Torah E-Thought: The best day for a Wedding

 
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Dear Friend,

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Wishing you a Good Shabbos,



Rabbi Eli Pink
Director of Education
Chabad Lubavitch Leeds

.........................

A new law passed this week raising the age of marriage in England and Wales to eighteen. The last part of our parshah talks about marriage and relationships and though I shouldn’t be surprised anymore, it is still special when events coincide so clearly with the weekly parshah.

Many Jewish weddings take place on a Sunday but what is the best day of the week to get married?

Among Jews, the best day of the week is Tuesday, because the third day of creation was doubly blessed by G-d; He said “It was good” not once, but twice. However, weddings are not limited to that day; we hold weddings on all days of the week except for Friday night, the eve of Shabbos. For practical reasons as well, weddings are usually not held on Friday daytime either.

However, until about one hundred years ago, it was very common in Eastern Europe to hold Chuppahs specifically on Friday afternoon and wedding celebrations on Friday night. In times when people struggled to put bread on the table, it lowered the cost of the wedding celebrations by coupling it with Shabbos dinner.

Around four hundred and fifty years ago, one such wedding was scheduled for Friday afternoon in the city of Krakow, Poland. Krakow was one of the important Jewish centres of its day, and its rabbi was the world-renowned Rema, Rabbi Moshe Isserlis.

This wedding was bittersweet because the bride was orphaned of both her parents. The bride’s relatives had promised to provide the dowry to which the father had committed, but when the moment of truth arrived, they could only show two thirds of the sum. By the time negotiations were settled, Shabbos had already begun. It was too late to hold the chupah.

The Rema made a quick decision. To protect the dignity of the orphan girl, he decided to hold the chuppah on Friday night. Obviously, his decision raised an uproar, but the Rema wrote a long halachic responsa explaining his decision to rely on a more lenient interpretation of the law when faced with strenuous circumstances. “And there is no more strenuous circumstance,” the Rema wrote, “than when the life-long dignity of an orphan girl is at stake, especially when the entire match is at risk…”

We are now in the days of Sefirat Haomer, when we mourn the death of the twenty-four thousand students of Rabbi Akiva who died in an epidemic over a period of thirty-three days between Passover and Shavuot, and therefore we observe traditions of mourning for thirty-three days. There are differing opinions when these thirty-three days took place, with Sephardim, Ashkenazim and Chassidim all keeping the restrictions at different time.

However, there is one day that weddings are held: Lag Baomer. What is fascinating is that Lag Baomer is also the yahrzeit of the one who took a stand of ahavat yisrael to care for a lonely orphan bride — the Rema himself.

Weddings are beautiful occasions. On a simple level, weddings remind us of the days when we were young, and it gives a good feeling to all the participants. But the Rebbe explained a deeper reason. Weddings remind us of the marriage of G-d and the Jewish people. And it’s more than just a reminder; with every Jewish couple that gets married, we hasten the marriage of G-d and the Jewish people with the coming of Moshiach — may it be speedily in our days.

 
 
 
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Parshah in a Nutshell

Parshat Acharei

Following the deaths of Nadav and Avihu, G‑d warns against unauthorized entry “into the holy.” Only one person, the kohen gadol (“high priest”), may, but once a year, on Yom Kippur, enter the innermost chamber in the Sanctuary to offer the sacred ketoret to G‑d.

Another feature of the Day of Atonement service is the casting of lots over two goats, to determine which should be offered to G‑d and which should be dispatched to carry off the sins of Israel to the wilderness.

The Parshah of Acharei also warns against bringing korbanot (animal or meal offerings) anywhere but in the Holy Temple, forbids the consumption of blood, and details the laws prohibiting incest and other deviant sexual relations.