General Fiction posted December 31, 2017

Not yet exceptional. When the exceptional rating is reached this is highlighted
Orthodox Judaism

The Chuppa

by Bar62

The Chuppa
Reuben was deeply in love with Rachel. They were to be wed five months from the present. They had met each other through a Shadchan (Matchmaker), this particular matchmaker had come with exemplary references. Her name was Golda Ramski. Golda had been matchmaking for close to forty years and had made over 500 successful matches. Rueben was vehemently against the whole concept of arranged marriages, that was until he first saw Rachel, in shul on a Friday afternoon, as they davened the Shabbat prayers. Rachel was in the back in the women’s section. Nothing, however, could hide the striking beauty of this woman. Even though she dressed very conservatively, her natural beauty just radiated from her presence. Rachel was more likely to keep her feelings to herself, not letting anyone know how she truly felt about Reuben or anyone else for that matter.  This was the same woman who had been matched with him to be his wife, the mother of his children and his lover.
Jewish law states; an engagement (shidukhin) is a contract between a man and a woman where they mutually promise to marry each other at some future time and the terms on which it shall take place. The promise may be made by the intending parties or by their respective parents or other relatives on their behalf. The promise is formalized in a document known as the Shtar Tena'im, the "Document of Conditions", which is read prior to the badekin. After this reading, the mothers of the future bride and groom break a plate. Today, some sign the contract on the day of the wedding, some do it as an earlier ceremony, and some do not do it at all.
From all accounts, this was a very good match. Rueben ben Hershel comes from a long line of Rabbis. His family belongs to the Bobov Dynasty, one of the largest Hasidic dynasties in existence today. Their Rebbe is Ben Zion Aryeh Leibish Halberstam. Belonging to a dynasty is akin to living with a very large extended family. The Bohov Dynasty was situated in Borough Park, Brooklyn, New York. The dynasty was founded by Shlomo Halberstam of Bobov (1847–1905).
Rachel’s family is not Hasidic but is orthodox, Modern Orthodox. There are some major differences in the two different schools. The Haredi or ultra-Orthodox Jews feel like they are the only true Jews that the Modern Orthodox are not following the commandments of the Torah. There has been at times some outright skirmishes between the two communities. For example, there was an incident that nearly came to blows; where a modern orthodox man was caught on the street without sufficient covering for his head. Two Haredi confronted the man and told him this offense could be punishable by a fine or time in jail. The modern orthodox man was outraged that he was accosted on a New York street.  If it were not for the interruption of a New York City policeman, who broke up the confrontation and had the three Jews get on with their day, this incident would have likely ended in fist-a-cuffs.
Although not Haredi, Rachel’s parents were strictly observant. Her father Issac Frankel was a noted professor at the Jewish Theological Seminary, teaching in the Gershon Kekst Graduate School. Rachel’s mother, Lettie Frankel also worked as a part-time instructor at Barnard College, teaching a course in Jewish/Judaica studies. Rachel had two other younger sisters that she was responsible for taking care of. Taking care of her younger sisters kept Rachel very busy during the school week. Far too busy to have any time to see Reuben.
In traditional Judaism, marriage is viewed as a contractual bond commanded by God in which a man and a woman come together to create a relationship in which God is directly involved. (Deut. 24:1) Though procreation is not the sole purpose, a Jewish marriage is traditionally expected to fulfill the commandment to have children. (Gen. 1:28) In this view, marriage is understood to mean that the husband and wife are merging into a single soul, which is why a man is considered "incomplete" if he is not married.
Marital harmony, known as "shalom bayit," is valued in Jewish tradition. The Talmud says that a man should love his wife as much as he loves himself, and honor her more than he honors himself; indeed, one who honors his wife was said, by the classical rabbis, to be rewarded with wealth. Similarly, a husband was expected to discuss with his wife any worldly matters that might arise in his life. The Talmud forbids a husband from being overbearing to his household, and domestic abuse by him was also condemned. It was said of a wife that God counts her tears.
