Noahide Marriage and Weddings

A wedding canopy, called a hupa in Hebrew

Example of a Decorated Wedding Canopy


QUESTION: What is a Noahide marriage?
 

ANSWER : The subject of Noahide marriage is explained by Rambam (Maimonides) in his Mishneh Torah. He writes that for a Gentile man and woman, if he and she desire to become married, this is actually accomplished when he brings her to live with him as his domestic partner in his home, and they have marital relations in the normal manner to consummate their marriage. From this we see that the required mutual intention for marriage is demonstrated when the couple sets up residence together in a spousal relationship as a matter of public knowledge.

Secular certification (registration) of marriages is recommended, as a safeguard against adultery, and in order to secure all due legal protection of the law of the land for the husband, the wife, and their children.

Noahide couples are encouraged to review their planned wedding ceremonies from a Torah-based perspective, to be sure that the text is free from any inappropriate oaths, or allusions to idolatry, etc.

Torah sources make reference to an ancient custom of a wedding ceremony for Gentiles, with the bride and groom “standing under the wedding canopy.” According to the Midrash, G-d officiated at the wedding ceremony of Adam and Hava (Eve), with the happy couple standing under a wedding canopy. In his commentary to Genesis 6:2, Rashi quotes the Midrash Bereishis Rabba, which says that before the Flood, couples would enter a wedding canopy to perform their wedding ceremony.


QUESTION: Who can perform a wedding ceremony? Can an Orthodox Rabbi preside over a Noahide wedding?
 

ANSWER : AskNoah has developed a Noahide wedding contract, and we have consulted for Noahide wedding ceremonies, under the supervision of our overseeing Rabbis. We are happy to report that these resources have been used by Noahide couples, and for a number of these, an Orthodox Rabbi was officiating. For our wedding consulting services, please contact us by email.

Be sure to check with your state’s Department of Health, which usually has a web site, for the civil ordinances on who can officiate at weddings. The following is from the web site of the New York State Department of Health:

To be valid [i.e. officially recognized by the state of New York], a marriage ceremony must be performed by any of the individuals specified in Section 11 of the New York State (NYS) Domestic Relations Law. These include:
– the mayor of a city or village;
– the city clerk or one of the deputy city clerks of a city of more than one million inhabitants;
– a marriage officer appointed by the town or village board or the city common council;
– a justice or judge of the following courts: the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, the U.S. District Courts for the Northern, Southern, Eastern or Western Districts of New York, the NYS Court of Appeals, the Appellate Division of the NYS Supreme Court, the NYS Supreme Court, the Court of Claims, the Family Court, a Surrogates Court, the Civil and Criminal Courts of New York City (including Housing judges of the Civil Court) and other courts of record;

– a village, town or county justice;
– a member of the clergy or minister
[including an Orthodox Rabbi] who has been officially ordained and granted authority to perform marriage ceremonies from a governing church [or Orthodox synagogue] body in accordance with the rules and regulations of the church body;
– a member of the clergy or minister
[including an Orthodox Rabbi] who is not authorized by a governing church body but who has been chosen by a spiritual group to preside over their spiritual affairs;
– other officiants as specified by Section 11 of the Domestic Relations Law.

The person performing the ceremony must be registered with the City of New York in order to perform a ceremony within the New York City limits.
The officiant does not have to be a resident of New York State.
Ship captains are not authorized to perform marriage ceremonies in New York State.


Photo following a Noahide wedding in Upstate New York, June ’06: 

 

Artistic Noahide wedding contract

Artistic Noahide marriage contract

The couple’s Noahide marriage contract, on table underneath the canopy.


……. …….

CLICK HERE FOR COMMENTS FROM: 

The officiating Rabbi, guests, and the Director of AskNoah International

The Tradition of the Noahide Marriage Contract

In traditional commentaries on the book of Genesis, it is explained that in Biblical times, the strongest category of marriage relationship was established by the husband and wife making a marriage contract. For instance, Laban had a marriage contract with his wife who bore Rachel and Leah, but he did not make a contract with his wife who bore Bilha and Zilpa.

Our overseeing Rabbi, Rabbi Immanuel Schochet, has approved the following text as one example of a Noahide marriage contract which is valid according to Torah Law for Noahides. This was first used for the Noahide wedding in June ’06 which is pictured above, after the text was certified by an attorney as also being legally proper according to New York State secular family law. (Copyright © AskNoah International; this text will be published in our new book, “The Divine Code,” 2nd Edition):


By the Grace of G-d

On the ___ day of the week, the ___ day of the month of _________ in the year 20’__ in the civil calendar, corresponding to the ___ day of the Hebrew month of ____________ in the year 57__ since Creation according to the calendar of the People of Israel, here in the community of [city, state/province, and nation:]_________________ , the bridegroom, __________________ , said to the bride, __________________ : “Be my wife according to the laws of the Torah of Moses as they relate to B’nai Noah, the Children of Noah. I pledge to respect, honor and maintain you conscientiously and in honorable fashion as becoming ethical and honorable people, and assume all the responsibilities incumbent upon a loving and faithful husband, living with you as husband and wife according to universal custom and providing you with all necessities of life.”
Miss _______________ agreed to become his wife, and pledges to honor and respect her husband and to assume all the responsibilities incumbent upon a loving and faithful wife, living with him as wife and husband according to universal custom and maintaining a harmonious household.
Mr. ______________, our bridegroom made this declaration: “I accept upon myself all moral, emotional and financial obligations of this marriage contract. I also accept upon myself to provide all necessities of life for any children G-d may bless us with at least until their age of secular majority or marriage. I declare and affirm that all my present and future properties and possessions shall be liable to these undertakings during my lifetime, and after my lifetime, from this day and forever. If a question arises regarding practical fulfillment of these obligations that I have accepted, my intent is follow decisions of a Jewish Orthodox rabbinical court that will rule according to the Torah Laws for B’nai Noach.
The obligations of this marriage contract were accepted by Mr. _____________, our bridegroom, and Miss _____________, according to all the strictest usage of all marriage contracts according to the prevailing civil laws and social norms.
A binding acceptance of this contract by Mr. _____________, the bridegroom, and Miss _____________, his bride, regarding everything written and stated above, is made by both, by affixing their signatures to this document before witnesses:

Mr. ______________________________ Miss ______________________________

Affirmed and signed on the above date before:

Witness_______________________________

Witness_______________________________

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