There are many opportunities for kindness with regard to the happy occasion of a wedding. There are two main categories in this regard: One is to accompany the bride and groom to the wedding canopy (chupa in Hebrew) prepare for the wedding, and the other is to help them enjoy the wedding as much as possible. These two forms of helping the bride and groom constitute Rabbinic mitzvot (commandments).
There are other ways in which one can help the bride and groom, such as help with wedding preparations, moreover, it is a great mitzva in and of itself to help two people get married. These kindness constitute a fulfillment of the mitzva of ‘love thy neighbor’.
Furthermore, the mitzva of ‘being like G-d’ is fulfilled when one helps a bride and groom. Where do we see that Hashem participates in people’s weddings? The Rabbis tell us that Adam and Eve participated in the first ever wedding, and the only onlooker was Hashem! Hashem, so to speak, arranged that Eve’s hair be arranged for the wedding and brought her to Adam. Thus we see that helping people in the process of getting married is a way of emulating Hashem.
The mitzva of accompanying the bride and groom to the wedding was traditionally performed by accompanying the bride from her home to the chupa. Nowadays the mitzva is fulfilled when the men accompany the groom when he covers the veil of the bride1.
The mitzva of giving joy to the bride and groom is fulfilled by dancing in front of them and saying pleasant things such as extolling the virtues of the bride to the groom. In Orthodox weddings, the guests show great enthusiasm in their dancing and entertaining of the bride and groom. The emphasis is totally on giving them joy, as opposed to enjoying oneself. The Rabbis speak harshly of people who attend weddings and eat the food served there, but do not try to please the bride and groom. In contrast they speak very favorably of people who do give the bride and groom joy.
People experiencing a happy occasion truly appreciate when others share in their joy. Thus, giving joy to bride and groom is a great kindness, it shows them that we really feel their joy.
1 It is an ancient custom for the groom to cover the veil of the bride before the wedding.
Text Copyright © 2008 by Rabbi Yehonasan Gefen and Torah.org