Some weddings have bars. Some weddings have a mitzvah tantze. And some weddings have shidduchim Rooms. At least the Genack/Wilheim wedding did.
Last Tuesday, at the Hilton Westchester Hotel (formerly the Rye Town Hilton), a wedding took place with a twist. In the time period right after the chuppah and before the first dance, friends of the chassan and friends of the kallah were seated in a separate room.
At a typical wedding, everyone is dressed their very best. It is grabbing hold of a fantastic opportunity to make shidduchim. It is also a way the parents of the chassan and kallah can fulfill more than 100 mitzvos. The mitzvah under discussion is v’ahavta l’rayacha kamocha — loving one’s neighbor like oneself.
From the manner in which inquiries are being made, it may soon become the new norm at Jewish weddings. The Genacks shared the exact details about how to go about doing this at future weddings.
How To Do It
Here is what they did. Single friends of both the chassan and kallah and their parents were contacted and asked to submit their résumés. The parents then invited the chassan’s friends and the kallah’s friends to a side room. They then packed the rooms with circulating shadchanim and instructed them as to what to do. They had received the résumés in advance. It was all done in a very tzniyus manner.
The prospective shidduch got to meet each other then and there. The Hilton Westchester Hotel has numerous lobbies, walkways, and other venues to make for a perfect venue for the couples to meet and talk. The shadchanim worked hard; they worked both sides of the mechitzah.
And they were successful beyond anyone’s imagination. Numerous couples met. Some spoke for 30 minutes. Some spoke for an hour. A number of dates were set up that very night.
One of the caterers at Beth Shalom of Lawrence, Chateau De Glatt, got a phone call: “Can this be done at Beth Shalom as well?” The caterer responded that it could; Beth Shalom has an extra room that can accommodate 90 more people.
At the outset, some of the rabbanim were very concerned. Will this turn the wedding into a disastrous breach of tzniyus? The kallah’s father assured the rabbanim that the shadchanim, who were bnei Torah, would make sure things went well. Most of the rabbanim who heard of it were for it. One or two, however, still had some hesitations.
The Talmudic Proof From Rav Masna’s Reason For Tu B’Av
What follows is an analysis of the Gemara in Bava Basra (121a and b) proving that the idea behind this innovative move in shidduchim is a true davar sheb’kdushah.
Tu B’Av was a special day in the Jewish calendar. Traditionally, Tu B’Av was a day when single young ladies would wear special gowns of white. They did so in order to woo a groom. The white indicated that they were free from sin. The young men and young women gathered in one venue in order to meet.
The Braisah in Taanis (31a) states that the custom was for everyone to borrow white clothing from others so that the poorer girls who lacked the financial means to clothe themselves properly would not be embarrassed that they did not have something to wear. Indeed, even the king’s daughter and the Kohein Gadol’s daughter exchanged clothing.
The Six Reasons For Tu B”Av
So now we know what occurred on this day. But why was Tu B’Av established initially? The Gemara provides a number of different reasons:
- Rav Yehuda in the name of Shmuel: A law existed while we were in the desert on account of the Bnos Tzlafchad. This law banned the tribes from marrying one another where it would cause changes in an inheritance. This law was rescinded in the 40th year on the 15th of Av. The joy inherent in rescinding this law caused the day to become very special and joyous.
- Rabba Bar Bar Chana in the name of Rav Yochanan: The Tribe of Binyomin was allowed to remarry into K’hal Yisrael after the incident of Pilegesh B’Givah (see Shoftim 19-21). This occurred on the 15th and signified once again the unity of Israel.
- Rav Dimi Bar Yosef in the name of Rav Nachman: The people in the desert stopped dying on this day.
- Ullah: It was the day that Hoshea Ben Ellah undid the orchards that Yeravam placed to block passage of those who wished to visit the Beis HaMikdash. Yeravam had blocked them because he was concerned that seeing the real kings of Israel would undermine his legitimacy. Undoing the blockage contributed to Jewish unity.
- Rav Masna: It was the day that the Romans allowed the victims of Beitar to be buried, and it was revealed that their bodies had miraculously shown no decomposition. It is upon this answer that we will focus.
- It was the day that the cutting of the wood for the main altar in the Beis HaMikdash was finished because sunset was now earlier and the woods could no longer dry, so we celebrated the fact that this day now allowed them to learn.
Serious Historical Problem
There is a serious historical question, however, with reason number five, proposed by Rav Masna.
The sources quoted in the Gemara indicate that Tu B’Av was observed during the time of the Beis HaMikdash. This is borne out from the Braisah having mentioned above that the king’s daughter and the Kohein Gadol’s daughter also partook in the exchange of clothing.
Beitar, however, was later! Beitar fell after the Roman Emperor Hadrian came to power! This was many years after the Beis HaMikdash was destroyed. Hadrian was emperor from 117 CE to 138 CE. The Beis HaMikdash was destroyed in 70 CE. There was no Kohein Gadol during the time of Beitar! The Braisah tells us that the daughter of the Kohein Gadol also observed Tu B’Av. How could Rav Masna explain the reason for its establishment after it was observed?
One possible answer may be that each of these opinions listed subscribes to a multiplicity of reasons why Tu B’Av was actually observed. Perhaps they actually do not argue with each other, and all these reasons existed. Indeed, this is what the Rashbam on 121a (“Yom Shehutar”) seems to imply.
Another possible response to this problem is found in the Gvuras Ari (Taanis 31a). He seems to disagree with the aforementioned Rashbam and writes that the Braisah in Taanis only actually refers to Yom Kippur and not to Tu B’Av [See statement of Rabbi Shimon Ben Gamliel in the Mishnah in Taanis (26b): Israel never had grander days than Yom Kippur and Tu B’Av.]
There are difficulties, however, with both answers. Rav Masna seems to say that the reason it was established was because of his reason. While he may agree that the other things happened on that day, that was not the reason it was established, in his view. The Rashbam’s answer would thus require some further understanding.
The Gvuras Ari’s response is difficult to say, as well, because the intent of the Braisah in Taanis seems to be applying the idea to Tu B’Av as well. While one could say that it is lav davka, it does not mean what the words imply, this is difficult to propose. There is no symmetry that is generally associated with an answer of lav davka.
Different Answer That Supports Our Wedding Idea
Perhaps a different answer might be that the joy of Tu B’Av was initiated in two separate stages. Stage one was prior to the destruction of Beitar. Tu B’Av was instituted during the time of the Beis HaMikdash as a special day of chesed for shidduchim. It did not have a particularly joyous significance; rather it was a propitious time to get people married. This “Shidduch Day” was replete with chessed. But its primary purpose was not to commemorate any of the other incidents.
Much later, it also happened to be that on this day the fallen of Beitar were allowed to be buried.
Coincidence? No, not at all. There is no coincidence from the Torah’s perspective. According to Rav Masna, the rabbis reevaluated the days mentioned in Megilas Taanis and knew that something extraordinary happened here.
The special chesed of that day allowed for and enabled another chesed — that the fallen of Beitar could be buried, and, to the delight of their brethren, their bodies did not decompose. A recognition of this chessed caused a renewal in the 15th of Av. It would be filled with renewed purpose. This was stage two of Tu B’Av.
The point is that, in our analysis, according to Rav Masna there was a special day of shidduchim where young women and men were to meet for the sole purpose of making shidduchim. It happened en masse, just as at our Hilton Westchester Hotel wedding.
The idea of having a special room for singles, with a mechitzah and shadchanim working the room is an excellent idea. Kudos to the kallah’s mother for making it happen.
The author can be reached at Yairhoffman2@gmail.com.