Raboyseyee and Raboyseyettes:
Tu Be’Av- special edition
The Case of the Missing Bridesmaids – Taliban Tactics in our Midst:
As we approach the shabbis we call Nachamu, and which, literally translated, means the shabbis of consolation, many of us remain sad and tzibrochen (brokenhearted) as we think back to our single days and the lively scene that was in full bloom on this special shabbis over at many Catskill hotels, now sadly all gone. Even sadder is the fact that many of you giferliche Oisvorfs bemoan the loss of these hotels and the memories you made there, if you chap and avada many did, more than the destruction of any of our holy temples – oy vey. In the times of the second Beis Hamikdash, (second temple), the Yiddin enjoyed their own version of Shabbis Nachamu, a very early edition of the singles scene. How did single girls market themselves and meet eligible bachelors back then? Nu, lommer lernin (let’s learn).
Says the heylige Mishnah (Ta’anis Daf 29) azoy: “There were no greater yomim toivim (holidays) for Israel than Tu B’av and Yom Kippur, for on them the girls of Yerusholayim used to go out in borrowed white dresses … and dance in the vineyards.” What would they say? ‘Young man, lift up your eyes and see what you choose for yourself …’. Soon we’ll learn some more of what they said to entrap… err, I mean, chap their man.
Welcome to Tu Be’Av, a day the Mishnah and heylige Gemora describe as one of the happiest days on our calendar and the day the goyim, like they’ve done to all our holidays and many of our minhogim for generations, stole from us Yiddin. What’s pshat? While the Yiddishe meydlich were taka dancing in freshly dipped white dresses trying to chap their man, the goyim figured out that girls needed to see, hear and read a few flowery sentiments before the white dress came off, if you chap, and invented Valentine’s Day and shoin, a multimillion dollar gisheft (business) was born.
And as you receive and read this special edition from the Oisvorfer, Tu Be’av (the 15th of Av) 2012 has begun or will shortly and will be marked but sadly not celebrated, because some time back, a few rabbis decided that efsher the celebrations described in the Mishnah to mark this day are not tzinusdik (modest) for modern times, could lead to lewd behavior, and maybe even worse. Shoin! Notwithstanding the practicality of this seemingly effective tradition described in the heylige Gemora as being kosher, it sadly came to an end, and that was the end of Tu Be’Av. Given the great shidduch (matchmaking) crisis caused mostly by today’s rabbis who have, and continue to impose newer and greater chumras (restrictions) on orthodox singles, – among them- the prohibition against boy/girl social interaction, and even the chance meeting of young eligible boys and girls is nowadays strictly verboten, efsher it’s time to look back to the Mishnah and the heylige Gemora; efsher the good rabbis of yore were onto something. Doesn’t the heylige Gemora have the solution to all of the world’s problems? And who empowered rabbis to do away with a Gemora custom. May we do the same if we don’t like a particular piece of Gemora? Zicher nisht and chas v’sholom (heaven forbid). Weren’t we taught that all of Toirah sheh-baal-peh (the oral tradition) was received at Har Seenai and is as holy as the heylige Toirah itself? Indeed we were, and the RambaM reminds us of this concept daily in our davening. Let’s begin and learn what Tu Be’av is and how we marked it way back then.
Ershtens (firstly) it gets its name from its letters tes + vov and their numerical equivalent of 9+6 which avada = 15 and shoin, Tu it is. Let’s learn some Mishnah and Gemora, it won’t kill you but first, as we mourn the loss of Tu Be’av celebrations, let’s look at another unrelated chumrah ober one that is also nebech affecting single girls in our times.
The Oisvorfer does attend a more than healthy number of weddings each year and has noticed a very disturbing trend: the disappearing bridesmaid. How do bridesmaids disappear? What’s taka pshat? Nu, for hundreds of years it was a minhag (custom) by the goyim, later adopted by the Yiddin, and efsher the only one we mamish stole from them, that if the kallah (bride) selected a close friend to be one of her bridesmaids, she and the others selected got to march down the aisle. Walking down the aisle was the ultimate honor and the kallah’s friends would mamish kill to be selected. (Some say kill doesn’t mean killing mamish, rather it means that the unselected potential bridesmaid would likely never speak to the kallah again post wedding. Grada this is a natural occurrence anyway, nu, that for another day.) Avada this honor didn’t come free and the chosen few had to pay a small fortune to creatively custom tailor a dress in the wedding colors. Being chosen, however, meant being part of the wedding party, and being part of a very select few to walk down the aisle ahead of the kallah. The bridesmaid made her way into many pictures, would zicher get noticed by potential suitors, and who knows what good could come from it. Shoin. And that’s the way it was and has been by us Yiddin for years until…..until a number of fanatical Morot (female teachers of Hebrew subjects), taking a page right out of the Taliban handbook, somehow convinced these impressionable girls that walking down the aisle where men and hormone enraged eligible boys might spot them, could somehow lead to sex or maybe even worse: mixed dancing! One never knows when a young yeshiva bochur might spot a bridesmaid, lose full control of his senses and become so excited that he’d mamish jump out of his keylim and seat and onto the bridesmaid, oy vey iz mir. Can you just picture the scene? And since this must have happened hundreds of times, at least in the minds of these Morot, and since the potential for such behavior must have been so incredibly high, these misguided morot (at an increasing number of girls’ high schools and post high school seminaries, both here and over in the holy land), decided to put an abrupt end to walking bridesmaids.
