The following story was told by Rabbi Chaim Manz of California:
In summer 2004 Andrew and Sharon finally decided to get married and asked me if I could officiate at their wedding on 5.12.04.
I was happy to hear of their decision and said: “Of course, I would see this as a great honor to me, as long as you fulfill the three main requirements of a Jewish wedding.
The requirements are that you both be Jewish, be acquainted with the principles of family purity and not be married to any other person. If in the past you were married to someone else, I must verify if the divorce was done in accordance with Jewish law.”
Andrew and Sharon smiled. They said: That should be no problem, we can fulfill all three conditions. The preparations for the wedding went full speed ahead, until…
I had a private conversation with Sharon and she mentioned that she had once been married to a Jewish man. She stated that that marriage had been a mistake and made a point of referring to her ex-husband as “the mistake”. Apparently she had been married for six hours after which a court had annulled the marriage due to the peculiar behavior of “the mistake“.
I heard this and became very concerned. In fact I was shaken. It seemed that the ex-husband was not an ex after all. According to halacha he was still her husband, and since she was still a married woman it was forbidden for her to get married at present. Only after she would receive her get (divorce document) could she get married again.
I prepared my words carefully before I addressed Sharon, since I knew they would be a great shock to her. I said: “What I will tell you now may surprise you and it definitely won't make you happy, but one can't escape from the truth. The truth is that you need a get!
There is no difference whether you were married six hours or six years, the marriage is still in effect as long as you did not receive a get
“But the court annulled my marriage!” said Sharon. “Rabbi, please understand me, it was a mistake!”
Sharon had tried to forget the unpleasant “incident” of her brief marriage. There was no connection, even the most casual, with the “mistake”. It was difficult for Sharon to accept that those six unfortunate hours from the past had such a major influence on her present status.
I added: “I can certainly officiate for you at your wedding, but you must understand that I definitely cannot do this until you receive the get.”
Sharon looked at me worriedly. “I have no idea in which state and in which continent the “mistake” is living. What happens if I can't find him? Am I to remain an aguna (a chained woman) for life?”
I tried to calm Sharon down and explained that we would proceed step by step. “I will help you as much as I can. I will contact the Beit Din in Los Angeles and they will direct us how to get out of this mess.”
Andrew was also very agitated when he heard about this. I explained to both of them that there is nothing given to chance in this world and all is dictated from above through Divine Providence.
Sharon did not agree to cancel the prearranged wedding because of the “mistake”. She continued her preparations for the wedding and honeymoon, and was sure that everything would work out.
After long weeks of investigation and discussion with the Beit Din in Los Angeles, Sharon finally received in her hands the get from the “mistake”. At the same time she was told: “Now you are a divorcee and may marry, but not before 92 days have passed.” (In accordance with Jewish law).
Within a few minutes Andrew and Sharon were on the phone with me, confused and agitated. “Have they gone mad? Is it true what they are saying? Won't you officiate at our wedding on the fifth of December??”
I explained to them the halachic reason for this and tried to calm them down, but they were not able to grasp my words, as they were too occupied in their wedding plans and in their honeymoon – the fulfillment of their dreams.
For a number of days they grappled with the issue which would force them to postpone the wedding to January.
In the end they called me and said: “We want to make our wedding when G-d wants us to marry. We decided to postpone it to the end of January.”
Despite their agreement, they didn't understand the Divine reason for this and didn't understand what good could come from the postponement.
The honeymoon which they had planned was supposed to be in a famous hotel, the “Kaafu Atoll Maldives”, on the island of Lankanfushi.
The room which they had ordered in the hotel but had not confirmed due to the postponement of their wedding ceremony, was swept away in the Tsunami on the 26th of December. In the merit of postponing their wedding, the happy couple were not in the room at the time…
Andrew and Sharon celebrated their miraculous salvation from the Tsunami with a Kiddush and a thanksgiving party.
When one does what is right, because G-d says so – one can stay calm and no that without doubt in the end it will become clear that this was the best choice.
It is worth remembering: Life is not a movie which you watch but one that you are directing!