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December 1, 2015 / 19 Kislev, 5776
At a Glance

Posts Tagged ‘bride’

Innovative Bride Cuts through Funeral Crowd in ZAKA Ambulance

Thursday, March 15th, 2012

A young woman in Bnei Brak, Israel, had a problem Wednesday: she was about to get married, but the streets outside the wedding hall, situated next to Kiryat Vishnitz, also in Bnei Brak, were packed with thousands of Vishnitz Hasidim who came to pay their last respects to the Vishnitzer Rebbe. How would she get to her own wedding on time?

Proving once again that Israelis are nothing if not innovative, the young bride called the ZAKA (a humanitarian volunteer organization) hotline and, within minutes, a ZAKA ambulance arrived at her door to drive her through the crowds and get her to her chupah on time.

ZAKA volunteer Berele Yaacovitz was delighted at this unusual assignment. “I’ve been volunteering as a ZAKA driver for the last ten years and this is the first time I’ve been involved in a joyous event,” he said with a big smile. “It is truly an emotional moment for me to see my vehicle, which has seen such sorrow and tragedy, take a bride to her wedding.”

Anguish That Does Not Go Away: The Singles Problem (Part Three)

Thursday, December 29th, 2011

The woman in her mid-thirties who initiated this discussion a few weeks ago bemoaned what she considers the indifference and the insensitivity of most people to the plight of singles. She cited the apparently well-meaning individuals who offer to make introductions only to forget to make that crucial phone call, as well as those who make hurtful comments without realizing how their words pierce lonely hearts that yearn for their own homes, their own children.

Undoubtedly, there is much validity to these criticisms. Ours is a self-centered “me” generation. People have difficulty focusing on the needs of others. There is much talk and little commitment; promises are made only to be forgotten.

However, as I noted in last week’s column, there is another side to the coin. Singles themselves often contribute to their own predicament. As people get older, they become more entrenched in their ways, and as much as they sincerely desire to marry, they can find it difficult to make that final leap.

Today’s successful shadchan not only has to be a matchmaker but very often also assume the role of a “life coach” who has to encourage, cajole, and help the shidduch candidate overcome the doubts and fears so many singles harbor (frequently without even being aware of them).

To be a shidduch “life coach” is a formidable task, requiring much patience, perseverance, sensitivity and concern for one’s fellow Jews, traits not easily come by in our indifferent and self-indulgent world.

As I mentioned in my previous columns, singles have an obligation to scrutinize themselves and determine whether they are doing their hishtadlus, investing their best efforts, to make the shidduch happen. As many of my readers may know, with the help of Hashem I have had the zechus, the merit, to have made a great many shidduchim. In most cases it was hard work, entailing endless phone calls, infinite patience, and the sensitivity to know when to stop and when to continue to push. I will mention here just one of the difficulties I encountered that I found to be all too prevalent in our singles world: the failure to be realistic.

Singles often form a certain image of the man or woman they want to marry. Though the years may pass, the image does not change. They still desire “the girl” or “the boy” they envisioned years ago, and they refuse to compromise. To be sure, those who harbor these feelings will be quick to deny them and protest that they are willing to compromise but have just not found “the right one” as yet.

I have seen 60-year-old men who want only young women of childbearing age. They are not interested in “taking chances” with older women who might need medical intervention in order to conceive. “It’s too iffy,” they assert, and refuse to compromise. It’s true that men who are successful (read: “wealthy”) will most likely find young, willing candidates. And others who observe this think to themselves, “If so-and-so was able to find someone young, why not me?”

Women can be equally difficult, though by nature they are nest builders, anxious to get married and yearning to hold babies in their arms. But they can also be reluctant to compromise in their search for the “perfect shidduch” they set their hearts on years earlier when they started dating.

At this point a clarification is in order. I am not suggesting that anyone marry a person to whom he or she is not attracted. I am recommending that singles be more realistic and learn to move on.

Obviously, I am speaking in generalities. I realize there are many exceptions that do not fit this mold; but just the same, the attitude is all too prevalent. Even as I write this, I know there may be loud protests from those who deny the validity of this analysis. They can’t acknowledge the fact that while they desire to marry, they live in the past, clinging to visions that are no longer realistic and refusing to move on.

This concept of moving on regarding shidduchim has a Torah source. The first person in the Torah commissioned to take on the role of a shadchan was Eliezer, the loyal servant of our father Avraham. Eliezer is charged with the mission of finding a shidduch for Yitzchak. Avraham tells him specifically what the qualifications of the bride must be.

