It was a really nice wedding. The chuppah was outdoors, as many are during this season. However, when the band began playing, the power suddenly cut out. As it turns out, using a bunch of extension cords is not a great idea.
I was near the band, as were approximately 25 other men. Some family members of mine were there as well. I did not know most of the people standing near me. One of the extension cords was right where we were standing, and when the power cut out the first time, we all looked down to make sure we weren’t the guilty party.
There was a girl standing near us; I’m guessing she was about 12 years old. She was wearing a gown, so I assume she was family, and she was standing up front to get a better view of the chuppah, though she wasn’t near the cord when the power blew. Standing near her was an obviously Jewish man. I’m not going to describe him because that would be generalizing. Suffice it to say, he looked the part.
There was a popping sound when the power blew, and everything turned off. The guests were whispering since the ceremony was beginning, so there was an awkward silence when the music abruptly stopped. Then this man turned to the young girl and said loudly, and I quote, “Maybe if the girls were on the women’s side, this wouldn’t happen!” The young girl’s face was crimson as she hurried away, stumbling past all the men.
I did find out a few minutes later that someone wanted to smack the guy but was held back. No one else seemed to notice. I was floored. People looked down at their phones, obviously uncomfortable. I confronted this person. I was curious how he knew “why” things happen. That’s pretty incredible. More importantly, I wondered how he could embarrass someone. I won’t share what I told him. Suffice it to say, my blood was boiling for a while afterward.
I wasn’t so upset because of what he said. Sadly, there are people in this world who make mistakes. What really bothered me, though, was that no one else stood up for her. Haven’t we, as a nation, learned the horrible price for ignoring the embarrassment of others? Especially a child who was unable to stand up for herself!
I asked one of the men who had been standing next to him why he didn’t say something. He said, “Perhaps she was his daughter.” That would make it even worse. I shudder to think someone would embarrass his own child like that.
To this girl I would say: I’m not sure if you were on the correct side. It seemed you were towards the front so you could watch the chuppah. It doesn’t matter. No one has a right to embarrass you like that. This person was horribly wrong. I am sorry that I didn’t react loudly; I just didn’t want to make a further scene that would “shter” the simcha. Please forgive us all for not standing up for you.
To this man I would say: You need to speak to your rav and find out how to do teshuvah. This is a serious aveirah, and I’m not sure how you’ll be able to track her down in order to beg her forgiveness. I wish upon you the ability to understand the danger of words.
To the “not-innocent” bystanders. Shame on all of you! What if it had been your daughter who was the brunt of this humiliation? It’s never OK to stand by and watch someone get embarrassed. I hope that you replay this scene over and over in your heads. Perhaps this way, you’ll do the right thing next time.
Rabbi Yitzie Ross is a well-known rebbe and parenting adviser. To sign up for the weekly e mails and read the comments, visit YidParenting.com. Read more of Rabbi Ross’s articles at 5TJT.com.