In the Jewish context, the process of marriage occurs in
two distinct stages: kiddushin [betrothal] followed by
nisuin which is a full-fledged marriage.
Kiddushin in Jewish culture is far more binding than an
engagement. Once kiddushin is complete, the woman is legal
wife of the man. The relationship created by kiddushin can
only be dissolved by death or divorce. The time duration
between the kiddushin and nisuin could be anywhere
between a few months to a year or more.
Three steps comprise a Jewish marriage: a covenant, a cup
and token of value. The process is called kiddushin
[meaning, matches in Hebrew]. During kiddushin, the
groom makes a covenant with the bride at her house. Then
they both share a cup of wine, after which, he presents her
with a token of something of value, binding the contract
which is called the ketubah. The bridegroom, while placing
the ring on his bride’s finger, says, “Be sanctified
[mekudeshet] to me with this ring in accordance with the
law of Moses and Israel. The principal content of the
ketubah is Ani L’dodi V’dodi Li which in Hebrew is, “My
beloved is mine, and I am his.” [Song of Solomon 2:16]
The boy takes leaves from the bride with a promise that he
would return. He returns home and begins the process of
preparing a place fit for his bride. Except for the groom’s
father, no one will know how long the preparation takes.
Each time the groom is asked when he would return to his
bride, he simply replies, “My father knows it.”
The significance of kiddushim, is ‘to be set apart’ and
‘sacred.’ While waiting for the groom to return, the bride
observes three things carefully. One: She waits patiently
for her groom no matter how long it takes for his return.
Hope keeps her ever waiting. Two: Knowing she is ‘set
apart,’ the bride wears a veil especially when she is outdoors
symbolizing that she is betrothed and to keep her from other
suitors. Three: During this time, the bride in waiting avoids
being out of home because his coming could be at any
It is traditional for grooms to come without notice; and like
a thief in the night. Sometimes it could be midnight too.
This element of surprise should not be mistaken to be
groom’s secret mission to check if his bride is cheating on
him. The intent is only to surprise his waiting bride.
When Christ came into this world, He came and betrothed himself to the Church.
Remember the Last Supper where He cut a New Covenant with the Church, which is
the Ketubah, and declared that the Church is His. After giving the New Covenant,
He sipped from the Cup and offered His “ring.” The gift of value? Jesus gave His
very life. What can be more valuable than one’s own life? And after His resurrection
from death, He told the Church that He was returning to His Father to prepare a
place for her but would soon return to take her for a nisuin.
One question remains for the bride in waiting. Is the Church living a life of waiting
and preparation under the veil for her Bridegroom’s “surprise party” return?
A mother has a natural bond with a child but a father has to build one.