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Foreward

Some Thoughts on Marriage

The "Vort" or "LeChayim" - Celebrating the Engagement

Gifts to Kallah and Chassan - What to Give and What Not to Give

The Date, Timing and Location of the Wedding

Comportment of Chassan and Kallah During Time of Engagement

Preparations of Chassan and Kallah for Marriage

Preparations of the Chassan for Marriage

Preparations of the Kallah for Marriage

Preparations of Parents for Their Children's Marriage

Should Problems Arise After the Engagement

Wedding Preparations

The Week of the Wedding

The Wedding Day

The Kabbalas Panim and Chuppah

The Wedding Celebration

Eternal Joy - Volume 2
A Guide To Shidduchim & Marriage
Based On The Teachings Of The Lubavitcher Rebbe,
Rabbi Menachem M. Schneerson
From The Time Of Engagement Through The Wedding Day
Engagement And Marriage


Chapter Eleven
Wedding Preparations

by Rabbi Sholom B. Wineberg

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  Should Problems Arise After the EngagementThe Week of the Wedding  

The Manner In Which The Wedding Is To Be Celebrated A Wedding Is To Be Celebrated With Joy - Not Parsimoniously

There is absolutely no room at all for making a wedding in a skimping and parsimonious manner. To stint and be tight-fisted with expenditures is oxymoronic to celebrating a wedding.

A wedding is to be suffused with joy, and joy breaks through all boundaries and limitations, attaining the ultimate degree of expansiveness. This is the very antithesis of frugality.

(Igros Kodesh, Vol. XVII, p. 306)

How A True Chassidic Wedding Is To Be Celebrated

There is absolutely no sense in squandering money on wedding expenses.

Would only that you merit to demonstrate to other young men of Anash sheyichyu that a Chassidishe wedding consists of expansiveness - true expansiveness - regarding all spiritual matters.

The dearness of Jewish money should be utilized, not to demonstrate to another that you had nicer flowers at your wedding than he and so on, but that chassan and kallah gave much tzedakah before their wedding....

(Shaarei Halachah U'Minhag, Vol. IV, p. 108)

In A Humble And Refined Manner

It is self-understood that - similar to all other aspects of Torah and mitzvos - the concept of "at no cost," [i.e., making a wedding in a parsimonious and miserly manner,] should not be entertained; it is a mitzvah to take part in the funding and financing of a wedding (as is to be understood from the fact that our Sages speak at length about the greatness of hachnosas kallah).

Furthermore, this is to be accomplished in a manner that both parties (both of the side of the chassan and the side of the kallah) participate in the funding - according to the conditions at which they have arrived among themselves (in line with the expression of our Rebbeim- Nesi'im: "as has been spoken about and agreed ... [by] both sides").[1]

... Nevertheless, this ought to be done in the manner of Rashi's commentary on the words, "walk humbly":[2] "(To feast in a refined manner, and to rejoice) in a refined manner, not conducting oneself frivolously."

However, the "tumult" and "hype" that is made of trifling and peripheral matters leads to turmoil and a lack of tranquility of body and soul; [and] especially when one seeks to be " mehader" in worldly matters (and quite often alarmingly so).

Quite possibly, this is one of the fundamental reasons for the various enactments and the like established by the Gedolei Yisrael regarding the lessening of wedding expenses.

This is in addition to the general principles that, "The Torah has compassion on the money of Israel,"[3] as well as that of "not embarrassing he who is lacking,"[4] etc.

... Lubavitch never embraced the notion of "decrees".... But for the benefit and merit of chassan and kallah, it would be very worthwhile to reduce expenses, especially those expenses that come under the heading of sheer extravagance.

The matter of "walking humbly" should be carried out in each place according to the conditions of that particular location, etc., [for that which is considered "humble" in one location, is not considered "humble" at all in another place].

Nevertheless, the profligacy that of late surrounds weddings in general and in America in particular - and this begins already in the preparations prior to the wedding, [and continues through to] the day of the wedding itself, as well as after the wedding - are in many instances opposite that of "walking humbly" and that "There is nothing better [and more appropriate] than tznius."

As stated above, it is not my point of view to minimize the joy of Jews, and I have no desire to limit and decree the amount of participants [at a wedding, etc.].

(It is also worth noting that with regard to Yaakov's wedding ... the Torah specifically states,[5] "He assembled ... all the inhabitants of the place and made a feast."

