Should married guys wear rings?
The topic has been hotly debated several times on in the Jewish blog-o-sphere. Many single women decry the inability to distinguish single males from those already taken in wedlock at social events, which creates awkward conversational situation such as:
Looking-to-wed woman approaching seemingly available guy: “My, what a handsome devil you are!”
Man who was hit on unwanted-ly: “Why, thank you, my wife thinks so too!” waves “Hi, honey!”
In preparation for my nuptials, I began taking a mental survey of my recently, and not-so-recently, married friends to determine what percentage of them decided to wear a wedding band. As it turned out, a large number of them actually did sport the token bit of jewelry on their left hand. In fact, it seemed like the majority of them, particularly those who married within the last year or so, had chosen to show off their commitment with a ring.
Styles and metals varied. Many chose a simple, slender, white gold band – seemingly to match their bride’s own wedding band which they had presented under the chuppah. Very few were yellow gold. It seems that the standard gold color has fallen out of favor among those of our younger generation. Upon observing many men in my shul who represent my father’s generation, yellow gold is by far the most popular choice among those who wear wedding bands. Another popular metal was tungsten, a near-indestructible, scratch-proof, very mirror-like material that looks quite attractive. After trying one particular friend’s tungsten ring, I noticed the metal has quite a nice heft to it as well.
One friend also has a titanium ring, primarily because it was quite cheap and manly sounding. He wanted to use a titanium ring to mekadesh his wife under the chuppah as well, but it turns out titanium is so inexpensive, he told me it cost around $70 per ton, which made the value of the ring actually less than a sheva pruta (I’m not working out the math, especially since I’m sure it cost more than that to buy his ring, but it sounded funny anyway).
At any rate, I asked around to see what the current hashkafic trend is regarding wearing a ring. Many said the reason they want to wear a ring is to avoid unwanted advances by women, and a few quoted Rav Mordechai Willig as a source for this idea. One friend reported that Rav Willig was a big fan of wedding bands for guys who are out in the workforce, or in law/medical/dental school and thus could come into contact with women who would otherwise get a little too friendly, if not for the shiny reminder on their ring finger.
After discussing this with another friend, he quoted a different, though humorous Rav Willig story. The issue of men wearing wedding rings had been discussed at a YU event my friend attended wherein Rav Willig served as one of the panelists. After someone quoted the above reasoning, Rav Willig replied that if married men need to wear rings to avoid undesired female attention, then single men should wear them too!
There were definitely a number of friends who remarked that they chose to wear rings because they wanted to have a public symbol of their dedication and fidelity to their wives. I personally like this idea just as much, if not more so than simply using the ring as a charm to ward off preying women-folk, though there is definitely overlap between the two concepts.
I even asked Rabbi Gil Student of Hirhurrim if he could do a post on men wearing rings. Though he was intrigued by the idea, he replied that there really wasn’t much halachic substance to the topic other than not having any sort of double-ring ceremony at the chuppah. Other than that notion of exchanging rings, there was no real issue with men wearing wedding bands.
So, I am proud to say that I have joined the ring wearing crowd of my peers. After viewing an article that compared the various different kinds of men’s wedding bands, I purchased a pretty plain, though very shiny tungsten ring online. The only downside (seemingly) to tungsten is that if dropped/impacted at the right (or is that wrong?) angle, the whole ring could snap in half. But, the good news about is the website I used offers a lifetime warranty, which none of the local/mall-based jewelers could offer, despite their acknowledgement of the rare possibility of breaking the ring.
Of course, having never really warn a ring before in any serious fashion – my senior year ring from high school sits collecting dust in a desk drawer back home, and I don’t think any of the super-hero related rings from my childhood count – I have made some mistakes. Most tend to involve me taking off the ring for some activity, such as washing my hands, taking a shower, preparing food, and simply forgetting to put it back on. Most of the time, the ring is very close in proximity to where I am located, such as tucked into the breast pocket of my button-down shirt, or on the counter next to the sink.
However, I did actually lose my ring once (so far), and bli ayin hara, I won’t lose it ever again!
Upon arriving at the airport security line for our return flight following the last few days of sheva brachos in my hometown, I foolishly (or so I was later told*) took off my ring before going through the metal detector. I placed it within an inside pocket of my jacket, which I then took off and carefully put it into one of those plastic bins. After exiting the scanner, I pulled my jacket on, reached into my pocket, and discovered to my horror that the ring was gone.
After frantically looking through the empty bin and turning the pocket inside out, I discovered that the “pocket” was not a pocket at all, but rather the physical “bag” that composed a pocket that entered from the outside of my jacket. This meant that the bottom edges of the “pocket” were not entirely sewn to the inside of the jacket, and thus there was a large gap between two corners – one that was wide enough to fit two fingers through with ease.
I ran over to the nearby security agents and told them my story. They agreed to help and proceeded to re-view the x-rays of my jacket, look in, around, and under the conveyer belt (one guy even used a little black light flashlight to inspect between the rollers on part of the belt). They even re-scanned all my stuff – but to no avail. The fact that the initial x-ray of the jacket failed to show the ring in the “pocket” meant it had fallen out and rolled who-knows-where before I even went through security. I kept imagining all the trajectories the little thing could have sailed off to – particularly since it is pretty wide (6 mm to be precise) and could have easily built up speed to go quite the distance in almost any direction.
Disheartened that I lost the darn thing so soon after I started wearing it – though my parents told me it was merely tradition, since my own father lost his wedding band during the first year of marriage, too – I gave them a written description along with my contact information, and boarded my plane. The entire day went by without any word from the airport security, so I went ahead (with ASoG’s permission) and ordered a second, identical ring.
Less than an hour later, I get a phone call from a sibling who happened to be travelling with us at the time. It turns out, pilei ployim (to borrow Rav Goldvicht’s signature catchphrase) that the ring somehow ended up in their carryon. I still have no clue how this is even possible, but considering the probabilities that had to line up just right for that to happen – my working theory is that I lifted the jacket over their bins when I picked up my own, causing the ring to fall through the corner hole, into their bin, into a “conveniently” opened zipper or tear (the carryon had one or two such tears), after which it somehow moved into an entirely different compartment of the bag, stayed there as it was schlepped down the terminal, loaded onto the plane, survived the entire flight, the trip through the terminal and airport at our destination, and finally the long cab ride back to their dorm room, all without ever falling out – is utterly mind boggling.
Clearly, HaShem was trying to teach me a lesson with this whole incident.
I will definitely do my best to be far more aware of my ring, and make sure not to take it off unnecessarily – and of course to show it off proudly, advertising my married status.
Sorry ladies, but this young man is taken J
*ASoG told me after we settled into our seats on the plane that there is no need to remove jewelry at all for the metal detectors. I wondered what she did with her rings (engagement and wedding) when she went on our flights together, and had never noticed her taking them off or putting them back on before. I guess it all makes sense now, and I have committed this little factoid to memory.