A Plea for Respect at the Holiest of Sites

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From the Anash.org Inbox: Following Gimmel Tammuz, it has become customary for a chosson and kallah to visit the Ohel before announcing their engagement. But the dynamics surrounding the practice have spawned a questionable series of “customs”.

By a concerned chossid

Much ink has been spilled over the past several years regarding the various issues prevalent in the shidduch process and how to improve on, or in some cases revamp, the current system. While all this talk is admirable and hopefully productive, I would like to shine a spotlight on an issue that arises at the momentous occasion when the shidduch process is culminated.

As Lubavitcher Chassidim, each step of our life is done in accordance with the Rebbe’s guidance and at every turning point and before every major decision-we turn to the Rebbe for his brachos. Naturally, this is the case with the most consequential decision in life-whom to marry. Before Gimmel Tammuz, the man and woman wishing to get engaged would write in to the Rebbe and receive his brocha, only then “making it official” Thus, in the years following Gimmel Tammuz, it has become customary for the chosson and kallah to visit the Ohel and daven, and only then to officially announce their engagement.

While the act of hishtatchus before sealing the deal is of utmost significance and a spiritual imperative, the dynamics surrounding this practice have spawned a questionable and disturbing series of “minhagim”.

To be more specific: The way in which the family and friends of the Chosson and Kallah descend upon the beis hachayim is unbecoming. Firstly, when the chosson and kallah are inside the Ohel, the crowd is standing outside and waiting, strolling in the area around the Rebbe’s Ohel as if it were some popular tourist park. When they finally emerge, all are consumed by the hope of being the first to get a good picture, and to be the bearer of the good news to the world.

They are completely oblivious to the people they’re disturbing and the ruckus they’re creating. Their understandable excitement often leads to a lack of decorum appropriate to such a holy place and pivotal moment.

It would be appropriate to grant the chosson and kallah the courtesy of a quiet and dignified exit into the tent. Instead, according to the prevailing custom, they are inundated with the shrieks of joy and the paparazzi that taint an otherwise holy and solemn moment and transform it into a photo op and a spectacle. Moreover, the line which separates the bubbling expressions of excitement from tone-deaf to downright inappropriate is thin and is not something I wish to elaborate on. Suffice it to say that it would behoove the family and friends to respect the Rebbe, the chosson, kallah, and the other mispalelim some modicum of reverence and respect.

I’m not suggesting that people should never come to the Ohel for this occasion. Sometimes it is a necessary way to support the chosson or kallah at this emotional moment. I’m just suggesting that even when necessary, people should be judicious in their behavior and display the requisite hadras kavod for this holy site. In the words of the Targum on the posuk describing Yaakov Avinu’s awe of Har Hamoriah “לית דין אתר הדיוט – this is not a mundane place.”

So, if you have the joy of having a family member or a friend getting engaged, ask yourself this: Is my presence at the Ohel at the moment of the engagement absolutely necessary? If yes-do I have the capacity to express my joy in a way that respects the holiness of the moment and of the location? If not-please stay home. There’ll be plenty of opportunities to rejoice and celebrate later.

In a shidduch system that prioritizes privacy and respect throughout the entire process, it should follow that in the culmination of that process these values should be applied as well. Please respect the intimacy of the moment. Please respect the Rebbe.

With wishes for continued Simchos and besuros tovos,
Naar Lo Yomish Mitoch HaOhel

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  1. Finally someone is addressing this issue!
    It really got totally out of hand
    Very much to the point and very well written!
    Thank you!

  2. So true!

    I just want to add about the picture taking:

    (from Eternal Joy, volume 2)

    Taking Pictures Together

    Rabbi Leibel Groner relates that the Rebbe also asked him to publicize his displeasure with the following:

    It recently has become endemic that chassan and kallah come together after their engagement party for pictures. Moreover, they even take photographs together in a photo studio.

    The Rebbe once told an individual during a private Yechidus:

    In heaven they are ashamed of the fact … that chassan and kallah are photographed together before their wedding.

    1. It is ironic that despite the Rebbe’s clear displeasure with chosson and kallah taking pictures together, it has become common that these days, the one time almost everyone ends up posing for a picture together is right outside the Rebbe’s Ohel!