... Surely, then, this is so with regard to the wedding and joy of a Jewish bride and groom....)

Seemingly, it would be best to follow the "middle path" [not veering too much to the "left" or the "right"], as the Rambam states with regard to all matters of man, that they be done in a manner of derech mitzu'a, in an "intermediate manner."

In any event, with regard to actual practice: It is my considered opinion that a Jewish-Chassidic wedding must be as lavish as possible with regard to all spiritual matters, which in itself is related to a reduced amount of money spent on material matters.

Also, and of equal importance: Obviously all the above is to be done on the condition that it can be achieved in a "pleasant manner," without having it lead to quarreling.

(Simchas Olam, pp. 110-113)

Joy Of Chassan And Kallah Are Not To Be Restricted

In response to a Jewish organization that desired to "establish dictates with regard to simchos" [such as limiting the number of guests, expenses, and so forth, during weddings and other Jewish celebrations], the Rebbe responded:

One does not commence the activities [of a Jewish organizational body] by enacting prohibitions, especially [guidelines such as] those that constrict ... the joy of chassan and kallah.

(Simchas Olam, p. 114)

"Derech Mitzu'a" - An "Intermediate Manner"

[You write to me with] regard to the manner of celebrating the wedding. [You are unsure] whether to invite a larger number of guests, etc., something that would - as you write - necessitate your assuming a great amount of debt:

It is my considered opinion that this is not worthwhile. Moreover, there is also the famous ruling of the Rambam in Chapter Three of Hilchos De'os that [with regard to all matters] " derech hamitzu'a," the "intermediate path," is the correct and proper course.

This is [further] understood in light of the fact that specifically the "middle line and path" (kav ha'emtza'i) is the "central rod" (bri'ach hatichon) that ascends unto the highest levels.

(Igros Kodesh, Vol. X, p. 131)

Renting A Hall

You write to me about the wedding arrangements:

In general, I am dissatisfied with the amount of money that is squandered for renting a hall, and other similar conduct. It is true that our Sages, of blessed memory, speak in exceedingly effusive terms about the importance of causing chassan and kallah to rejoice, and how each and every individual is obligated to share [in bringing about their rejoicing].[6]

Nevertheless, we verily observe that the greatest degree of joy results when the wedding is not made in a formal hall, a hall that costs a "king's ransom" (hon to'afos), but rather when the wedding is made in as simple and unpretentious a manner as possible (b'ofen d'kol depashit maaleh tefei).

However, it is self-understood as well, that arrangements such as the above must be accomplished in a gentle manner and with the full consent of both sides - included in which is also the consent and willingness of the women.

[The necessity and importance of the willingness of the women to celebrate the wedding in an unaffected fashion] is also to be understood from the Chassidic discourse,[7] "How does one dance - specifically in front of - the kallah," [i.e., that the kallah's joy is of paramount importance].

(Igros Kodesh, Vol. XIX, p. 394)

The True Meaning Of A "Large Wedding"

... I completely fail to understand why you find it necessary to place a strain upon yourself and spend elaborate sums of money so that it specifically be a large wedding, when what is really vital is for the wedding to be "large" in a qualitative sense.

This is particularly so in light of the saying of our Sages, of blessed memory, in commenting on the verse "[Avraham made] a great feast" - "It was great in the sense that the ‘Greatest in the World' (i.e., G-d) attended,"[8] which is to say, that it should be evident in all aspects of the wedding that G-d is in attendance.

Most importantly, that this [spiritual manner of conduct leading to G-d's attendance] should be evident in all the details pertaining to chassan and kallah - [not only during the wedding, but] even more importantly, in their preparations to the wedding and their good resolutions for the future.

In all the above, it should be made apparent that the "Greatest in the World" agrees with them [in their conduct] and that they are meritorious of the Divine Presence residing amidst them, [in keeping with the saying that "When man and woman merit, the Divine Presence resides amidst them"].

Understandably, all the above has nothing at all to do with the expenditure of funds (aside from their giving money to tzedakah. Moreover, this expenditure [of tzedakah] does not come under the heading of an "expense," since G-d promises: "Tithe, so that you may become wealthy," and "Test Me please with regard to this [ mitzvah of tzedakah; and see if I will not recompense you, etc."][9]

[It is abundantly clear from the above, that] that which the world considers to be "large" and "great" (which in Chassidic terminology is termed veltishe hanachos, an entirely mundane approach to matters) with a hullabaloo and clamor,[10] etc., is not at all worthwhile for any number of reasons.

