Monday, October 19, 2009

breaking plate at tena'im

My wife was wondering why mothers/mothers-in-law are given the job of breaking a plate at the signing of tena'im. I don't know an answer -- If you do, please reply to her query here. (Note: the question is not why a plate; the question is why this task is given to the women.)


  1. Someone emailed me as follows: I believe the answer to your question is found in Rabbi Riesmans new book Pathway to the prophets in the section “Imponderables” Hatzlacha

    But he did not say what the book says. Anyone have it? Otherwise I may have to browse at the seforim store.

  2. From:

    As Kaplan (1983) explains:
    The reason for breaking the dish is to show that we mourn for Jerusalem and other martyred
    Jews even at the height of our joy. A china dish is broken to show that, just as a china plate can
    never be fully repaired, a broken engagement is an irreparable breach. Even if the bride and
    groom are later reconciled, the breaking of the formal Tanaim contract is considered very
    reprehensible. (p. 28)

  3. And I say that weird minhagim are like viruses: they are catchy, and they get incorporated into the victim's genome. Of course, we only catch minhagim that are either fun or somewhat intelligible. Then we find reasons to prove that it is a venerable and ancient minhag. Look at the video in the commments at kallah mag.