Ask The Rabbi

For the week ending 27 November 2010 / 19 Kislev 5771

Wed in Doubt

by Rabbi Yirmiyahu Ullman -
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From: Alex
Dear Rabbi,

I have been invited to a kosher wedding but I’m not sure I want to go. For starters, I’m single and a bit frustrated and feel like I might be jealous if I go. Secondly, I’m not sure it’s the best use of my time. I mean, I could be learning Torah instead. What should I do?

Dear Alex,

For starters, I offer my blessings to you that you find your soulmate at the proper time.

Now, I can understand your mixed emotions about attending a wedding while you are frustrated about still being single. That’s a natural feeling most people in your situation feel on one level or another.

Still, you must strive to put these feelings aside and try to rejoice in each new couple’s joy. G-d is certainly happy for the couple, and your lack of enthusiasm is a bit of a rejection of G-d’s will. One piece of practical advice is when you feel that bitter-sweet pain of jealousy, you can turn it into a prayer to beseech G-d to bring you your soulmate. You can say, “G-d, I know I’m not perfect and there’s still a lot I have to work on myself, but view this pain I feel as an atonement for my shortcomings. Recall our ancestors who in their pain cried out to You and You answered their prayers. Please G-d, in the merit of my rejoicing over the union of this couple, send me my soulmate at the proper time.”

As far as your concern about missing Torah study, you should know that the Talmud (Berachot 6b) teaches that one who rejoices with the chatan and kallah merits receiving the Torah. This is based on the five-fold mention of “kol” in verses referring to the chatan and kallah as well as G-d’s gving the Torah at Sinai. But what’s the connection and why the need for this teaching?

For one, the Sages might be addressing your very point: Lest one think that attending a wedding will limit one’s Torah study, G-d promises that He will give a special influence of Torah which will more than make up for the time spent at the wedding. But there is also a special connection between a wedding and the Torah. Clearly, the five “voices” accompanying the chatan and kallah is indicative of the Five Books of Moses. In fact, the whole Sinai experience is described as a wedding between G-d, the groom, and His bride, the Jewish People, where the Torah is the actual wedding document that seals the union. Furthermore, by rejoicing in the union of a chatan and kallah whose home will be based on Torah, one celebrates the perpetuation of the Torah from generation to generation.

Our Sages also taught that one who participates in the wedding festivities is as if he rebuilds one of the ruins of Jerusalem. This is also a very lofty idea that seems to be based on the idea that contributing to the building of the foundations of this couple’s new home is tantamount to rebuilding Jerusalem. And just as this chatan and kallah have attained their own personal redemption through marriage, sharing in this redemption catalyzes the Redemption of the entire Jewish People. This is yet another very important reason for as many people to attend the wedding as possible: it hastens the entire Nation’s return to G-d in the Homeland.

One point of this comparison is particularly interesting. Why exactly is the union of chatan and kallah, who are marrying each other for the first time, compared to the rebuilding of a ruin that already once stood?

The answer lies in the Jewish mystical teaching that soulmates are not separate male and female souls, but rather male and female components of the one unified soul in the spiritual realm which is divided in half upon entering this world. This separation represents a certain spiritual deconstruction that becomes rectified through the re-union of the halves in marriage. Thus it is quite apropos that the building of a “new” home is compared to restoring a ruin of the spiritual realm alluded to by “Jerusalem”.

With these ideas in mind, I encourage you to attend the wedding, and with the help of G-d, great things will result from it – for you in particular and for the Jewish People in general!

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