Miraculously, Eliezer finds that “perfect girl.” She not only meets Avraham’s expectations, she exceeds them. Despite all this, when Eliezer proposes the shidduch to Rivkah’s family, he tells them, “Give me a yes or a no so that I may know whether I should move on to the right or to the left” (Genesis: 24:49).

This is a lesson the singles population should take to heart. Yes, we recognize you have a vision of a perfect shidduch, but if it doesn’t work, if it’s not happening, take your cue from Eliezer and move on, either to the right or to the left. But don’t become stagnant.

Sheva Berachot After Shalosh Seudot

Wednesday, December 21st, 2011

Question: Normally one may not eat or drink after Birchat Hamazon of Shalosh Seudot until after Havdalah. What is the halacha, however, if one schedules Sheva Berachot for a Shalosh Seudot meal? Should the groom and bride drink from the wine of Sheva Berachot or not?

Answer: The general custom is that the bride and groom do in fact drink from the wine. I believe this custom is based on the ruling of Rav Avraham Butchacha.

His rationale is as follows: The last berachah of Sheva Berachot blesses God for making wine. One cannot eliminate this berachah because the very name “Sheva Berachot” requires one to make seven blessings. On the other hand, one cannot refrain from drinking the wine because to do so would mean that the last blessing was recited in vain – a berachah l’vatalah (see Eishel Avraham, Mahdura Tenina, Orach Chayyim 22:7).

Rav Butchacha therefore permits the groom and bride to drink from the wine. He also argues that drinking wine after Sheva Berachot is qualitatively different than drinking wine after a regular Shalosh Seudot meal. After a regular Shalosh Seudot meal, one does not normally drink wine. One, however, always drinks wine after a Sheva Berachot meal.

The Minchat Shabbat, my paternal grandfather, writes (in his additive notes, Shirurei HaMinchah 94:4) that Rav Butchacha expounded in his commentary on Even HaEzer (62) a theory supporting drinking wine after Sheva Berachot. He notes that many scholars contend that a person who has the custom of always drinking wine after Birchat Hamazon is permitted to drink the kos shel berachah after Shalosh Seudot as well since the wine is then deemed part of the seudah (see Magen Avraham, O.C. 299:7). Since a bride and groom conclude each meal during the first week of marriage with Sheva Berachot that include a blessing for wine, they are classified as people who normally drink wine after Birchat Hamazon and hence are permitted to drink the wine.

It is reputed that HaGoan HaRav Moshe Feinstein, zt”l, only permitted the bride and groom to drink from the wine. My assumption is that this ruling is based on the logic of the Rav Butchacha. Only the bride and groom have the custom of drinking wine after the meal, not necessarily the person who led Birchat Hamazon.

It should be noted that the custom of HaRav Yosef Tzvi Dushinsky, former chief rabbi of Jerusalem, was to drink some of the wine after Sheva Berachot and then give the wine to the bride and groom (Minhagei MaHaRitz 58).

Rabbi Cohen, a Jerusalem Prize recipient, is the author of seven books on Jewish law. His latest, “Shabbat the Right Way: Resolving Halachic Dilemmas” (Urim Publications), is available at Judaica stores and at Amazon.com.

Righteous Shunning – or a Curse on those who Shun?

Wednesday, November 4th, 2009

Have you joined with other women in your community to punish someone who has behaved badly? I have seen several instances of shunning, where women banded together to cut someone out of the social life of their synagogue and neighborhood in order to punish her for wrongdoing. Women shunning another woman, often feel they are participating in a positive act, but it is one they do not discuss with their rabbi. This is a modern, informal version of cherem.

When a woman is shunned, other women self-righteously ignore her. They walk right past her, but do not acknowledge her existence. They do not invite her to s’machos and they do not make room for her at their tables at communal functions. Their children are not allowed to go to her home and may not be permitted to play with her children. She is not invited to participate in communal chesed projects such as providing food for a house of mourning. She may not be notified of births, circumcisions, and deaths, so that by her absence she offends people who are not involved in, and may be totally unaware of, the shunning.

How effective is shunning?

As punishment, it is superlative. It destroys life. According to the Vaad Harabonim of Queens (http://www.queensvaad.org/bais/), The Talmud (Moed Katan 17A) expounds upon the frightening nature of cherem. Says Rav, “Shamta (The proclamation of cherem) is a death curse”. Shmuel says, “It bespeaks utter destruction”. Reish Lakish says, “The curse of cherem affects all 248 limbs of the individual as is illustrated by the fact that the letters ches, raish, mem in numerology (gematria) equals 248.

