Pesach or Passover has another name in the Torah, the Festival of Matzoth. It is also called in the liturgy ‘The Season of Our Freedom’. It celebrates and marks the Jewish people's freedom from 210 years of slavery and domination in Egypt some 3,000 years ago. We will discuss more about “Freedom” later on in the comments on the Four Sons.
The Torah, that is the Five Books of Moses, also known as The Pentateuch, is the story of the Jewish People and the Commandments given to them, from their beginning with the birth of Abraham until the eve of their entrance to the Land of Israel. Prior to this, however it opens with a brief account of the Creation of the Universe. This account is not meant to be scientific treatise, as our Rabbis say, the Bible is written “in the language of men” *. There we learn from the story of Adam and Eve that we are all descended from those two first people, which makes all of mankind, related one to the other
We are introduced to Abraham, (Gen Ch.11 V. 26) who, while not the first to come to an understanding of the One God, who is the 'Fount of All' and the 'Creator of the Universe', but whose character and steadfastness makes him the one chosen by God. His descendants, the Children of Israel, - the Jews, were to be the instrument by which the peoples of the world were to be introduced to the 'One God' and hopefully the understanding and final realization of the brotherhood of man.
The Bible tells us that Abraham was told by God to leave “Your land, your birthplace and your father's house and to go to a place which I will show you”. (Gen. Ch. 12 V 1). He was also told that God would "Bless those who Blessed him" (Abraham). God also revealed to Abraham, in what is known as the “Brith bein Ha’betarim” – the “Covenant between the Pieces", (Gen. Ch. 15. ), that his descendants were to spend 400 years in exile in a foreign land. The Rabbis calculated that this exile started with the birth of Abraham’s son Isaac so that the actual time spent in Egypt was only 210 years. The question arises why did Abraham’s descendants have to spend any time in exile at all? After all the Land of Canaan was promised to Abraham and his descendants (Gen. Ch.13 V. 14-17.) why not start there and then.
The answer given by the Torah (Gen. Ch. V.15 v16) is simple. Abraham left Haran ( Gen. Ch. 12. V. 5), the city in which his father had settled. ‘To go to the Land which I will showyou’, (Gen Ch. 12 V.1). Taking with him Sara, his wife, Lot his nephew and the people he had made, that is converted to the recognition of the Creator, the one and only God. When he
was gone, would their faith be strong enough to continue in his way? Abraham’s only son at that time was Ishmael the son of Hagar his Egyptian concubine, who was not a member of Abraham’s own tribe that had originated in Ur of the Chaldees.
Much later Abraham was to send his servant Eliezer to Haran, where his immediate family still lived, to bring back for Isaac his son by his wife Sara, through whom the Jewish people are descended, a wife, Rebecca. (Gen. Ch. 24). Later still Jacob, Isaac’s son, also went back to the family in Haran to find a wife from his ancestral family. (Gen. Ch. 28 V. 2.) He eventually came back with four, (Gen. Ch. 29) Rachel Leah Bilha and Zilpah.
Ishmael, Abraham’s other son by his concubine; Hagar married an Egyptian, as his mother was, (Gen. Ch. 21. V. 21). Of Isaac’s twin sons Esau and Jacob, Esau also married out of the tribe by marrying two local Hittite women, Judith and Basemath (Gen. Ch. 26. V. 34-35) much to the great sorrow of his parents thus forfeiting the right of inheriting the mantle of Abraham and of becoming one of the fathers of, and the ancestor of, the Children of Israel. Israel was the additional name given to Jacob by God, (Gen. Ch. 34 V. 10).
By marrying into a people of idol worshippers there was a great danger of being influenced by their wives and leaving the path chosen by Abraham. This showed the necessity of Abraham’s descendants leaving Canaan and going into exile. By so doing and by being strangers in a strange land, they stuck together and married among themselves. In the end they became enslaved by the people among whom they lived which helped to keep them together. Keeping their own laws and customs they were less influenced by the idolatry of the indigenous population.
Had they stayed in Canaan the opposite might have taken place. Abraham and Isaac were honoured by the people among whom they lived. However we see from the story of Dinah, (Gen. Ch. 34) how easy it is to be seduced by the pleasant but licentious and idolatrous life of Canaan. It was essential therefore if God’s promise was to come to pass, that the descendants of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob were to be a special people devoted to the one true Creator of the Universe that the children of Israel had to be sent away, so that they would grow into a cohesive people and not disappear by assimilation.
