The source for breaking a glass under the Chuppah according to many commentaries is a Tosfos in Berachos 31a. The Gemara there says the following- (taken from the Sefaria website)

רַב אָשֵׁי עֲבַד הִילּוּלָא לִבְרֵיהּ, חֲזַנְהוּ לְרַבָּנַן דַּהֲווֹ קָא בָדְחִי טוּבָא. אַיְּיתִי כָּסָא דְּזוּגִּיתָא חִיוָּרְתָּא, וְתַבַּר קַמַּיְהוּ, וְאִעֲצִיבוּ.

Rav Ashi made a wedding feast for his son and he saw the Sages, who were excessively joyous. He brought a cup of extremely valuable white glass and broke it before them, and they became sad.

Tosfos comments- From here, it became customary to break a cup at a wedding. This custom remains with us till today.

Seems to me that the whole point of it was to create a more serious atmosphere at the wedding, and that can only be accomplished by breaking an expensive glass/goblet etc, just like the white glass brought in the Gemara which was hard to find in the market (see Tosfos Shabbos 20b).

Why then do people use old and/or cheap glasses to break at the Chuppah, it seems to be negating the whole idea behind this custom?


1 Answer 1


In Yalkut Yosef שובע שמחות חלק א דף רמא he brings down the idea from the ראבי"ה who uses the Gemera in Moed Katan 27a that nowadays we have a cheap cup in order to not embarrass others who don't have a fancy/expensive cup. (I'm not sure if the ראבי"ה adds this following point): Nowadays people cover up this cup so the pieces don't go flying and damage, so because the cup isn't seen anyways, we don't need to be makpid to have an expensive cup, and just by breaking it people remember the churban.

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    By the same token, nowadays we also have cheap wedding feasts so as not to embarass those who can't afford a fancy/expensive feast.
    – Double AA
    Mar 22, 2023 at 0:47
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    Thanks Avishai! It's clearly apparent though from the Gemara that it has nothing to do with the churban, but rather it's to bring the assembled into more of a solemn mood. However the Gemara in Moed Katan that you've quoted is definitely an insight. What bother's me even more about Tosfos is the 'timing', that we do it by the chupah where anyway the atmosphere is serious as opposed to the meal which that would seem of a more appropriate time for it (which is when it was done in the Gemara mentioned) Mar 22, 2023 at 1:50
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    @DoubleAA -- Why stop at wedding feasts? Why not do everything on the cheap so as not to shame those who can't do more? (Before you delete this again, try answering the question.) Mar 22, 2023 at 20:35
  • @MauriceMizrahi There's nothing to answer, we're all just joking, only so many joke comments needed to make the point. This is of course a stupid reason to not invest in a proper zecher lechurban while hosting a giant envious feast. If somebody did make a smaller meal to save money and donate it to tzedaka, I have no qualms with their minimizing the zecher lechurban as well.
    – Double AA
    Mar 22, 2023 at 21:06
  • @MauriceMizrahi A lot of communities historically have made rules to limit the extravagance of simchos. For example, only chickpeas and beer served at a shalom zachar. Some schools have rules about bar and bat mitzvahs.
    – N.T.
    Mar 28, 2023 at 7:11

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