One week ago, on Sunday evening, we had the pleasure of attending a wedding in Montreal.
It is always great to see old friends and reacquaint ourselves with what is going on in everyone’s lives. As per usual, after the kabbalat panim and badeken, everyone was asked to go into the sanctuary for the ceremony. Interestingly, in Montreal most weddings take place in a shul as opposed to a catering venue. There are also hotels and halls which can accommodate kosher weddings, but for years the norm there was to marry in a synagogue. An amusing anecdote is that the first time we were invited to a shul wedding in Montreal, the name of the shul was the Chevra Kadisha. Imagine receiving a wedding invitation to celebrate at the Chevra Kadisha? Different strokes for different folks. The shul is actually called the Chevra Kadisha B’nai Yaakov, but for some reason everyone refers to it as the Chevra Kadisha.
Getting back to the wedding last Sunday evening. We all proceeded to be seated and waited for the procession to begin. One after the other, the wedding party marched down the aisle. They did not only have the accompaniment of the musicians stringing them down the aisle. They also had the screams of a young baby who was brought to the wedding by its parents. After all, it doesn’t take up a seat and certainly does not require a meal to be ordered for it. Why not? Scream away, sweet, charming baby. One could hear the undercurrent of voices saying, “Why doesn’t she take it out?” Yet, mommy didn’t want to miss the chuppah. Finally, there must have been enough annoying stares glaring her way that she got up to remove the child. Once again, just as the grandfather of the bride began to address the chatan and kallah, the little precious soul had reappeared and was shrilling away again.
We would appreciate it if someone could explain to us what such a young child is doing at a wedding. There are such things as babysitters! “Oh, they cost money,” we have been told. We made that choice frequently when our children were young. They never came with us to a simcha. It was totally unfair to the bride and groom. Who is the wedding for and what about the sanctity of the kiddushin? Please do not misunderstand us. We love babies, but they do not belong at a wedding. L’havdil, one rarely sees a baby at a funeral. In a weird sort of way, one could say that the dead person will mind less than the bride or groom if the child begins to cry!
We remember at one of our daughter’s weddings, an invitation was sent to friends. The invitation was addressed to Dr. and Mrs. The return card said Dr. and Mrs. and their 2-year-old child will be attending. Everyone voted on Nina to be the one to tell them that we were sorry but that we were not inviting any young children to the wedding (we are not talking of nephews and nieces of the couple). Nina chickened out. She couldn’t do it. The couple came to the wedding with their little princess and after 15 minutes of attending the dinner they came to inform us that the child needed to go home because she was so tired. No problem that we had paid for a dinner for both of them and that they were sitting at a table where we felt that they were a good match to the others placed there.
It seems that we have become more concerned about what is best for ourselves as opposed to what is best for the baalei simcha. Probably most couples who would be approached and asked if they would mind if a friend brings a baby to their simcha will say “of course not.” They are chickening out the same way that Nina did when she was told that friends were bringing their uninvited 2-year-old to our daughter’s wedding. Why did no one consider doing this years ago? We all had babies and, yes, we nursed them as well. It never seemed logical to any of us that a baby belonged at a wedding. Especially in today’s day and age where it has almost become impossible to stay in the hall while the band is playing, we cannot imagine what this horrendous sound must do a young baby’s hearing. It is bad enough what it is doing to the adults present.
We would love to see babies in their mother’s arms at appropriate places, but a wedding is not such a place.
P.S. We very much appreciate the comments that people make about this column. We would love to hear from you with regard to your thoughts on any of the topics that we have written about.
By Rabbi Mordechai and Nina Glick