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the finger of heaven

Written by Benjamin Rose

On the Idea of Specifically Using a Ring for Weddings :

What is the source of the ancient Jewish custom of specifically using a ring (taba\’as) for a wedding? What does it symbolize? Interestingly, there is no mention of this anywhere in all of Shas. The Imrei Aish offers the following explanation:

The Medrash in Breishis Rabba relates a story that once a matron asked Rav Yosi Bar Chalafta \”How many days did it take for Hashem to create the world?\” He answered, \”It took 6 days, as it says in the pasuk in Breishis \”Ki Sheshes Yamim Asa Hashem es HaShamayim V\’es HaAretz…\”. The matron responded, \”So what has He been doing ever since then?\” Rav Yosi Bar Chalafta answered that Hashem is busy matchmaking – so and so\’s daughter to the son of such and such, \”ploni\” will pay this sum to \”\’almoni\”, etc. The matron retorted that this is no big deal, even she can do that with ease. Rav Yosi\’s wise response was that it may seem simple in her eyes, but Hashem sees it as difficult/complex as Krias Yam Suf – splitting the Red Sea.

The matron went home, took a thousand of her servants, a thousand of her maidservants, lined them up, and paired them on the spot, marrying them all off in a single night. Morning came, and the results of her escapade came to light – this servant came with a black eye, that maidservant with a broken arm, one over there with his head bandaged, still another with a broken leg, etc. As she found out in each case what happened, it became clear that \”matchmaking\” is no simple task.

The matron called for Rav Yosi Bar Chalafta, and acknowledged \”There is absolutely no G-d like your G-d\”. Rav Yosi complimented her, and reminded her of his first statement – that it may seem simple in her eyes, but Hashem sees it as difficult/complex as Krias Yam Suf – splitting the Red Sea.

The Imrei Aish explains – the matron\’s mistake was that she thought that matchmaking was a task based on nature (teva). In the end she learned that it really is \”the Finger of Hashem\”, something that is truly made in Heaven.

This is why we use a ring (taba\’as), the grammatical root of which is teva (nature). Although this match that was made looks superficially to be simple and natural, it really is supernatural – full of Divine involvement. That is why the ring is placed on the Kallah\’s finger – to further demonstrate that the \”Finger of Hashem\” is directly involved in determining the appropriate match for each and every Jew.

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