Because of the famine in the land of Canaan, Jacob and his sons and their families went down to Egypt, (Gen. Ch. 46), where at first they were treated with honour for the sake of Joseph, Jacob’s son who had become the viceroy and the most powerful man in Egypt after Pharaoh (Gen. Ch. 41 V 39-44). The account of Joseph being taken to Egypt, his trials and tribulations and his rise to power, the going down to Egypt by Jacob with his children, the enslavement of the Children of Israel, and the story of the Exodus, are told in the book of Genesis from Chapter 37 to the end of the book, and in the first 17 chapters of the book of Exodus.
The Exodus from Egypt, begins with the first commandment or “Mitzvah” to the Jewish people as a people, and is the commandment to mark and celebrate the Rosh Chodesh (The New Month marked by the appearance of the New Moon) of the first month Nisan. ( Ex. Ch. 12. V. 2). Nisan is the month in which the first Pesach and the Exodus occurred This first commandment addressed to the Children of Israel as a group, is the beginning of the history of the Jewish people as a people. Indeed in the special prayers recited during Passover, Passover is called “the Season of our Freedom”.
The Jewish people have been scattered far and wide, at first, after the destruction of the first Temple when we were exiled to Babylon for some 70 years until, under Ezra and Nehemiah we were able to make Aliyah and return to the Promised Land. And then again with the second Exile, after the rebellion against the Romans when the Temple and Jerusalem were destroyed nearly 2000 years ago. During this long night of dispersion, we as a people experienced humiliation, pogroms, and persecution, forced conversion and the greatest horror of all, the Holocaust. The remembrance of our Exodus from Egypt, the subsequent gathering at the foot of Mount Sinai where we received the Torah (Ex Ch 20), the celebration during the centuries of the Passover and the recitation of the Haggadah, kept us together as a Free (in our hearts) people, proud and subservient to no one, but the God of Israel.
The commandment to celebrate the Passover Festival is given in Exodus Chap.12 V. 1-20. These verses contain several commandments in connection with how the festival should be celebrated. Each family was to take a lamb or young goat for the Passover Offering, which was to be the main part of the ceremonial meal. Before the lamb could be slaughtered, we were commanded to remove from our possession all Chametz (leaven) (Ex. Ch. 34 V. 25). If a lamb was too much for one family, two or more families should join together.
It is to be celebrated from the evening of the 14th day of Nisan, which was to be calculated by the elders after deciding which day was the ‘New Moon’. They "should eat it with Matzah and bitter herbs" (Num. Ch. 9 V. 11) .The Passover was to be kept "throughout the generations forever" (Ex. Ch. 12 V 14). For the seven days (eight outside Israel), no "chametz" was to be seen or found (in your possession) and certainly not eaten. (Ex. Ch. 12. V 19). In Ex. Ch. 12 V. 26-27 and in several other places the Jewish people are commanded to teach their children throughout the generations the commandments and in particular those relating to the Festival of Passover.
The Seder is the most outstanding ceremony of the Festival of Passover. The Seder meaning "Order," of the recitation of the Haggadah and the festive meal takes place in our homes on the first and (excepting in Israel) second night of the festival today as it has done from the time of Joshua's and the Children of Israel’s entry into the Land of Israel. (Josh. .Ch. 5 V. 10). Not in the same way however, as without the Temple we cannot offer the Passover Offering, which in Temple times was the central part of the Festival. The Seder is the climax of the preparation for Passover, which has gone on from the end of the last Passover a year ago, with the production of Matzoth and other specially prepared food stuffs.
As mentioned above the Torah says that we are not to eat "Chametz" during the seven (eight days outside Israel) days of Passover, nor to have it in our possession or to own it. (Ex Ch. 12 V. 15).
We must now define what is Chametz.. Chametz is the result of any of the five species of grain, wheat, barley, spelt, oats and rye, ground or whole, being in contact with water for more than 18 minutes without being baked in the oven. This of course includes drinks that are made from grain such as whisky and beer and many others. Chametz is not the process of fermentation in which case wine would not be permitted.
Matzoth are made from dough made by mixing a special flour that prior to being ground has been specially watched and guarded so as not to come into contact with water before being processed, with water and with no other additive, even salt. Special supervision ensures that the dough from which Matzoth is made is speedily processed so that no more than 18 minutes elapses from when the dough is mixed and rolled out into matzoth until it is placed in the oven. Ordinary flour that is bought in a store or supermarket is Chametz as before being ground, the wheat kernels are soaked in water for ease in milling.
