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What does the "b'dekin" at a Jewish wedding accomplish? Does it play anow Halachic role in the marriage? Or is it just some sort of ceremony that's meany to symbolize something?

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Remember what happened to Yaakov when he thought that he was going to marry Rachel and wound up marrying Leah. She was veiled and he did not realize that it was Leah until after he had consummated the marriage. At the Bedekin he himself puts the veil on her face. That action shows this and ensures that he is indeed marrying the woman that he expects to be marrying.

Note that the Hebrew word בדוק translates as check. This may one reason for the name bedekin. I have not researched the etymology so this is just a comment from what I have noticed.

There are also a number of symbolic meaning to the bedekin

The Veiling Ceremony (Bedeken) Rabbi Maurice Lamm goes into detail

According to several rabbinic authorities, the veiling was not a mere social formality, but had the force of law as it was legally considered the chuppah, which is the concluding step of the marriage. Most authorities today hold that it is a beautiful traditional ceremony, but that it does not have the significance of chuppah. Nonetheless, its performance assures that all theories of chuppah are observed, to guarantee the absolute observance of the law of marriage, without exception.

There are a number of interpretations of the veil's symbolism, all of which reflect truths that are worthy of being dramatically enacted before the wedding service.

  1. The veil is a symbol of the married woman.
    Rebecca does not wear a veil while on the journey in the company of the servant, Eliezer, but instinctively dons it when sighting Isaac. This may account for the insistence of major authorities that the groom himself veil the bride, and that it should never be done without him—it is only his presence that makes her veil significant

  2. The veil is symbolic of her new unapproachability to others, not only sexually, but as hekdesh, a sanctified object in the temple.

  3. The symbol of the veil most often referred to is "modesty."

  4. The veil also conveys psychological significance. Netziv notes that the instinctive action of veiling at the sight of Isaac symbolized Rebecca's married life with him.

  • Is there a reason why they take it of very quickly after they brake the cup(glass)? – hazoriz Dec 5 '16 at 1:11
  • @hazoriz I would guess that since married women do not wear veils nowadays, it is no longer required. – sabbahillel Dec 5 '16 at 1:25
  • @hazoriz Most likely so she can see better while walking down the aisle. It also makes it easier for mom and dad and new husband to kiss her, actually. – DanF Dec 5 '16 at 1:33
  • @DanF from my experience the Bride is not the one that is in the rush to take it off, parents do not have an obligation to kiss – hazoriz Dec 5 '16 at 1:35
  • @mevaqesh I will change the statement as I noticed the similarity and just made the comment. – sabbahillel Dec 5 '16 at 20:12
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The Rashash in Kiddushin (18b) says that the minhag of Badekin is rooted in the kinyan - acquisition - of Prisas Taliso Aleha - Laying the garment upon her.

The Bach (61) explains that it has the halachic status of Chupah.

Although this is not agreed upon by all authorities, nonetheless, Rav Asher Weiss explains that we do it to cover all opinions.

The Drisha (65) refers to this practice as well:

נמצא מה שהולכין בזמנינו כל הקהל עם החתן או עם אביו בשחרית לכסות ראש הכלה היא היא הנקרא בזמנינו הכנסת כלה לחופה ע"ד שכתב המרדכי שמשחרית מתחיל הכנסת כלה לחופה שע"י זה אנו מקדימין לומר חופה קודם לקידושין ואע"פ שכתב רש"י ללוותה מבית אביה דמשמע שהולכין אחריה אפשר שכן היה המנהג בזמנם כמו שנוהגין עדיין בקהילות בארץ אשכנ"ז שיש להן בית מיוחד לזה שמביאין אותם שמה:

The Dagel Mervava (Yoreh Deah 342) says that the custom in Russia was for the Groom to cover the Bride with garment, and that perhaps it effects the marriage as chuppa.

The Avuharam (ברכות אירוסין ונישואין) also connects the minhag to Prisas Taliso Aleha

Rav Shmuel Vosner (שו"ת שבט הלוי ח"ט סי' ע"ר) even goes so far as to say that one should set aside eidim - witnesses, to witness the groom place the cloth over her head, as it, acc. to many halachic authorities, has the significance of Chuppa.

So in short yes, according to some, it is significant and can serve a Halachic purpose.

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    What does Chuppah before Kiddushin even mean? Just because Bedekin could serve a Halakhic purpose, doesn't mean it does at our weddings. – Double AA Dec 5 '16 at 19:23
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    According to the authorities that covering her face is chuppah, it would only be significant if performed after Kiddushin, which is not how we do it. I don't know what "haschalas knisasa lechuppa" means, but it seems pretty clear from Shas that you don't need such a thing nor does it accomplish anything formal. – Double AA Dec 5 '16 at 19:34
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    You claim that "according to some it does serve a Halachic purpose" when really you mean "according to some it [could] serve a Halachic purpose [if you did it after Kiddushin]". AFAIK no one quoted allows for Nissuin before Kiddushin (and for good reason). – Double AA Dec 5 '16 at 19:36
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    @yydl Is entering the Chupah relevant? Or just being under it with him? – Double AA Dec 6 '16 at 1:41
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    @yydl I'm not questioning if our Chuppah is Totzaa. This answer claims that some hold that his putting on a veil before kiddushin is relevant to nissuin. How can that be? If it's just that she needs to be veiled after kiddushin, then why does he have to do it? – Double AA Dec 6 '16 at 4:35

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