In the month since our eldest and only daughter’s wedding, I have been struggling to write a nice and uplifting post-wedding piece to publish in this space. It is not a case of writer’s block or the summer blues or because I am more distracted than I typically would be … that’s not it at all. Nor is it due, God forbid, to anything preventing the aufruf, the wedding itself, the sheva brachot and all that followed from being a very beautiful and special time for myself and our entire family. They certainly were all that … and much more.
The wedding was a very special day and thank God, it ran with nary a single hiccup. It was an immensely happy occasion for all our families and friends and it was so special to be able to dance and celebrate together with our family and many friends, new and old. Thankfully, nothing too out of the ordinary took place.
So, what is my problem?
Well, after a few weeks of missing deadline after deadline and finding excuses not to write, I have figured out the answer. I believe it’s because the feelings that my wife and I have experienced in marrying off our daughter and the whole process are quite literally indescribable. It’s well nigh impossible to describe in the space of this column all of the myriad strong feelings, emotions and stray thoughts that well up after raising one’s child for 20-plus years and in joining together with one’s family and friends to lead your child down to the chuppah. So many fraught, tender and even bittersweet emotions run through one’s mind during this whole milestone experience, and continue to do so.
Even now, I am thinking about our changing role as parents, about us growing older and our kids growing older and about how much time and effort and worry we spent over the years. (Don’t worry, I know that never ends.) I am also thinking about the future for our children, and about the new relationships we have with our new son-in-law and his special family, as well as the evolving relationships we have with all our own family members who are also growing older.
The wedding of one’s eldest child, in a sense, is one of those disruptive moments in life when literally almost everything changes, and one’s place in this olam is completely shifted around. I certainly felt the figurative ground shift under my feet and I am not sure if I have fully adjusted to this new stage and role just yet. Hopefully, I will … but it’s certainly not an easy subject to write about.
Three final thoughts on the wedding:
First, the only “bad” part of the wedding for me was the walk down the aisle. What do I mean? Here I was, excited to finally be at this once-in-a-lifetime moment and escort my wife and daughter to the chuppah. I always assumed this would be a special moment filled with seriousness and intensity. Well, it was certainly intense, but just not in the way that I had imagined. I spent most of the walk to the chuppah trying desperately not to trip over or destroy my daughter’s beautiful gown and trying to look dignified at the same time. It was quite a challenge! And when I tried to go wide and avoid stepping on her dress, I ended up bumping into the men standing there as the aisle was not wide enough. Oy… I survived it and her dress made it to the chuppah intact and all was good after that. This hopefully will not be an issue with my sons’ suits in the future.
Second, a special thanks to our mesader kiddushin Rabbi Chaim Poupko of Cong. Ahavath Torah in Englewood for speaking so nicely at the chuppah and an extra thank you to him for incorporating The Jewish Link into his remarks. Rabbi Poupko noted in his remarks to the couple that their connection with each other should be a bracha-filled link in the chain of the Jewish people, and then he added that he hoped the couple would be a true “Jewish link,” specifically. Of course, those who heard it got the reference and laughed, as did I, and I certainly enjoyed hearing it. Thank you, Rabbi Poupko!
Third and final note: We have gotten many pictures and clips from the wedding, both from the photographer and from friends who took pictures and recorded parts of the wedding and shared them with us … and I love all of them. But for me, perhaps the most meaningful pic was the one sent to me by my daughter after the sheva brachot ended. She proudly sent me a picture of the first-ever meal that she and her husband cooked together in their new apartment. The picture touched me deeply as it helped me realize that she and her new husband are really married and moving on and doing the normal and mundane things that all married couples do, such as cooking their own dinners. Her picture of a beautiful plate with a piece of salmon, rice and vegetables almost made me cry!
A final mazal tov again to our dear daughter and son-in-law. May your first summer together as marrieds be one filled with growth, happiness and only good things, and of course, more great home-cooked meals!
By Moshe Kinderlehrer/
Co-Publisher, The Jewish Link