Article by Rabbi Gershon Avtzon: “It is time to have an open and honest discussion on the recent trends in simchas in general and weddings in particular.”
By Rabbi Gershon Avtzon – Cincinnati, Ohio
We are coming from Yud-Daled Kislev, the 95th wedding anniversary of our Rebbe and Rebbetzen, and it is a fitting time to have an open and honest discussion on the recent trends in Simchas in general and weddings in particular.
We all know that the wedding day, in the Torah view and especially according to the teaching of Chassidus, is the foundation for the entire marriage. It is an elevated and spiritual day and as the Rebbe’s father (whose 80th Yahrzeit is this year) wrote to the Rebbe: “Whoever increases and intensifies his tears [of teshuvah] during this fast day, a day that is likened to Yom Kippur, is to be praised.”
With this holy mindset, let us highlight how some of the preparatory stages to this very special day should really be:
The “Proposal”: It is in the last few years that I received this question from some of my – former – Talmidim: “Rabbi: Do you like the way that I proposed to my Kalla”? They will then send a video of some type of “will you marry me” scene. While it may seem cute, it is clearly sourced in secular culture.
The lines have become very blurred, especially with easily shared social media clips, and many young people think that this is what they are supposed to do. While there clearly must be a time where the two people agree to write to the Rebbe for a Bracha, it must be done in a dignified and refined way.
The “pre-game” and official L’chaim: There is a new way things have developed. After the couple get officially engaged, close family and friends – after being by the Ohel – get together and say Mazal Tov and Lchaim. At some later time (it could be a week later) the two families rent a hall and spend thousands of dollars on a “mini-wedding” called a L’chaim. Does anyone feel that this is really necessary (unless you are a shliach and doing it as a Peula in your community)?
It was just “recently” that it was common and acceptable to have a “vurt” in a house and people came and wished Mazal tov and the chevre sat for Farbrengen and everyone was happy. Most families are stretching themselves to make a wedding and could really benefit from scaling down these extra – and really unnecessary – events.
While it may not be practical for many families to make a Lchaim in the home, and they must do it in a hall to accommodate the crowd etc, it does not need to be an extremely lavish affair.
Most people just like to follow the crowd and want their children to feel that they “got what they deserved”. It will take a few brave people to forgo the lavish l’chaim that they can afford and recreate the standard for the rest of the community. While the Rebbe did not officially endorse “takanos” – as in other Chassidishe communities – he did not want such wasted spending either.
[ On a separate – and very important – note: Are people aware that there are people that make a full Parnasa by setting up these lavish events are working without a reputable hechsher or mashgiach? It is a very serious issue that is demanding communal attention.]
The wedding: We must have an open discussion about the current music, dancing and lighting that is happening by our weddings. Instead of a wedding being a time where true and Chassidishe joy is expressed, which is so beautiful and uplifting for all those that attend, many weddings have turned into discos and rave parties. This affects the atmosphere and the level of Tznius.
While people have the ability to set their own standards in their own homes, the Rabbanim – and wedding halls – are allowed to “impose” standards in these important public areas and events. It affects the community and the moral compass of the young children – and bochurim and girls – attending the wedding.
[ I will not start with the absolute waste of money that is spent on many seemingly extras and trivialities by a wedding. Parents must remember that the wedding night is a few hours and that money – if you are willing to spend – will be best spent on the couple themselves in their first year of marriage.]
Shana Rishona and Honeymoon: Shana Rishona is a very important year in the life of the young couple. It sets the true foundation of the home and it gives them the time and opportunity to really connect to each other. In the ideal situation, the yungerman learns in Kollel while his wife is involved in some type of part-time occupation.
With many Bochurim already working full time, and the limited Kollel incomes and very high cost of living, it is becoming a little more difficult. Yet all married men should be encouraged to set up part of their day in the Beis Midrash. It creates a Torah foundation for the home.
What can be detrimental to the Torah-foundation of the home is an official “honeymoon”. There are so many Halachik nuances that the young couple must get used to, in addition to the general adherence to Tznius etc, that many couples’ internal Shalom Bayis are ruined by these grand (so-called) vacations.
[This is not the forum to publicly address at length the tremendous Churban of marriages that are a result of young couples going out together for date-nights and other social events. The early years of marriage must be used for personal bonding and connection.]
We are a holy nation and, in the spirit of Yud-Tes Kislev, holy Chassidim. We must constantly strive to add and bring holiness in our lives and communities around us.
Davening for the safety and security of Klal Yisroel and for the Hisgalus of Melech Hamoshiach and have the ultimate simcha and wedding of Hashem and Bnei Yisrael!
Please feel free to share your thoughts, or possible solutions, on the above in the comments section or by sending me a personal email: [email protected]