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Why are you hiding your marriage?

February 18th, 2016 Posted by Ask the Rabbi No Comment yet

Question:

I think I have heard that Daniel and Susan are married. She wears at least an engagement ring but Daniel has no ring nor a mark of wearing a ring. What is the story behind this?

∼ Steph B.

Answer:

Dear Steph,

We’d like to allay any concerns that you may have. We are, indeed, married and have been for quite some time. Suffice it to say that we have each been married more years than we each were single.

Part of a Jewish marriage ceremony requires that the man give an item of value to the woman. In most western communities this is in the form of a gold ring, though some Jewish communities give gold coins. You might find it interesting that since there must be a transfer of objective value, the ring cannot be inscribed or have additional ornamentation. A gold ring can be easily sold while a gold ring with a specific name and date or unique appearance is less universally desirable.

If a man and woman exchange gold rings at the ceremony, the required transaction hasn’t taken place. If I give you $5 and you give me $5 there has been no exchange of value.

However, all this is true for the wedding ceremony. After the marriage is sanctified, the ring can be modified and the wife may, if she wants, choose to gift her husband with a ring. The wife can do what she likes with her ring; there is no requirement to wear it.

Susan usually wears the ring she accepted under the chuppah (the marriage canopy). Most of the time she wears her engagement ring as well. She does this as a choice though there have been stretches during pregnancy or when she’s on a baking jag where the rings are put aside. Rabbi Daniel actually has a wedding ring that his father owned and which sat in his father’s desk for the 49 years his parents were married. It now sits in a safe, since neither he nor Susan particularly care if he wears it. In a marriage of two strong personalities, many things need to be thrashed out. In our case, wearing or not wearing rings just isn’t anything either of us have strong feelings about.

 

With twenty fingers and few rings between us,

Rabbi Daniel and Susan Lapin

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