August 15, 2017, Israel
Last night I participated in a wedding celebration. Texting with a German friend during the wedding brought some thoughts to life. At first I thought, here is an idea for a blog, and then I changed my mind. No, it is too personal, too painful. Some things should not be written, some things should not be shared.
I went back and forth and finally decided to attempt to put into words what I was feeling last night. I am not sure how this will come out but I feel a need to share this with the world, ours and theirs.
When we participate in a Jewish wedding it is not personal, it is a national celebration. We are not there only because we love the couple getting married, we are not there only to share their personal happiness, embarking on a wonderful life together as a couple, we are not there to enjoy the party or a good time with our friends, no, it is much more than that, much more.
At a certain point in the Jewish wedding ceremony a glass is taken out, placed on the floor and shattered. Usually at this point everyone cheers, claps and the celebrations begin as the "official" part of the wedding is over and now the partying begins.
This is a huge mistake and misunderstanding. Last night it was done correctly, with an explanation and a somber mood. This is in fact the only sad part of the wedding.
With hope, with Gods help, that the wedding is the beginning of a wonderful shared life for the couple, children and grandchildren to come. But we stop and pause for a moment; our happiness is not complete.
Since the destruction of the Holy Temple of Jerusalem, Beth HaMikdash, in the year 70 C.E. our happiness has not been complete. As long as our temple is in ruins, as long as foreigners, usurpers use that mountain for their purposes, as long as a building built by foreign invaders from the distant lands of Arabia sits on the spot of our holy temple, our happiness cannot be complete.
As so, the groom, on the happiest day of his life says the following
אִם־אֶשְׁכָּחֵ֥ךְ יְ֜רֽוּשָׁלִָ֗ם תִּשְׁכַּ֥ח יְמִינִֽי
If I forget you, O Jerusalem, may my right hand forget its skill. May my tongue cling to my palate, if I do not remember you, if I do not bring up Jerusalem at the beginning of my joy. (Psalms 137)
In this happy moment we stop and we say, we can never be fully happy as long as Jerusalem lay in ruins, as long as our temple is still in ruins.
The wedding is the symbol of a new house, the new home the couple will build together, but yet the house of God, the house of all of Israel, is still in ruins, and so, it utter sadness we smash and shatter a glass to symbolize our pain and our anger. If I forget Jerusalem for a one moment may I never speak again, may my tongue stop working, may my right hand no longer function, if I forget thee O Jerusalem.
And I thought that moment of another shattered glass, the night of the Shattered Glass, Kristallnacht in German, November 9-10, 1938, when the good people of Germany took to the streets and smashed the glass of all things Jewish; homes, stores, holy houses of prayer. And other good Germans stood by and watched.
I thought of this last night. And I thought of more.
I thought of all those, past, present, and future, in all lands, who wished to see the end of the Jews, or the end of "Jewish influence", or "Jewish Finance", and I thought, this young couple, our dear Rebecca and Yair, are our answer. We live!! We prosper, we continue.
Rebecca, beautiful and pure like the original Rebecca of the Bible, and Yair, like Elazar the son of Yair who led our people at Masada and resisted the Romans, these two, and all the guests, stand strong and say to the world, we are here to stay! Here in our land, we stand where our forefathers stood before us, in the town of Modiin where our ancestors raised the banner of revolt against the invading Hellenists.This is our answer to those who march with Nazi banner today. This is our answer to the world.
Yet it shall be heard in the hills of Judea and the outskirts of Jerusalem, the sound of joy, the sound of a Hebrew bride and a Hebrew groom.
Today I walked through Jerusalem and behold so many children! Their grandparents survived Auschwitz and Birkenau and Kristallnacht and they are playing in the streets of Jerusalem, as it was foretold so many years ago by the prophet Zacharia.
Come bride, come in peace, for good things are to come, our hope is not yet lost, to be free in our own land.
For Rebecca and Yair, Mazal Tov!
and yet it shall be heard in the streets of Jerusalem, the sound of joy, the sound of a bride and a groom rejoicing...