Welcome to the era of the ‘stationary bridesmaid.’ Shoin! Young and otherwise eligible potential brides have had their legs cut off from under them and have been brainwashed into dressing down vs. up at weddings because looking pretty and dolled up is also not modest enough for today’s times; it’s not tzinusdik. Case closed. Cholila (heaven forbid) an eligible young man should see the girl looking good; can you just imagine what this could lead to? Do these people really think that boys will be more attracted to these girls because less makeup will make them look better? Hello!!!! What’s pshat here? Have they gone mishuggah, and have we, as parents, for listening to such narishkeyt (bs), also gone mad? Are these teachers doing their girls any favors, or are they setting them up for years of misery?
In a new minhag sweeping the frum circles, today’s bridesmaids are miraculously found standing under the chuppah ahead of the guests, the chosson, and the kallah. In another iteration of this still evolving lunacy, the ‘unwilling to march bridesmaids’ are nowhere near the chuppah, they do not walk and they don’t even stand: these girls are called chuppah maids. Avada this is what the heylige Gemora calls a tarta-disasra (mutually exclusive) for how can one be called a chuppah maid if the chuppah is the only place where they are nowhere to be seen? Has the Oisvorfer gone mishuga or are we living in crazy times, times that are sure to delay the arrival of the Moshaich. Hopefully he’s coming with a wife because meeting a girl by the time he gets here will take nothing less than a miracle. In any event, the Oisvorfer takes strong exception to this new mishigas (craziness) and sets forth his thinking below.
Ershtens (firstly), if these stationary bridesmaids feel it’s not tzinusdik to be seen by others while walking down the aisle, that efsher such marching down the aisle could somehow arouse the men, what have they accomplished by standing under the chuppah and or hanging around and socializing before the chuppah? If you don’t want to be seen, stay home! If they still want to be maids, let them clean the house. Is it kosher and acceptable to be seen in the reception area before the chuppah, where the men and women are mingling in the same room, and is it ok to be seen by these very men and boys after the chuppah? Hey, if you don’t want to be seen, stay home and let those who wish to be seen and noticed have a shot. A bridesmaid’s job is to walk down the aisle; case closed. What’s gotten into these young women? With this new chumrah in place, seemingly nothing will, if you chap.
Have we gone mad? And how far are we from the stationary kallah? Are the kallahs the next target of the sexually frustrated Taliban-like Morot? Might these extremists next not be trying to convince young brides that walking down the aisle could somehow arouse the men, especially those sitting in the aisle seats which could result, chas v’sholom, in a sudden attempt to pounce on the kallah? Could the day of the ‘no-walking’ down the aisle kallah be far off? Can you just imagine the weddings of the future where the guests find their seat at the chuppah only to find that the entire wedding party, including the kallah and her bridesmaids, already standing under chuppah? Efsher we should also ban the young mothers of the brides, some of whom are still quite attractive, from walking down? Couldn’t their walking also lead to zenus? Have we gone mishugah with crazy chumras, and are these fanatical teachers doing the girls any favors?
And is this what the heylige Gemora had in mind? Absolutely not! Is this the way it was back in the days of the Beis Hamikdash? Seemingly not, and let’s learn more about Tu Be’Av and why the Mishnah refers to it as one of the happiest days on our calendar. Unless you were one of the Ovois or Emohois (forefathers and foremothers for whom the RBSO arranged chance meetings, usually near a body of water,) it epes appears from the Mishnah and the heylige Gemora that meeting one’s bashert always had its challenges, and who better but the wise men of that generation to come up with a solution?; let’s learn.