In modern times, we purchase many foods already processed and prepared. Even with reading the lists of ingredients on the label, how many of us know what is put in our food, which we buy so trustingly and eat. How many of us know what are the additives the colours, taste enhancers, emulsifiers, anti-oxidants, hydrolyzed protein and other chemicals too numerous to mention many of which are made from chametz products that are put into manufactured and processed food, let alone what is their origin.
How much more so should we be sure, that all food and drink for Passover including wine, spirits and liqueurs, even seemingly simple foods like sugar, tea, coffee, salt and spices, should not contain additives, which unknown to ourselves may be included, perhaps to stop them clogging or to enable them to “run” smoothly, that are ‘Chametz’. It is essential therefore that Matzoth and all processed food and drink that is bought to be consumed during Passover are specially baked, cooked or otherwise prepared, under the supervision and endorsed as "Kosher for Passover" by a reliable Rabbinical authority, and carries the appropriate "Hechsher" (guarantee of fitness for use during Passover).. This is so as to ensure that no "Chametz" is included in the process or contents or additives of the product and is necessitated by the strictness of the Mitzvah of, not eating, not owning, and not even seeing on our property the slightest vestige of "Chametz".
To many people, these regulations may seem unnecessary hair splitting, but Jewish food laws, kashrut and the observance of the Sabbath and the Festivals have been the bonds that have kept the Jewish people together and helped us withstand the attacks both spiritual and physical that has been our lot throughout the ages.
To make sure that no chametz is owned or seen or found during Passover the conscientious housewife begins her preparations immediately after Purim which takes place a month before the Passover. Gradually every room, every closet, every cupboard, every pocket is turned out and cleaned until on the night before the Seder the house is ready. Pots and pans, cutlery, china and glassware have all been replaced by utensils specially kept from one year to the next, for the Passover. How to make sure that ovens, microwaves, gas burners and other kitchen equipment may be made fit for use over Passover, one must ask a recognized Rabbinical authority.
The Torah tells us that Passover must be celebrated in the spring. (Ex.Ch. 13 V. 4). The Jewish calendar is lunar, based on the cycle of the moon around the earth. The moon takes about 29 days and 12 hours to circle the earth. With a year of twelve months, the year is therefore about eleven days short of the solar year which is recorded by the secular calendar, and which is based on the earth circling the sun. To keep both periods synchronized so that Passover always falls in the spring, 7 times during each period of 19 years an extra month is added so that in every 19-year period, we have a 13-month year 7 times. This extra month is always the month before Passover and is called the Second Adar
The Torah tells us that the Korban Pesach, the Passover Offering, is to be brought on the 14th of Nisan in the afternoon, and that day strictly speaking, is the Festival of Passover. The Bible calls what we nowadays call Passover the “Festival of Matzoth”. The Festival of Matzoth as mentioned above is celebrated on the 15th of the Hebrew month of Nisan,. As the Jewish day begins at sunset, the Seder night is on the evening of the 14th of Nissan, which is the beginning of the 15th of Nissan and is when, in Temple times the Passover Offering was eaten.
There are therefore, two separate although joined festivals. One the Festival of Passover that is the 14th of Nisan in which we are to bring the Passover Offering, which today we cannot do since the destruction of the Temple in Jerusalem, some two thousand years ago. And the Festival of Matzoth, which starts on the night of the 14th which is the beginning of the 15th, the Seder night. The festival of Matzoth lasts seven days in Israel and eight days in the rest of the world. During this time we are not permitted as mentioned above, to eat any food which contains chametz.
The Torah tells us that the Passover Offering may not be brought with chametz in our possession. (Ex.Ch. 34.V. 25) so today, from the time that the Passover offering would have been brought in Temple times, we may not have chametz in our possession. This means that we have to remove all chametz from our houses by the ceremony of B’dikat Chametz. This takes place on the night of the 13th of Nissan that is the evening of the day before the Passover Offering would have been brought and the night before the Seder night. Any chametz found during the ceremony together with all other chametz in our possession including that left over from breakfast, is burned the following morning.
All take their place at the table open their Haggadah’s and the wine glasses are filled. As on every other Festival and Shabbat we make Kiddush, that is we sanctify the Holiness of the Day. The Kiddush is over the first of the four cups of wine. In some families this is made by the person who is conducting the Seder, in others, all make their own; while in some families the Kiddush is recited in unison.
