Why Does the Bride Wear a Veil?

Rabbi Aron Moss

Question:

We are getting really excited about the wedding - only a few weeks to go! I just wanted to ask about one custom. What is the meaning behind the bride wearing a veil? I want to do things right, but I'm not particularly turned on by the veil thing. It seems a bit outdated. Is there a unique Jewish explanation of this?

Answer:

You're into art, aren't you? So I'm sure you've seen Michelangelo's sculpture of Moses. He depicted him as having horns coming out of his head! Do you know why?

The horned Moses is an old inaccuracy, which originates in a Greek mistranslation of a verse in the Hebrew Bible. After coming down from Mt. Sinai, Moses is described as having rays of divine light beaming from his face. But being that the word for "beaming" and "horns" have the same letters in Hebrew, an old Greek translation mistakenly rendered this verse, "And Moses had horns." Based on this, many medieval artworks depicted a horned Moses, most famously, Michelangelo's sculpture.

The Torah continues to say that Moses' face was so bright with holiness, no one dared look at him. He had to wear a veil whenever he spoke to the people in order to filter the divine glare.

This is also why a bride wears a veil. The souls of both bride and groom are in an elevated state under the chuppah, as they are about to unite as one. In the bride, this elevated state is more revealed. She radiates a special holiness; the divine presence, the feminine aspect of G-d, shines through the face of the bride.

This light is so intense that it must be veiled, just as the light emanating from Moses' face had to be covered. Holiness needs privacy.

Even after the wedding, the divine light never leaves her. The Kabbalah teaches that while it no longer beams through her face, a portion of the divine light remains in the strands of her hair. This is a mystical reason for the Jewish practice of married women keeping their hair covered with a wig or shawl, just as the bride covers her face.

Those moments under the chuppah are potent, and the thoughts and prayers of bride and groom at that time have extra power, for there is a divine aura surrounding them. Your day is coming soon. Make sure to soak in and utilise every holy second.