A GLASS SHATTERS UNDER OUR CHUPPAH
By: Suri Davis
A bride encircles her groom under the chupah seven times, to break through the seven clouds that stand between our Earth and the kisei hakavod/G-d’s throne. They are fasting. They are as babies, free from prior sin. They dedicate themselves to each other and to a life with G-d at its core. The chupah/canopy represents their new home. But before they can even take one step outside their symbolic new home, we take a moment to sing “If I forget thee o Jerusalem,” a song about the destruction of the holy temple in Jerusalem. Each one of us takes a moment to reflect that our lives and homes are not complete until we do what we can to bring the Messiah and final and complete personal and communal redemption. And then the groom breaks the glass. The sound of the impact of that shattered glass at the apex of the wedding ceremony rings in our ears as a reminder, we must do what we can in our continued journey in our lives to bring redemption.
We were in the midst of celebrating Passover, the holiday filled with the joy with which G-d redeemed us from 210 years of slavery. We had started counting down the 49 days until the holiday which commemorates the marriage between G-d and the Jews, when G-d gave us the torah on Mount Sinai, Shavuoth. We read this holiday King Solomon’s poem of the love of man towards G-d, Shir Hashirim. But our joy was shattered by the tragedies of the passing of Yaakov Rafael Renov, an infant, and Elisheva Kaplan and Yisroel Levin a young, newly engaged couple.
We usually look for comfort in the forthcoming Parsha/torah portion, but in an unusual anomaly, last week’s shabbos did not have its own Parsha. Also unusual is that the joy of Shabbos is generally never broken. We don’t bury or sit shiva on Shabbos. We don’t fast on Shabbos unless it is Yom Kippur. When Yom Kippur falls on Shabbos, we don’t say Avinu Malkeinu until Neilah, and we don’t say tehilim specifically for the sick on Shabbos. But we do say Yizkor on Shabbos/a prayer for the souls of deceased relatives. So this past Shabbos was unusual in that we didn’t have a dedicated independent Parsha, and we remembered the souls of the departed, recently and from years past, clearly a break in the joy of Shabbos for those in shul [although spiritually we are happy for the souls in the world to come who are rejoicing with G-d].
The torah portion we do read discusses our dedication to G-d in material ways, we tithe from what G-d has given us, on the seventh year we let our land lie fallow to show our trust that G-d will sustain us that year without our physical intervention, we discuss that a Jewish slave should be freed after six years so that his life could be dedicated to the service of G-d only, and the parshah discusses that we go to Jerusalem for the three festivals to serve G-d in the holy temple.
It is connected to the Haftorah, which discusses what will happen when the Messiah comes and brings redemption, the beauty of the Messianic era and resuming service in the holy temple. If we show our faith and gratitude to G-d, the Messiah will come.
We know one thing. This past week, G-d shattered a glass during our wedding ceremony, the holiday which commemorates his taking us out as a nation to be his chosen bride. As we pause in our joy during the wedding ceremony to remember our responsibility to bring the redemption, last week we were forced to pause. Each one of us with our own thoughts. The tragedy of the loss of innocent young lives. I cried when I heard Shir Hashirim on Yom Tov. I cried for the tragedy of the young couple lost in the youth of their love. Then came the Haftorah of the last day of Pesach which parallels our song of “If I forget thee Jerusalem,” and I paused again to remember that even during our celebration of redemption from Egypt, we are still in exile and have a responsibility to hasten the redemption from our current exile. As we invite Elijah the prophet to attend the circumcision of our Jewish males, we ask that he come soon to hail the coming of Moshiach and to fulfill the prophecy of Isaiah at the end of our Passover reading: “Exult and sing for joy, O inhabitant of Zion, for the Holy One of Israel has done greatly among you.”