It is my hope that just as you are making preparations for the material matters surrounding the wedding, you are surely doing so with regard to the spiritual matters.

[Bear in mind, that] a wedding is deemed by the Sages of the Great Assembly to be "an eternal edifice."

If such interest in all the particular details is expressed about a temporary physical dwelling - such as you express to me in your letter [about your future physical dwelling] - how much more so with regard to an edifice of many decades duration, and surely with regard to an edifice that continues throughout the person's entire life.

And how much more so, with regard to "an eternal edifice" - for the soul [and thus the marriage of two individuals, a union not only of body but also of soul] is eternal.

(Igros Kodesh, Vol. XVI, p. 40)

Using Any Extra Money For Better Purposes

... So, too, with regard to extravagant wedding expenses and a multitude of guests: Even if money is no object, the money can still be used for yet better purposes.

Particularly when [the term] "a great feast" is to be understood in the sense - as our Sages, of blessed memory, note - that the "‘Greatest in the World' attended."

When everything will be in the most exemplary spiritual fashion, rousing yourselves to Torah and mitzvos, and most importantly, to building your house in Israel as a Chassidic home in all aspects, then surely the "Greatest in the World" shall be in attendance, blessing your edifice in all particulars.

(Igros Kodesh, Vol. XVIII, p. 207)

Make A Large Spiritual Wedding

Make your wedding large in the spiritual sense. (By and large, this is associated in minimizing the materiality and mundanities that can be associated with a "worldly" wedding - the word olam, world, deriving as it does from the term "occlusion" and "concealment" [of G-dliness and holiness].

... How great shall be your merit, as well as the merit of chassan and kallah sheyichyu, if you were to restore the enactment of the Gedolei Yisrael [not to make extravagant weddings] among Anash and all Jews sheyichyu, by serving as a living example [of making a modest wedding], and moreover, doing so gladly and enjoyably.

May the wedding take place in a good and auspicious hour.

(Likkutei Sichos, Vol. XIV, p. 305)

A "Yechidus" Of Reb Nissan

The following are selected excerpts from what the Rebbe told the famous chassid , Reb Nissan Nemanov, during a Yechidus.[11] During the course of this yechidus, the Rebbe asked Reb Nissan to publicize - to the greatest extent possible - the Rebbe's following words to him:

The manner of weddings as they are conducted among Anash in America is such that the weddings are celebrated specifically in a large hall - something that is very expensive.

This causes the people who make the weddings to become greatly indebted for large sums of money; so much so, that they must toil afterwards long and hard in order to cover their debts.

The results of such conduct: the wedding guests must therefore leave correspondingly large checks.

Even if the guest will bring himself to attend the wedding out of friendship, though he won't be able to put down such a large check, his wife will not want to attend under such circumstance, as a smaller gift will cause her to be embarrassed in front of her friends.

The results are understandable - either: a) he won't participate and partake at all when his friend marries off a child - something [that he should do, for] that is truly notable and lofty; b) he will compel himself to give a correspondingly sizable check - something he is truly incapable of giving - and go into debt because of it.

The routine that is followed when a wedding is held in a large hall is that the honored guests sit at separate tables [rather than at one long table and the like].

Making proper seating arrangements becomes an arduous task for the person putting on the wedding, as he has to place each person at a table that befits his honor; were he "heaven forfend" to seat his guest at a table that does not befit his honor, his guest would be aggrieved, etc. This causes the person making the wedding to be totally preoccupied, etc.

We can well understand that when people are seated in such a fashion and are worried about such [inconsequential and trivial] matters [as whether their seating arrangement does them honor, etc.], what type of Chassidic farbrengen can then result?!

The outcome is that weddings are not at all celebrated as in times past. Then, chassidim would utilize a Chassidishe simchah for a truly appropriate (far dem richtigen) Chassidishe farbrengen, in order to revitalize the spirit of Chassidus in all aspects.

This revitalization would occur during Chassidishe farbrengens in times past, especially during a farbrengen that took place during a time of a simchah, at which time people are exultant and the timing is suitable [for spiritual arousal and reawakening], etc.

What happens now when weddings are celebrated in such a [modern] fashion? - It is not at all a Chassidishe farbrengen!

