Baruch Hashem, my husband and I were blessed to escort our second son to the chupah two weeks ago. The range of emotions felt during such a momentous occasion are hard to capture in words. I don’t think I could even try. Now that the wedding and sheva brachos aare over, I feel as though I am in the slow and gradual process of returning to normal life. Normal sleep patterns, scheduled meals, and exercise routines. I’m becoming reacquainted with my friends along with the lines and sounds of the supermarket. But during the weeks, days, and hours leading up to the big day, as the preparations intensified, I found myself to be living in a time zone different from the world around me. I actually knocked on my neighbor’s door to bring her something one day and was surprised to find that she was at work. Really? The possibility didn’t even cross my mind. I was living in my own reality, my wedding zone, and was oblivious to the fact that most people were involved in regular living. I feel as though I am returning to earth and I am finally beginning to process some of my experiences during that hectic, yet precious time.
As is the case in many yeshivot, my son’s yeshiva makes a kind of “fake aufruf,” the last Shabbos a boy spends in yeshiva as a bachur. They give him an aliyah and they sing and dance with him during the reading of the Torah and during the meals. My younger son went to spend Shabbos at the yeshiva with his brother for the occasion. As my mechutanim live near the yeshiva, they thought it would be nice for us to also participate in the “aufruf” and called us on Friday morning to invite us to spend Shabbos with them. This came as a total surprise. To spontaneously spend Shabbos at the home of future mechutanim two weeks before the wedding? We had never heard of such a thing. We happily accepted the invitation and offered to bring some food. The wife asked me what I had already made for Shabbos. “Um…Nothing,” was my honest answer. I had taken my chicken out of the freezer only a few moments before they called. We agreed that I would bring desserts.
So, on Friday afternoon we left for Beit El. This was a few days after the agreed-upon ceasefire, and there was a heightened sense of security consciousness. As we drove closer to Beit El, we found ourselves surrounded by chayalim, some riding nearby in jeeps, and others armed with cocked guns, fingers on the trigger, ready to shoot. We felt like we were in good hands. It was very nice to get to know our mechutanim a bit better over Shabbos and the “fake aufruf” was a beautiful sneak preview of our upcoming simchah.
We decided that the day before the wedding would be a very auspicious time to daven. Our first stop was Kever Rachel. As it turned out, my son’s kallah and her mother had the same idea. We coordinated our schedules so that the chosson and kallah wouldn’t meet. Everything was running smoothly until they realized they had a flat tire when they were ready to leave. While they waited for someone to come help them, a woman came over to them and asked if she could please give them two booklets. At first, they didn’t understand what she wanted exactly, but she pleaded with them to take two booklets from her. She ended up giving them two leather-bound tefilot: Seder Hadlakat Neirot, the tefilah that women say every Friday night when they light candles, and Tefilat HaShelah Hakadosh, a tefilah written by Rav Yeshaya ben Avraham Halevi Horowitz, a leader and Ashkenazi rabbi in Yerushalayim during the 17th century, which is a prayer of parents on behalf of their children. My mechutenet was touched by the gesture and told the woman that not only was her daughter a kallah, but she was going to be getting married the very next day. When the woman heard this, she was awe-struck! It was clear to her that it was min hashamayim (divinely ordained) that she give the booklets specifically to them on that particular day. (It so happens that I am a descendent of the Shelah, which makes the story even more meaningful.) The woman was overcome with emotion and began to give heartfelt brachot to the kallah that she and her chossson should build a binyan adei ad filled with happiness, many children, and lots of good mazal. It was such an uplifting way to end their visit to Kever Rachel. Shortly after, someone helped them change their tire and they headed home just in time for us to pull into the compound with our son.
We davened at Kever Rachel and then set off for our next stop, the Kotel. There is a shul in the Kotel tunnels which faces the kadosh hakedoshim, and is only open to chasanim. My son was ready to show the guard his wedding invitation to prove that he was a chosson but it proved unnecessary. When my son asked the guard why he didn’t need to show him any proof, he answered that he could see by the fear in my son’s eyes that he is indeed a chosson. Funny!
On the way back to the car we stopped off at an ice cream shop. My son loves cookies and cream flavored ice cream shakes but the guy behind the counter said that they don’t make shakes in that flavor. When I casually mentioned that my son was going to be getting married the very next day, things changed immediately. Suddenly the guy offered to put lots of Oreos in the shake. My son’s wish was his command.
On the morning of the wedding it suddenly occurred to me that I would have to provide food for my entire family throughout the day. It’s very rare that we are all home together during the week so I’m not used to preparing weekday food for everyone. But I had to come up with something, and began to think of a plan. My neighbors had obviously been blessed with ruach hakodesh and at that exact minute knocked at my door, laden with bags filled with enough food to feed my entire family for about two weeks. I was shocked, touched, and relieved. We all had many food options to choose from throughout the day. Nobody went hungry, except for maybe the fasting choson.
Mid-morning, my husband and I made a split-second decision to go to the cemetery to “invite” our parents to the wedding. On the way back, we began to suspect that we, too, had a slow leaking tire. Better then, than on the way to the wedding, for sure. We pulled into the tire repair shop and quickly confirmed that we had yet another thing in common with our mechutanim. Once we shared that we were making a wedding a bit later in the day, things moved ahead at lightning speed. We were on our way back home within minutes.
The chupah and the simchas chosson v’kallah are obviously the heart and peak of the wedding. But all of these small, special moments and events leading up to the wedding gave us a warm, happy feeling and enhanced our simchah as well. Mazal tov!
Suzie (nee Schapiro) Steinberg grew up in Kew Gardens Hills. She works as a social worker and lives with her husband and children in Ramat Beit Shemesh.