I look at the groom in the pictures and he seems strange to me, a bit shallow and superficial. I pity him. He was busy with vanities, writing music critiques on the latest release of some Israeli artists intead of contemplating the meaning of life. The groom doesn’t want children after the marriage; no he doesn’t have any specific reason. He doesn’t understand that this is sinful behavior that he will one day pay for. He knows the truth, but he uses convoluted logic with which he can't even convince himself; “I don’t sin and I don’t do mitzvoth I’m at a stalemate with G-d”. He just runs away from the truth.
That groom was me!
This time of year my wife Esther and I will celebrate our 14th wedding anniversary! 14 amazing years of happiness! The true date on the Hebrew calendar is in less than a month from now, when we’ll take a small vacation with our children. But this time of year always makes me uncomfortable when I remember what I hate seeing since I started my tehsuva process (returning to G-d and religion) years ago. I hate seeing my wedding video.
There was very little holy in my matrimony and I regret that till today! I didn’t make an effort to go to groom guidance lessons (on family purity laws). It was on a Thursday which is my busiest day at work so I rationalized not getting that guidance. I didn’t even know to but a Talit for the Chuppa (bridal canopy). It didn’t occur to me that genders should dance separately just out of ignorance and not knowing about why it’s important. Someone mentioned it to me and I answered “I’m not “charedi” (ultra-orthodox) mistakenly thinking that only a “Charedi” is obligated to Jewish law. I had no idea what I was missing.
It was December 2002 in a Netanya wedding hall. Guests came in from all over Israel. At the time it seemed an extraordinary affair, now I look back at it with pain. It was a standard non-religious Israeli wedding. It was devoid of any meaning; no obvious inner (spiritual) content, and most of all, no holiness. The mixed dancing floor was packed; there was plenty of food and even a celebrity guest. But when I look back at it, it seems so false; from the world of falsehood.
So, all in all the Divine Presence was not at my wedding. The dancing was very immodest and the kashrut of the food was minimal at best. We didn’t know the deeper understanding of a Jewish wedding, the idea that it is the unifying of two souls. The hours preceding the wedding were not spent doing acts of kindness or seeking spiritual elevation; we spent them in the photo studio and in the restaurant. We missed out!
Fortunately, I don’t sink into the despair of regret and self-flagellation. I actually wrote this mainly to strengthen those getting married; to give them food for thought about conducting a Jewish wedding with separate dancing, modesty and dignity.
Most importantly, our marriage led to a wonderful relationship with 5 beautiful children, little “tzadikim”, little saints!! Watching my wedding ceremony I feel I’m watching someone who looks like me. I watch from a distance with some alienation and a lot of pity for this person that didn’t recognized the true meaning of why he was put into this world. This year I also won’t watch the wedding video. Not only because it’s not modest but because the groom in the video, eventhough he looks like me, he just isn’t me!!