Orphan Visiting Cemetery Before Wedding

Should my fiancé visit her grandfather’s grave in the week before her wedding? I have heard there is such a custom.

The Aish Rabbi Replies:

There is a custom that an orphaned bride or groom visits his parent's grave the week before the wedding. Some do this for grandparents as well, and some Hassidim do so going back as far as ten generations.

All of this is a spiritual way of inviting the ancestors to the most significant event of their descendant's life. The Zohar writes that the souls of the deceased parents are present at their child's wedding, so it is only appropriate to formally invite them. (Some even had the custom to hold the orphan’s wedding in the cemetery itself!)

Naturally, when an orphan visits his parent’s grave, it is an excellent time to pray (to God) that the marriage be a holy and a happy one, and that the couple be blessed with worthy children.

So although there is no obligation for your fiancé to visit her grandfather's grave before her wedding, such a custom does exist. It may also be a meaningful way for her to feel connected to her heritage at such an important milestone in her life.

Lastly, mazal tov on your wedding! May you and your future wife build a wonderful Jewish home in Israel!

(Sources: Zohar, Parashas Pinchas 219b; Drashos Ibn Shu'ib, end of Parshas Chayei Sarah; Ohalei Tzadikei Belz I 286; Made in Heaven by R. Aryeh Kaplan, p. 67.)

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