What Should Become the New Norm For Weddings

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Yechiel M Ungar Photography - ymuphoto.com

(By Rabbi Yair Hoffman for the Five Towns Jewish Times)

It happened this week at a Tuesday wedding at the Rye Town Hilton.  From the manner in which inquiries are being made, it may soon become the new norm at Jewish weddings.  It is also a way in which the parents of the Chosson and Kallah can fulfill over one hundred Torah Mitzvos. The Mitzvah under discussion is v’ahavta l’rayacha kamocha – loving one’s neighbor like oneself.

So, what is it already?

It is grabbing hold of a fantastic opportunity to make shidduchim.  At a typical wedding, everyone is dressed their very best.  There are also so many opportunities to make shidduchim – so why not do it?

WHAT THEY DID

Here is what they did.  Single friends of both the Chosson and Kallah and their parents were contacted and asked to submit their resumes. The parents then placed the chosson’s friends and the kallah’s friends in a side room at the weddings, on separate sides.  They then packed the room with circulating shadchanim and instructed them as to what to do. They had received the resumes in advance.  It was all done in a very tznius manner.

The prospective shidduch got to meet each other – then and there.  The Rye Town Hilton has numerous lobbies, walkways, and other venues to make for a perfect venue for the couple to meet and talk.  The shadchanim worked hard – real hard.  They worked both sides of the Mechitzah.

And they were successful beyond anyone’s imagination.  Numerous couples met.  Some spoke for 30 minutes.  Some spoke for an hour.  A number of shidduchim were made that night.  Some dated this past Thursday evening.  Others are dating on Sunday.

One of the caterers at Beth Shalom of Lawrence, Chateau De Glatt, got a phone call:  “Can this be done at Beth Shalom as well?”  The caterer responded that it could, as Beth Shalom has an extra room that can accommodate 90 more people.

DARING AND CONTROVERSIAL

At the outset, some of the Rabbonim were very concerned.  Will this turn the wedding into a disastrous breach of tznius?  The Kallah’s father assured the concerned Rabbonim that the Shadchanim, who were Bnei Torah, would make sure that things went well.  Most of the Rabbonim who heard of it were for it.  One or two, however, still had some hesitations.

THE TALMUDIC PROOF FROM RAV MASNA’S REASON FOR TU B’AV

What follows is an analysis of the Gemorah in Bava Basra (121a and b) – proving that, in fact, the idea behind this innovative move in Shidduchim is a true davar sheb’kdusha.

Tu B’Av was a special day in the Jewish calendar. This idea too, of making shidduchim at weddings, could now change the nature of the contemporary Jewish wedding.

Traditionally, Tu B’Av was a day when single young ladies would wear special gowns of white.  They did so in order to woo a groom. The white indicated that they were free from sin.  The young men and young women gathered separately in one venue in order to meet.

The Braisah in Taanis (31a) states that the custom was for everyone to borrow white clothing from others so that the poorer girls who, in truth, lacked the financial means to clothe themselves properly, would not be embarrassed that they did not have something to wear.  Indeed, even the king’s daughter and the Kohain Gadol’s daughter exchanged clothing.

So now we know what occurred on this day.  But why was Tu B’Av established initially?

THE SIX REASONS FOR TU B”AV

The Gemorah in Bava Basra (121a,b) provides a number of different reasons:

  1. Rav Yehuda in the name of Shmuel: A law existed while we were in the desert on account of the Bnos Tzlafchad.  This law banned the Shvatim from marrying one another where it would cause changes in an inheritance.  This law was rescinded in the 40th year on the 15th of Av. The joy inherent in rescinding this law caused the day to become very special and joyous.
  2. Rabba Bar Bar Chana in the name of Rav Yochanan: The Tribe of Binyomin was allowed to remarry into K’hal Yisroel after the incident of Pilegesh B’Givah (see Shoftim 19-21). This occurred on the 15th and signified once again the unity of Israel.
  3. Rav Dimi Bar Yosef in the name of Rav Nachman: The people in the Midbar stopped dying on this day.
  4. Ullah: It was the day that Hoshea Ben Ellah undid the orchards that Yeravam placed to block passage of those who wished to visit the Beis HaMikdash. Yeravam had blocked them because he was concerned that seeing the real kings of Israel would undermine his legitimacy.  Undoing the blockage contributed to Jewish unity.
  5. Rav Masna: It was the day that the Romans allowed the victims of Beitar to be buried and it was revealed that their bodies had miraculously shown no de-composure.