Reuben was feeling like he needed to speak to Rachel, to get a better sense as to where she was at. He knew that she spent a good deal of time at the playground because her sisters liked to go there. So, Rueben took a walk to the playground. When he arrived, sure enough, Rachel was sitting on a bench reading a book.
“What are you reading?”
“Oh, you surprised me. What are you doing here?”
“Well, to tell you the truth I was hoping to find you, which I have!”
“Why did you want to find me?”
“Rachel, we’re supposed to get married in four months and I hardly know you. Doesn’t that seem just a little bit odd to you?”
“OK, my turn to be honest. I’m not at all wild about these arranged marriages, I know we’re supposed to have the final say about it, but if you heard my parents raving about what a wonderful match it is, and how fortunate I am to have been matched with such a handsome young man, and on and on. I do think you're very handsome by the way.”
“Well, I appreciate your candor. You know I had similar feelings about arranged marriages until I saw you at Shabbat services”
“You know if we base our marriage solely on the fact that we are physically attracted to each other, we could be in for major problems, years down the road.” Rachel comments.
“At least we’re talking to each other, I suppose that’s a step in the right direction,” says Reuben.
“Hey, what are you doing Sunday night?”
“I’m not sure, why?”
“Want to go out on a date with your fiancé’?” I have a pair of tickets to see this exceptionally good singer-songwriter. His name is Kenny White, if you haven’t heard of him you are in for a treat! He is a great lyricist as well as an excellent keyboard player”
“Really, I play piano, been taking lessons since I was five years old.”
“I probably have to watch my sisters.”
“C’mon Rachel, I want to make this work, but if I cannot kindle any interest on your part I’m going to have to pack it in and call it a day! Rachel let yourself have some fun, lighten up.”
Rachel smiles and Rueben falls in love all over again. “You know you can cause some serious damage with that smile of yours”
“How do you figure?” Rachel inquires.
“Well, let’s say just for the sake of an example, you’re driving on the highway, better yet, you are the passenger in a car on the highway. You with me so far?”
“Yes, I’m a passenger in a car on the highway,”
“Right, so then you flash one of those mind-altering, earth-shaking smiles. The guy on your right was not prepared to witness this Godly phenomenon, loses control of his vehicle and causes a multi-car collision.
Rachel finds this fantasy scenario to be hysterical and breaks up laughing. Her laugh is like water to a thirsty man.
“hahahahaha, you are funny, oh God I haven’t laughed like that in a long time,”
“Just think, you could have not just a handsome young man, but a very funny, handsome young man.”
“And persuasive as well. I will have to ask my mother to make sure I’m free.” Rachel adds and gives Rueben a smile sweeter than a ten-pound bag of kosher organic sugar.
Sunday arrived, Rueben was so nervous he could barely get himself dressed. He said goodnight to his parents and heads to the family car. He gets into the car, turns the key to engage the ignition, nothing!  He tried it again, nothing, the car was dead, what was he to do now? Reuerben ran back in the house telling his parents the car was dead, and he wished that he was dead too.
“What was he to do, guess I should call Rachel; she will no doubt be relieved.”
“Why don’t you call Mordechai Unger. That is one of the many benefits of belonging to a community, Morte is actually very helpful.” Reuben’s Mother suggest.
“OK, what ‘s his number, I’ll try anything,” Reuben answers.
“It’s on the wall next to the phone.”
Reuben dials the number, Mordechai picks up on the third ring.
“Thanks a lot, Mordechai, you don’t know how much this means to me.” Reuben hangs up the phone.
“He’s going to let me borrow his car!”
Reuben pulls up in front of Rachel’s house, gets out, grabs a dozen roses that he bought on his way, over. Heads to the front door, but he is stopped by a Doberman Pinscher, the dog did not seem friendly. He was standing in an attack position, growling quietly, then he barked a loud angry bark. Reuben just stood there ready to bolt at the slightest sign of aggression. Just then Rachel opens the door yelling at the dog, “Killer , killer, no barking, you did a good job come here and give me a kiss. Killer trots up to Rachel and puts his front paws on Rachel’s shoulders and licks her face. What Reuben wouldn’t do to be a dog in that moment.
“Come on in Reuben, my parents want to say hi. Don’t worry about Killer, he’s a pussycat.” 
“Killer? I say curiously as I enter the house.
“Come into the living room that’s where everyone is.” She takes Reuben’s hand and walks into the living room.
“Reuben, it’s so nice to see you, I’m so glad you talked Rachel into getting out of the house”

