Wedding in a War Zone

Today’s post is on a much more cheerful note. If you want the latest statistics on numbers of dead, etc., go to your favorite news source.

My daughter Katherine and her now husband Avichay were supposed to get married in a big wedding yesterday, with 400 guests and fancy catering.

Because of the war, that was not an option. But there is a Jewish tradition not to delay a wedding because of tragic circumstances. Weddings are optimistic; they are about the future, and we are an optimistic people. Besides, the Jewish people have faced so much adversity over the last 2,000 years, it’s in our DNA to be hopeful, and to not let difficult times stop us from celebrating life.

The decision was made in the morning, and by 6pm everything was organized. The guest list was trimmed to immediate family and the couple’s closest friends.

I was honored to speak both under the chuppah and I offered a toast. In the afternoon I was thinking about what I wanted to say about the situation in a toast, and I was feeling very sad because of the situation here, and the changed venue and reduced guest list, etc. I was reminded of Rebbe Nachman’s teachings that it is a great mitzvah (commandment) to be joyous always, and how sometimes it’s difficult to be joyous. And I thought of the commandment to help the bride and groom rejoice, and how we need to do that even when it’s difficult.

In other words, I was psyched up for kind of a downer of a wedding celebration.

On the way to the venue, sirens went off, and we pulled the car over and ran for a bomb shelter; we heard a series of loud booms. We later found out several people were seriously injured by shrapnel from the destroyed missiles.

And yet – when I arrived at the wedding venue, and saw the dozen plus friends getting everything set up, and the beautiful bride, all sadness miraculously dropped away and my heart was filled with joy. And everyone felt it. It was one of the most joyous weddings I’ve ever been to. People were singing and dancing, and there were tears in people’s eyes. Neighbors joined in and even though it was a smaller crowd and we had champagne and pizza instead of steak I could not have imagined a better wedding.

Avichay, along with hundreds of thousands of other reserve soldiers, has been called up, and likely will soon be on his way to war.

Please keep all of us, but especially our soldiers who are going into battle tasked to rescue our hostages and keep the rest of us safe in your prayers.

Am Yisrael Chai!

Barry Leff

Rabbi Barry (Baruch) Leff is a dual Israeli-American business executive, teacher, speaker and writer who divides his time between Israel and the US.

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