Imaginary Bridal Shower, Revisited

I rushed to judgement. The notion of an imaginary bridal shower – where there is no transportation hassle, no gift-opening ceremony with requisite gushing over tablecloths, and no need to wrap an actual gift, was enchanting. I gave the idea of a virtual shower my whole-hearted endorsement. Then, I was invited to a second imaginary shower.

Like the first imaginary shower, the reason given for the lack of a physical shower, in the invitation, is that the bride is busy. Since I’m not a friend of her’s, I can neither confirm nor deny that statement. I can’t even confirm that there is an actual wedding taking place, as I never received an invitation. Update: I have since received the invitation, with apologies from the bride. There was a mailing oversight.

While the original imaginary bridal shower was given by the bride’s sister, who I can personally attest is a kind soul, I don’t know this party planner. I don’t even recognize her name; I don’t recall the bride ever mentioning her. All I know  right now is that she’s very efficient. In addition to coordinating the shower, she mailed out all the invitations, each of which included a self-address envelope, pre-stamped. The invitation, which rhymes nicely, explains that the envelope is to be used to send the $25 check each guest is to deliver the party planner so she can buy gifts for the bride.

That’s one way to introduce yourself.

I do not blame the bride for the party planner’s actions. I can attest that she is a generous person, almost to a fault. It’s quite possible that she is unaware of any of this, as she’s been so wrapped up in wedding plans that I haven’t seen her in months. For that reason, I’m happy to send the bride a gift. The bride is a nice person; if I can, in some small way, help her start off with a nice home I’m happy to do so. Yet the imaginary shower has made that difficult.

The party planner’s demand of $25 is more than I spend on most of my close friends, and I have no desire to get into a pitched battle with the party planner about my contribution. I don’t want to spend $25, and I don’t want to write a cover letter to explain why. This is where the imaginary aspect of the bridal shower has failed me. I cannot buy a gift to my own specifications, which I could have brought to a bridal shower. I can’t drop a gift off with the bride, as I’m not sure she knows where she’s living. Instead, I’m now forced to return to the Bed, Bath, and Beyond website with its over-priced shipping.

There has got to be a better way to do this.

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Hiatus

My loyal readers haven’t been clamoring for me. I don’t know if that’s because you respect my busy schedule, your own busy schedule, or you haven’t noticed my absence. However, an absence there has been and a reason too. I’m helping out a friend. You have friends of your own – me being either one of them or your family member, since you’re the only ones who read this – so you understand.

This particular friend is an artist. For as long as I’ve known her, she’s been able to do anything she puts her mind to, as long as she can use a gluegun to accomplish it. She’s recently branched out into non-gluegun territory, and her finished products still look amazing. The new project, a photography studio specializing in children and babies, is off to a small but successful start. With a growing business comes growing needs, and in this business a considerable need is a variety of props. Props such as these:

That’s right, I’ve been crocheting again. Wish me well; I’ve got four more sets to finish. Till then, my friends.

Wedding Rabbis with HaRav Aviner

From Torat HaRav Aviner:

Question: Should Rabbis be honored by inviting them to weddings to recite blessings under the Chupah?

Answer: What honor is there in this? When I was a small child, I was taught to recite blessings. When guests came and saw that I knew how to do it, that brought me great honor. But a Rabbi knows how to recite blessings, so what honor are you bestowing on him when you tell him to recite a blessing? And not to mention the problem of the long pauses that develop between blessings, which some sources say creates a problematic interruption. In some communities, it is customary for the groom to recite all the blessings without pause. 

Someone once told me that he wanted to honor me with a blessing. I told him that I don’t chase honor, and, and in any case this doesn’t honor me. He then told me that he wanted me to bless him so that I would honor him. Now he was speaking the truth. He wanted me to come in order to honor him. Obviously, I want to honor everyone. Yet perhaps this indicates a bad trait of him pursuing honor.

As is well-known, Rabbis don’t play tiddly-winks all day. They barely have any time. They also have families. For some of them, their rabbinic salaries do not suffice, and they have to do other work as well. So why are you forcing them to come to a wedding, to waste two or three hours, just to say a half-minute blessing? Because you are chasing honor. You should consider well before inviting Rabbis and wasting a lot of their precious time. Especially considering that, for some unknown reason, weddings always start late.

When I got married, I said that the wedding should begin at such-and-such a minute, and it began at that minute. I appointed a friend to take a cab and have it arrive ten minutes before the Chupah at the home of Ha-Gaon Ha-Rav Yechezkel Abramsky, who officiated at the wedding. I also told him, “After the Chupah, you stay with the Rabbi, get a cab and bring him home.

I told another friend: when you bring Rabbenu Ha-Rav Tzvi Yehudah Kook, be at his house a half hour before the time, and return him as well.” Ha-Gaon Ha-Rav Shlomo Min-Hahar preferred to come on his own, and he arrived five minutes early. The wedding started right on time. Why start late and waste people’s time? I told all the guests and friends that the Chupah would start on time. My wife, as well, told all her friends and family the same, and so it was.

You might ask: All the same, aren’t people happy to have an evening out? It could be, but Torah scholars don’t have the time.

