Monday, January 16, 2006

Mawwiage

I'm getting married today.

I'm proud to report that the officiating clergyman has his own personal hate site. I don't normally link to sites I consider reprehensible, but there is a principle (Tosefta Yoma 4:12; TB Yoma 86b; MB Lerner, Assufot 14 [2002], pp. 99-112) that one must publicize certain sins to prevent a further desecration of the name of God. Rabbi Blau's actions have been righteous and his motives exemplary, and his detractors are worthy of every humiliation.

Gemaragirl, the woman I am privileged to be marrying, does not yet have a proper web presence, but that will hopefully be rectified soon. Using that nickname of hers once in the past produced a flurry of fruitless Google searchs, so don't bother.

There is a wedding custom that the groom is encircled by the bride seven times before the marriage ceremony. Scholars (e.g., Aharon Ahrend, Sidra 7 and Roni Weinstein in his book on marriage rituals in early modern Italy) seem to concur that this is a magical attempt to protect the groom from dastardly attempts to sabotage the consummation of the marriage. The groom at those moments is particulary vulnerable, and so the bride creates a circle of protection around him.

But many rabbinic sources, including Rabbi Dosa the Greek - the first to mention the custom, in the fourteenth century (see Me'orot HaRishonim p. 325 and one of Spiegel's articles in the Rabbi Yitzhak Nissim memorial volumes) - invoke a biblical verse. "How long wilt thou turn away coyly, O thou backsliding daughter? For the LORD hath created a new thing in the earth: a woman shall court a man" (Jeremiah 31:21). The verb in Hebrew is תסובב, "shall encircle a man". Thus, the idea that the bride should encircle the groom.

The eschatological import of the verse is unpacked in Midrash Tehillim 73 by R Shmuel bar Nahmani - in this world the man courts the woman, but in the world-to-come, the woman will court the man. So too, in this world, God must pursue His people to persuade them to do His will. But in the world-to-come, they will pursue God, hoping to serve him.

The Talmud (Yevamot 62b) uses this verse in Jeremiah as a prooftext for the observation that a man living without a woman lives without a wall to protect him.

I'm praying that in our marriage we are able to carry forward and live out the traditions we both study and teach. And at the same time, to create something completely new, "a new thing on earth". That we always love each other and are able to protect each other, and that together we pursue God with all our might.

22 Comments:

Anonymous Lia said...

Beautiful post! Mazal tov!

4:46 PM  
Blogger Lipman said...

Mazel tov!

(And do you really have to do this circling?

Ah, whatever: Mazel tov!!)

6:13 PM  
Blogger Menachem Mendel said...

Mazal Tov! Od Yeshama BeArei Yehudah...

6:20 PM  
Blogger ADDeRabbi said...

mazal tov!
said rabbi officiated at my wedding as well.

11:20 PM  
Blogger Mar Gavriel said...

Mazzol Tauv!

12:30 AM  
Anonymous andy said...

Mazel tov! It is good that 'said rabbi' is being mesader kiddushin and not acting as one of the eidim so that his detractors/haters will not be motzi la'az on your nuptials.

3:42 AM  
Blogger Adam said...

Mazel Tov!

4:37 AM  
Anonymous reader said...

mazel tov!

4:54 AM  
Blogger Lonely Man of Mechqar said...

A good constellation to you both!

6:29 AM  
Blogger Tam said...

Mazal tov!

5:51 PM  
Blogger Steg (dos iz nit der šteg) said...

Wow, mazal tov and mabrouk!

10:19 PM  
Anonymous zoroastrian yid said...

mazel tov to you , and to gemaragirl too!

11:05 PM  
Anonymous Mordechai said...

Mazel Tov!

3:31 AM  
Anonymous francine marino said...

Once again, your blog has moved me to tears. I can't imagine a better foundation for a marriage than the hopes and aspirations that you shared with us. May they all be realized.

12:18 AM  
Blogger The back of the hill said...

Mazzel toff!


And, as Steg (dinds) says, mabrouq.

5:54 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Amazing and Inspiring Flash Movie for Alumni Family Retreat

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10:51 AM  
Blogger Rebecca said...

Mazal Tov! May you have a long and scholarly marriage, blessed with much learning!

12:04 AM  
Blogger Mobius said...

mazal tov, mazal tov! i'm so happy for you! and i miss you brother. holla!

5:26 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Mazel Tov

great news!

ydg from jerusalem

9:19 PM  
Blogger Uri Cohen said...

Mazal tov! I think your readership will forgive a temporary blog absence on your part. :)

2:42 PM  
Blogger Soferet said...

בס"ד
May the Holy One ensure that you always live together b'ahavah, ach'vah, shalom ve-re'ut!

10:52 AM  
Blogger MEYER said...

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7:03 PM  

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