The results of the above [are that] it leads the young men [who make the weddings] to put themselves out and work exceedingly hard in order to crawl out of the debts that ensue from making a wedding in such an [extravagant] manner.

... This is true even of those young men who are somewhat spiritually advanced, capable of learning Chassidus and even praying at length, etc. Even they conduct themselves in this extravagant manner.

It is difficult for me to tell any one individual that he not act in such a manner, for one cannot tell a person, "You be the odd man out." Yet, this conduct extends even to such trivial matters as paying extravagant sums for the decorations, etc.

There is a twofold disadvantage to such behavior: a) It tires people out tremendously and they have no strength left [for more positive things], which itself is sad enough; b) Each and every person is limited in time and strength. By having to devote so much time to taking care of their material concerns, it is inevitable that they will lack time to study Torah, Nigleh and Chassidus, etc.

(Shidduchim V'Nisuin - Likkutei Horaois, Minhagim, U'Biurim, pp. 147-149)

Place Cards

If you were to follow my advice, I would counsel you not to make place cards for the tables; it only increases one's headaches... [as] people aren't happy [with the seating arrangements], etc.

You may relate this in my name.

(Shidduchim V'Nisuin - Likkutei Horaois, Minhagim, U'Biurim, p. 149)[12]

Invitations

The Invitation

... As mentioned earlier, the [wedding] customs [of the Rebbeim (Minhagei HaAdmur) as well as within the households of the Rebbeim (Minhagei Beis HaRav] are extremely precise.

... In fact, they are so precise that even the text of the wedding invitation was written with extreme precision.

Prior to the wedding of my sister-in-law,[13] my father-in-law, the Rebbe, directed that the text of the wedding invitation be copied from the text of the invitation of our wedding.

In answer to my question [as to the source of the text, etc.,] my father-in-law, the Rebbe, responded that the text was used for his wedding invitation. And it seems that this text was used for prior weddings as well.

The text of the wedding invitation stated that the wedding would take place at 5 p.m. - although this wedding, [i.e., the Rebbe's wedding,] took place in the winter and this wedding, [i.e., the wedding of the Rebbe's sister-in-law,] took place in the summer [and began at a different hour]; nevertheless, both stated that it would take place at 5 p.m.

(Likkut Yud-Daled Kislev, pp. 123-126)[14]

The Invitation As A Means Of Publicizing The Impending Marriage

Publicizing an impending marriage (and prior to the marriage date, publicizing (etc.) that chassan and kallah have both decided to "build an edifice in Israel," (or as commonly expressed "have become engaged")) is something that the Torah sanctions and even calls for.

This is in keeping with the expression of our Sages, of blessed memory, that these - the knowledge of engagement and marriage - are considered among those "matters that are done publicly." Moreover, this has halachic import with regard to many laws as well,[15] (not the least of which are the "Laws of Witnesses" and the like).[16]

(Simchas Olam, p. 110)

Use The Traditional Expressions For The Date

You write that the wedding was set for the 13th of Kislev, on the eve of the 14th of the Month of Redemption (ohr l'yud daled). May it be G-d's and auspicious hour.

You may also state in the invitation [that the wedding will be taking place on] the 14th of Kislev;[17] however, [you are] not [to do so by using] the expression "the night of the 14th of Kislev." Rather, [use the expression] ohr l'yud daled (on the eve of the 14th) [as this is in keeping with the traditional Jewish manner of expression when something is held on the eve of a given date[18]] - and "Our Sages taught in the language of the Mishnah,"[19] [i.e., it was customary for the later Sages to use the same idiomatic expressions as the earlier Sages].

(Igros Kodesh, Vol. IX, p. 279)

Do Not Use Sefer Torah Script And Crownlets When Printing Wedding Invitations

... I noticed that the invitation [you sent me] was printed in Sefer Torah script (ksav ashuris) and with crownlets (taggim):

It is well known that our earlier and later Sages exerted tremendous effort in order to find a leniency to permit writing correspondence and the like in "square script."

In any event, [i.e., even if that mode of script is going to be used,] a conscious effort should be made to change the script as much as possible from the script utilized in writing Sifrei Torah, tefillin and mezuzos [ ksav ashuris with taggim]. I surely need not elaborate to someone like yourself.[20]

(Igros Kodesh, Vol. XII, p. 228)

Choosing The Location New York Weddings - In Crown Heights

The Rebbe desired that, if at all possible, New York weddings should be held in the Rebbe's shechunah (neighborhood) of Crown Heights.

