It was not a typical chasanah. There were not many guests. We did not even know if there would be a chasanah. It was the last wedding before the halls in Lakewood were shut down, and we had the last sheva brachos before the yeshivos doors were shut.
Although it is a time of separation now, all that was evident on my daughter’s wedding day, was that people came together with mesiros nefesh, and a pure heart to fulfill the mitzvah to bring happiness to the chosson v’kallah. I am so thankful to Hashem for this oasis in time and most precious of gifts.
As a parent, my dream was to raise our children with Torah values, and escort them to the chuppah. I was not raised in Torah, and although I have been a baalas teshuva for some time, this is my only daughter and my first child to marry. It was a dream come true that she would be following in the traditions of her ancestors and building a bayis ne’eman b’Yisroel. What I was not prepared for was the challenge of making a wedding during this most trying time.
How do you plan for a wedding when there is a tzara plaguing our lives? There were so many questions amidst great uncertainty. Should we move the wedding to Chicago where both families are from? Or do we still hold it in the hall in Lakewood as planned? Should we be asking others to celebrate with us during this time of potential health risk? What if we get to Lakewood and the hall is then closed down? What do we do then? Government rules were changing by the moment; no one knew what would be the next day. Somehow in my core, I felt that it would all work out.
After hours of speaking with our rabbis, we were guided to do what the chosson and kallah wanted, which was to be with their friends, and to keep the wedding in Lakewood. I prayed the hall would stay open, and that all would be safe and well.
When we landed in New Jersey, only one day before the wedding, we learned that there was a new curfew of 8 p.m. in the state, and we had to change the wedding time to start three hours earlier. We had to let our guests and rabbis know immediately. We also needed to further limit our number of guests, although with the change in time and growing health concerns, the numbers became less.
In the grand room where the chuppah would be held, chairs were spaced apart. In spite of this needed distance, we felt only closeness from our guests. Our rabbis from Chicago were missing, as they were not able to travel under these trying circumstances. In spite of their absence, they accompanied us with their heartfelt desire to bring joy to the chosson and kallah.
Sheltered under the chuppah canopy, I saw the purity and gratefulness in the shining eyes of the chosson and kallah. We all felt so much appreciation just to have made it to this point. In spite of the last minute change in wedding time, all four of the Roshei Yeshiva from Bais Medrash Gevoha gave brachos, bringing much kedusha, as did the brachos of the fathers and family. Rabbi Sholom Kamenetsky was also to give brachos but unfortunately, came down with fever. The Rav still gave my daughter a blessing over the phone just before she walked down the aisle.
We needed to seat fewer people per table in order to space them apart. Our guests brought so much warmth and joy that this separation was not felt. Normally, there are many circles of women dancing around the kallah. We had only one circle. While dancing, we held hands protected in gloves, some were lovely white ones, and danced holding elegant gold napkins and gartels in order to keep a safe social distance, yet the distances were not felt.
We learn from our sages, that when one performs a mitzvah, a malach, is created. Although our numbers were less, I felt as if the malachim joined in our celebration, and danced along with us. We all sensed that we may not be able to do this for a while, and appreciated even more what it truly means to fulfill the mitzvah of bringing happiness to the chosson and kallah.
Normally weddings are followed by sheva brachos to accompany the couple into their new lives together. We had the last traditional sheva brachos in Lakewood, which was made earlier so we could fly back to Chicago that night. By the time we came home, sheva brachos were no more. Friends had planned weeks before, to host sheva brachos in their homes.
Again, Hashem in His infinite kindness gave us another beautiful gift. On the seventh night, we had a sheva brachos “of sorts,” by teleconference call. This creative idea was inspired by the pure desire of others, for the kallah to be able to hear beautiful stories about her chosson and for the couple to receive wisdom on shalom bayis. The chosson’s friends sang and played music. Rabbis spoke about the outstanding character traits of the couple. Everyone listening was strengthened and inspired. I was so grateful for this shining moment.
At this time when we are going through a plague that is stopping gatherings, we were given with tremendous chesed from Above, this special opportunity to bring happiness to the chosson and kallah. A rav shared with me that, “Every simchas chosson v’kallah is a microcosm of the relationship we have in Klal Yisroel with Hashem. When we fulfill the mitzvah to bring happiness to the chosson and kallah, we are rejoicing and saying, Master of the World, imagine if you would reclaim Your kallah (Klal Yisroel), think of the simcha it would bring!”
My fervent prayer is that Hashem will stop the spread of this plague, and that Klal Yisroel will only spread simcha and experience the greatest simcha of all, when Hashem reclaims His beloved kallah. May we all rejoice together in the coming of Moshiach, speedily in our days.