Office of the Chief Rabbi

Thought for the Day: “Her life was changed forever by a royal proposal…”

Ahead of the royal wedding and the Jewish festival of Shavuot, which begins tomorrow evening, the Chief Rabbi gave his thought for the day on BBC Radio 4.

TRANSCRIPT:

Her life was changed forever by a proposal unlike any other. She came to understand that to take the hand of Royalty in marriage was a great privilege, coupled with the responsibility to be a beacon of light in an often troubled world.

This is the metaphor presented by Biblical prophets in their description of the ‘marriage’ between the Children of Israel and God, the King of Kings, at Mount Sinai, which is the focus of the Jewish festival of Shavuot, which commences tomorrow evening.

I often tell young couples who are about to be wed about the three crowns of which the great Jewish sages taught. They are the Crown of Royalty, the Crown of Priesthood and the Crown of Torah – our spiritual legacy. As they embark on their new journey together, we bless couples that they may wear all three crowns with pride.

The Talmud teaches that every bridegroom is considered to be a king and we treat him as one who is wearing the Crown of Royalty. Our tradition asks: “For how long does he remain a king?” and answers: “For as long as the groom reveres his wife as a queen, he will continue to be a king!”

The ancient Israelite priests devoted their lives to untiring service in the interests of the nation and so the Crown of the Priesthood is worn by couples who engage in selfless public service.

The Crown of Torah is worn by those whose quest for fulfilment goes beyond the mundane and the material, for they inherit and cherish values passed down to them through the generations.

Importantly, our Sages go on to identify a fourth crown, which surpasses them all. This is the Crown of a Good Name – a reputation for integrity and benevolence. The first three crowns are all hereditary, whereas this fourth crown must be earned. No privileged upbringing or inherited title can endow one with a reputation for decency and honour – this one must earn for oneself.

As Prince Harry and Megan Markle begin their journey together, the three crowns of royalty, public service and timeless tradition are unavoidably upon them.

But as all young couples must strive to do, they have begun to forge their own path in life together. Mindful of the wonderful impact they have made as individuals through their passionate commitment to outstanding causes, they have shown what a formidable force for good they can be as a married couple.

Well beyond tomorrow’s fairy-tale ceremony, may they be blessed to continue to wear always the Crown of a Good Name – the greatest accolade of them all.

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