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April 17, 2014 / 17 Nisan, 5774
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Late To The Party

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Yom Tov is no longer upon us, for a change, so now it’s time to get to the things we promised we’d do after it was over.

I mean besides dieting.  Maybe we’ll do that after the next Yom Tov.

 

Dear Mordechai,

I’m signing a contract for a wedding hall for my son, and there’s something toward the bottom called “Simchas chosson v’kallah.”  What is that?  Do I have to pay extra money just so the chosson and kallah will be happy?  How will my shelling out extra money make them happy?  Whose side are they on?  And what does the caterer do if you don’t sign that part?  Does he make the wedding depressing?  Does he spark a feud between the in-laws that goes on for generations? 

A.M.

Dear A.M,

Simply put, “Simchas chosson v’kallah” is when you pay to feed people you didn’t invite to the wedding.  One would think that if you didn’t invite them, you don’t have to pay to feed them, but that’s not how it works.  They’re coming anyway.  If you don’t feed them, they’re just going to sit in someone else’s seat when that person gets up to dance.  You get up to go to the bathroom, and there’s a bochur eating your next course.  (“Yeah, you got two glasses.  I’m using this one.  You can have the one the waiter keeps refilling with water.”)

Your prospective son-in-law knows a lot of guys like that.

Mind you, they’re not his closest friends.  He just wants them there for the dancing.  As it turns out, he doesn’t have enough close friends to make a nice big dancing circle, and his other option in a dance crew is the people who are actually invited to the meal, which, to put it nicely, are generally the oldest people he knows.

Basically, if you’re a chosson, there are the people you have to invite, which are the relatives, and there are the people who are actually going to make the dancing lebedik, which is your entire yeshiva.  But you also don’t want to make your in-laws feed your entire yeshiva.  Wedding meals are expensive, and these are basically guys who would cheerfully eat out of the garbage.  But if these guys don’t come, your in-laws won’t be happy, because they’ll suddenly come to the realization that their daughter’s chosson doesn’t have any friends.

So what you do is you send these people an invitation, but you don’t send them a reply card, which is a not-so-subtle way of saying, “Whether you come or not doesn’t affect us one way or the other.”

But if they’re coming to dance, you have to feed them something.  So usually, the caterer charges an extra fee, and puts out kugel and fruit.  Sometimes the kugel is better than whatever they’re serving for the meal.  I’m sitting at the meal with my three small potatoes, jealously looking at the simcha table.  (“Yum.  I wish I hadn’t been invited.”)

But on the contract, they don’t call it “Kugel for people you didn’t care enough to invite” or “Kugel for guys your kid barely knows,” because you’d never pay for it.  There was a reason you didn’t invite them.  So they call it “Simchas chosson v’kallah.”  That way they can say, “You want your kids to be happy, don’t you?”  (“Nah, I don’t need them to be happy.  It’s their wedding.”)

No, it sounds like the most important part.

 

Dear Mordechai,

When would be a good time to take down our sukkah?

Y.K.

Already?  It’s only Cheshvan!

Don’t worry.  It’s totally normal that you didn’t take it down yet.  The only reason we get it put up at all is because there’s a deadline.  There’s no deadline after Sukkos.  In fact, if you wait long enough, you don’t have to take it down at all.

To be totally honest, when a Jewish person builds something, we’re surprised if it hasn’t fallen down on its own accord after a week, tops.  That’s why Sukkos is only seven days, despite the fact that the Jews were in the desert for 40 years.

But maybe you should take it down.  It’s definitely easier to take down than it is to put up.  For one, you have gravity on your side.  And if you think about it, the Jews in the desert took their sukkahs down every time they traveled.  No one was like, “Okay, let’s set up our… Where is it?”  “I think we left it in… What was the last place we stopped?  Sukkos.”

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