Jewish Weddings – Almost universally in all cultures, a broken glass signifies something. For some broken glass brings seven years of good luck, for others broken glass is believed to have quite the opposite effect. In business, women struggle to break through the glass ceiling. In the Jewish world, it is the men – as grooms – who struggle to break through the glass on the floor.
At one point during each traditional Jewish weddings ceremonies, the katan (groom) takes the center stage at performing a “trickier-than-it-seems” act of shattering a glass with his right foot. The breaking of the glass carries a spiritually deep symbolism for the Jewish people, as it brings to memory the destruction of the Temple in Jerusalem.
From a religious perspective, all Jews are commanded to put the joy of Jerusalem and the Temple over their own individual happiness, and consequently are obligated to mourn the loss of the Temple and the suffering of the Jewish community at large.
For some communities, it is customary to recite Psalm 137 at the breaking of the glass: ““If I forget you, O Jerusalem, let my right hand forget [its dexterity]. Let my tongue cleave to my palate if I will not remember you; if I will not bring Jerusalem to mind during my greatest joy.”
The symbolism of the breaking glass during Jewish Weddings can be also interpreted on another level as a symbol of finality. In a sense, just as a broken glass cannot be restored, neither can the physical and spiritual state of a single individual be recreated after being connected to another through the wedding vows.
Three is a charm; so on a third level, the stomping on a glass can be jokingly referred to as the last time the man gets to put his foot down in the matters of his private life.
You may think that shattering a glass with your foot is no brain surgery; yet if done improperly, a different type of surgery may be needed. If the glass isn’t wrapped in a napkin well enough, sharp fragments may penetrate the sole of the katan’s shoe or even fly out as projectiles and injure the bride or other wedding guests close by. Also if the glass is too sturdy, it can slide out from under the groom’s foot and cause all kinds of embarrassing calamities.
Keep in mind, practice does make perfect.