Ethics

For the week ending 20 November 2004 / 7 Kislev 5765

The Uninvited Guest

by Rabbi Mendel Weinbach zt'l
The Color of HeavenArtscroll

Question: I received an invitation to the wedding of a good friend and naively assumed that I was also being invited to the meal following the chupa. Upon arrival at the wedding hall I discovered that there was no place card for me and learned from another guest that only those whose invitations included response cards were invited to the meal. I had made a great effort to come to this wedding and I was anxious to fulfill the mitzvah of bringing simcha to the chatan and kallah when they made their appearance during the meal. But I also did not wish to be an unwanted guest. What was the right thing to do?

Answer: Your first reaction in such a situation should be to give the wedding host the benefit of the doubt by assuming that some oversight was responsible for your invitation from such a good friend failing to include a response card. If it was indeed an oversight your host is probably wondering why such a good friend failed to respond.

The only way out of such a "Catch-22" dilemma is to approach the host with a hearty "Mazal Tov" and an apology for not being able to remain for the meal because of conflicting obligations. If the reaction is a plea for you to stay, then you can consider taking the place of someone who did not show up. The absence of such a plea should be seen as a sign that there was no oversight and you must content yourself with the fact that you brought simcha to the chatan and kallah simply by attending their chupa.

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