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December 22, 2014 / 30 Kislev, 5775
 
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Posts Tagged ‘bride’

Life Cycles And Disabilities And The Long Distance Simcha

Wednesday, March 1st, 2006

(Names and circumstances changed as requested)




Simchas are wonderful! They bring us joy and nurture our feelings that life is good. It is not uncommon today for couples to be from different cities, even different countries. We hop on a plane or get into our car and go off to partake in a l’chaim, a vort or a wedding. But what happens when you have a spouse who is chronically ill and/or disabled? You cannot simply jump into the car or get on that plane. If it is even possible, health-wise, to leave your city, intensive planning must go on before you’re able to go. This is something few people realize and so, their expectations of families that do have such problems are often unrealistic.


Norm’s son was getting married. The wedding, as is appropriate, was to be in the city where the bride lived. Norm was confined to a wheelchair, and the bride lived a plane ride away. The two families did most of the wedding plans via e-mail. The bride’s family picked a beautiful hall, in which to have the wedding. Part of the beauty of the place was that the chuppah was elevated and so, easily seen by all attending. After walking down the aisle, the family was to ascend a short flight of stairs to the chuppah. When Norm mentioned that going up that flight would be impossible for him, his machatonim (the bride’s parents) suggested that he could still escort his son to the chuppah and wait at the bottom of the steps while the rest of the wedding party was under the chuppah. They didn’t understand Norm’s objections. From their perspective, he “got to escort his son” to the chuppah, just not stand under it with him.


Avi’s situation was similar to Norm’s. Despite the hardships, he and his wife agreed to fly into New York for the wedding. While coping with making wedding plans, Avi’s wife needed to make hours of arrangements with the airlines to make sure Avi could get there. First, she had to arrange for accessible transportation to the airport. They needed to get there very early, because of all his special needs. She had to ensure that they have enough time between planes to be the first on and last off, because he needed so much assistance. She had to prepare the motorized wheelchair, by packing the battery separately in a special type of container. The wheelchair would be loaded with the baggage and would not be available between flights. Avi would have to be assisted by the flight crew (if they were available and knew how) to help, along with his wife, onto the seat of the plane in their home city and then onto the airport’s manual wheelchair when changing flights. The process would repeat itself on the connecting flight. Somewhere in these six hours of traveling, his wife would have to find an accessible washroom for him to relieve himself, as it would be impossible during the flight. Of course, there was always the possibility of the electric wheelchair (which gave Avi independence, and his wife the freedom from needing to push him all the time), breaking en route. Of course the airlines took responsibility for that and would loan him a manual chair during the time. But it could take several days to get it fixed. And then, there was the need to find accessible ground transportation in New York to take them to whatever accessible place they would stay during their time in New York, assuming they could find such a place. When Avi’s wife talked to a friend in New York (whose daughter had been married in the same catering hall) about all the preparations for the wedding, the friend was adamant that she needed to go to the hall the night before the wedding to check that the lettuce was fresh. That was her only problem during her daughters wedding. She couldn’t understand why Avi’s wife wouldn’t make this her number one priority. She just didn’t get it.


Jenny was determined to be at all her daughter’s sheva brachos. Her daughter was going to live in Israel, and she would not be able to see her for a long time after she left. She wanted to milk the simcha for every ounce of joy it provided. The problem was that Jenny was not able to stand or take even a step. In order for her to attend the sheva brachos, they had to be in an accessible place. Jenny was shocked when people told her that she was out of line, as “no parents today bothered to attend all the sheva brachos.” Besides, how could she expect to “inconvenience” the people offering to make the sheva brachos by imposing her accessibility needs on them.


Whether it is lack of understanding of what is needed, practically, in order for someone who is chronically ill to function; or a lack of understanding the emotional pain set up by the limitations of a disability; or an inability to understand the desire for a handicapped parent to fully participate in their child’s simcha should they choose to (just like every other parent), it is so important to open our eyes to see what the needs are, right in front of us. Many people do. Many people have thought to think “out of the box,” despite their lack of experience with chronic illness. I will tell these stories next week.

Balancing A Simcha And A Crisis

Wednesday, January 12th, 2005

(Names and situations altered)


Dealing with chronic illness when planning even the most joyous of occasions is very difficult, even when there is no crisis at the moment. It requires extra planning, specialized locations, and a gamut of extras that make your head spin.

Juggling tragedy and simcha, balancing those two conflicting emotions and still being able to function – is nothing short of remarkable. It is something most people do not have to deal with, but which “well spouses” are all too familiar with. Because this situation is foreign to most of us, it is difficult to know how to act.

Guests have the following dilemmas: Which emotion do you concentrate on, the simcha or the tragedy? How do you balance both? How do you express yourself in such a situation without offending or causing more pain?

Since everyone is different and has different ways of handling things, I’d suggest you listen to the person dealing with the conflicting emotions and take your cue from him/her. That’s what I learned when hearing the following story.

Risa’s daughter was getting married. The usual whirlwind that surrounds these occasions was in high gear. The clothes were in place, the hall and meals picked, the guest list finished, and the invitations sent out. Risa made sure the aisle was wider to accommodate the bride, herself and her husband and still have enough room for her husband’s labored wide walking stance and his cane when they accompanied their daughter to the chuppa. She made sure that the chuppa would be on ground level because her husband had difficulty with steps. The chairs were set up to offer maximum view to the guests because the chuppa was not elevated. A few days before the wedding, Risa’s husband had a heart attack. He was hospitalized and his prognosis was uncertain. The family had difficulty juggling the added and very different type of stress. Risa wanted her children to have a happy wedding day and not a sad one with a room full of long faces. She knew that if people came up to her and them with questions and concerns about her husband, they would not be able to handle it. It would not only set them all on an emotional roller coaster and force them to talk about things they were trying to hide from for a few hours, but it would cause them to break down and spend the time of the wedding in tears.