If you invite a Torah scholar to a wedding, you have to take care to transport him there and back. Many times I’ve been invited to weddings where they have forgotten to arrange to bring me home. You’ve got to take care of a Rabbi’s transportation and not waste his time. The further the wedding is from his home, the more you have to consider whether it is justified to make him miss Torah learning. If you decide it is, take care of his transportation. Pick him up exactly on time and place someone in charge of taking him home after the Chupah. A lot of times I’ve looked around after the wedding to find who is taking me home, and everyone refers me to someone else. It’s not supposed to be that way! If you invite your Rabbi, arrange decent transportation for him: both ways.

One person invited his Rabbi and told another Rabbi to take the first Rabbi home. He turned that second Rabbi into a cab driver. Of course, being a cab driver in Eretz Yisrael is a wonderful thing, because with every four cubits of travel he merits the World-to-Come (Ketuvot 111a). All the same, however, don’t turn Rabbis into cab drivers. You’ve got to think all these things through. At stake is wasting a Rabbi’s Torah-learning time. One has to be very careful regarding a Torah scholar’s time.

One time Ha-Rav Shimon Shkop was ill, and Rabbis contributed their Torah learning to his cure. One Rabbi contributed half-an-hour. Another contributed fifteen minutes and the Chafetz Chaim contributed one minute. People asked him, “Rabbi, is that all?!” and he answered, “Yes. You don’t understand the worth of Torah learning. If you understood it, you wouldn’t be puzzled.”

A major rule is that you don’t put pressure on Torah scholars. A Rabbi knows all the considerations. If he says he cannot come, then he cannot come. There’s no need to pressure him. You shouldn’t pressure anybody, let alone a Torah scholar. At my own wedding, I gave an invitation to Ha-Gaon Ha-Rav Natan Ra’anan, and he didn’t come. I don’t know why he didn’t come, but I didn’t ask. Yet he sent me a letter with a blessing.

You’re allowed to invite your Rabbi to your wedding, but you don’t have to invite all the Rabbis of the yeshiva. Even as far as your own Rabbi, you should ask him if he wants to come in such a manner that it won’t be unpleasant for him to say no. “If you come, I’ll be very happy, but if you’re busy, that’s perfectly fine.” When you ask someone something, you have to ask in such a manner that it will be ok for him to turn you down. Don’t pressure anyone, let alone your Rabbi.

There are loftier ways to honor your Rabbi than giving him a blessing under the Chupah. There’s no law that a student has to follow his Rabbi’s path. He can follow another path, but if he thinks that this is the Rabbi who made him what he is, he has to find the avenues to increase his Rabbi’s honor. Ha-Rav Yoel Kahn, one of the closest disciples of the Lubavitcher Rebbe, admires his Rebbe and wants to increase his honor. He therefore works to spread his Torah, so that people read his ideas and learn from them. That’s called increasing one’s Rabbi’s honor. I don’t know if he ever kissed his Rebbe’s hand. Doing that doesn’t increase his honor. Dedicating his life to teaching his Rebbe’s Torah is what increases his honor.

Likewise, Rabbenu Ha-Rav Tzvi Yehudah Kook is my Rabbi. That’s why I published his talks. Otherwise, people would forget what he said. This took hours, days, months, and cost a lot of money. Five volumes of Rav Tzvi Yehuda Kook’s talks on the Torah cost half a million Shekels. I took the money from my own book sales. In this way, I did my utmost to disseminate his Torah. Also, for years I collected all of his tapes. Having learned them, I wanted to honor him so that his words would spread. But I never kissed his hand. One day when he was eating, a crumb of bread fell on his trousers. I moved my hand to clean him off and he hit my hands. “How dare I…”.

If someone truly loves his Rabbi, honors him and wants to increase his Rabbi’s honor, he must somehow come up with ways to honor him, not via externals but via genuine honor.

-HaRav Shlomo Aviner

Imaginary Bridal Shower

Bridal Shower: A Poem

It’s better than skype –

there’s no need for hype.

It’s better than having world power.

It’s the imaginary bridal shower!

 

 

A recent bridal shower has moved me to poetry. The bride, a lovely person, is in a dual-degree masters program. Her sister, the party planner, lives in a foreign country. The hostess is located in Brooklyn. This confluence of circumstances would usually lead to stress for the bride, strain on the far-away sister, and the loss of a Sunday for the non-Brooklynite guests. However, a starkly simply solution was found: the bridal shower went virtual.

The bride would do her schoolwork, the sister could stay home, the hostess’s immaculate apartment would stay that way, and the guests could keep their Sunday free. Everyone would do their part, but in their own time and place. The hostess would receive cash and checks, rather than give out light refreshments. The sister would order gifts – according to the amount of money received – rather than party favors. In due order, the bride will send out thank you notes, expressing joy and gladness for her well-attended and provided-for bridal shower.

If the point of the bridal shower was for the guests, hostess and sister included, to bask in the bride’s joy at receiving a bundle of presents, this imaginary shower would be a stinker. But that’s not the point of a bridal shower. The reason people have bridal showers is to provide a convenient drop-off location for wedding presents. The chance to catch up with old friends and swap stories with new ones is reserved for the wedding. At the bridal shower, you’re too busy trying to balance a plate-worth of food on a pink paper napkin to do much else. Therefore the imaginary bridal shower is ideal; you cut a check and call it a day. There is no transportation to work out, no cupcakes to be made, and you know the sister will pick out something the bride will love. It’s a winning situation for all.