Monday, October 30, 2006

Kol Sasson V'Kol Simcha

This weekend I went home for a wedding. Leaving school smack in the middle of midterms: not a good idea. I missed three tests. Count ‘em—THREE. Yeeeah. However, despite the mess that I am in now that I have returned, the weekend was super duper incredible. The wedding was that of a very close family friend—a 36 year old baal teshuva whose new kallah is a 33 year old baalas teshuva. Both of them are amazing people, and have been searching for their beshert for a long time. There were a lot of things about the weekend and the whole experience of the wedding that I found truly inspiring:

1) The wedding was simple by today’s standards. The couple didn’t have a big budget, so a group of close friends pitched in and really took over many of the important details. My mom was in charge of the flowers and decorating (since there was no florist), among other things. Though I wasn’t around for most of the planning, once I was home, I was included in the mad rush to make the wedding a success. It was amazing to see how everyone in the community rallied around the chassan and kallah. The wedding was such a community effort, with everyone contributing and participating to make the wedding beautiful. This was expressed this most clearly to me when, after the shabbos kallah, the overwhelmed kallah asked if the women who were still there (her closest friends and family) could chip in and help her say sefer tehillim. It is a minhag for the kallah to say it on her wedding day, but our kallah simply needed help. So we all volunteered and split up sefer tehillim between us, each woman taking as many as she could handle, depending on her time constraints and level of skill in Hebrew. It really made it so clear that we were all pieces of one whole, as we all shared in the kallah’s experience and her joy.

2) The wedding was in the chosson’s hometown (which is also my hometown), so the kallah’s friends and family all had to be put up at different people’s houses in the community. On Friday night a family in the community hosted dinner for the 35 out-of-town visitors and their hosts. We were there, and I had the opportunity to meet the kallah’s side. It was so lovely to meet so many new people, every one of whom was so incredibly nice and friendly. Both the chassan and kallah have hashkafically diverse families and backgrounds, so at the wedding, there were all different types of people—from Aish, Chabad, Modern Orthodox, non-religious, even Breslav—and everyone got along so well, and joined in together to be mesameach the chassan and kallah. Though unfortunately the Jewish community often has problems of sectionalism and a lack of unity, an experience like this weekend reminds me how beautiful it is when Jews are united.

3) Since the chassan and kallah are both baalei teshuva, many of their friends are as well. I met and spoke to so many amazing baalei teshuva this weekend, and meeting them just gives me hope for the future of klall Yisrael. I am so awed and inspired by people who have come to yahadus later in their lives and embraced it with hearts so full that the enthusiasm and joy that Torah brings to their lives simply overflows. I have so much respect for them, and just being around them and hearing their stories makes me so incredibly happy.

4) The chassan and kallah themselves. I’ve known the chassan for years, so his uniqueness is already old news to me (though he’s also great)—but the kallah, who just came into our lives a few months ago, is one of my new favorite people in the world. She is amazing. About a month and a half before the wedding, she was getting ready to move from her old city to her new city (the chassan’s hometown). She had all her possessions packed in a U-Haul truck, ready to be moved. She left the truck, locked, in front of her apartment while she went to spend shabbos away, and when she came back, the truck had been stolen. The kallah lost all her physical possessions in the world. I cannot even imagine handling a catastrophe like that, but the kallah did, with grace and a positive attitude. I can’t even fathom it. Plus, she is just so warm and knows exactly what to say to each person to make him/her feel appreciated and special. Anyone who knows me will know that I am not the type to say something like this, but…that girl just has the most beautiful neshama. She’s truly incredible, and I am so so happy for her and her chassan and wish them the happiest, most wonderful life together. (Sniff, sniff, ok, wipe away my tears)

Anyway, the wedding came off beautifully, the chassan and kallah were glowing, and we were all going out of our heads with joy. The weekend was a wonderful experience, and it made me appreciate my home and my community all the more. Hoorah! But now I’m back, and it’s time to return to the drudge of school and midterms. So off I go…drudge, drudge, drudge…


David Lantos said...

I'm really enjoying living vicariously through you guys. This story is totally amazing! I cannot imagine getting every single thing stolen like that. I really wonder what Hashem was planning there.
The wedding sounds absolutely wonderful. It makes me think of another amazing baal teshuvah wedding I heard about in Toronto. It happened smack in the middle of the massive northeast blackout of 2003, and they ended up lighting up the whole place with tons and tons of candles. Ok, so it has nothing in common with your story other than they both involve baal teshuvahs and lots of magic.

Kick some butt on the midterms! May the last minute cramming be minimally painful.

kasamba said...

SJ, may the happy memories of that fabulous wedding carry you through the drudgery!!!!

Moshe said...

it WAS awesome.
You forgot to mention that there were regular black-hatters, too!!

SJ said...

David and Kasamba - thanks for the good wishes--I need them right about now!

SJ said...

Moshe- of course, my bad--how could I leave out the ever-important yeshivish black hatters (not to mention the black hatters who left their hats at home)! Oh, and I mustn't forget the presence of the gray/straw hatters too! Hoorah for unity!