This article might sound a little snippy, but that’s because I just put together a sheva brachos in four hours.
My wife and I are not normally this “last minute.” In fact, we offered the chosson (my wife’s brother) a sheva brachos the minute he got engaged.
“I’m engaged,” he said.
“Mazel tov!” my wife said. “Sheva brachos?”
“I don’t know,” he said. “Let me get married first.”
So we asked the kallah. And she said, “No, you don’t have to. We don’t know anyone in the NY area anyway.”
So they had a plan: The wedding was in Lakewood on Sunday, after which my in-laws would drive back to their home in Massachusetts. The chosson and kallah would then fly up to Massachusetts on Tuesday night, getting there shortly after my in-laws, who would then make them a daytime sheva brachos on Wednesday. They would then fly down to the kallah’s parents in Philly on Thursday for another 21-to-28 brachos.
But then the weather reports said there’d be snow on Thursday, and their flight got canceled, and when it snows in Massachusetts, you can no longer find the airport. So my in-laws and the new couple decided to tear out of Massachusetts on Wednesday, after their sheva brachos, so they wouldn’t get snowed in and miss their Shabbos sheva brachos, which would be far worse than when I went to Massachusetts for my Shabbos sheva brachos and forgot to bring pants. And, of course, when my in-laws head south, we’re their hotel.
So they decided, once they were in the car, that maybe they should call us to let us know that they were staying at our house for the night, and also that we were making sheva brachos. In a region where they didn’t know anyone.
Thanks for the heads up.
My in-laws informed us, from the car, that they wanted a “simple” sheva brachos. I don’t know what that means. To me, simple means “one course.” You can’t just put out one course. How do people know when to stop eating?
But they wanted to make it easier for us. “Look,” they said. “We’re in the car, eating leftovers from lunch. So when we get to you, we’re not going to eat anyway. How about you just serve dessert?”
So I said, “I don’t want to serve dessert. If we just serve dessert, it has to be fancy. You know how long it takes to make a fancy dessert? I’d have to spend the rest of the week cutting fruit! I was going to make chocolate cake. I can do that in 10 minutes, but it’s not fancy. I’m not going to invite people that none of you know to a sheva brachos at the last minute to give them cake. And then what? We have to wash. So it’s plain rolls and then cake? Why? Because you just want dessert? You don’t even eat dessert!”
“No,” I say, “let’s have sandwiches.” So that’s what we did. We had sandwiches. And wraps. And chocolate cake.
This isn’t a bad way to do sheva brachos, though. No one has any expectations, so whatever you do in four hours is impressive. I actually prefer it this way, because I don’t know that if they’d called me with 24 hours’ notice it would have been six times as good.
The problem was getting a minyan. This isn’t as easy as you’d think. If you want to know who your friends really are, try making a sheva brachos in four hours. Especially in a town where the chosson and kallah, quote, “don’t know anyone anyway.”
They all had excuses. One of my friends said, “I don’t have work tonight, so I was going to go out to eat with my wife.”
So I said, “Yeah, that’s what I’m saying. You can come out to eat. With your wife.”
So he said, “No, we want privacy, so we can talk.”
So I said, “I guarantee that whatever restaurant you go to will have other people.”
So he said, “Why do you always call when I want to spend time with my wife?”
So I said, “Well, what evenings do you not spend with your wife?”
“The nights that I’m working!”
“So should I call you on the nights that you’re working?”
“No, because then I’m working!”
He was not like this when we were in yeshiva.
Also, most of the people we called were legitimately offended that we asked them last minute.
To be fair, not everyone said no. Some people said maybe, and then just didn’t show up. So that was helpful.
Also, a lot of people said, “Maybe I’ll come for dessert.” That’s just a fancy maybe. How do you know what time dessert is going to be? I don’t even know! Are you going to guess? Because we’re having sandwiches, and then we’re having dessert, and there might not be speeches.
So in the end, we had me, my father-in-law, the chosson, three distant relatives my wife was able to contact, the guy whose house it was in, another guy who used to live in the town where the chosson and kallah are going live, someone we actually had to call when we started dessert, and another friend who showed up with an appetizer, which made it three courses, which is no longer a simple meal. Plus it felt like a soup day.
By Mordechai Schmutter
Mordechai Schmutter is a freelance writer and a humor columnist for Hamodia, The Jewish Press and Aish.com, among others. He also has four books out and does stand-up comedy. You can contact him at [email protected]