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