(This 5th answer is the one we will be focusing upon).

  1. It was the day that the cutting of the wood for the main altar in the Bais HaMikdash was finished because sunset was now earlier and the woods could no longer dry– so we celebrated the fact that this day now allowed them to learn.

SERIOUS HISTORICAL PROBLEM

There is a serious historical question, however, with reason number five – proposed by Rav Masna.

The sources quoted in the Gemorah indicate that Tu B’Av was observed during the time of the Bais HaMikdash.  This is borne out from the Braisah having mentioned above that the king’s daughter and the Kohain Gadol’s daughter also partook in the exchange of clothing.

BEITAR WAS LATER!

But Beitar only fell after Hadrian the Roman Emperor came to power!  This was many years after the Bais HaMikdash was destroyed.  Hadrian was emperor from 117 CE to 138 CE.  The Bais HaMikdash was destroyed in 70 CE.  There was no Kohain Gadol during the time of Beitar! The Braisah tells us that the daughter of the Kohain Gadol also observed Tu B’Av! How could Rav Masna explain the reason for its establishment after it was observed?

RASHBAM’S ANSWER

One possible answer may be that each of these opinions listed subscribes to a multiplicity of reasons why Tu B’Av was actually observed.  Perhaps they actually do not argue with each other, and all these reasons existed.  Indeed, this is what the Rashbam on 121a (“Yom Shehutar”) seems to imply.

GVURAS ARI’S ANSWER

Another possible response to this problem is found in the Gvuras Ari (Taanis 31a).  He seems to disagree with the aforementioned Rashbam and writes that the Braisah in Taanis only actually refers to Yom Kippur and not to Tu B’Av [See statement of Rabbi Shimon Ben Gamliel in the Mishna in Taanis (26b):  Israel never had grander days than Yom Kippur and Tu B’Av.]

DIFFICULTIES WITH BOTH ANSWERS

There are difficulties, however, with both answers.  Rav Masna seems to say that the reason it was established was because of his reason – while he may agree that the other things happened on that day – that was not the reason it was established in his view.  The Rashbam’s answer would thus require some further understanding.

The Gvuras Ari’s response is difficult to say as well because the authorial intent of the Braisah in Taanis seems to be applying the idea to Tu B’Av as well. While one could say that it is lav davka, that it does not mean what the words imply – this is difficult to propose.  There is no symmetry that is generally associated with an answer of lav davka.

DIFFERENT ANSWER THAT PROVES OUR RYE TOWN WEDDING IDEA

Perhaps a different answer might be that the Simcha – the joy of Tu B’Av was initiated in two separate stages.  Stage one was prior to the destruction of Beitar.  Tu B’Av was instituted during the time of the Bais HaMikdash as a special day of Chesed for Shidduchim.  It did not have a particularly joyous significance – rather – it was a propitious time to get people married.  This “Shidduch Day” was replete with Chessed. But it’s primary purpose was not to commemorate any of the other incidents.

Much later, it also happened to be that on this day, the fallen of Beitar were allowed to be buried.

NO COINCIDENCES

Coincidence?

No, not at all.  There is no coincidence from the Torah’s perspective.  According to Rav Masna, the Rabbis re-evaluated the days mentioned in Megilas Taanis, and knew that something extraordinary happened here.

The special Chessed of that day – allowed for and enabled another chessed – that the fallen of Beitar could be buried, and to the delight of their brethren – their bodies did not decompose.  A recognition of this chessed caused a renewal in the 15th of Av.

