July 23, 2024
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July 23, 2024
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Linking Northern and Central NJ, Bronx, Manhattan, Westchester and CT

Keitzad Merakdim? I’m Asking Seriously

I’m asking seriously.

I think I need to come up with a middle-of-the-circle dance for weddings.

And by “middle of the circle,” I don’t mean the various combinations and permutations of family members that dance with the chosson in the inner ring.

“Now let’s do the chosson and his brothers and his father!… Okay, now let’s do the chosson, his father-in-law and his brothers-in-law!… Okay, now the chosson and everyone at the wedding who’s under 3!… Now the two rabbis and the four eidim!”

And then there’s one person who doesn’t understand the combination and he joins the circle and no one says anything because, “Who cares? It’s a wedding!” but everyone’s secretly thinking, “Well, that messed up the photo.”

No, I’m talking about that part of the wedding where the chosson’s sitting down, drinking his water and people come into the middle of the circle, one at a time, and dance by themselves while he watches. Sometimes it’s not even a dance. Sometimes it’s just a guy doing push-ups.

“What?! I’m missing exercise class for this!”

This is sometimes the highlight of the wedding, especially for people who don’t really like to dance. Sure, there are some good dances, but I personally do not see the appeal of running in a crowded circle to music. Though I do think it’s cool that that one dance move somehow works for whatever song the band is playing. Though, to be fair, they’re only playing fast songs. I don’t think the running-in-a-circle dance works for Hamalach Hagoel or Eishes Chayil or any of the songs they generally play while the chosson and kallah are walking down the aisle.

On the other hand, I don’t have the guts to get up in the middle of the circle and do my thing. Also, I don’t have a thing. My thing is, at best, stand-up comedy. Which is difficult to yell over music. I have incredible stage fright when it comes to anything physical, and the last thing I want is for my back to seize up. Or for me to do two pushups and then get tired and start doing it with my knees on the floor.

The Amoraim did this kind of thing too. For example, Rav Shmuel bar Rav Yitzchok juggled hadassim branches (Kesubos 17a). And if you don’t think that’s a big deal, try juggling hadassim branches.

Maybe the juggling is some kind of symbolic thing about married life. In fact, maybe all of these dances are symbolic.

I actually have a brother-in-law who juggles. He hasn’t graduated to hadassim yet, because he doesn’t go to a lot of weddings. He uses little balls that are specially designed so that you can hold all of them in one hand, because when you juggle, say, bowling balls, there’s no good way to stop. You kind of have to back out of the room and find a mattress.

Of course, some people use clubs, and the minhag with that is to stop by putting one on your nose and balancing it.

This is probably some kind of symbolic thing about balance.

Then some people jump rope with a string of napkins that they spent the whole wedding tying together. It’s always nice when the jump rope matches the tablecloth.

Sure, I suppose I can practice these things, but it never occurs to me to practice until I’m actually at a wedding, and the chosson sits down. And practicing isn’t always worth it, because a lot of times you just don’t get to do it. One guy finishes his act, and everyone takes one step forward, and the first one in the ring gets to be next, and it’s usually two guys doing a bullfighting act with a tiny napkin that they found in some corner somewhere that the jump rope guys missed.

(What’s with the bull thing? Is it supposed to be symbolic of marriage?)

But not every dance needs talent. For example, there’s also what people call “The Light Bulb Dance,” which is that one-person dance where you have your hands over your head and you’re miming screwing and unscrewing multiple light bulbs at the same time. This is symbolic of the manual labor you have to do once you get married.

Girls do middle-of-the-circle dances too, from what I hear, but they call it “shtick,” and they have gemachs for their shtick because it generally needs props and no one wants to buy a non-waterproof umbrella with 50 ribbons hanging off the edges, which, after you use it for one wedding, you would keep it in your umbrella bin and end up holding it in a windstorm someday.

Sometimes I come into the women’s section after a wedding to find out if my wife wants to leave yet, and I see hundreds of flower petals everywhere. What are they doing? Tearing apart the bouquets? The bouquet gemach is not going to be happy. Meanwhile the men’s side is all clean, and they’ve already started stacking the chairs.

The girls are also into printing things on shirts. But maybe the guys should print things on shirts so people don’t intrude on the private circles. We can print things like “brothers-in-law of the chosson,” or “chosson’s friends from that year in Texas” so no one intrudes, and also so you can be reminded of these guys years later when you look at the pictures to see who’s dead now.

“Who were those guys, Totty?”

“I don’t kno— Oh, I guess they’re your uncles. Boy, none of them look like that anymore.”

“What happened?”

“They stopped dancing.”

By Mordechai Schmutter

Mordechai Schmutter is a freelance writer and a humor columnist for Hamodia, among other papers. He also has five books out and does stand-up comedy. You can contact him at [email protected].

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