Many brides and grooms are perplexed by why at a traditional Jewish chupah only the man gives his bride a ring rather than the exchange of rings more widely practiced today to show greater equality. Why would traditional Judaism not honor this progressive step toward equality?
There are many reasons, here is one for you to consider:
The deeper writings of Judaism teach that the greatest energy drawn to the bride and groom at the chupah is the G-dly power of bringing children into the world. This is accomplished through the merging of two souls together.
The chupah is an exact spiritual operation to join your souls together. It is not just a ceremony representing your existing relationship, it is a life-changing event that creates a new relationship. Before the chupah you are two souls, after you are one. Still two individuals, with two minds and two hearts, but a united soul.
We can understand how two souls can become one by observing how two bodies can become one. The act of reproduction is the physical union of man and woman. In this bodily union, the man gives and the woman receives. Only this way can new life be created, a child, in which man and woman have become one flesh.
The physical world is a mirror image of the spiritual world, and the workings of the soul are reflected by the workings of the body. Just as physical intimacy is the union of bodies, the wedding ceremony is an act of spiritual intimacy, uniting souls. And so in this act of spiritual union the man, expressing the male power of being a bestower, gives the ring to the woman, the feminine receiver.
An exchange of rings doesn’t create unity, just as an exchange of seed for egg would not produce a child. Only when the groom gives the ring and the bride receives it, then this singular act of his giving and her receiving produces oneness. Any attempt to alter that process would be, quite literally, counterproductive.
We can’t play around with the facts of life. The spiritual life has facts too.
Rabbi Menachem Mendel Bluming and Rabbi Moss and please see Igros Moshe Even Haezer 3:18 and Rashi on Bereishis 2:24