“Good to see you, Reuben, how are your studies going?” Professor Frankel asks.
“They're going well Professor, well and difficult.”
Reuben looks at his watch, and says “I would love to stay and chat, but this club has a select number of good seats.”
“Say no more, have a great time.”
“Thanks, is it alright if I get Rachel back by midnight, I thought we could catch a coffee or tea after the show.?”
“You have to be up at 8 am tomorrow morning Rach, if you can get up its ok with me if you stay out until 12 am.”
The concert was fantastic, Reuben ran into friends also at the show; at the end of the evening they all went out to one of the many restaurants in Manhattan. Reuben had Rachel home at 12 am on the dot. Reuben parked the car and started to get out when Rachel put a hand on his arm, he turns to look at her and she takes his face in her hands and places a very mind-blowing kiss on his mouth, it wasn’t a prolonged tongue kiss, but it was a kiss that said there were a whole lot more of these kisses and other surprises to come. Reuben was in another world. Rachel gets out of the passenger seat, then leans back into the car, “Are you going to walk me to the door?”
The words jar Reuben out of the stupor that he fell into, “OH yeah” He gets out of the car, is still somewhat disoriented,
“Reuben, this way,” Rachel directs him, Reuben finally gets his bearings, walks Rachel to the door. “I had a wonderful time, thank you, Reuben,” she gives Reuben a kiss on the cheek, opens the door, Killer’s on the other side wanting to get scratched.
“Come here killer” says Reuben. Killer happily bounds over to Reuben, and Reuben gives him a good scratching. Good night Rachel, Reuben than gives Rachel a quick kiss and leaves so much in love, he cannot see clearly.
From that time on Rachel was a changed woman. She called Reuben at least once a day unless Reuben called her first. The date was fast approaching for the wedding, they saw each other as often as was possible. They also had explored each other’s bodies. This came about one day they were alone at Reuben’s house, this afternoon was supposed to be dedicated to studying. Reuben was trying to study for his upcoming exams, that would determine where on the list he would place for a spot as a candidate for Rabbinical School. They were sitting on the couch doing more kissing and touching then studying. When out of the blue Rachel said to Reuben,
“We’re going to be married in two months, then we will sleep together and make love.”
 “Yes, and to tell you the truth I can’t wait”
“Well neither can I, so why wait, if we have already made our intentions known, in the eyes of God, are we not already married?”
“So, what your suggesting is that we make love, like right now?” Reuben clarifies for Rachel.
“Do you have a problem with that?”
“Me? have a problem, the guy who wanted to jump your bones the moment I saw you in shul?”
“That would have been something, huh, in the synagogue!"
“Why don’t we pretend that’s where we are”
Reuben starts unbuttoning his shirt, Rachel pulls her blouse over her head, then they both hesitate. Let’s take off our pants and skirt at the same time. Ready, set and go, they’re both now sitting in their underwear.
“Should we move to the bedroom?”
“Yeah, I think that’s a good idea”
Well, Rachel & Reuben consummated their union with each other, and as much as they enjoyed the experience and looked forward to exploring all the different aspects of sex, and the different sexual positions, they both felt like they could now wait until after the Kiddushin & the Nisu'in
The Talmud defines Kiddushin as meaning - betrothal, or sanctification, and according to the Rambam (Maimonides), it also means “Removal”, to remove the bride/wife. She is something valuable, special. Kiddushin is to remove something of value, something sacred, such as a wife! It is also the point at which the groom or Reuben gives the ring to the bride or Rachel. The Rambam says that in the eyes of God the two individuals have bonded and are married, however, they cannot sleep with each other until they have completed Nisu'in
The day of the Wedding finally arrives. The entire Bobov Community has been invited, and many of them show up, some have come knowing the food will be really good. In addition, there is a good showing of members of the modern orthodox community, who either know Reuben, his family, or they have also come for a free meal.
