At a wedding, the groom is facing the audience. When the bride comes to the chuppah she begins to circle to her right as he is facing the groom, and circles first behind the groom proceeding in a counter-clockwise direction (beginning the circling leftward.)

This is what I've seen at every wedding. I assume that there is some halachic principle that the bride should start to her right, when she is facing the groom. But, I don't know its source, or if this is a halacha or minhag.

If a wedding is in Australia, does she circle in the opposite direction?


1 Answer 1


The idea of circling counter-clockwise, which is moving to the right, follows the avodah of the Kohanim in the Temple.Like is found in Mishnah Torah, Hilchot Beit HaBechirah 7:3.

וְכָל הַנִּכְנָסִין לְהַר הַבַּיִת נִכְנָסִין דֶּרֶךְ יָמִין וּמַקִּיפִין וְיוֹצְאִין דֶּרֶךְ שְׂמֹאל חוּץ מִמִּי שֶׁאֵרְעוֹ דָּבָר שֶׁהוּא מַקִּיף עַל הַשְּׂמֹאל. לְפִיכָךְ הָיוּ שׁוֹאֲלִין לוֹ מַה לְּךָ מַקִּיף עַל הַשְּׂמֹאל. שֶׁאֲנִי אָבֵל. הַשּׁוֹכֵן בַּבַּיִת הַזֶּה יְנַחֶמְךָ. שֶׁאֲנִי מְנֻדֶּה. הַשּׁוֹכֵן בַּבַּיִת הַזֶּה יִתֵּן בִּלְבָבְךָ וְתִשְׁמַע לְדִבְרֵי חֲבֵרֶיךָ וִיקָרְבוּךָ:

This is a general practice which is seen in many different cases, like for example when one is called to the Torah reading like is found in Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chaim 141:7.

הָעוֹלֶה לְמִגְדָּל, עוֹלֶה בְּפֶתַח שֶׁהוּא לוֹ בְּדֶרֶךְ קְצָרָה מִמְּקוֹמוֹ וְיֵרֵד מֵהַמִּגְדָּל בְּדֶרֶךְ אַחֵר, שֶׁהוּא לוֹ בְּדֶרֶךְ אֲרֻכָּה עַד מְקוֹמוֹ; וְאִם ב' הַדְּרָכִים שָׁוִים, עוֹלֶה בַּפֶּתַח שֶׁהוּא לוֹ בְּדֶרֶךְ יָמִין, וְיוֹרֵד בַּפֶּתַח שֶׁכְּנֶגְדּוֹ.

And the comment of the Mishnah Berurah there, note 24:

(כד) עולה בפתח וכו' - כדאמרינן בעלמא כל פינות שאתה פונה לא יהא אלא דרך ימין:

When one is called, one approaches from the right, it is a sign of joy and kindness like is mentioned at the end of the Why paragraph at this link from Chabad. If one approached clockwise, meaning from the left, it is a sign of mourning and judgement.

The same principle applies with the circling of the bride under the Chuppah.

Regarding your final question pertaining to Australia, no, you do not approach from the left in the southern hemisphere.

  • Sounds credible. Can you strengthen this by either providing a source to support the general rule regarding circling or that the circling under the chuppah is compared to the avodah? I don't see the connection.
    – DanF
    Jun 19, 2017 at 15:25
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    Isn't circling counter clockwise turning to the left? If I walk around a room counter clockwise from above, then every time I hit a corner I'll make a left turn.
    – Double AA
    Jun 19, 2017 at 15:52
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    "follows the avodah of the Kohanim in the Temple." Does this mean that the goal is to mimic the Avoda, or that both the Avoda and this have the same reason? (If the latter, why mention the Avoda at all since it's irrelevant? If the former, why are we mimicking the Avoda?)
    – Double AA
    Jun 19, 2017 at 15:53
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    @sabbahillel Is she? Why?
    – Double AA
    Jun 19, 2017 at 18:56
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    @DoubleAA That would be a different question. Actually, there are other cases involving turning "to the right" and the answers reference the kohen circling the mizbeach as the main example of this behavior (not the reason for the behavior). Also consider the circling of the shul for hoshanos which has the same behavior. Jun 19, 2017 at 18:59

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