Chuppah Tallit for Wedding
The tallit is used as a prayer shawl. However, tallitot are also used for another important Jewish celebration: the Jewish wedding.
In some communities and congregations, the tallit gadol is first used not during bar mitzvah but during the wedding. Many authorities have criticized the practice of first using the tallit during the wedding. However, the practice of using the tallit itself in the wedding is an iconic practice in Judaism. The tallit, when used in the Jewish wedding, is then called the chuppah, or a wedding canopy. Depending on the Jewish subgroup, the groom can either be wearing a tallit under the chuppah tallit or not. Also, others use the tallit as the wedding canopy itself (hence chuppah tallit); some use it in additional to the existing chuppah or wedding canopy. What remains generally true is that the chuppah tallit, just like the prayer shawl, plays a major part in this important event.
But what does the chuppah tallit look like? The chuppah tallit (or whatever cloth is used to server as the chuppah) is stretched our and supported by four poles, although some ceremonies make use of people to hold the cloth. According to some sources, the chuppah tallit should be an object of art, something that is desirable and an object everyone worked on. The traditional practice of using the chuppah tallit states that the canopy should be under the open sky. If the celebration is done indoors, some Jews build a special opening just for the wedding ceremony. Hence, many Jews, like the Hasidim, prefer conducting the wedding ceremony outdoors.
Of course, more than the material, the chuppah tallit is important not because of its aesthetic value. Just like many items used by the Jews, this type of tallis or tallit also has several symbolism, mostly pertaining to their faith and the belief.
The chuppah tallit itself symbolizes the Jewish home. The wedding canopy is open and not restricted on all of its four sides, mainly saying that the Jewish family is hospitable. This is because the canopy symbolizes Abraham’s home. Also, the design for the chuppah tallit is done in a way that it lacks any furniture or unnecessary ornaments. This is to symbolize the simplicity of the Jewish family, that the family is not defined by their material possessions.
In the spiritual sense, the use of this type of tallit or tallit as canopy represents God’s presence in the marriage. This is why the canopy should be under the open sky. It also signifies the divine origins of the wedding ceremony and the institution of marriage itself. Hence, a number of authorities and Jewish figures have said that the chuppah tallit actually launches the Jewish wedding ceremony.
The chuppah tallit obviously adds flair to the wedding ceremony. But this practice, as earlier said, is more than just beauty. In fact, it is the opposite of that; the chuppah tallit should remind the couple of their commitment to God as a couple, the same the tallit, tallis or prayer shawl remains the Jews of the commitment to the mitzvah.