The Procession
Rachel and Reuben are escorted to the chuppah by their designated escorts. Usually, the escorts are the couple's parents. In most communities, the groom is escorted by his parents and the bride by hers. In Chassidic and certain other communities, the groom is escorted by his father and father-in-law (with his father to his right), and the bride is escorted by her mother and mother-in-law (with her mother to her right). The escorts lock elbows with the bride and groom while leading them to the chuppah. Some have the custom for all the grandparents of the bride and groom to join the entourage as well.
All the escorts — including the grandparents, in those communities where they too serve as escorts hold candles.
Reuben is led to the chuppah first. Customarily, the band plays a slow-moving melody while the bride and groom walk down the aisle. Rachel and Reuben have notified the band in advance the song (or songs) they wish to be playing when they are walking to the chuppah. Upon arriving at the chuppah Rachel circles Reuben seven times in a counterclockwise direction, seven representing "completeness". In most communities, after the groom arrives at the chuppah, the cantor (or another who is honored with this duty) welcomes the groom on behalf of all gathered by singing Baruch Haba and Mi Adir, a brief Hebrew greeting which also includes a request for God's blessings for the new couple.
The following greeting is sung aloud when the bride and groom arrive under the chuppah:
            Blessed and welcome!
            He who is mightier than all; He who is blessed above all; He who is greater than all; He who is distinguished beyond all; He should bless the groom and the bride.
Rachel is then escorted to the chuppah. While the bride is circling the groom, it is customary in many Jewish communities for the cantor to sing Mi Ban Siach. This short hymn extols the bride's modesty and fidelity and again appeals to God to bless the bridegroom and bride.
 Badeken Ceremony
A procession headed by Reuben goes to the bridal reception room, where Reuben covers Rachel’s face with a veil. Reuben is escorted to the badeken by his father and father-in-law (or whoever will be escorting him to the chuppah).
After Reuben veils, Rachel, the fathers, and grandfathers of the bride and groom approach the bride and bless her. Reuben's entourage then retreats from the room. Rachel and Reuben proceed with their chuppah preparations and everyone else continues to the site of the chuppah. Rachel's face remains veiled for the duration of the chuppah ceremony, affording her a bit of privacy at this holy time.
Why veil the bride?
Kabbalistic Meaning:
The veil emphasizes that the groom is not solely interested in the bride's external beauty, which fades with time; but rather in her inner beauty which she will never lose.
 When the groom veils his bride, he is saying, "I will love, cherish and respect not only the 'you' which is revealed to me, but also those elements of your personality that are hidden from me. As I am bonding with you in marriage, I am committed to creating a space within me for the totality of your being — for all of you, all the veiling also symbolizes the bride's commitment from this moment on to reserve her beauty for her husband's eyes.
Reuben betroths Rachel by giving her a ring, and OY, such a ring it is. Rachel is shocked by the size of the diamond (it must be fake?) then to make sure that there is a break in the action that separates Kiddushin from Nisu’in, Reuben is called to the Bimah (Where the Rabbi stands, often with a podium) to read the Ketubah (marriage contract.) The nisu'in then commences, with the recitation of the Sheva Brachot (Seven Benedictions). The chuppah then concludes with the groom breaking the glass.
The Chuppah
The chuppah is a canopy which sits atop four poles. Ideally, the chuppah should be ornately decorated, but this is not technically necessary; a tallit attached to four poles can also do the trick.
Chuppah Preparations:
Directly from the badeken ceremony, Reuben is led to a private room where he prepares himself for the chuppah. At this point, Reuben removes any jewelry he may be wearing and empties his pocket of any money or valuables. Rachel, too, does not wear any jewelry to the chuppah, nor does she carry any money or valuables.