Approximately thirty years ago, when it was difficult to obtain a large hall in Crown Heights, a chassan wrote to the Rebbe that the wedding would take place in a relatively small hall in Crown Heights.

The Rebbe responded:

Many, many thanks for the glad tiding. I shall mention at the Tziyun that many others will hopefully observe your behavior and follow in your footsteps, celebrating their weddings in Crown Heights - the shechunah.

[May this conduct of celebrating a wedding specifically in Crown Heights be emulated] even by those who dwell (for the time being) in other neighborhoods.

(From a wedding Teshurah)

On another occasion, when a Crown Heights resident requested the Rebbe's approval for celebrating his child's wedding in another neighborhood, indicating that he had a problem in making the wedding in Crown Heights as there was no hall large enough to accommodate his numerous wedding guests, the Rebbe replied:

If, G-d forbid, you make the wedding in another neighborhood, it would be in complete opposition to [me and] my efforts of strengthening the shechunah. When this is done by ... then this is [not only opposing me and my efforts, but also] "vehemently opposing me" (neged mit a trask), as is easily understood.

Since it is imperative that you make the wedding in this neighborhood, you surely will find a suitable solution [to your problem of overcrowding].

(From a wedding Teshurah)

Chuppah And Wedding Celebration Should Be Held In Close Physical Proximity

In reply to your question of some time back, with regard to the place where the chuppah and the wedding celebration should be held in a good and auspicious hour:

In my opinion, they should be held in an appropriate location. That is to say that the chuppah and the subsequent wedding celebration should be held in the center of the city and in one location, not as some do [i.e., holding the chuppah and the wedding celebration in two separate locations, thereby] causing chassan and kallah and the assembled guests to trek from one place to another.

May it be G-d's will that their edifice [of marriage] be eternal, based upon the foundations of Torah and mitzvos, as they are illumined by the luminary of Torah - Toras HaChassidus.

(Igros Kodesh, Vol. XII, p. 432)

Traveling To Out-Of-Town Weddings "Times Have Changed"

Not too many years ago, a dean of one of the Tomchei Temimim Yeshivos in Australia, inquired of the Rebbe whether to continue his practice of not permitting his students to travel to weddings, or whether "times have changed" and he should begin giving them permission.

In response, the Rebbe underlined the words "times have changed."

(Devar Melech, p. 69)

Quite possibly, the above response - in addition to current prevailing practice - should be borne in mind when reading about various restrictions regarding traveling to a wedding in some of the sichos , letters, and responses of the Rebbe that follow. This is particularly so, since most were stated or written many years ago and "times have changed" with regard to travel time, financial ability, etc.[21]

On the other hand, many of the points that the Rebbe raises are currently valid as well. In doubtful circumstances, it certainly would seem advisable to follow the Rebbe's directive of asking one's mashpia , Rav , or the hanahalah of one's yeshivah, how one should conduct himself.

Parents Traveling To Their Children's Weddings G-D Provides Special Funds To Parents For Them To Travel To Their Children's Weddings

I am in receipt of your letter from the 9th of Teves, and I was glad to read there that you are planning to come to your son's wedding.

With regard to that which you write that it is difficult for you to make the proper preparations because of the expenses involved [in traveling to the wedding, etc.]: Logic - even simple human logic - dictates that money is not an end unto itself, but serves merely as a means of obtaining that which one needs (or desires).

Since your desire to attend the wedding is altogether proper and in full accordance with the Torah and Shulchan Aruch, surely then G-d will provide you with the funds necessary to make this trip.

Consequently, all that you must do is to abolish the thought that were you not able to make this trip, the money would remain in your pocket. This is not at all so, since the money was given to you from Above specifically for this particular purpose [of traveling to your son's wedding].

(Igros Kodesh, Vol. VIII, p. 107)

Obtaining Funds In Order To Travel To A Child's Wedding Is Accomplished Through Emunah And Betachon

I am in receipt of your letter from the 5th of Adar I. You are correct in that which you write that it is a tremendous pleasure to attend the wedding of one's child, a pleasure that parents anticipate for many years.

