Benzi’s latest “Behind the Flames” column in the Shabbat publication “Heder Matzav” (Matzav HaRuach):
A wedding with a special taste
The expression “If I forget thee, Jerusalem” takes on a special meaning when it’s about someone who forgot Jerusalem, his people and his identity, and via powerful forces succeeds in returning and connecting to the Jewish people.
17 August 2021
We are currently at the height of the wedding season. This week I attended a wedding almost every day, some of which had Arabs present, too. Through the latter I proved that you can dance at two weddings. At some of the weddings, I bless the bride and groom under the chuppa and I am excited. But there are also some other weddings, weddings that I won’t get to, but about which my wife and I get more excited than ever. Those are weddings for which during the chuppa ceremony we are either at another wedding or at home, but our hearts are with the bride and groom under the chuppa, and we make them happy from afar, and wipe away a tear.
I’m speaking about weddings of those girls or boys who had been in a relationship with a non-Jew, and Baruch Hashem, thanks to the actions of workers and volunteers of Lehava, they returned to the bosom of the Jewish people and now stand under the chuppa and come to the wedding covenant according to the law of Moses and Israel. We say under the chuppa, “If I forget thee, Jerusalem – let my right hand lose its cunning”, and this statement receives special significance when made by someone who had forgotten Jerusalem, forgotten his people and his identity, and managed through powerful forces to return to and reconnect to the Jewish people, and with the help of those activists who do not give up on any Jewish man or woman.
And if you ask, why are we happy with those Jews who are far away – The answer is that not all the family members and the rest of the guests know what happened to that groom or that bride before the wedding, and not all of them should necessarily know. Of course, we don’t want anyone to know, for who is greater than a ba’al teshuva, who stands where pure Tzadikim cannot stand. Our Sages taught us that the day of the wedding is like Yom Kippur, which atones for all the sins of the bride and groom. If we (Benzi & Anat) come to the wedding, all kinds of questions and suspicions arise: What is Benzi Gopstein doing here? With whom is he connected? And all kinds of rumours and guesses start. And that’s exactly what we want to avoid. We want them to start their new home on the right foot, in joy and in love, the bride and groom know that, and they ‘forgive’ us with a full heart for not coming.
But the fact that we do not come to the chuppa does not mean that we do not actually participate in that big day. That day, we talk and cry with the same girl. We recall our first meeting, which was usually accompanied by a lot of tears, and she remembers Anat’s statement that these tears will turn into tears of joy, and that there is no despair in the world at all, and “Look – we will yet dance at your wedding.”
So true, we do not come to dance. But yes, we successfully mark another world in its entirety that has been saved, thanks to Lehava and thanks to those good Jews who help Lehava, drink to the life of the young couple and continue caring for the next girl, who still believes her Arab is different.
And may it be His will, that just as so many homes were built from the depths of destruction and humiliation, so may we also have our Home of life and glory soon rebuilt, and the full prophecy will be fulfilled: “There will again be heard in this place about which you say, it is destroyed… the sound of joy and the sound of gladness, the sound of groom and the sound of bride, the sound of people saying: Praise the L-rd, Master of Legions… bringing thanksgiving offerings to the Temple of Hashem, for I will return the captivity of the land as at first” (Jeremiah 33:10-11). https://www.mazav.co.il/25919