If the Seder is on a Friday night, the Kiddush begins with the Friday night introduction, the recitation of the Biblical account of the institution of the Sabbath at the end of the creation of the universe (Gen. Ch 2. V. 1-3). We make a ‘blessing’ over the wine next and then the blessing relating to the Festival of Pesach. If the Seder takes place at the termination of the Sabbath, the special blessing made at the termination of the Sabbath is added. On all occasions, we finish with the blessing thanking God for having allowed to reach this season.
Kiddush should not be made until after dark. We pour out the first of the 4 glasses of wine, which we drink during the Seder.
The purpose of the Karpas is, according to some authorities, to arouse the curiosity of the children, prompting them to ask questions, giving us the opportunity of explaining, by reciting the Haggadah, the meaning of the Festival. During the recitation of the Haggadah, discussion of its meaning and its relevance is encouraged as we shall see when we come to the story of the Rabbis in Bnei Brak.
So, why do we eat Matzah instead of bread? Why do we eat a bitter vegetable? Why do we dip our food (we have already done it once, the second time will be later on in the Seder)? Why do we eat and drink leaning?
1) The first question is the obvious one. There are two reasons. Firstly we eat Matzah because we are commanded to do so in the Torah (Ex. Ch. 12. V. 15-21), In addition it commemorates that first Pesach when on leaving Egypt in a hurry we baked the dough before it had time to rise. (Ex. Ch. 12 V. 34).
2) We eat bitter vegetables as a symbol of and a commemoration of our lives having been made bitter by the forced labour of the Egyptians when we were slaves in Egypt.
3) Dipping the food does not appear to have anything to do with the Seder night why therefore of all the seemingly strange things we do on the Seder night is this one singled out. The usual reason given is that it should prompt the children to ask about the Seder night and Pesach generally, however, there is another much more profound explanation.
The exile to Egypt while foretold to Abraham in the "covenant between the pieces" (Gen. Ch.15..V 7-14), really started when Joseph was put into the pit by his brothers as told in Gen. Ch. 37, and then spirited away to Egypt by a band of Midianite caravan traders. The brothers taking the striped coat of many colours given to Joseph by his father Jacob, slaughtered a male goat, dipped the coat into its blood and gave it to Jacob as ‘proof’ that Joseph had been devoured by wild beasts.
Over 200 years later in Egypt, the Jewish people are commanded by God to take a male lamb or goat, slaughter it and dip a bundle of hyssop branches in its blood and smear the blood on the door- post and lintel of their houses (Ex. Ch. 12. V. 22). This was the first act of rebellion against the Egyptians and marked the end of their long servitude, the beginning of their freedom and the first declaration that they, as a people had put their trust in the Almighty
Perhaps the two dippings at the Seder night are an oblique reminder of these two events that mark the two most important milestones on the long road of the history of the Jewish people, the beginning and the end of slavery in Egypt.
(4) The last question is why on this night we eat leaning. It was the practice at the time the Haggadah was compiled for free people who ate their meal in a leisurely manner, not to sit at a table as we do nowadays, but at couches with each person eating from his own small table and being served by a servant. Although nowadays we do not eat in that manner, we still commemorate this practice.
These are all the simple answers but because we are Jews, we do not rely on simple answers to these questions. The whole Haggadah is devoted to answering them in its own way so that the events they commemorate are fixed in our minds and repeated every year throughout our lifetimes. Later on in the Haggadah it says, ‘even if we are all clever or knowledgeable or learned we still have the duty of relating the story of the Exodus, and its meaning for the Jewish people. The Haggadah then begins to give the answer to the children’s questions.
Prior to eating any food or drinking any liquid, we are commanded by our Sages to bless the Almighty who provides us with food and drink. Although it is man who plants and reaps, it is the Almighty's design that what we plant grows into fruit, vegetables and vegetation that is the basis of all life. The blessing varies the blessing for fruit grown on trees, ends with "who creates the fruit of the trees", while the blessing for vegetables grown on the ground, ends with "who creates the fruit of the ground". Food that is neither fruit nor vegetables, such as meat, fish, cheese, eggs etc., and liquids, apart from wine, have their own blessing, which ends "by whose word all things exist". Food made of any of the five species of grain such as for example cake or pasta, have their own special blessing “who creates all kinds of food”
However, bread is of such importance called "the staff of life” that it has its own blessing, and ends "who brings forth bread from the earth". Bread is considered such an essential part of all meals that the Sages have decreed that the blessing on bread includes all the food that we eat in that meal.
