Project Genesis

Preparing for Marriage

What should one do to prepare for engagement and marriage. Specifically, are there any traditions, customs, or laws regarding what a groom-to-be should be doing before asking a woman to marry? Such as, is there anything that references asking the father of the bride for his blessing on the engagement? How should the groom prepare for the big day (Torah Study, Mikva)?

Firstly, Mazel Tov on your engagement and marriage (assuming that the question is about you). It is fantastic that you are asking questions before the big day, and there is so much to be learnt. I can only give very brief answers through this medium, but I suggest that you try and make contact with a local Rabbi who will be able to learn with you more in depth and answer all your questions.

As far as I know there are no specific traditions, laws or customs about asking the father of the bride for a blessing. However in terms of honoring parents (which includes parents in law) it is a very good idea to ask for his blessing beforehand. We find in the Torah that Rivka’s mother and brothers (her father was no longer alive) gave her a blessing before she went to marry Yitzchak, and this blessing is still customarily said today before the wedding. (look at Genesis 24; 60)

Torah study is an excellent idea to prepare for the wedding. An excellent book that deals with the wedding ceremony and preparations for the big day is “Made in Heaven” by Aryeh Kaplan. In addition, there are many laws about married life (particularly Mikva and associated laws) that you should learn. It would be best to learn them with a Rabbi who can explain everything, as most of the books are not all that good on their own.

Additionally, it would be very worthwhile to read a couple of English books on married life (and how to survive with a wife). There are some good Jewish books, and some good non-Jewish books on the topic (e.g. Men are from Mars...). Thinking about the issues and topics that these books raise BEFORE getting married can make a huge difference to the happiness of married life.

Finally, if you have the option of setting aside a time every day to learn Torah (going to a shiur, reading a book, listening to an MP3 etc) it will greatly enhance your life now, and after you are married.

I wish you every success and much happiness, and a great year.

Rabbi David Sedley

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