One of the things done under the chupah is the reading of the kesubah; the document which details the obligations of the groom to his wife. On face value, this seems rather inappropriate. We are witnessing the height of love and commitment between a husband and wife to share their lives together, and suddenly they are read the document which talks about their boring, mundane, everyday obligations - that he must feed and support her, as well as well as whatever dowry she brings into the marriage. But don’t these details spoil the romance and love of the occasion somewhat; how do we reconcile these mundane everyday obligations with the grand, boundless and limitless emotion of love on display under the chupah?

The answer is a key to what love is all about. Love is not merely an emotion which is disconnected from action. Love must be expressed in even the smallest of actions to make the love meaningful and real. Therefore, via the reading of the kesubah we are conveying this message to the happy couple under the chupah; ‘you might feel that you are in love with each other at this very moment, but that emotion of love must be translated into action and real commitment in the realm of everyday life.’ As Rav Dessler used to point out, love (ahavah) is from the root ‘to give’ (hav) - love must be expressed by giving.

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