremonies. Nonetheless, the two cups are still central to the overall service. The spiritual lessons are quite obvious to those who are seeking. It was at the last Seder of Yeshua that he taught us an amazing truth in this regard. After sharing the third cup (e.g., the Erusin), towards the end of the meal, Yeshua came to the fourth and final cup (e.g., the Nisuin). But instead of partaking of that cup, he said the following: “I say to you, I will not drink of this fruit of the vine from now on until that day when I drink it new with you in My Father’s kingdom” (Mattityahu/Matthew 26:29). What a perfect analogy there is between the two cups of the wedding and the two appearances of Mashiach! Yeshua came the first time to work out the arrangements of our betrothal through his life, death and resurrection from the dead. By refusing to drink of the last cup of the Seder Yeshua was highlighting the fact that there will be a time of separation until the consummation of his Kingdom. At that time he promises to share the Nisuin Cup with all his followers and to bring us into the joy of the wedding banquet.
All this is an amazing spiritual picture which is contained in our parasha Chayei Sarah. Isaac’s wedding, besides being Jewish history, is also a picture of our engagement and coming wedding with Messiah. Have you taken from the cup of engagement for yourself? Are you ready for the bridegroom to take us to his kingdom of messianic redemption?
November 6, Saturday, 1:30-5:30pm. One-Day Intensive Yeshiva Course with special instructor Dr. Klayman of Congregation Shaarei Shalom, Cary, North Carolina. Dr. Klayman will be teaching an exciting course on the Jewish understanding of prayer with gleanings from the Amidah. This is a great opportunity to enhance your personal prayer life through in-depth study. $25 per person (at the door) with credit given for the Messianic Jewish Institute of San Diego. “Study to show thyself approved…”!
November 7, Sunday, 8:00 am. Susan B. Komen Walk at Balboa Park. A group of KAniks are walking to raise support for breast cancer research. Thousands of participants from all over SD County and KA will have an outreach table as well. Sign up at sandiego.info-komen.org or talk to coordinator Sharon Bain.
November 13, Saturday, 6:00pm. KA International Dinner Fundraiser Event. Get your tickets for our annual celebration event. Featuring a special dinner of international dishes provided by our diverse membership from Latin America, the Middle East, Europe and more. A fun program is planned and special music by renowned guitarist Jim Earp. $25 per person will go towards some Hidur Mitzvah projects (building beautification). Don’t miss it and invite a friend who loves Israel!
November 21, Sunday, 6:00pm. Community Thanksgiving Service. Join us for this unique celebration with the 5 faith communities who share the same facility with KA. Celebration and special musice with believers from Korean, Spanish, English and Jewish groups as we give thanks for God’s blessings at this season.
December 4, Saturday, 10:30am. Special Hanukkah Service and Latke Luncheon. You won’t want to miss this joyful time of music, children’s presentation and the Menorah. There will also be an enlightening message (pun intended) on the significance of this biblical holiday for all believers. Bring your favorite dish, perhaps latkes, for the fellowship meal afterwards.
December 11, Saturday, 9:00am-10:00am. Children’s Hebrew School Begins. This 15-week class is required for all KA kids (10-13 years old) who desire to have a bar/bat mitzvah at the Temple. Hebrew reading and chanting of Torah taught. Fee required. Talk to Rabbi Barney for more details.
Israel Mitzvah Tour, end of June TBA. Rabbi Kasdan will be leading an amazing study tour of the Land to the key historical sites and enjoying modern Israel. This will be followed by an opportunity to bless many families of Israelis by doing some remodel work at a needy apartment building bomb shelter. Contact Rabbi for more information.
Shabbat Morning Services: at 3219 Clairemont Mesa Blvd., in Clairemont, Saturday, 10:30am. Join us for this uplifting time of worship, fellowship and study. Our current sermon series is “Yeshua’s Call To Discipleship” which is an in-depth study on message of our Messiah.
Children Shabbat School: Our children join us for the first part of the service, then break for different classes. Classes for ages 2 through High School which include a Bible lesson plus background on Jewish studies and Hebrew.
Dance Ministry Dance workshop every other month at 1:30 pm meeting upstairs. Contact our office for the latest information.
Midweek Minyan and Messianic Jewish Institute of San Diego: Corporate prayer from 6:30-7:00 on Tuesday. From 7:00-8:30 current class: “The Chamesh Megillot–The 5 Scrolls”. This fascinating study takes a look at the 5 scrolls associated with 5 major Jewish holidays; eg, Ruth for Shavuot. Bring your Hebrew Tenakh but Hebrew reading skills not manitory. The MJISD classes can lead to a certificate of Messianic Jewish Studies. $60 fee for this class taught by Rabbi Kasdan. Call for information.
“A Taste of Torah” Classes: Saturday 9:00-10:00am. This survey of the Torah class will take you through the Parsha in one year. Currently in Bresheet/Genesis. A great way to learn the foundations of our faith! There is also a Spanish Torah Study at this same time. Contact Rabbinic Intern Mark Rantz or Luciano Rivera for info.
All men are invited to this group for connecting, dialogue and encouragement on vital issues that we deal with today. Always some good discussion and study along with service projects for men to be involved with. Contact Rome Remigio for more information at 858-243-3126.
This dynamic group of women meets monthly for study, friendship and service. Call the KA office for the latest info on the next luncheon and meeting. All women are welcome!
Board of Directors
Audio: Gabe Pacheco
Dance: Diana Martin
Music: Eric & Joanne Kragenbrink
Office: Donna Jacobson
Resource Center: Alice Hoover
Singles: Bob and Jeannette Haas
Translation: Paty Garibay
Website: Mark Rantz
Nu? News is published bi-monthly by Kehilat Ariel Messianic Synagogue. We welcome your stories, testimonies, drawings, poems, humor (no kvetches) or any creative submissions. Please email firstname.lastname@example.org
Del Cerro, Tony & Joan Savarese, (619)501-7778, every Fri, 6:30 pm. Cover dish.
Escondido, Mark & Kathy Rantz, (760)294-9619, 2nd & 4th Fri, 6:30 pm.
Men’s Club (at KA), Rome Remigio 858-243-3126, 2nd & 4th Mon, 7:00pm.
Encinitas, Michael & Jan Folb, (760)436-8828, 2nd & 4th Weds. 7:00 pm.
Oceanside, Diana Israel, (760)231-7005, 1st & 3rd Thurs. 7:00 pm.
Yachad (Singles Fellowship), Bob & Jeannette Haas, 415-370-8449. various events planned.
Espanol, Luciano Rivera, 619-475-0430. Shabbat 4pm-sunset at KA upstairs. Potluck.
Sisterhood, contact the KA office for details about the next monthly meeting.
Upcoming Speaking Engagements of Rabbi Barney Kasdan:October 18-November 8, Mondays, 7-9pm at Maranatha Bible College in Rancho Penasquitas. “Introduction To Talmud”. November 17, Wednesday, 6:30pm at St. Michael’s Anglican Church in Carlsbad. “Why Many Jews Do Not Believe in Yeshua” November 20-23, Yeshiva Course at Beth Messiah Synagogue in Houston. “Messianic Jewish Apologetics–Reasons To Believe.”
If you would like to send a special love gift donation for our work within the Jewish community, please send it to:
P.O. Box 178755
San Diego, CA 92177
Thank you! And may God return a special blessing to you as you bless our people! (Genesis 12:3).