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September 21, 2014 / 26 Elul, 5774
At a Glance

Posts Tagged ‘bride’

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

A Jewish Wedding In 1787

Wednesday, August 2nd, 2006

Dr. Benjamin Rush (1745-1813), a physician and a signer of the Declaration of Independence, “was the most striking, the most impressive, and the most controversial figure in North American medicine of his day. Brilliant and well educated, he was a restless soul, impatient and impulsive, quick to make decisions and to defend them against all disagreement. Nor did he confine his attention, solely to medicine: he was interested in every phase of life about him; and he was an ardent proponent of inoculation, and later, of vaccination, against smallpox. His work on mental illnesses was the standard for a half century.”[i]

Dr. Rush was a prolific letter writer,[ii]and his letters give us keen insight into life during colonial times and after the Revolutionary War.

In 1787 Dr. Rush, who lived in Philadelphia, treated the family of Rebecca (Machado) and Jonas Phillips. (See http://jewishpress.com/page.do/17894/Glimpses_Into_American_Jewish_History_%28Part_13%29.html.) On the morning of Tuesday, June 27, 1787, Mr. and Mrs. Phillips invited Dr. Rush, who was not Jewish, to attend the wedding of their daughter, Rachel, to Michael Levy, who was from Virginia. After attending the wedding Dr. Rush wrote a letter[iii]to his wife, Julia, describing the chasuna. The reader will no doubt find it interesting to contrast the chasuna Dr. Rush attended with the chasunas of today:

I accepted the invitation with great pleasure, for you know I love to be in the way of adding to my stock of ideas upon all subjects. At 1 o’clock the company, consisting of 30 or 40 men, assembled in Mr. Philips’ common parlor, which was accommodated with benches for the purpose. The ceremony began with prayers in the Hebrew language, which were chaunted by an old rabbi and in which he was followed by the whole company. As I did not understand a word except now and then an Amen or Hallelujah, my attention was directed to the haste with which they covered their heads with their hats as soon as the prayers began, and to the freedom with which some of them conversed with each other during the whole time of this part of their worship.

As soon as these prayers were ended, which took up about 20 minutes, a small piece of parchment was produced, written in Hebrew, which contained a deed of settlement and which the groom subscribed in the presence of four witnesses. In this deed he conveyed a part of his fortune to his bride, by which she was provided for after his death in case she survived him.

This ceremony was followed by the erection of a beautiful canopy composed of white and red silk in the middle of the floor. It was supported by four young men (by means of four poles), who put on white gloves for the purpose. As soon as this canopy was fixed, the bride, accompanied with her mother, sister, and a long train of female relations, came downstairs. Her face was covered with a veil which reached halfways down her body. She was handsome at all times, but the occasion and her dress rendered her in a peculiar manner a most lovely and affecting object. I gazed with delight upon her. Innocence, modesty, fear, respect, and devotion appeared all at once in her countenance.

She was led by her two bridesmaids under the canopy. Two young men led the bridegroom after her and placed him, not by her side, but directly opposite to her. The priest now began again to chaunt an Hebrew prayer, in which he was followed by part of the company. After this he gave to the groom and bride a glass full of wine, from which they each sipped about a teaspoonful. Another prayer followed this act, after which he took a ring and directed the groom to place it upon the finger of his bride in the same manner as is practised in the marriage service of the Church of England. This ceremony was followed by handing the wine to the father of the bride and then a second time to the bride and groom. The groom after sipping the wine took the glass in his hand and threw it upon a large pewter dish which was suddenly placed at his feet. Upon its breaking into a number of small pieces, there was a general shout of joy and a declaration that the ceremony was over. The groom now saluted his bride, and kisses and congratulations became general through the room.

I asked the meaning, after the ceremony was over, of the canopy and of the drinking of the wine and breaking of the glass. I was told by one of the company that in Europe they generally marry in the open air, and that the canopy was introduced to defend the bride and groom from the action of the sun and from rain. Their mutually partaking of the same glass of wine was intended to denote the mutuality of their goods, and the breaking of the glass at the conclusion of the business was designed to teach them the brittleness and uncertainty of human life and the certainty of death, and thereby to temper and moderate their present joys.

Mr. Phillips pressed me to stay and dine with the company, but business and Dr. Hall’s departure, which was to take place in the afternoon, forbade it. I stayed, however, to eat some wedding cake and to drink a glass of wine with the guests. Upon going into one of the rooms upstairs to ask how Mrs. Philips did, who had fainted downstairs under the pressure of the heat (for she was weak from a previous indisposition), I discovered the bride and groom supping a bowl of broth together. Mrs. Phillips apologized for them by telling me they had eaten nothing (agreeably to the custom prescribed by their religion) since the night before.

Upon my taking leave of the company, Mrs. Phillips put a large piece of cake into my pocket for you, which she begged I would present to you with her best compliments. She says you are an old New York acquaintance of hers.

