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    The rabbi at the wedding – Ask the Rabbi

    Q. You are on record as saying, “I do not marry people: they marry one another”. So why have a rabbi at a wedding?

    A. The role of the officiating rabbi at a wedding ceremony is not to make the marriage but to confirm that the set procedures have been followed.

    The rabbi is often called the m’sadder kiddushin, the one who “manages” the marriage ceremony. In a technical sense he is not necessary if all the rules are obeyed and in the presence of witnesses the husband places the ring on the bride’s finger and says the Harei At declaration.

    The ring ceremony ensures that the man gives the woman an object of (minimal) value. Mishnah Kiddushin lists three means of marriage, later narrowed down to the giving of the ring.

    Early Christianity also had a concept of the couple bringing their own marriage into being. In Webster’s play The Duchess of Malfi, Antonio and the duchess merely declare themselves married even without witnesses, though in Judaism the witnesses are essential.

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