Wine which is an important part of our lives in that we sanctify the Sabbath and Festivals with wine and is an essential part of the wedding and circumcision services, of all liquids has its own blessing which does not mention wine, but ends "who has created the fruit of the vine". Incidentally, the blessing for grapes from which wine is made is the standard one for fruit of the tree.
The table on which we eat our meals is compared to the Altar in the Temple and we give thanks to the Almighty for providing the meal we eat on it. By eating bread with the meal, we make what we eat into a “proper meal” as it were, as distinct from a snack. In the Temple of old the Priest would wash his hands before eating the Terumah, (the gift of the grain given to the Priest) To stress the importance of this “proper meal”, and to commemorate the action of the priest we also wash our hands, prior to the blessing we make over the bread. Washing the hands prior to a “proper meal” converts the blessing over bread into a blessing over all the individual foods and types of food we eat in that “proper meal”
This washing of our hands before a meal is called in Hebrew, נטילת ידי (‘netilat yadayim’) and is done by pouring water from a vessel twice (some say 3 times) over each hand in turn making the special blessing which appears next in the Haggadah. Between this blessing and the two which we make next, one over the Matzah as bread and one which we make only on the Seder night on eating Matzah in accordance with the commandment to eat Matzah, there should not be any distraction such as talking or untoward or unnecessary gesturing.
The meal is now served. It is customary to start with hard-boiled eggs in or with salt water, various explanations have been made for this custom such as, the roundness of the egg symbolizes life, The salt water has also been connected to the Reed Sea over which we passed on our way out of Egypt to the Promised Land so indirectly reminding us of the Song of the Sea as mentioned earlier.. It has also been compared to the tears shed during our long and difficult Exile.
Hard-boiled eggs are also eaten as a sign of mourning. The first day of Pesach is the same day of the week as is Tisha b'Av (the Ninth of Av), the day of the destruction of both Temples, which we commemorate by a 25 hour fast. We thus connect life and the time of our redemption from Egypt to the day of mourning for the Temple and exile from our Land to the redemption and return to Eretz Yisrael, thus coming a full circle as is the egg. Together with the piece of roasted meat on the Seder dish we also place a roasted egg as a symbol of the Chagiga offering which was brought on every festival, the egg that we eat is perhaps a reminder of that. This roasted egg may now be eaten. If not eaten now it should be eaten at some time and not thrown away as it symbolizes the special festival offering.
At the end of the meal, we eat the Afikomen. This is the piece of the middle Matzah, which was broken in half and put away until now. Traditionally this has probably been "stolen" by somebody, most likely the youngest child and has to be “ransomed” because without it the Seder is unable to continue. The Master of the house will therefore, have to ‘bribe’ by a promise of a present to the culprit, to return the Afikomen. This adds to the excitement and participation of the children in the Seder. When it has been recovered it is distributed to all present who eat some of it together with a quantity of Matzah making up about half to three quarters of a sheet of Matzah.
We have now concluded the whole of the Seder celebration according to the regulations and precepts that have been laid down for us by our teachers. We have invited those who are needy to join us in our celebration. The children have asked why is this night different from all other nights. We have reviewed our history beginning with Laban who tried to stifle our faith almost at its inception. We have reviewed the four very different sons and their different approaches. We have mentioned the way that some of our greatest sages have celebrated the Passover very much in the way that we are doing. We have reviewed the wonder of the Ten Plagues that beset the Egyptians, tinged with regret that it was necessary, spilling the wine as a symbol of this regret, which at last forced them to let us go. We have recited the way our forefathers went out of Egypt under the care of God..
We have spoken about our crossing the Reed Sea. We spoke of the Matzah, which we ate then and still do. We ate the bitter vegetable in memory of the bitterness that our lives were in servitude. We drank the four cups of wine to commemorate the promise of salvation; we remembered the Paschal lamb offering which we are as yet unable to do. We ate a festive meal and gave thanks, we praised God for all his goodness that he has bestowed on us, and we have now come to the end of the Seder.
And now we make an appeal to God, an appeal that until the middle of the 20th Century of the Common Era was something that we could only hope for in the distant and almost unimaginable future. An appeal that for so many generations living for so long in the Diaspora was only a dream, a heartfelt dream but only a dream. And now after two thousand years, is within our grasp. We say NEXT YEAR IN JERUSALEM! In Eretz Yisrael we say NEXT YEAR IN THE REBUILT JERUSALEM! Considering Jerusalem still not completely rebuilt until the Holy Temple once more stands proudly at its centre when we will once again be able to celebrate the Passover as we are commanded to in all its glory wonder and happiness.
