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September 19, 2014 / 24 Elul, 5774
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My Big Fat Jewish Wedding


Photo: Orthodox Jewish wedding with chupah in Vienna.

Orthodox Jewish wedding with chupah in Vienna.
Photo Credit: Gryffindor / Wiki Commons

Which brings me back the upcoming wedding of the Munkatcher Rebbe’s grandson. This is a tremendous opportunity for a Rabbinic leader to lead by example. It would make a huge impact on his Chasidim if he were to purposely have a wedding for his grandson that follows those guidelines at least in spirit. I understand the need for a bit more than these guidelines call for. But if he would scale it down to something a lot less than 10,000 people it might actually teach his Chasidim to follow in his footsteps. And perhaps more importantly the rest of the world would take note and re-think their own ideas of what kind of wedding their children have.

Imagine the savings to parents who would not be spending tens of thousands of dollars more than they can afford and instead having a sensible and decent wedding that the wedding Taknos allow. It will certainly curb if not completely eliminate the kind of foolish borrowing that puts people into major debt for years just to have that one night fun for their children.

There are those that would argue that it would be a slight to the Rebbe’s Kavod and unfair to his Chasidim if they were not all invited to the wedding of his grandson. They see themselves as loyal subjects of royalty. That they want their Rebbe to have the big party. They want to see the pomp and circumstance. It would belittle their Rebbe not to have it.

They see the Rebbe as not just a Gadol, but a Manhig – a leader of Klal Yisroel tantamount to a king! Each Chasidius sees their Rebbe in that way. They believe that their rebbe is the greatest person alive of that generation… “THE” leader of the Jewish people. They “know” it. If only the rest of the world (including other Chasdidm) would “see” what they “see” they would know it too. He therefore deserves to be treated like a king. And it is the greatest honor to be invited along with 20,000 additional guests to see the ‘show’ and treat their leader as though he were royalty.

OK. I get that. But the fact is the Rebbe is not a king or a President. He is a Rebbe, an inspirational religious leader of a group of Jews. There are many people who inspire others. They are not royalty and ought not to be treated that way. I don’t know it for a fact but I’ll bet the founder of Chasidius, the Baal Shem Tov, did not have a wedding like this for his own children. A real leader doesn’t need the pomp and cirucmstance of a 10,000 person wedding.

The importance attached; honor given; and loyalty felt for a Chasidic Rebbe by his Chasidim makes it all the more important for someone like the Munkatcher Rebbe to make this kind of statement. The impact would be huge. People learn far better by example than they do from the demands of rabbinic ban. It’s one thing to tell people what to do. Many loyal Chasidim will follow what their Rebbe tells them. But if they see their Rebbe doing it, that will speak far louder to them than any edict will.

Will it ever happen? I doubt it. But that doesn’t mean it shouldn’t.

About the Author: Harry Maryles runs the blog "Emes Ve-Emunah" which focuses on current events and issues that effect the Jewish world in general and Orthodoxy in particular. It discuses Hashkafa and news events of the day - from a Centrist perspctive and a philosphy of Torah U'Mada. He can be reached at hmaryles@yahoo.com.


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Binyamin and Chaya Maryles, uncle and aunt of Emes Ve-Emunah author Harry Maryles.
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