I therefore wrote to you in my previous letter[22] that since this is such an appropriate thing to do, G-d would surely provide you with the necessary travel expenses (and should you not travel to the wedding you wouldn't have the money in any case. In other words, you are traveling on G-d's expense; it has nothing to do with any other previous debts, nor does this in any way hinder you from assisting your other children.)

On the other hand, attending a child's simchah is a great zechus (merit), and this merit is obtained through faith and trust (emunah and bitachon) in G-d.

However, judging by the tone of your letter, I have become doubtful whether the situation is truly so, [i.e., whether you possess the necessary emunah and bitachon that will facilitate your obtaining from G-d the travel expenses for the trip to the wedding of your son].

(Igros Kodesh, Vol. VIII, p. 220)

Give The Money To The Young Couple In Place Of Traveling To Their Wedding

... So, too, with regard to extravagant wedding expenses and a multitude of guests: Even if money is no object, the money can still be used for yet better purposes, particularly, when [the term] "a great feast" is to be understood in the sense - as our Sages, of blessed memory, note - that the "‘Greatest in the World' attended."

... In light of the above, you can also understand what my position would be regarding one of the parents traveling here to attend the wedding - a trip that is associated with tremendous expense. Surely the young couple could utilize the money that this trip would cost for something even better.

It is self-understood that the words I have stated regarding one of the parents traveling here [for the wedding] as well as the manner of the wedding, is merely a suggestion. It therefore is my proposal that both sides contemplate and make a final decision with regard to the above matter.

However you decide, may the decision be a successful one and may the wedding take place in a good and auspicious hour.

(Igros Kodesh, Vol. XVIII, pp. 207-208)

Consider Well The Financial Circumstances

In reply to your letter of last Thursday in which you write about the notion of traveling to your son sheyiche's wedding in a good and auspicious hour:

Seemingly, this is difficult to comprehend: undertaking such a journey that is linked (not only to a vast expenditure of time, but also) to a vast expenditure of money.

Even if the money is at hand, in consideration of the financial circumstances of chassan and kallah, it would be better that the money be used for their setting up house; surely they can make very good use of even larger sums of money [in establishing a household].

May G-d assist you in your decision, so that it be the truly proper one, and that for many long and happy years you derive true Yiddishe and Chassidishe nachas from all your children sheyichyu.

(Igros Kodesh, Vol. XVIII, p. 194)

Traveling To "Problematical" Weddings Traveling To The Wedding Of A Brother In Need Of "Kiruv"

With regard to your question about attending your brother's wedding:

A general principle in matters such as these is that goodwill and amity accomplish much more than antagonism and hostility.

Although you do not write in detail [with regard to the rift, etc.], nevertheless I am under the impression that it would be better for you to attend [the wedding].

Aside from the aspect of ahavas Yisrael that this would embody, you surely will be able to avail yourself of this opportunity - either during the wedding itself or at some later date - to draw your brother and his kallah closer to the path of Judaism. May G-d assist you in being successful in the above as well.

(Igros Kodesh, Vol. VIII, p. 97)

Attending The Wedding Of A Relative With Whom One Is Feuding

... In regard to your question of attending the wedding of ...:

In general, there is no point in conducting a feud; particularly so, as each and every Jew believes in individual Divine Providence. One should therefore be assured that "G-d made it for the good."[23] This is particularly so in light of that which is explained in Chassidus, in Toras HaBaal Shem Tov and Toras HaChassidus (see Iggeres HaKodesh of the Alter Rebbe , Epistle XXV).

You should therefore participate in the wedding of a fellow Jew, especially a relative. As to what extent you should participate in the wedding, whether to only attend the chuppah or whether to also attend later as well: inquire of Anash who live there [as to whether only the chuppah or the entire wedding will be conducted in an acceptable manner].

(Igros Kodesh, Vol. XIV, p. 162)

General Principles Of Travel

I previously mentioned the general principle that, "The Torah has compassion on the money of Israel."[24] I feel that it is necessary to mention a practical application of this principle.

It has become most common to travel overseas to participate in family simchos, be it a bris, a wedding, a tena'im and the like.

As soon as there is a celebration, be it of a close or distant cousin, or even someone with whom one once learned together, people write to me of their desire to travel overseas in order to participate in the simchah.

Since I do not want to be the one who deprives a Jew of such a type of pleasure, I shall not issue a final decision. However, from now on I do not want to be asked such questions. Each person should make up his own mind or ask his Rav or Rosh Yeshivah.

