Ask The Rabbi

For the week ending 19 November 2011 / 21 Heshvan 5772

Matrimonial Maneuvers

by Rabbi Yirmiyahu Ullman - www.rabbiullman.com
The Color of HeavenArtscroll

From: Avigail

Dear Rabbi,

I have a sensitive question. My friend and I have both recently become kallahs. I was engaged shortly before her and have been planning on a particular wedding date. She told me recently that she has been planning her wedding for the same date. Since we have many of the same friends, this would really create a big problem. I feel like my plans take precedence since I was engaged first and have been planning longer. However, it seems that she has more compelling reasons to choose that date. What should I do? Should I stand on principle, or be considerate of what seems to be very important to her?

Dear Avigail,

Assuming, as your question implies, that you have not finalized your plans and will incur no significant loss by changing the date, it seems you should defer to your friend’s wishes. Ultimately, this will also be best for your peace of mind, enjoyment of your wedding, maintaining your friendship with her, and sparing your mutual acquaintances from a very awkward situation.

What better precedent can be offered than that of Rachel and Leah, where despite all of the precautions Jacob made to ensure that he marry Rachel, Lavan was still duplicitous enough to succeed in switching Leah in her stead. Anticipating this possibility, Jacob arranged with Rachel a special code by which they would be able to make sure that the proper union take place. Yet, to avoid embarrassment and pain to her sister, at the last moment, Rachel revealed the sign to Leah, thereby possibly forfeiting ever marrying Jacob herself. As it turned out, Jacob did marry her, and her great act of self-sacrifice was rewarded with the birth of two of the most central tribes in Israel, Joseph and Benjamin, as well as gaining her the unique title “Mother Rachel” with all that implies.

In contradistinction, your case does not involve forfeiting your groom, your happiness or your friendship. If you can relatively easily change the date (and you’re certainly entitled to schedule your wedding to be the earlier of the two if you’d like), that would also be the best for you. You won’t be plagued by guilt over depriving your friend of the wedding date she’s so intent on having, you’ll be able to make your own plans with freedom and joy, you’ll enjoy your own wedding knowing you’ll have full attendance and participation of your friends, and your sacrifice will be admired by all, particularly your friend, who should certainly appreciate your consideration.

Your question reminds me of a story I once heard and seems particularly relevant to this situation. There is a particularly affordable wedding complex here in Jerusalemwith two different halls, one being generally considered better than the other. A certain family inquired of the use of the better hall, but was told it was already taken for that date. The family nevertheless pressured the owner, since their daughter felt very strongly about getting the nicer hall. The owner could only suggest they appeal directly to the family who first reserved it. How great was their joy when they were told the other bride was willing to forgo her reservation and take the lesser of the halls instead.

As it turned out, around the same time, a certain wealthy family was planning an extravagant wedding in a luxurious hall for their own daughter. But, being sensitive and generous people, they decided to simultaneously pay for the wedding of a needy bride scheduled to be married on the same night as their daughter. They contacted the affordable hall, asking whether the lesser of the two was reserved for that night. Having just navigated the contest for the better hall, the owner couldn’t believe his ears when someone now inquired specifically for lesser. How surprised, yet relieved, he was to hear that the forfeiting bride’s hall would be paid for in full by “Serendipity”.

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