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You Have a Good Father

Friday, 20 March, 2020 - 6:18 am

There are moments and experiences that only tight spots and untimely pressures can produce.

I was at one such experience this week, something that took place between a father and his daughter moments before her chuppah.

On Monday I was invited to participate in a small-scale wedding, very popular in these unsettled and unsettling times. It was the last night on which it was still permitted for fifty people to gather together. It took place in the yard of the Esra Chabad House in Zurich. Dvorah Leah, the daughter of my friend and colleague, Rabbi Shalom Ber Rosenfeld, married Shmuel, the son of my friend Rabbi Yitzchak Mishan from Brazil.

I was involved in the deliberations about this wedding before the fact. Rabbi Shalom Ber and his wife Chani told us about their dilemma regarding the timing and the place of the wedding when the Corona had just begun to spread in Switzerland. We knew, as well, how the bride was preparing and hurting. How many disappointments and ups and downs, confusions and uncertainties she was experiencing about the day that was supposed to be her greatest, the day she has been looking forward to and waiting for since she got dressed up for Purim as a bride for the first time in her childhood.

In the end the wedding was set to take place within a day – last Monday.

Almost all the participants were family members; I wasn’t, and so I was chosen to be a witness at the chuppah.

And then that moment arrived. The parents walked the groom to the bride’s room, while singing the ever-moving “Arba Bavot”, which were especially so at this event. The groom covered the bride’s face, and that was the moment when her father approached her in order to bless her. He placed his hands on her head and a minute later his head as well. And so he stood for a long time. The crowd around, made up of the siblings of the bride and groom, was singing and humming, and bride’s father was still speaking to his daughter, head to head, as if they were the only ones around, even in the world.

I was very moved, but more than that, I was curious. What was he saying to her there? What does a father say to a daughter whose dream-wedding has evaporated and she is getting married on short notice, in the yard of her house? Is he promising her some kind of compensation? Maybe he is telling her that he will make her a big party at six o’clock after the Corona? I couldn’t help myself – I approached Shalom Ber after the chuppah and asked him: “What did you tell her there? What did you promise her?”

You should know him, Rabbi Shalom Ber. He is not a rough person. He is a very true, emotional, good and sensitive Jew. A moment after he was startled by my Chutzpa, his eyes became glassy and he replied gently but firmly: “What do you mean to promise? How to promise? What nonsense! Can anyone promise anything these days?

“I told her the only simple truth that the Corona has left in our hands: ‘Know, my daughter, that your true father is Hashem, and he loves you and only wants the best for you. It is He who planned it all this way, so that it will be exactly for your good. The Aibishter (Hashem) is good, my daughter. He gives good and He will give you revealed and seeable good all your life.”

I could not hold back the tears, faced as I was with this pure truth. The tears were not tears of joy, and certainly not of sorrow; these were tears that come when someone has touched the point of truth in your soul.

I hope I have managed to convey something of what I experienced.

Mishan and Rosenfeld families, I wish you heartfelt and loving wishes that you will see nachat from the young couple. I am sure that it will be a bayit neeman b’Yisrael – a good Jewish home, or as Rabbi Mishan wished at the reception, “that it will be a good Chabad house in Israel.”


Shabbat Shalom,


Rabbi Zalmen Wishedski

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