Not long ago I was meeting with a young couple who were soon to be married, and we were talking about the practice of breaking the glass at the end of a Jewish wedding. There are many explanations of the symbolism of the act, but most commonly, we speak of the broken glass as reminding us of the destruction of the ancient Temple in Jerusalem. So is the broken glass a reminder not only of the destroyed Temple, but a reminder that there is much brokenness in the world in which we live. There is so much pain and hurt and suffering, and the bride and groom are reminded, even on the day of their wedding, that they are called to see beyond themselves, and do their share to fix some of the brokenness of our world
And after I explained that, the groom very perceptively said to me: “Does every Jewish celebration and holiday have some sad aspect to it?” And as I thought about that question, I told him that he was right. All of our holidays and celebrations do include an aspect, not so much of sadness, but of compassion and empathy. Yes, especially at our joyous times are we summoned to reach beyond ourselves and to remember those who are not so fortunate.
I think it’s a beautiful aspect of our Jewish heritage: to see beyond ourselves and to act to bring a touch of kindness to our world.