It would be filled with renewed purpose.  This was stage two of Tu B’Av.

The point is that, in our analysis, according to Rav Masna there was a special day of shidduchim where young women and men were to meet – for the sole purpose of making shidduchim.  It happened in an en masse manner – just like our Rye Town Hilton wedding.

CONCLUSION

The idea of having a special room for singles, with a mechitza and shadchanim working the room is an excellent idea.  Aside from the possible shidduchim that could come out of it – the parents have fulfilled over one hundred Mitzvos Assei D’oraisah.

Kudo’s to the Kallah’s mother for making it happen.

The author can be reached at yairhoffman2@gmail.com




17 COMMENTS

  1. I believe it is a brilliant idea to have initiatives or plans at weddings to try to set up single male and female friends. I don’t agree that there should be a mechitza as 1. It’s not davening. 2. Weddings from 75+ years ago did not involve this concept of a mechitza for the seuda 3. If they are mature enough to date for marriage, then they should be mature enough to be seated at the the table with those of the opposite gender for purposes of meeting for dating marriage. If there is a mechitza and/or they can’t meet face to face, then you might as well just forget about it- as you can just use the phone/email through a shadchan in Brooklyn.

    Those Rabbonim that believe that shidduch dating is not tznious really need to take a vacation this summer (alone) and spend some time with personal reflection. In many situations I believe if someone believes a “non-yeshivish or Chassidsh” form of shidduch dating is not tznious, then there are aspects in their own personal lives which aren’t tznious and need improvements. Myself and many of my friends would not be wearing a talis in shul this shabbos with their children if it wasn’t for “untznious” shidduch activities at weddings or planned events.

  2. The Best part about this the removal of the parents from the initial equation. That would increase shidduchim because of all the external factors that go into parental decisions.

    I fully understand parents, but we allow our judgements to go to far, this proves the point. Good people meeting without pre judgements. All of a sudden possibilities flourish.

    Chazak Vematz

  3. Funnybone, I have a few single female cousins in their upper 20’s and lower 30’s. At that age they understandably don’t need or want “mommy and daddy’s” involvement. I fully respect your way of life, but not everyone dates with calling several references, requiring a shidduch resume which is more dense (yet personality- empty) than a career/job resume, or asking where her father’s cousin’s son went for sleepaway camp 5 years ago. {I agree that research concerning if the person is committed religiously, maturely, professionally, physically, and honest is important. Not irrelevant questions of whether his/her married sister covers her hair or not.}

  4. Rebbe Yid
    June 15, 2018 10:42 am at 10:42 am
    It’s a nice chesed, but it’s kedai to remember that the purpose of a wedding is to be mesameach choson vekalloh.
    ———————————-
    Find me one chosson/kallah who would not be besimcha gedolah to have a shiddich set up at thier wedding.
    The only people i can see against this are shadchanim who have no intrest in going down to wedding halls every other night. And and rabbi who thinks of this as pritzus needs his head examined.

  5. Great idea. I have a better idea. By funerals , there should be life insurance brokers trying to drum up business for themselves and notifying everyone the importance of owning a life policy and put aside the respect for the dead. What in heavens name have we resorted to? Weddings were established to give joy to the chosson and Kallah and should be left that way. By making a balagan and taking away the attention from the chosson and Kallah is plain wrong no matter how noble your intentions are.

  6. This idea appears to be highly questionable at it is impossible to do the proper research on the shidduch being redt if the date is occurring virtually immediately after it is redt.

    One of the primary reasons boys and girls don’t meet before carefully considering the shidduch, is because we don’t want them to become infatuated to the point it’ll be difficult or impossible to break it off before background information indicating an hashkafic or other incompatibility becomes known. Parents and the boys and girls cannot rely on the shadchan to find or even know of all incompatibilities. Especially on such a short time frame.

