The Ketubah: With or Without Trees?
The classic Ketubah has a tree in it: the symbol of nature, of vitality, of life–of the Garden that Began it all.
But must it?
The Ketubah, in its essence, must represent the circle of life: not just the man and woman (as in the American tradition); not just the two families uniting (as in the continental European tradition–think of the opening words of Romeo and Juliet!); but in the full Jewish sense, of the evolutionary cycle of life preparing to reach its height–of nature getting ready to recreate itself, once again in Hashem’s image.
This is not a Ketubah creates Ketubot drawing from a wide array of powerful imagery–ancient and modern. The guitar is a symbol of music, of lust and love, of wordless passion, since long before the ancient lyres existed. The circles represent wheels and the most basic human shapes. The optical illusions recall the rainbow, the bright colors after the storm coming together so perfectly.
The Ketubah, in other words, isn’t just art–it is about the continuation of the ancient tradition, about the culmination of the life cycle. It is about the ever-turning wheels of history.
This is precisely why we must hang a beautiful Ketubah on our wall upon marriage: to constantly humble us, to always remind us of our low position in this world. We will return to where we all came from, dust. So we might as well do it in style.