Rabbi’s Weekly Message

22 November 2019 / 24 Cheshvan 5780

Dear Friends

Last week a barrage of rockets  pummelled Israel. When doing so they  played havoc with the wedding plans of several couples who had scheduled their nuptials at locations that came under fire from the Gaza Strip.

The wedding of Dor and Orel Huri was brought to public attention by the groom’s more famous sister Karin Kleinberg, who featured in the popular reality TV show, “Hamerotz Lamillion,” the Israeli version of “The Amazing Race.”  Kleinberg, who has some 52,000 followers on Instagram, posted a message:-   “ instead of 1,000 guests in a big hall we had 100 guests in a bomb shelter in Beit HaGadi.”  Nonetheless, a big celebration party was planned for later this month.

Lior Koka, a celebrity confectioner, told her 163,000 Instagram fans about a couple from the south who had managed to find an alternative location in Tel Aviv. “We only need help with all the rest,  food, a DJ, everything that you think could make this wedding the happiest and most joyful there is in the short time that we have.”  Within an hour and half volunteers responded offering their services, including a makeup artist, a hairdresser,  a DJ, photographer, catering from various restaurants, desserts, and even a barman. The ceremony eventually started at 10 p.m. and was reportedly a roaring success.

The rockets caught another bride, Moriah Ben-Hamu, as she and her groom, Yishi Moshe Ozeri were trying to take some pre-ceremony photographs. Her sister, Shirel Ben-Hamu snapped the bride, complete with wedding dress, as she crouched down on the side of the road, hands over her head, taking cover as a rocket alert siren sounded.

Other couples were not so lucky and were forced to reschedule their wedding plans. 

In the Parsha this week, Chaya Sarah, we  read of the first Jewish marriage of  Yitzhok  and Rivkah . The story  is told in extraordinary details, for,  in Jewish teaching, marriage is central, even when bombs are flying !  Let me share with you  a few themes which  are  pertinent for a good marriage. 

When Abraham called his servant Eliezer and told him to go and look for a wife for his son Yitzchak, his first requirement was that she has to come from the right family. “Family” in this sense  means,  she must be Jewish. Marriage is an expression of deep personal identity – and so is the fact of being Jewish. 

Eliezer was left to his own initiative in choosing a match for Isaac. The first thing he did was to pray. One cannot hope to succeed in anything without Divine help. When it comes to marriage, whether one’s own marriage, or that of one’s children, Divine assistance is essential! 

Eliezer did not look for wealth, but he did look for the personal qualities of generosity and kindness. He reflected that  “ The girl who would spontaneously offer to give water to ten thirsty camels which had just trekked through the desert,  would be the one”.  One sees here that an ideal Jewish wife and mother must be  kind, hospitable and energetic. 

Eliezer gave Rebecca two gifts, a gold ring weighing half a shekel, and two bracelets each weighing ten gold shekels. The Sages tell us these correspond respectively to the half-shekel donations later given by the Jewish people for the Sanctuary, and the two Tablets of the Law,  the Ten Commandments. These gifts highlight the  giving of Tzedakah  and the observance of Jewish law, which  are  the very fabric of a wholesome and permanent relationship. 

Marriage is a spiritual bond. The Sages suggest even from before birth husband and wife are two halves of the same soul. Through marriage, each join with their  ”other half”,  thereby completing   their own true identity.   

Gut Shabbas

Rabbi and Sheyna Riesenberg