  7. This family will have a very easy time responding to עסקת בפריה ורביה in the next world, as this question is generally explained having helped to facilitate other שידוכים

  8. This reminds me of what Rebetzin Hoberman a”h from Lakewood used to say. She told us that when she was of marriageable age, they used to seat young people at weddings at the same table, boy/girl/boy/girl to make sure they marry Jewish.

  9. I am tying to picture this. The Kalla’s friends come to the chasana to dance with the kalla, but instead of dancing, they are out side some were dating some random person that they know nothing about! how would that make the kalla feel when all her friends are gone on the most important day of her life?

    I get it, its a mitzva to make shiduchem but but there is a time and place for every thing! now im not judging the people that did it, i think its very thoughtful! but I dont think it should become the norm.

    NOT DURING THE DANCING – DURING PICTURE WAITING

  10. they should try this with yeshiva tuition , line all the parents up who are paying tuition with all the executive directors and rashei yeshiva that are charging them a fortune and let the parents decide which yeshiva is ripping them off less and make a shidduch

  11. I actually attended this Chasuna and observed first hand what took place. The singles and there young married friends were placed in a separate room which was divided by a Buffett dinner. There were a number of shaddchanim that were invited to “work the room” . This took place after the chupah and prior to the first dance during the typically one hour of down time till chasan and kallah emerge from picture taking. The friends were called back to the main ball room at the start of dancing and in no way detracted from Simchas chassan vekallah. I know first hand from the baalei simcha that they requested that as many singles as possible send there resumes ahead of time and or have it available to email the shaddchanim at the chassuna. It is there hope that others use this time at Chasunas to become the “shidduch hour” that people can focus on making shidduchim, paricularly when people are dressed and looking there best. Ofcourse, parents need to look into every shidduch if they so choose, but today it has also become very difficult to just get 2 people on a date, so it is the hope that this hour at chassunas become a new standard focused on shidduchim. It is true that shaddchanim are not likely to goto chasunas every night. Therefore it would be a good idea for people making Chasunas to pay shaddchanim a fee to attend if they are not otherwise willing to just show up for that one hour to work the room. For the record, so far five first dates originated at this Chasunah with one first date that actually occurred at the Chasuna itself and is now looking forward to there third date. IY”H others will follow this trend and together we can help klal yisroel breach the gap in our shidduch crisis. I applaud the baalei simcha for their ground breaking idea and hope other follow this model going forward.

  12. I had the privilege of attending as a facilitator at this wedding. It was absolutely amazing!!!! The opportunity for single young men and women to meet shadchanim while dressed in their best attire and in an ambiance of pure simcha only brings a most positive spin to our community’s shidduch endeavors. What I loved most was that not only was there an opportunity for young men and women to be paired off for brief conversation, but even more importantly, singles felt comfortable approaching shadchanim in a specifically designated area. Having other young marrieds around significantly added a nice energy to the atmosphere and brought more confidence and support to those seeking to make connections. I witnessed several married people actively initiating introductions of their more reticent single friends to shadchans.
    I also appreciated reviewing the resumes in advance, so that when I met someone, I already knew their background and could focus on getting more of a sense of their personality.
    This noble event took absolutely nothing away from the goal of being M’samayach Chassan V’Kallah as once the band was playing music to accompany the new couple, I noticed everyone scramble to make it to the first dance. And there were those who came back downstairs to schmooze with shadchans during mealtime, and shadchans were networking with each other!
    After many dates set up by devoted friends and shadchanim (to whom I remain grateful), I actually met my husband at a wedding! It was definitely a special way to meet. Of course we were all dressed up, and there was a definite comfort level knowing that we both had a personal connection to the wedding party.
    For those who worry about young people meeting on their own in this scenario, have no fear, they and their parents can still do their valued research.
    I am often frustrated at separate seated weddings where I have no way to really meet eligible young men on the other side of the mechitza to keep in mind for the wonderful young women on MY side of the mechitza. This was a perfect opportunity without compromising preferred seating style.
    Kudos to the Kallah’s parents who had the gumption to initiate this holy event! It truly SHOULD become the norm at future weddings.