      ?!הגם לכבוש את המלכה עמי בבית

      1. There is a specific media outlet that has made it completely mainstream to post publicly pictures of every single chosson and kallah together (as long as someone sends it to them).

        We aren’t talking about spreading around a picture privately between family and friends (also wrong), rather publicly posting it on social media for everyone.

        After a few years of this, it follows that people now think this is normal Lubavitch behavior.

    2. Thanks for restating this. It has become so “normal” for chassan and kallah to be photographed together, that when a young couple does not want to take such photos, they are literally bullied in to doing so anyway.
      Can we please go back to respecting the Rebbe’s instructions, especially right outside his ohel?

    1. I couldn’t agree more.
      May i just add, those that are inside the Ohel & videoing while there are people are trying to pour out their hearts for their personal matzav.

      The Ohel isn’t a tourist attraction. It’s a mokom kodosh!!!!!

  3. Agree with every point made.
    I’d like to add another point. At this time, the chosson and Kalla are at a very vulnerable place. Overwhelming them as soon as they step out of the ohel, or as they enter the tent, is extremely insensitive. Not everyone (in fact, many don’t) wants to have a whole crowd blocking their path and snapping and sharing pictures of them as they walk out with their chosson/Kalla for the first time.
    If all the above mentioned points don’t resonate with readers, please at least consider the chosson and Kallas vulnerability and feelings

    1. You may have a valid point. However, both sets of parents & friends should & must consider the feelings of those inside & on their way in. Most of the times they are in a very serious frame of mind & having cheering & photos being taken in front of their faces aren’t exactly what they hoped for before entering the Ohel or while davening inside.

  4. In addition to all the above-mentioned, many people are at the Ohel for serious, and sometimes unfortunate situations. Let’s be sensitive to their plight, and not create a ruckus when they are having difficulty.

    At the same time, I don’t see why the tent is inappropriate, for eidl behavior. People are actually happy for the simcha
    Close to the Ohel, nope!
    But why not in the tent, if behavior is appropriate?

    1. The tent is a place where people come to write their Pa”n or letter to The Rebbe, and it’s supposed to be a quite place for people to concentrate and do so. It is not a party hall.
      Even when standing and waiting in the Tent, it blocks the way for people, and gets very loud.
      If someone wants to celebrate at a place next to the Ohel, they can arrange in advance (or at the information desk) and they will provide a room designated for these purposes.

    1. How difficult is it to make a separate entrance on the outside for men to enter and a cement wall at lease a few tafuchim high so there’s a proper mechitza? In the most common kivrei tzaddikim in Israel, this is commonplace. Does the ohel of our Rebbeim, the nasi hador, deserve less respect??

      1. The Rebbe designed the build of the Ohel, and didn’t find it necessary to have a Mechitza.
        From the technical aspect, there is nowhere to put another entrance. There are Kevarim all around.

        1. its unbelievable that someone can compare the ohel before 5754, when very few people went, to the ohel today. Since gimmul tammuz the ohel is the place for every yid to come and daven. Do you know that many frum yidden dont come to the ohel because it doesnt have a proper mechitza? this has deterred people from the rebbe, no less than all the crazy stuff. If you care for the rebbes kovod, a mechitza is vital.

        2. Before gimmel Tamuz it wasn’t “a thing” for women to go regularly to the ohel.
          Since women didn’t go, there was no need for a women’s entrance.
          Something needs to be done so men and women are not squeezing past each other on the path, by the sinks, and at the coffee center. Please.

  5. In the book MAZEL TOv it says that the cousin and kallah should first wash negel vasser after coming from the ohel and then people should wish them mazel tov…

    Also it says on there that chosson and kallah shouldn’t take pictures together

    I think it’s beautiful that people greet the chosson and kallah, always brings warm feelings when I am there to witness it, what a simcha!

    1. The shrieking is obviously wrong and particularly embarrassing and a chilul Lubavitch in front of the many yidden from all walks of life who witness this behavior and have never seen frume people behave this way and in our holiest of places, no less!

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