The rambling thoughts of a Modern Orthodox Chassid (whatever that means). Contact me at emansouth @

Monday, June 28, 2004

Shuckle, Rattle and Roll

Commenting on this post, "COOP" asked me to darshon on the tendency of chassanim and kallahs to walk down the aisle as if they are walking to their execution (and, I would add, standing under the chupah, shuckling uncontrollably as they say Tehillim and read off names of cholim or girls in need of shiduchim).

This is a tough one.

On the one hand, it is true that these chassanim and kallahs tend to offend our sensibilities. We think to ourselves, "Why aren't they smiling as they approach such a holy, and wonderful moment". It is certainly disconcerting to see faces that reflect such intensity (and, seemingly, pain). Indeed, when we see the opposite it is very refreshing and beautiful. I was privileged to attend two weddings in the last four weeks where, in each case, the chassan's face lit up the entire room as he watched his kallah walk down the aisle.

On the other hand, it is true that the moments leading up to the chassunah (including the badekin, about which more later) are an 'eis ratzon', a special time when the gates of prayer are wide open. (And, what is not widely known, it is an eis ratzon for all those attending the chassunah, not just the chasson and kallah). Undoubtedly, the chassan and kallah have been taught this at their respective pre-chasunah classes. Consequently, it is hard to fault them for davening hard at this time even if it looks painful and offends the assembled guests.

What often happens, I hear, is that the chassanim and kallahs who do carry on this way under the chupah regret it when they see the videos showing them shuckling as if they are attending Ne'ilah on Yom Kippur.

Finally, a word about the badekin. The badekin is a time of incredible hissorurus. It is said that the neshamas of the departed relatives and ancestors of the chassan and kallah come down from shamayim to join them for this holy moment. That is why it is actually more appropriate to play a slow niggun of hissorurus during the badekin rather than the more common upbeat "Od Yishamah". I'm not sure how the custom of playing upbeat music at this time evolved. If anyone knows I'd be interesed in hearing it.