Even the most spiritual among us can get jaded. No matter whether we talk to the boss from beneath a kippa or not, whether we sit in segregated sections of a schul or not, whether we pray with all of our hearts, souls, and might or not, or whether we enjoy an abundance of sma’achot in our lives or not, it’s possible for us members of the klal to lack enthusiasm for that threshold which births new families.
Fortunately, there’s a cure. When crowded sensations confuse our vision, we can be refocused by light. When exhaustion tamps us down, we can be revived by goodness. When life’s many demands drain us, we can be restored by significance. The highest possible source of luminosity remains Hashem.
A wedding can be a conduit to His radiance. BH, last week, Computer Cowboy and I attended such a wedding.
The moshav, where the event was celebrated, was lovely. That beauty took the form of manicured grounds and views of the Aibishter’s handiwork, per hillsides flecked with forests, and per a sky tinted by a pink-golden sunset. Yet, the most important and most breathtaking landscape was the one under the chuppah.
There, the chatan called down Shamayim and the kallah transformed the consecrated into something humanly palpable. In that courtyard, ever so briefly, the ethereal was outlined in Earthly substance. Some say it was the chatan’s intensity. Others claim it was the kallah’s great joy. All agree that the chuppah, which we merited to witness, was otherworldly.
We were an eclectic crew. Among us were girls in miniskirts and high heels, who shimmered. Not far from those young women were rabbanim in their beketshes, who sparkled. Us other guests, people ranging from men in European-styled hats to women in homespun scarves, glittered and flickered. No matter the age, ethnicity, or level of modesty of any particular element of that constituency, each of us, as well as the totality of all of us, contributed to that gleaming, shining, glistening moment.
Maybe it was more than the chatan jumping and smiling higher with every brucha. Maybe it was more than the kallah smiling more and more intensely with every amen. Maybe, it was more than our heterogeneous kehila meriting having the Shechinah dwell among us.
After a time, the chuppah and its associated hugs, kisses, hodayot, and dancing ended. The zug took their leave for their initial span of privacy.
The sun set, but the illumination continued. The hall was magnificent, replete with fresh floral centerpieces, heartfelt music, and great food. Nonetheless, the light came from the people.
Consider that the waiters were treated to “pleases” and “thank-yous.” What’s more, guests, able-bodied and challenged, alike, quickly integrated into men’s and women’s dance circles. Small children were hoisted to shoulders. Elders were gathered in the arms of yeshiva bucharim on one side of the mechitzah and by the brightly ribboned friends of the kallah on the other side.
When, at last, the new couple joined us, we were raised even higher. I noticed that certain folks, individuals who tend to complain at most happy events, were silent and cheerful. A friend, seated near me, said something about the band’s loud volume. Nevertheless, she patted me on the shoulder, and began to clap to the music.
Later, when the newlyweds and their parents wove from table to table to greet dear ones and to give blessings, there was yet more light. Perhaps it came from the kallah and chatan, who seemed to be walking a few inches above the floor. Perhaps it came from their parents, who were so elated as to seem glamoured. Perhaps, it came from their guests, who likely hadn’t felt so authentically happy in a long time.
Life is a complex mixture of challenges and integrations. In the coterie, to which my husband and I belong, there is a woman that lost a husband a few years ago, a man that lost a job a few months ago, a lady that lost mobility a few weeks ago, and a gentleman that lost his kesher with his child a few days ago. Nonetheless, for a few sweet hours, for the duration of that wedding, I observed each of those individuals rise, fly up from the tests of their lives, and become incorporated into a fresh ecstasy. Buoyed thus, as a community, we knew delight.
Additionally, a funny thing happened to my spouse and me on the way home from the wedding. Usually, we midlife grownups, we friends that don’t get to see each other very often, catch up on maters of family or make other small talk when traveling from a simcha. In the car containing my husband and I, and another couple, though, for the greater part of the ride home, there was silence.
It wasn’t that we were especially tired or extraordinarily preoccupied. Rather, the four of us were awed. Although every chuppah is a miracle in its bringing together of two distinct souls to create Am Yisrael’s future, and although each set of parents in that car had married off one or more of their children, that night, we had witnessed a wonder of grand, ethereal proportions. We were quiet because we were stilled. What a chuppah!