An authentic Jewish response

Last night I attended a beautiful wedding. Everything was carefully thought through and lovely – flowers, music, food. But the highlight, for me and my husband, was the dancing.

It would have been an emotional occasion anyway – one of the young couple is still in the year of mourning for a parent and family and friends would have made an extra effort to help create a special day for them.

But yesterday of all days, when as this young couple stood under the chuppah with joy and tears, huge crowds were gathering for the funerals of three young men who will never stand under a chuppah, the guests really felt the need to make an extra effort.

I’m sure that many of the guests had cried for Eyal, Gilad and Naftali since the terrible news broke on Monday, but last night, as circles of dancing women of all ages formed and broke and reformed, encompassing the bride and her family, old and new, there were no tears, only smiles. The happiness wasn’t forced or fake – it was genuine rejoicing in the creation of a new Jewish home and, please God, Jewish family.

Many years ago, I heard Lady Jakobovits, a”h, speak about a day when she was in a provincial community and moved from a funeral to a wedding. She described how it was possible to compartmentalise the emotions, and be genuinely sad at the funeral and genuinely happy at the wedding and the time, I didn’t really understand how one could do that. But yesterday, I saw that it was possible and experienced the cathartic effect of the music and dancing as a way of moving on and rebuilding broken worlds.

And just as the smiles were genuine, so too was the way in which everyone joined in as the singer sang, “Hashem malach, Hashem melech, Hashem yimloch le’olam va’ed.”

Rebuilding, re-affirming our belief in God, sharing other people’s pain and happiness – these are authentic Jewish responses to tragedy…

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