Is it really over? Are we actually returning to regular life?
I always find Isru Chag to be difficult, especially Isru Chag following Simchas Torah. Why? Because it involves resuming life after almost two months of inspiration. From the beginning of Elul, we are somewhat encased in a bubble, culminating in Yom Kippur. From Yom Kippur, we head straight into the joyous Sukkos season, climaxing in Shemini Atzeres and Simchas Torah, and then, suddenly, with the long winter ahead of us, we are thrust back into regular life.
Or are we?
The end of the Yomim Tovim heralds the beginning of the chasunah season. So many corona chassanim and kallos will be getting married in the next months. Exactly how and under what circumstances those weddings will take place is still unknown, but one thing is certain: Regardless of what kind of wedding they have, when they return home after the wedding, they will be husband and wife.
Which reminds me of a beautiful thought about weddings related to this post-Yom Tov season.
The Varied Motivations for Attending Weddings
Let’s talk about weddings for a minute. When you go to a chasunah, you see many types of people who have come for varied reasons. There are those who are mere acquaintances of the chosson, kallah or their parents. Perhaps they are neighbors or they daven in the same shul and feel obliged to say mazel tov. They are not there because they are really invested in the simcha; rather, they don’t want to feel awkward about not having attended the next time they meet the baalei simcha in the stairwell of the apartment building or in shul.
The main objective of those people is to make sure that the baal simcha sees them. As soon as they accomplish that goal, they return to their daily lives.
Then there are those who are closer, like next-door neighbors, workmates, or friends. They don’t just suffice with a mazel tov and an escape. They stay longer. They dance. Some might even be so courageous as to stay for the second dance. Ultimately, they, too, go home, and, without too much emotion, return to the daily or nightly grind.
Then there are close family members – cousins, aunts and uncles. They usually try to stay for the entire wedding, but much of the time spent at the chasunah is not necessarily devoted to being mesamei’ach the chosson and kallah, but rather catching up with relatives and enjoying the company of the extended family who they don’t often see. They, too, eventually go home and, without too much fanfare, return to the grind.
Then there are the actual mechutanim, the parents of the chosson and kallah. Of course, the wedding is very emotional for them. They are totally involved in every aspect of the wedding. Nevertheless, after the wedding and sheva brachos are over, they must also return to the grind. Life eventually moves on. They return to work and their regular lives.
Finally, there are the chosson and kallah. They will never return to their old lives, because they are making a new life together!
They are starting out, beginning something totally new. Yes, they might both return to the place where they worked or learned before the wedding, but, without a doubt, they are now at a new stage of life. A different life. A life in which they are trying to live together as one unit. They will (hopefully) deal with life’s difficulties and life’s joys together, as one unit trying to take on their days together.
The Wedding of the Century
My dear friends, we have just been through a major chasunah – the wedding of the century.
It started on Rosh Chodesh Elul with the courtship, as we tried to develop a closer relationship with Hashem. We became engaged, doing teshuvah and fasting on Yom Kippur in preparation for going under the chupah with Hashem, under the canopy of His sukkah. Finally, Shemini Atzeres and Simchas Torah were akin to the yichud with Hashem. And now?
Now we are at the other side of the festivities. The wedding is over. We are going back to our regular jobs, but we must understand something: We weren’t guests at this wedding! We weren’t neighborhood friends or even cousins. We weren’t even the parents of the chosson and kallah. We were the ones who actually got married. The entire chasunah revolved around us!
Yes, in some ways, life hasn’t changed. You are back in kollel and you are back at your job, but in other ways, everything has changed.
You are married! Since Simchas Torah, you have become connected, as it were, to Hashem Himself. From now on, you are dealing with all the vicissitudes of life together with Him. You have a partner. You are no longer single.
If you have a difficulty, all you have to do is open the lines of communication and talk to Him. Don’t sulk in your room by yourself. Start talking. He wants to help you. He wants to give you advice, through His Torah, seforim or the talmidei chachomim He planted in every generation.
Before you forget everything that transpired over the last period, perhaps it is time to take out your fresh chasunah album and look at pictures of your weeding. Look at the picture of Rosh Chodesh Elul. Look at how hard you davened on Rosh Hashanah. Remember the closeness to Hashem that you felt when saying Shema and Hashem Hu Ha’Elokim during the last moments of Ne’ilah. Look at the charatah you had. And then look at the simcha that filled you throughout Sukkos and the culmination of that simcha on Simchas Torah. You are married! Get to know your Partner even better!
What Happens if You Didn’t Behave Properly at Your Own Wedding?
Let’s say you open up the wedding album and don’t like what you see. Instead of being busy doing teshuvah under the chupah, in a moment of childish immaturity, you were focused on whether the band was properly playing the song you had requested to accompany you as you walked down.
Perhaps, instead of rejoicing and dancing with deep thanks to Hashem, you were wondering why the soup or the main course didn’t taste as good as it was meant to.
Perhaps, instead of thanking Hashem for the moment for which you waited so long, you were busy noticing the outfits and clothing that various family members were wearing in honor of the wedding, and, with your critical eye for these things, you were busy with that rather than with the simcha.
What can you do? There are times when the chosson and kallah are immature. They don’t properly appreciate the magnitude of the day. As they say in the name of the Kotzker Rebbe, “It is a pity that such a hallowed day as the yom hachupah is wasted on a bochur!”
Still, just because you were immature at your wedding and weren’t focused on the right things does not mean that you are not married.
The wedding happened. Full stop!
All that you have to do now is internalize that you are married and your life will change.
So, my dear friends, let’s not just return to life as if there was never a wedding. Despite the way we may feel, we did get married and we have started a new life together with Hashem.
Let’s develop that relationship and cultivate it. Let us begin to talk to Him, discuss our lives with Him, and analyze our goals with Him. Let us tell Him that we want to remain married. We want to spend our lives with Him.
At this time, as we take leave of the Yomim Tovim, let us remember that Hashem loves us. He does not want to be separated from us. All we have to do is sit opposite Him and tell him, “We are in this for the long haul. We don’t want to separate either!”
Ah gezunten vinter!
Much of the material in this article is based on the thoughts of Rav Shimshon Pincus and ybl”c Rav Nissan Dovid Kiwak.