At first, the woman who is shunned does not understand what is happening. Friends and acquaintances appear to be very busy or in a “bad mood.” Only slowly does she realize that she has become a pariah. Synagogue becomes a hostile environment. If her children are involved, they may begin to do poorly in school or to act out at home. When she meets former friends at the market and they ignore her, a knife is turned in her chest. Little by little, loneliness and then despair fill her days.

What happens next?

Her marital relationship suffers because she is unhappy. Her complaint is vague and seems foolish-friends do have busy times, people do overlook old friends for perfectly innocent reasons and why would everyone stop talking to her at once?

Even mikvah may become a trial. An older bride was harassed by the head of her mikvah, who made her wait up to an hour for appointments (telling the bride that she, the bride had made a mistake of the time), made her submerge as many as eight times (normally dipping three) because of perceived problems with five of the submersions, made her use nail polish remover to remove imaginary polish on her toes, and more.

In short, the life of the shunned woman becomes a living hell.

Is this deserved?

Let me explain two cases with which I am familiar.

One: the older bride. When this woman married and moved into her husband’s community, another older, single woman became jealous and started a campaign against the new wife. Even though this second woman had never had a relationship with the new husband, she spread a lot of malicious gossip and lies. Since this single woman had a long-standing relationship with the other women in the community, they believed her and joined in punishing the new bride for her imaginary sins. The new bride was so unhappy in her new home, and so upset every time she came home from the mikvah, that the marriage was seriously damaged. Torah observance didn’t stop the other women from behaving badly; the men let their wives continue with their inappropriate behavior, and the rabbis believed that the new wife was causing all the problems. Eventually the husband lost respect for rabbis and for observance in general.

Two: a woman who married a divorced yeshiva teacher. This gifted yeshiva teacher had been married to another woman with whom he had many children. However, the marriage floundered and after his divorce, a shidduch was made with a ba’alas teshuva near to him in age. The women in his community completely shunned her because they felt that what the husband had done was wrong: he should not have left a wife with many children. Whether or not he should have left his first wife, the fact was that the second wife was not a party to the divorce. In the end the shunning resulted in the teacher leaving Jewish education for a job in the business world and the couple moving an hour away, where they could start a new life. The ultimate result? Instead of having an easily accessible father living a few blocks away and teaching in their school, the children from the first marriage had a father who lived far away, whom they could see only occasionally.

It’s My Opinion: Not A Moment To Waste

Wednesday, June 17th, 2009

A wedding was recently celebrated in West Palm Beach, Florida.  The groom, 93 year-old Ebenezer Rose married 89 year-old Monica Hayden. The bride wore a sparkling tiara and a big smile. Friends and relatives toasted the happy couple with champagne.


Ebenezer and Monica had been widowed and they were lonely. The couple decided to wed after a brief courtship. The unspoken premise was that at their age, there wasn’t a moment to waste.  The bride and groom wished to take what joy they could out of whatever time they had left.


In reality, no one knows how much time he has. Accidents, grave illness and natural disasters happen to people of all ages. Most people, however, seem to deal with this fact with varying degrees of denial.


We think we will spend more time with family, mend a rift with a friend or right a wrong at some point in the future. It is human nature to push off studying Torah, attending classes or dealing with the important questions of life until we have “more time.” After all, we are just too busy now, and we reason that the slow season, retirement or vacation is just around the corner.


“Im lo achshav, eimatai?” (If not now, when?), should be a motto for each day.  Life is precarious and precious at the same time. There really isn’t a moment to waste.

Broken Glass

Wednesday, January 9th, 2008

To my eldest daughter, Esther, upon her recent marriage.



It happens at every chuppah. After the bride’s encircling of the groom seven times, after the recital of the special blessings, after the ring has been placed on her finger, there are a few seconds of collective silence in anticipation. Then there is the definite loud crunching of glass as shards are being broken under foot, followed by the uproarious “mazal tov” issued in unison from everyone present.


The broken glass under the chuppah is meant to remind us of the destruction of the Holy Temple. Even in a moment of such blissful happiness at the uniting of two souls in marriage, we remember that we are still in bitter exile.


Interestingly, though, the breaking of the glass has become the signal for everyone to call out the congratulatory, “mazal tov!” It’s almost as if it is the breaking glass that confirms the marriage, validates the joy, and endorses the momentousness of this wonderful new beginning.


Why has a moment that is meant to signify the sadness of the Temple’s destruction developed into such a congratulatory event, the signature moment, almost, of the marriage ceremony?


I was thinking about this, upon the recent marriage of my eldest daughter. And I thought that perhaps the deeper, more conceptual message of the breaking of the glass is the reminder that being in exile means that our lives are not perfect. That we are not complete, but rather broken.


