By Ettie Shurack
Today, the 11th of Mar Chesvan, is our Matriarch Rachel’s yarzeit. I forever hold a personal connection with the anniversary of the passing of Rachel Imeinu because had it not been for her, I would not have met my husband (in such a direct way). Being that we are soul mates, we would have met, it just may not have happened in such an easy clear-cut fashion. And from speaking with friends, the process of Shidduchim is not an easy one.
A couple weeks ago, on Simchas Torah, we were eating with close friends of ours and sitting at the table was a newlywed couple. There is something so special about spending time with a bride and groom. Something so exhilarating yet comforting, subtle yet energetic, gentle yet vibrant. Being that my husband and I had celebrated our eighth anniversary this past summer, I (fortunately or unfortunately, depending on who you ask) no longer consider myself a newlywed. However, I get an excited-clammy-palms, heart-beats-a-little-faster feeling every time I think about how my husband and I met. So when my friend asked if we could tell the story about how we met, I readily agreed. She has heard it countless times, and often has to prompt me about details I have missed. But, she tells me she loves the story because it is a textbook example of a Shidduch where Hashem’s hand is so evident.
Hashem is always present in all Shidduchim. In fact, there once was the story of a Roman noblewoman who asked Rabbi Yosi ben Chalafta what Hashem was so busy with, given that He finished creating the world long ago. Rabbi Yosi’s response, “Making matches.” To which she replied “Is that all?” and made 1000 matches between her male and female slaves that very evening, only to discover the following morning that very few of them were satisfied. It is no surprise that making Shidduchim is a large part of Hashem’s day.
But my friend seems to think that our case in particular shows that nothing is impossible, if Hashem wants two people to meet. Our story depicts how a boy from New York working in Manchester can meet his soul mate, a girl from Vancouver who is studying in Israel through a wacky and coincidental series of events. Then again, is anything really coincidence? Or is everything divine providence?
And so my husband and I laughed and laughed while telling the story of how we met. We each have our take on certain details, but overall we’re in agreement on the general procession of events. I laughed so hard that tears were forming at the corners of my eyes. It’s been a while since I laughed so hard. I hope it happens sometime soon again, because boy did it feel good.
One of my favourite parts of a wedding ceremony is the Bedekin. I feel that it is infused with meaning, depth, and significance. A powerful and soul churning Chassidic tune is sung by the guests as the groom approaches his wife, with his father and father-in-law by his side. The groom and bride lock eyes after not seeing one another for seven full days. The groom places a veil over the bride’s face, and the fathers each take a moment to bless the bride. The couple is then escorted towards the Chuppah where they will transform from being a young man and young woman to a husband and wife forever bound together.
At every wedding that I attend, I strive to be present for that moment. The moment where a groom, by covering his bride’s face, is announcing that they cannot see what the future will hold – and the uncertainty may be blinding at times, yet they are ready for the awesome journey that awaits them.
Over the last days of Succos, while I liked sitting across from the newlyweds, I loved sitting beside my partner and best friend of eight years. And what an amazing eight years it has been! Our journey together has included eternal joy, true happiness, endless laughter; as well as loss, pain, and tears. But without these, we could never have experienced hope, courage, inspiration, support, growth and encouragement.
Thank you Rachel Immeinu for bringing a dynamic, spontaneous, and adventurous 20 year old girl to the West Bank to hear a lecture on the Mitzvahs of being a woman at your burial place (just outside of Bethlehem). Ending up stranded in Jerusalem without a way back north to Tzfat, only to find herself at a complete stranger’s Shabbos table. One week of long distance phone calls. A kind, sensitive, and sensible young man’s flight from England to the Holy Land. Three dates, and hours of deep heart to heart conversations…A proposal right in front of a garbage can. And as they say, the rest is history!
Wishing you and yours a great week ahead!