Says the heylige Gemora (Taanis- Daf Lamud aleph Omud Aleph (31a) for you oisvorf giferliche bums that haven’t opened a Gemora since you were married) how it came about and what happened on that date. To make a long story short, the Gemora describes quite vividly how Tu Be’Av was one of two days when all the single girls got dressed up in white dresses and went dancing before the boys in order to attract a suitable mate. Single girls in white dresses dancing and singing in the vineyards, is this kosher? Dancing girls and wine, was this kosher? Ver veyst but we can only imagine that there was a hot machloikes brewing over how white the dress had to be. Some avada stated empathically that the dress, had to be white mamish ober others suggested that white was taka preferred lechatchila (the color of first choice) ober bidieved, bshas hadchak mamish (in an emergency) or for a second or maybe even a third wedding, that off white was also good as long as the dress stayed on, if you chap. Says the heylige Gemora: The single young ladies all wore special gowns of white. The purpose was to woo a potential groom, and the white indicated that they were free from sin. Indeed, the Braisa in Taanis (31a) states that the custom was for everyone to borrow white clothing from others so that the poor, those with less means, who, in truth, lacked the financial means to clothe themselves properly, would not be embarrassed that they did not have something to wear. Isn’t it givaldig to learn how sensitive the Rabbis were back then? Mistama we could use a few more forward thinking Rabbis bazman hazeh and sadly, you can count those with a few fingers. And even those that agree wholeheartedly with the Oisvorfer would avada be afraid to so state so, at least publicly. Says the Gemora that the king’s daughter and the Kohain Gadol’s daughter exchanged clothing; sounds like girls’ sleep away camp.
And as you can only imagine, if girls are dancing in the vineyards, boys couldn’t be too far behind. Is there a better or more potent combo than girls dancing and wine? Adds the heylige Gemora: “whoever did not have a wife would go there” to find himself a bride. Givaldig! Was this forum the forerunner of the hotel lobby and other social mixers? Did a few who had wives, also explore the vineyards? Ver veyst. Next, the Gemora describes the lines used by the girls to ensnare and entrap. …. err I mean find a husband. Nu- there were three categories of dancing girls: the beauties, the uglies and loi olanu, the very uglies, but these mistama came from very good families. Ok- the Gemora doesn’t specifically state ‘the very uglies’ but we can imagine that if they had only yichus, and that’s all they used to lure the suitors, looks were not their strongest suit. Then again, with enough wine imbibed by the suitors, did anyone really look ugly? Veyter.
And here’s what each would call out to try to chap (entice) a man: The beauties: “Look for beauty, for a woman is for beauty.” Sounds logical to most men. The not so pretty (stam ugly girls) stated: “Make your acquisition leshaim shomayim (for the sake of Heaven), as long as you decorate us with jewels.” These girls may not have been beauties ober practical they seemingly were. And those with yichus only (very ugly said): “Look for family, for a woman is for children.” What can be learned from their strategy, Raboyseyee? And what can we learn from these girls? Seemingly we can klerr (posit) that jewelry can taka cover up some of the ugliness, though seemingly not all, and mistama clothing helps also.
Grada (it so happens) that in this week’s parsha we learn that one should not add or take away from the holy mitzvois given down by the RBSO. And weren’t we also taught that Moishe came down from the mountain, not once but twice, schlepping those heavy rocks, and that he also came down with the Toirah she-baal-peh (the oral tradition)? I believe that we were. And weren’t we also taught by the RambaM, who includes this as one of his 13 principles that we believe in the heylige Toirah that Moishe schlepped down, both oral and written? Yes we do! Nu- shteltz zich di shaylo (the question then arises): what happened to this piece of Mishna and Gemora and this holiday? And who gave the Rabbis the right to remove punkt (specifically) this holiday? Who gave our Rabbis the right to play with the oral tradition? Isn’t the oral tradition more than givaldig, if you chap and if you do, oisergiveyntlich (outstandingly good? Indeed it is.)
Seemingly we can posit that the case of the disappearing bridesmaid and the girls of Tu Be’Av are similar mamish and have met the same ugly fate: they were both banned because fanatical people, mistama trying to make a name for themselves for being outlandishly frummer than thou, have found ways to tamper with the oral tradition. Grada (it so happens) that I wouldn’t have an issue if they changed the color of the dress from white to black or even another color. After all, it’s a dovor yoduah (well known and accepted) that white dresses can be less than tzinusdik (modest) as they tend to reveal a shtikel too much, lines and more. Ober (however) bazman hazeh (in our times), modern society has developed a fix for this issue and today even white is OK. Moreover, if it was good back then and girls found their matches without having to go through the shidduch process, and if the Gemora lives on, why is this minhag and holiday dead? Mamish givaldige kashis (excellent questions)!
The Oisvorfer has concluded that those who took it upon themselves to mamish do away with this Yom Tov and this form of dating where boys and girls are free to meet without the intervention of Shadchonim (matchmakers) and other archaic forms of set-ups where girls need to prepare resumes, have created the forerunner of today’s Shidduch crisis, exacerbated avada by yet newer Rabbis who have developed even more chumras. What’s next for the girls, a burka? Efsher future bridesmaids will get a heter (permission) to walk down the aisle on the tenai (condition) of them donning the burka?
Says the Oisvorfer: the situation is mamish out of control and in desperate need of repair. Efsher it’s time to rent out MetLife Stadium for a massive Shabbis Nachamu gathering of singles; boys vs. girls and let them play.
A gitten yom tov!
The Oisvorfer Ruv