A Truly Magical Wedding
It was a moment of Hollywood magic. Film stars Ashton Kutcher and Demi Moore got married in a Kabbalah ceremony which (according to the Kabbalah Centre) is “full of understanding, wisdom, and connections that essentially sew the two soul-halves together, creating one new whole soul”. What is more magical than a wedding filled with celebrity and Kabbalah?
We all love magic. We dream of a wedding ceremony, which, with a few quotes from the mystical book Zohar, makes the marriage indestructible. We love rituals that purport to offer protection and blessing. Isn’t it wonderful when you can transform your life by drinking a l’chaim at holy man’s grave or tying a red band around your hand! And if the source of these charms is a respected tradition, how bad can it be?
Actually, very bad. Our relationship with God should be wholesome and straightforward, based on spirituality and ethics; these “holy” superstitions turn God into a heavenly slot machine. They try to “manipulate” God; you drink special water or carry an obscure but expensive Aramaic book in order to get God to bless you.
Of course, we chase these superstitions because we love miracles; they give us hope and optimism. The problem is we chase the wrong miracles.
The Kotzker Rebbe has a wonderful interpretation of the selection of Rebecca, Isaac’s wife. Eliezer, Isaac’s servant, stands by the well in search of a wife for Isaac. He decides the right wife would be any young woman who will show him, a stranger, kindness, by offering him water. The Midrash adds that while Eliezer is watching Rebecca at the well, miraculously, the water of the well jumps into Rebecca’s jug. Yet even though this occurs, the Eliezer continues to wait, to see if she will treat him with kindness. The Kotzker wonders: shouldn’t a miracle be evidence enough that she is a worthy wife? Why isn’t Rebecca selected right then and there?
The Kotzker gives a sharp and illuminating response: “because one act of kindness is worth a thousand miracles”.
Indeed, the greatest miracles in life are the ones where people open their hearts and act with generosity. True love is magical. At a wedding, when two people vow to love each other forever, the greatest miracle, the magic of true love, is in the air.
So, with my apologies to Ashton and Demi, I’d like to tell you about a truly magical wedding. Jennifer Pollack and Andrew Friedberg were to be married on September 4th in New Orleans. Unfortunately, because of Hurricane Katrina, they had to flee New Orleans and relocate to Houston. They left everything behind; their Ketubah, her gown, his tuxedo, their rings. In Houston, the community came to their rescue, and outfitted them with everything they needed. And on September 4, Jennifer and Andrew got married in Houston. To complete the circle of giving, the young couple asked that instead of making a wedding gift, guests make a donation to the Katrina relief effort instead.
This was a truly magical wedding. No, there was no blessed water or passages from Zohar.
What made it magical was the greatest miracle of all: human love and compassion.