However, some general comments are in order:

Travel is expensive. Overseas travel is particularly expensive: even with all the discounts and bargains that one can find, it is still extremely costly.

Quite often people go into debt (a condition the Torah considers akin to being enslaved) as a result of such trips. The cost factor is particularly relevant in regard to a wedding.

Commonly, this is the first time that the young couple is experiencing financial burdens. Any extra funds would be most appreciated by them as a gift. (That they should further burden themselves by sending tickets to their friends is even more unwarranted.)

In previous times it was rare even for brothers and sisters to make long journeys to attend family simchos.

Moreover, a Jew is obliged to give tzedakah. If he indeed has more money than he can find a productive use for, let him donate it to tzedakah. Indeed, it would be proper to make such a donation in honor of the new couple or child.

The above is particularly applicable to yeshivah students, who should be spending their time studying Torah.

It may be argued that preventing them from attending weddings, etc., will not enhance their studies in any case, as they will be spending their time wondering what is happening at the chuppah, the wedding, etc.

This is an incorrect approach, particularly if this approach [of permitting the students to attend the wedding as their minds will in any case not be on their studies] is accepted by the yeshivah authorities.

A yeshivah student must realize that he has been given a "goodly portion" (cheilek hayafeh). He has the opportunity to learn Torah without distraction and he should apply himself in that direction exclusively.

... As to one's self-persuasion that by traveling overseas he will increase the joy of chassan and kallah, the joy of the Pidyon HaBen and the like: better to write a nice letter. Moreover, it is currently possible to order a present and have it delivered there almost instantaneously.

... This applies not only to yeshivah students but also to former yeshivah students, as "Sanctity is immutable," and if he was a yeshivah student but for one day, he remains a yeshivah student for the rest of his life.

They, [i.e., former yeshivah students,] should thus assess whether to be extravagant with their money and fly (or travel) overseas at every opportunity large or intermediate.... They should seek an objective opinion whether to conduct themselves in this manner or not.

(Excerpted from Sichos Kodesh 5739, Vol. II, pp. 43-51)

   

Notes:

  1. (Back to text) Text of the Tena'im of the Rebbe Rashab - signed by the Tzemach Tzedek.

  2. (Back to text) Sukkah, ibid., s.v., Hotzeisa.

  3. (Back to text) Rosh HaShanah 27a.

  4. (Back to text) Taanis 26b.

  5. (Back to text) Bereishis 29:2.

  6. (Back to text) See Berachos 6b.

  7. (Back to text) Sefer HaMaamarim 5652, p. 288.

  8. (Back to text) Bereishis Rabbah 53:10.

  9. (Back to text) Malachi 3:10.

  10. (Back to text) In the original: "mit a tararam."

  11. (Back to text) In the winter of 5719.

  12. (Back to text) From a private Yechidus (5732) to an individual of Anash on the occasion of the upcoming wedding of his daughter.

  13. (Back to text) Harabanis Sheina to Rabbi Menachem Mendel Horenstein - Hashem yinkom damam - on the 10th of Sivan, 5692.

  14. (Back to text) Excerpted from a Sichah Kedoshah, dated Kislev 14, 5714.

  15. (Back to text) See Rama 55:1, and sources cited there.

  16. (Back to text) See Rambam, Hilchos Ishus 9:22.

  17. (Back to text) The date of the Rebbe's wedding.

  18. (Back to text) See opening mishnah of tractate Pesachim.

  19. (Back to text) Avos 6:1.

  20. (Back to text) The Rebbe concludes the letter by citing various sources that deal with this issue: "This issue is addressed [among other places] also in Yoreh De'ah, conclusion of Ch. 284. Gilyon MaHarsha, ibid. (Responsa Tzur Yaakov, conclusion of Sec. 2). During earlier times this matter has been addressed in Responsa of the Rambam, quoted in Beis Yosef, [Yoreh De'ah] Ch. 283; Responsa of Radbaz, parts III and IV; et al."

  21. (Back to text) However, it must also be borne in mind that the response "times have changed" was issued to an individual, and as the Rebbe has emphasized and reemphasized: His answer to one individual does not necessarily apply at all to others. Thus, "times may not have changed."

  22. (Back to text) The letter cited immediately above.

  23. (Back to text) Bereishis 50:20.

  24. (Back to text) Rosh HaShanah 27a.


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