During the whole of this new and curious scene my mind was not idle. I was carried back to the ancient world and was led to contemplate the Passovers, the sacrifices, the jubilees, and other ceremonies of the Jewish Church. After this, I was led forward into futurity and anticipated the time foretold by the prophets when this once-beloved race of men shall again be restored to the divine favor.

Dr. Yitzchok Levine, a frequent contributor to The Jewish Press, is a professor in the Department of Mathematical Sciences at Stevens Institute of Technology, Hoboken, New Jersey. Glimpses Into American Jewish History appears the first week of each month. Dr. Levine can be contacted at llevine@stevens.edu.

[i] http://dodd.cmcvellore.ac.in/hom/21%20-%20Benjamin.html

[ii] Letters of Benjamin Rush, volumes I and II, edited by L. H. Butterfield Volume I 1761-1792, published by the American Philosophical Society by Princeton University Press, 1951

[iii] Ibid., pages 429 – 432.

Life Cycle Events and Distance

Wednesday, March 15th, 2006

(Names changed)




I’ve been writing about the joys and heartbreaks of dealing with life-cycle events that occur far from the home of the chronically ill person. I’ve tried to give some insight to what an enormous effort it takes for a person who is chronically ill and his family to make such a trip. The trip itself is only a small part of what must be put together for this family. Once they arrive, the mountainous task of existing day-to-day in a strange place without familiar supports, presents problems and threats that are huge. That’s why, once the effort is made to come the distance, being accommodated by those around us is important. Below are the stories of people who ventured out of their safe environment to share joys and sorrows with family and friends and the accommodation, or lack of accommodation, with which they were met.


When Menucha and Yoni’s son got engaged, they knew they wanted to attend every aspect of every celebration around the simcha. Menucha was chronically ill. She required tremendous assistance in her daily routines. Nevertheless, the couple hired an assistant to travel with them, made meticulous travel plans, spent hours in preparation, and were determined to have a wonderful celebration. The bride’s parents had no experience with disability or chronic illness. They did not understand why Menucha and Yoni were upset when they changed the day of the “vort” (engagement party) to the evening of the arrival of their flight instead of the day after. They had difficulty understanding why the couple couldn’t simply come to the “Vort” straight from the plane.


They had no concept of what it would take for Munucha to change clothes or clean up after the flight. They had no idea what was involved in getting accessible transportation on the ground. In addition, what if the flight was late or cancelled? Changing their flight wasn’t possible, as they had already spent hours with the airlines making sure this flight could accommodate them. The future in-laws tried to explain that the new date was just more convenient for them because of a conflict at work. They couldn’t understand why it was such a big deal for Menucha and Yoni to just accept the change of date and come immediately from the airport.


Finding themselves in a similar situation, Perel and Avigdor spent, not days but weeks, making sure Avigdor’s illness would not deter them from flying in to share in their son’s simcha. They too, were attending the vort and hoped to also attend a family gathering sponsored by the in-laws. They were looking forward to meeting the bride’s extended family and to getting to know their new daughter-in-law and her parents a bit better. They were hurt to discover, once they arrived, that the bride’s family had decided to move the date of the family gathering to a few days after they left the city. It seems they found it too difficult to try and find a place that would be wheelchair accessible and accommodate Avigdor’s wheelchair. It was just easier not to have the groom’s parents around.


When Pesach’s mother passed away, he was unable to get to the funeral. One day was not nearly enough time to put together the plane trip needed in order to get him to the city where his mother had lived and where the funeral was to take place. His illness required too much attention to just pick up and leave without making copious plans. He sat shiva at home, by himself, feeling more isolated and depressed than usual. His only solace was that he knew he would be able to make it to the unveiling. He would have time to put everything he needed in place, and he did. He was shocked when, at the unveiling, his sister complained how she had to handle everything around the funeral herself. She felt very resentful that he hadn’t “made the effort” to be there for the funeral as well.


The bride’s parents did not think about the inconvenience and the thousands of miles traveled by the groom’s family for their son’s wedding, or the difficulty they had accommodating the groom’s mother’s chronic illness. The bride’s father kept complaining to them about the inconvenience he went through having to drive 200 miles during his busiest season at work. The date had been picked by the groom’s family in order to accommodate their many needs, which also involved the availability of an orderly to travel with them. They wondered if the father would have liked to switch with them. They knew they would switch with him in a minute. Being able to simply pack a suitcase, get in a car by yourself and travel 200 miles without needing assistance seemed like a wonderful thing to be able to do, even in a busy season.


Often we forget in our day-to-day rush what a gift it is to simply be able to get into a car or plane on our own power – to go where we want, when we want without needing assistance or special accommodation. After hearing these stories, I may never again complain about the size of the bathroom in a plane. I feel blessed, knowing I can simply get out of my seat unaided, and use it whenever I wish. Knowing what the chronically ill go through, just to be part of a simcha, or a tragedy, I think it behooves us to do all we can to make them feel comfortable and included, even if it involves some inconvenience on our parts.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/sections/magazine/life-cycle-events-and-distance/2006/03/15/

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