Risa decided the best way was to simply tell people exactly what she wanted. With her husband’s approval, she said the following at the wedding.

“My husband has asked that the happiness of this special day not be diminished by his absence. He is celebrating with us and will feel much better knowing that we are making this day special for the bride and groom. He has asked us not to discuss his condition tonight, but focus instead on the celebration and make this day as special as it should be.”

Now, Risa thought, if people chose to act otherwise, she could simply say that this was not the appropriate time. And that is exactly what happened.

A woman approached Risa at the wedding and began to tell just how she needed to handle what was happening to her husband. The guest began to make it very clear which doctors to involve, how to adjust Risa’s husband’s schedule, etc.

Before she got very far, Risa said, “This is not the appropriate time.” The woman respond, “I know, but I need to tell you this.” Risa repeated her sentence, as did the woman. On the third time around, when Risa told her guest, yet again, that her timing was inappropriate without compliance, Risa simply said, “excuse me” and walked away. She could not understand why someone would insist on having a conversation she didn’t want to have.

Risa felt fine about walking away as she had been very specific in her request. She had thought this out and knew what she needed to do and told her guests how she wanted them to act. She would not subject herself to anyone who refused to listen.

A week later, Risa discovered that her guest was calling her an uncaring wife as she refused to listen to the woman’s advice at the wedding. Risa felt it wasn’t she who was the one refusing to listen.

We may mean well when we offer advice, but the time and place may not be right. We do not know better than the people we are trying to advise what their needs are at the moment. If they are specific about what they want, we need to listen. If we plow ahead with our own agenda and try to override theirs, not only is our ego getting in the way of caring and common sense, but do we really think others are listening at that moment?

Timing is everything. The advice that is always heard (even if it is not followed) is the advice we are asked for. Unsolicited advice may have a chance of being heard. But advice that is presented in direct opposition to what was requested is never heard and just upsets and angers people. Take your cue from the person you want to help, and just listen to what they tell you they want.

The Bride And The Uninvited Guest

Friday, October 17th, 2003

The wedding invitation stated that in the cities of Judah and the outskirts of Jerusalem, the voices of brides and grooms would still be heard. The prophet had guaranteed it.

The preparations for the wedding had reached their climax. Something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue.

The dress was ready, the menu finalized, all the guests invited. And so it was less than 24 hours before the first guests would arrive and the band strike up the music. It was the bride’s last evening as an unwed woman, and what better way than to spend it with her dad. Wise dad. Dad, the brilliant doctor from the hospital who saves so many lives. Dad, who understands so much about life. So many things to talk about with him, on this, the last evening before marriage. Perhaps advice for her new life after the chupa. Thoughts about grandchildren.

The wedding ceremony in Judaism cleanses the bride and groom of all sins. They not only start a new chapter in their lives, but also a new ledger with G-d. Unblemished, pure.

But the plans were suddenly altered. She did not make it to the chupa. Neither did her dad.

The wedding had to be called off. An expected guest had shown up, invited in by Israel’s
political elite. She and her dad were murdered. The politicians of the Labor Party had turned the suburbs of Jerusalem over to serve as bases for Nazi terrorists. One blew himself up at the cafe in which she and her dad sat. Both were killed. With several others.

Her bridal mikva (purification bath) consisted of her own blood.

She was killed because the Israeli Labor Party and the useful idiots who served as their fellow travelers imported thousands of terrorists, bankrolled and armed them, and watched as they converted the West Bank and Gaza into rocket launching pads and murder training bases.

She was killed because Israel never took meaningful action against the families of any of the previous suicide bombers.

Had the family members of the first suicide bombers been killed discretely or at least deported, her wedding band would be playing this evening. Many other brides would also have survived and danced at their own weddings, instead of having their DNA scraped off the street.

Had Ariel Sharon used a real bomb instead of a small bomblet when his intelligence services located the entire Hamas leadership earlier last week, the wedding guests might have been dancing into the wee hours. With the double satisfaction, knowing that Israel was at last warring against the Nazis in earnest.

But Sharon was afraid to wipe out the murderers. The U.S. might disapprove if “innocents” nearby were hit together with the Nazis – the same U.S. that annihilated the sons of Saddam along with innocent bystanders and put the photos of the Hussein boys’ disfigured corpses on the front pages and TV screens around the world.

The morning after the wedding that wasn’t, the family members of the Nazi who murdered the bride and her dad had not been killed. They had not been deported. Their village had not been bulldozed. The Israeli government regards them as innocent. The remains of her murderer will, as usual, be turned over to Hamas to be honored, worshiped and sanctified, rather than buried in a pigskin in some anonymous landfill.

The cowardice of the Israeli government, its unwillingness to fight, its defeatism, its devotion to victory-through-weakness, its refusal to implement R&D (Re-Occupation and DeNazification, the only thing that will stop the bride slaughterers) - these all guarantee one thing: She will not be the last murdered bride.

The Israeli government guarantees that her bouquet of flowers will be caught by other prospective brides who likewise will end as human sacrifices to the pagan goddess Oslo. The
Israeli government chooses this. Because the alternative to that scenario involves bad press and unpleasant public relations.

(Editor’s Note: For more on the deaths of Dr. David Applebaum and his daughter Nava, please see page 10.)

Steven Plaut is a professor at Haifa University. His book ‘The Scout’ is available at
Amazon.com. He can be contacted at steven_plaut@yahoo.com.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/opinions/the-bride-and-the-uninvited-guest/2003/10/17/

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