Wednesday, November 12, 2008

A Wedding at the Factory

This post I wrote in an email to On-Her-Own in response to her request.

It took me about two hours to translate this essay. Insane! I know. Right at the middle I almost freaked out and was badly tempted to throw everything in the recycle bin, but I pulled it to the finish line anyway. When you write the original you draw satisfaction from watching something of value piling up, but when you translate, things only lose value. So many juicy adages, puns, and expressions must be overlooked, rephrased, or worse yet, explained. Yuck! So when you encounter some awkward sentences, imagine yours truly biting my nails while scrambling for that perfect word. Nu? What's it called?

Also, the contents of this post were intended for the ultra Chassidic folks, native Yiddish speakers. Therefore, you might find some concepts weird or you might not get it at all. Too bad.

We all have memories of a Shabbos at the Rabbi's, a Seder at Grandpa's, or Thursday night in Yeshiva. But a wedding at the factory? Who arranges a wedding at a factory? I mean, it is not equipped with a divider where husband can linger a while before dispatching a child to call for his wife.

On-Her-Own was a new face to a gentile wedding at church. When she wasn't occupied triumphing how the "and he will govern you" is buried deep right where "and he shall cling to his wife"* is at play, her mind swarmed with comparisons and contrasts between a wedding in accordance with the laws of Moses and Israel and a wedding in accordance with the laws of Jesus and Baptists. The core of the beauty ascribed to these gentile customs was that the program was set by the groom and bride themselves and not by some antiquated traditions. For example, our familiar groom and bride emphasize music, and therefore singing was a considerable part of the ceremony. Meaning, groom and bride sang love songs and lust poetry to each other.

On-Her-Own was also very impressed that the bride too recited a pledge of allegiance the likes of Harei Att(o), whereas Judaism grants this privilege exclusively to the groom. Little does she know that Harei Att is not at all a declaration of love, nor is it a promise to stay loyal, for he is in fact permitted to marry more wives. So what else is it that he whispers her in the ears as he fits the ring on her finger? Jewess, now I seize you. From this day on you are banned to whomever else as is pork. Consecrated!

Nevertheless, what is the essential difference between them and us? Guests are few and truly invited, and as the maxim goes: the smaller the crowd, the bigger the joy. They rejoice from the bottom of their hearts. How not? Mr. or Ms. our friend found true happiness! They eat, they drink, they laugh, they hang out, they hum along, they tap to the beat, and up they are borne by a dance. Clap a hand, raise a foot, pairs and pairs, embrace yourselves, spin yourselves, rejoice yourselves. Hooray! Let there be excitement!

In our own frum circles, however, nothing is spontaneous, but all is predetermined forty days prior to the kneading of the body. Precisely as it is at engagement where one finds love according to type, same holds true at the wedding where joy comes only when established. Seamed stockings for her? White socks for him? What headgear will she wear? And he, how many years in kollel? At this point all weep as is prescribed in the holy books, and now is photo time. Where is Aunt Suruko? Sarah! Suruko! They're snapping pictures! They walk in, they walk out, a cigarette, a cellular conversation, the Shtreimel box, mazel tov! Nu? How is progress? Are they taking it to the chupah yet? Who was honored with the final benediction? Why not Rabbi Chaim Menachem? He attends his lecture every evening, doesn't he? Who is that singer? Oh! Mazel tov mechutan! May Hashem bless you with…much money! Amen! Can you pass on the bottle please? What is the groom's name?

What is the groom's name? Hello?

So, any wonder the guests don't feel like dancing? Why should they? Usually it is the peers of the groom that create excitement, and if not, people do a mitzvah and stroll around the hall. After all, Avrom Fried sings that they (one who cheers up a groom or bride) merit five sounds.

The entire wedding is monotonous, grey, and lackluster. Dancing is meaningless. What's the point in locking hand to hand and amble about aimlessly? Groom to bride are withdrawn and insecure. Guests are impatient, and the mechutonim penniless but glad. They hope the marriage will last. Why shouldn't it? The homes match after all.

Marriage in itself is merely another stop on the assembly line belt; a bachelor or a maiden is like an unpainted car. What should her occupation be? Teach kindergarten while all her classmates push strollers? And he, how long more will he go to shul without a talis? He can't make a mockery of himself. He is too old to study (in yeshiva), but he can't take a job lest his shidduch value will depreciate. So, you marry them, and happy should be who? Regardless how long a night the wedding is, dear groom and bride, it draws to an end at last, and afterwards comes a day, and afterwards another day. If you looked around, it makes sense to ask motzo or motzei (pun for good match or bad match), it's risky nevertheless. However, if you only dated once or twice, how could it be any different? It's a pure gamble!

Hence, a wedding at the factory

* Thank you Shtreimel

1 comment:

  1. And methinks that you should write in English more often.


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