The Seven Blessings, or Sheva Brachot, are a central part of the Jewish wedding ceremony, and they have deep roots. You may wonder how these blessings came to be, what they mean, and why they’re important. Wonder no more: we’re explaining the concluding Seventh Blessing of the Sheva Brachot, which has an interesting and inspiring source that may surprise you. This then leads us to the meaning behind the popular phrase “Kol Sasson V’Kol Simcha”.
The Seventh Blessing stems from Jeremiah chapter 7, verse 34, in which G-d warns his people, through the prophet Jeremiah that he “will banish from the cities of Judah and from the streets of Jerusalem the sound of joy and the sound of happiness…”
This is quite a solemn inspiration for a blessing at a wedding, but it is phrased much differently in the Sheva Brachot, “let there be speedily heard in the cities of Judah and in the streets of Jerusalem the sound of joy and the sound of happiness, the sound of a groom and the sound of a bride, the sound of exultation of grooms from under their chuppah, and youths from their joyous banquets. Blessed are You L-rd, who gladdens the groom with the bride.” This change of tone captures the joyfulness of the wedding and makes an appropriate conclusion to the Sheva Brachot.
You may wonder why a blessing with such sorrowful roots of exile and defeat is so important, and its prominence is partly due to how the relationship between Jewish people and G-d works: it is often compared to that of the love between a bride and groom. This blessing applies the happiness of betrothal under the chuppah to the creation of new bonds, families, and commitments of love. In essence, it’s important because it conveys how a wedding is overseen and blessed by G-d.
The Seventh Blessing of the Sheva Brachot is spoken under the chuppah, and once again at the conclusion of the wedding feast, over mixed wine from the bride and groom—another important illustration of the mingling of families in a wedding. The Seventh Blessing is often sung (Kol Sasson V’Kol Simcha) by friends and family as they dance the groom to the Bedeken ceremony, and again after the breaking of the glass. Finally, the blessing can also be shouted joyfully as guests follow the newlyweds to the Yichud room.
Sheva Brachot go beyond the wedding: the first week of married life is sometimes referred to as the Sheva Brachot Week, when friends and family continue the celebrations by hosting small festivities for the wedded couple, who are still regarded as royalty and treated appropriately. During this week, the Blessings themselves are recited after each festive meal.
Traditions like the Sheva Brachot and the singing of Kol Sasson V’Kol Simcha are so important because they remind us where we came from, the richness of our history, what our responsibilities are, and help us celebrate it joyfully.