If at all possible, a minyan (quorum of ten Jewish adult men) should be present at the chuppah).
In preparation for the chuppah, Rachel and Reuben untie any knots in their clothing, such as shoelaces, neckties, or bows.
While Reuben prepares himself for the chuppah, it is an appropriate moment for his father and father-in-law-to-be (as well as any grandfathers present) to offer him their heartfelt blessings.
The Chuppah Experience:
The revelry and dancing can wait until the wedding reception; the chuppah ceremony is traditionally characterized by an air of solemnity. Brides and grooms shedding copious tears is a common sight at traditional Jewish weddings. This is not an indicator of misgivings about their decision to enter into the bonds of matrimony; rather it is due to an acute awareness of the awesome magnitude of the moment. Indeed, the Shechinah, Divine Presence, graces the presence of every chuppah ceremony.
Joining the Shechinah are the deceased parents, grandparents, and great-grandparents of the bride and groom, who descend from their heavenly abode to join the wedding celebration.
The assembled audience is expected to demonstrate appropriate consideration for this holy occasion. It is inappropriate to be engaged in conversation or any other distraction during the ceremony. Power the cell phone off! The holy Chassidic master Rabbi Chaim Halberstam of Tzanz was heard saying that he feared to lift his eyes during a chuppah ceremony out of awe of the Shechinah!
At this auspicious moment, the prayers of the bride and groom — who have been freshly forgiven for all their sins, and are currently the beneficiaries of immense divine powers and blessing — have particular effectiveness. It is an appropriate time for the bride and groom to wordlessly beseech God to bless them with the ability and strength to establish a God-fearing Jewish household which yields generations of virtuous descendants.
Joining are the deceased parents, grandparents and great-grandparents of the bride and groom If anyone is in need of a special prayer — whether for health, children, livelihood or any other need — it is appropriate to request Rachel or Reuben to pray on their behalf while they stand beneath the chuppah.
White: White is an achromatic color which has no hue of its own, but reflects the entire spectrum of visible color shades. The white clothing of the bride and groom are a metaphor for the type of relationship they are now entering. Both Rachel and Reuben bring a kaleidoscope of colors into the marriage; some bright and some murky. All these colors are embedded upon a "white" canvass, the pure essence of the soul. The white clothing reflects the commitment of the couple to establish a soul connection which touches at their very core. Once this connection has been created, any "color clashes" which may exist between the two can and will be resolved — because the connection runs deeper than the colors on the canvass.
No Jewelry: The bride and groom remove all jewelry and empty their pockets of money or valuables before the chuppah. The symbolism behind these custom echoes the aforementioned theme of the badeken: It expresses the couple's commitment to marry each other for who they are, and not for what they may possess. Furthermore, at the most fateful moment of their lives, at the moment when bride and groom need to establish the values upon which their home will be built, they carry absolutely nothing of physical value. Their lasting legacy will not be determined by the balance of their bank account, but by the good deeds they perform and the values that pervade their home and which they instill within their children.
What a beautiful Wedding
Reuben & Rachel
All that is left is the Breaking of the Glass
Mazel Tov!

Marriage Proposal contest entry
Pays one point and 2 member cents.

Save to Bookcase Promote This Share or Bookmark
Print It View Reviews

You need to login or register to write reviews. It's quick! We only ask four questions to new members.

© Copyright 2018. Bar62 All rights reserved.
Bar62 has granted, its affiliates and its syndicates non-exclusive rights to display this work.