There is no person who is flawless. True, every kallah (bride) standing beneath the chuppah believes (and should believe so) that her groom is so perfect, so wonderful, so talented and so capable, so sensitive and caring. And he, too, surely feels the same about her – that he is marrying the ideal woman, faultless to the core, and that there is no one in the world as special, intelligent and caring as she.


The two of them together have also dreamed the perfect dream of how complete and perfect their life together will be. How much they will both accomplish, how they will each work side by side harmoniously, how meaningful and fulfilling it will all be.


But perhaps the breaking of the glass under the chuppah is there to remind both of them (and all of us) that every vision is a little bit flawed, that every dream has a hole in it, that every life has some cracks. That every person has imperfections, deficiencies, and areas of incompleteness.


Perhaps it is only when we are each prepared to acknowledge that we don’t need to be flawless for there to be a strong love for one another, that our life doesn’t have to be perfectly whole for it to be rich and meaningful – only then can each of us move forward, and only then can a bride and groom truly begin their new unified life together.


So under the chuppah, the bride and groom (and each of us present) will make that small symbolic “shattering” of perception of each other’s perfection, and accept one another wholly as s/he is, cracks, fissures and all. That moment of absolute acceptance will forge the everlasting bond between the new couple.


And, as for those of us present, only once we are each able to break the vision of our own lives and dreams, as being so whole and perfect, are we ready to begin to repair our world, to pick up the broken pieces of our exile and to truly begin building a redeemed existence.


May it be with good mazal!

Choosing Divorce (Part Two)

Wednesday, February 7th, 2007

(Names changed)


         Fraidy and Chaim were married for 10 years. They were still in love. They cared for and respected each other. They had weathered the last five years since Chaim’s diagnosis pretty well. Counseling had helped. Chaim learned to accept that he had as much responsibility to be there for Fraidy, not only despite his illness, but because of it. He learned that his illness made it even more important to be an emotional support for Fraidy just as she was a physical support for him. They were the best of friends.


         The couple had been trying to have children for years. Finally, seeking genetic counseling, they learned that Chaim’s illness had probably made it impossible for him to father children. Fraidy desperately wanted children. She was still young enough, if she remarried, to have children. And so they divorced. To this day, they remain good friends.


         Mini and her husband had also remained good friends and lovers throughout the 15 years of his chronic illness. However, as his condition deteriorated, she began to become ill herself. First she was diagnosed with fibromyalgia, then chronic fatigue syndrome. She became ill with shingles and chronic headaches. Her blood pressure soared.


         Her doctor first put her on tranquillizers, then antidepressants. Nothing seemed to help. Both Mini and her doctor knew that unless she got her stress under control, chances were she would not outlive her husband. Then, who would care for him?


         Mini could never adjust to the perpetual state of crisis chronic illness leaves in its wake. She couldn’t cope with the constant sleepless nights and fears of one disaster following another during the day.


         Finally, the couple divorced. Within weeks, Mini’s health improved. She is still there for her husband. She is by his bedside when he is hospitalized. They remain best friends. But not living with him gave her enough relief from the constant stress that the illness brings to still be there for him. For Mini, leaving him was the only way she could manage to be there for him.


         A few months after their marriage, a young couple was in a terrible accident. The boy was left a quadriplegic. Despite his insistence, the bride refused to leave him. She felt her place was to be with her husband and care for him for the rest of their lives. The young man, full of love for his beautiful bride, insisted that they divorce. He wanted her to have a life other than caring for him into her old age.


         He wanted her to be the wonderful mother he knew she could be. He could no longer give her children. He wanted her to be happy and full of laughter as she had been before the accident. But, she refused. Finally, they agreed to talk to a rabbi and abide by whatever he would tell them to do. Today, she is a mother, raising a large family. She keeps in touch with her first husband and visits often. Seeing her this way gives him joy.


         Coping with chronic illness is very hard. The lives of those coping with it are complicated. More complicated then most of us can even imagine. Some people stay in the marriage because of the children. Some leave for the very same reason. Many leave so they can have children. Many leave simply so that they can both survive the stress the illness brings.


         We should not presume to judge anyone in that situation for making the decision to stay or leave the marriage. Our job is to lend support. Everyone coping with chronic illness − the one who is ill, the spouse, all members of the family and even close friends, all need our support. They do not need our criticism or our uninformed advice, just our support. And that is the only thing we should feel compelled to give.


         You can contact me at annnovick@hotmail.com

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/sections/magazine/choosing-divorce-part-two/2007/02/07/

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