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Thursday, February 14, 2008

Smachot (Joyous Occasions)

Have I mentioned how much I love Moshe's family?

When I got married, we invited every single relative that I knew I had in Israel. My father's mother's cousin and his wife. Their two children and their spouses. And the children's 3 children, 6 in all. The total: 12 people.

I come from a very small family. Even my extended family is small.

Not Moshe's.

From Moshe's side, we invited only the "top" generation. We invited his mother's and father's siblings and cousins (and their spouses, of course). No kids and no grandkids. The total: 60 people.

Well, even if you divide that by two, you have 30 matriarchs and patriarchs.

Let's say that half of them are not close enough to include us in all of their smachot.

That still leaves about 15 families. At least 10 of those families have close to 10 children, and, in the older families, each of their children have plenty of children of their own....

So, thank God, we have plenty of relatives, and plenty smachot.

Each simcha is an occasion to catch up with family members, and to be updated about family news.

It has taken me over 15 years to learn the family members. But I now know the upper level and am working my way down through the generations.

What a pleasure!

My husband's family is comprised of some of the most special Jews I have ever met. They are real, "old world," Jews. Their whole world revolves around Torah, and has for generations. They are deeply religious, and highly knowledgeable. Yet they are not removed from the rest of Am Yisrael. All of the older generation men served in the army. Some of them have secular educations, in addition to their yeshiva background. All wear "black hats." Many of them have prominent positions as Rashei Yeshiva and Rabbanei Sh'chuna. And all have open doors to all of Am Yisrael, no matter what background one comes from.

When Moshe and I first married, some of the cousins were particularly warm and welcoming to us. Inviting us to their homes, inviting us for Shabbat. Even today, we know that we are welcome whenever we want.

It is a warm feeling to be embraced so lovingly by one's family.

Tonight, we were invited to one of the cousin's grandchildren's wedding. We are not always included in these invitations, as we are only 3rd cousins (and there are hundreds of third cousins). It is a real honor, and a privilege to be included.

These weddings are all separate seating, with a mechitzah (physical divider). I spend the wedding socializing with the women, but don't really have contact with the men.

So, you can imagine my surprise, when the grandmother of the kallah (bride), tells me that her husband is waiting by the mechitzah to talk with me.

Her husband is a talmid chacham, and a well-respected teacher. And he was waiting at the mechitzah for me.

I rushed over.

I immediately wished him a Mazal Tov and thanked him for including us in their simcha.

And then, to my surprise, he thanked me for making the effort to attend.

I cannot express the depth of my emotion at his attentiveness.

I am the wife of a distant cousin. And yet he took the time, and made the effort, to seek me out, and to wish me a refuah shlaymah (full recovery), and to give me his brachot (blessings).

Earlier, his wife, my mother-in-law's cousin, told me that I am included in her daily prayers. Even today, on the day of her granddaughter's wedding, she recited Tehillim (Psalms) for my refuah.

Perhaps one day I will write more about this amazing couple. His father was the Rosh Yeshiva of Yeshivat Hevron, where Moshe's grandfather came to study, and survived the Arab pogrom (massacre) of 1929. She raised their children with an educational philosophy that was years ahead of her time. Both were born in Palestine, and watched the birth and growth of the State of Israel. Both are strongly religious and Zionist.

I had wanted to stay home tonight. I was immensely tired. It was cold and rainy out. I just wanted to crawl into my cozy bed and rest.

But I went to the wedding, because it is a privilege to be included in these smachot.

It is a privilege to be welcomed into a world that is so different from mine, and to be so lovingly included.

May we all be zohim (merit) to celebrate many more smachot together!

Please daven (or send happy, healing thoughts) for RivkA bat Teirtzel.

With love and optimism,


Gila said...

Wow--I have to admit, I am a bit jealous (not of the cancer--the family)!

My "ideal guy" would be one that came complete with a warm, close family here.


Shabbat shalom!

Will be in Jlem for a few days in two weeks--maybe we can meet up then? Will send an email when I have more details.

mother in israel said...

Thanks for sharing that story.

chavlene said...

Wow - have you been married 15 years already!

Thank you for your blog -- it provides me with such chizuk when I think I can't go on (and my problems are so petty in comparison)


Anonymous said...

Sometimes you find that the old religious families are much more accepting than the novofrum. Their sense of self is strong enough not to feel threatened by difference.

Of course this is only sometimes...


RivkA with a capital A said...

Gila -- cool. looking forward to it.

Chava -- It's true, things can ALWAYS be worse. But that doesn't mean that your problems are "petty." I don't do the comparison thing.

We all have our problems, and, since they are *our* problems, they are pretty big to us. It doesn't help to know that other people have "worse" problems.

That said, I am honored that I can help and provide chizuk in any way. Thank you for sharing that with me! Knowing that I help others gives *me* chizuk!

CV -- I think I know who you are (based on the comment/style of writing). But I just realized that I know MANY people with those initials. (without thinking too hard, I came up with at least 3 good friends...)

Anyway, what I wonder is: for how many generations will the "old" attitudes hold out before they are swallowed up by the more rigid schools of today?

Batya said...

It must be wonderful to be part of such a clan.
Thanks for sharing.
Refuah Shleimah