Jerusalem yearned for by our parents, grandparents, their grandparents, and their grandparents grandparents, for eighty generations. The Psalmist mourns By the waters of Babylon, There we sat down and wept when we remembered Zion.
On its willow trees we hung our harps......... How shall we sing the Lords song in a foreign land? If I forget thee, O Jerusalem, let my right hand forget its cunning Let my tongue cleave to the roof of my mouth if I remember thee not If I set not Jerusalem above my chiefest joy (Psalm 137).
There are two Jerusalems, the earthly city capital of Israel, and its heavenly counterpart (Ta’anith 5a) which is alive in our minds and dreams. The earthly thriving bustling modern city with its Synagogues, Yeshivot, the Knesset building, seat of the government, its’ motor cars and buses, its’ markets and malls and shops its’ stores, its’ supermarkets with escalators and lifts, banks, schools, university and all the trappings of a modern city.
During the most bitter times in Jewish history The Roman destruction of Jerusalem and expulsion of the Jews, the Byzantine persecutions, the crusades during which Christians did not wait to go to the Holy Land to kill ”infidels” when the Jews “infidels” in their eyes were in every town and village in Europe, and when they did get to Jerusalem, murdered every Jew they could find. The Expulsion from Spain and the murderous Inquisition. The blood libels throughout the ages (even to the present day) where Jews were unbelievably and absurdly accused of using the blood of Christian children in the making of Matzoth. The pogroms in Russia, Poland and in every other country in Europe. Pogroms, oppressions, and blood libels in Moslem lands. The forced conversions to Christianity and Islam and finally the hideous and unspeakable, unbelievable, and still impossible to understand, murderous Holocaust by Germany and its many collaborators. And now the canard by Moslems which is believed by millions, that Jews have no connection to Jerusalem and that the Temple never stood there, although Jerusalem is mentioned in the scriptures some 700 times, and wept over for millennia.
In all this time the concept, and the vision, and the idea, of the ‘Heavenly Jerusalem’. The Heavenly Jerusalem yearned for by so many of our forefathers sustaining them for millennia, forever optimistic, the symbol of the Jews relationship with the Creator, the pinnacle of our religious fervour. The dream of our future. The Place of the Holy Temple. The Place to which we turn in our daily prayers. The Place at the centre of our Jewish aspirations, the Place where by Abraham’s submitting himself to God made the world aware of the heinousness of the crime of human sacrifice. The Place of Jacob’s dream The Place from which the word of God went out to the world,
“Come ye and let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, to the house of the God of Jacob, and He will teach us His ways and we will walk in His paths for out of Zion will go the Torah and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem”. (Isaiah Ch. 2 V. 3).
No other Place is regarded by any people as is Jerusalem by the Jews. During all this time the Jewish Nation’s prayer was for salvation and the vision of “Next year in Jerusalem”. Now from all parts of the world in a relatively few hours the Jew can make a pilgrimage to the Holy Land and to the centre of the world - Jerusalem. But, and there is nearly always a but, those fortunate enough to live in Eretz Yisrael and those even more fortunate to have the privilege of living in the Holy City, the Holiness is not complete. They say “Next year in the rebuilt Jerusalem”. Jews still yearn for the completion of the prophecy so that we may once again celebrate Pesach in the Holy City as it should be.
There is a well known story in the Talmud (Makkot 24b) featuring the famous Rabbi Akiva. He was traveling to Jerusalem with Rabbi Yehoshua and Rabbi Eliezer ben Azariyah two of his colleagues who we have met earlier in the Haggadah in Bnei Brak who were with Rabbi Akiva when their pupils came and reminded them that it was time to say the Kriyath Sh’ma. Stopping on Mount Scopus they looked towards the ruins of the Temple and saw foxes running around in the ruins. Rabbi Akiva's companions burst into tears at the sight while he laughed with joy. “Why are you so happy” asked his companions He told them that just as the prophets foretold the destruction of Jerusalem so had they foretold the rebuilding of it. Now the destruction has come to pass so will its rebuilding. (Zech Ch..8).
We are told by our sages never to forget the fact that Jerusalem is not yet complete. And one of the ways we do this as strangely enough at a wedding one of the happiest highlights of Jewish life. In the midst of this happiness and joy at the joining of two souls and the establishment and founding of another Jewish family in the long line of Jewish continuity, the bridegroom breaks a glass under the Chupa, ( Or. Ch. 560:2). This strange-seeming custom is to remind us that our happiness is not complete and is tinged with our sadness for the destruction of Jerusalem.