Once again, it’s time to hear from our sister in Jerusalem about what she is witnessing there as a believer in Yeshua. Put your prayer shawls on and pray for Israel and Sister J. Now here she is …
In the midst of some huge crises here in Israel, in neighboring countries, and further abroad, I would like to share with you today about a wedding.
This isn’t very spiritual, but it sure sets the scene. I do not encourage any of you to watch it, but there is a movie from back in the 1970s called Little Big Man, which has often come to mind as a close parallel to my life. That makes sense if you have seen the movie because of the wild situations Dustin Hoffman found himself in the story. Like Hoffman, I find myself in some of the most unlikely situations. Well, that is what I thought about while my husband and I were being driven at high speeds by our son-in-law in the wedding car on Jerusalem Highway 1 heading to a huge wedding. And yes, we were late.
Now, my husband and I had never ridden in a wedding car before that day.
Where I grew up the cars were decorated with tin cans and had “Just Married” written across the back window, usually in shaving lotion. In Israel, the wedding cars are decorated with veils, huge bows and flowers and lots of ribbon. Everyone strains to see the bride and groom inside. In this case I am sure they were surprised to see a rather diminutive OLD couple.
Back up. So, how did we get into this position, and who was getting married?
Well, I told you that my son-in-law is the oldest of 14 children in a very religious Haradi family.
As I have explained before, Jews are generally divided into two ethnic groups: Ashkenazi and Sephardic. The Ashkenazi were dispersed following the Babylonian captivity into the European and Western nations while the Sephardic were dispersed into the Asian, African and Spanish speaking nations.
The Ashkenazi developed Yiddish as a common language spoken between countries and the Sephardic had a common language called Ladino. My mother was Ashkenazi and my father was Sephardic. That is known in Jerusalem as a “mixed marriage.”
Our son-in-law’s family is Sephardic, coming from Algeria to France and then finally here. The two groups usually have different customs and synagogues even within the distinctions of orthodox, conservative or reformed.
It IS hard to explain without getting you MORE confused.
They also generally support different political parties, which have their own rabbinical sages. The orthodox Haradi Sephardic party is SHAS and our son-in-law’s brother was marrying the leader’s daughter. This was BIG!
There were over 1,000 people at the wedding and I would not hesitate to venture a guess that I was the only believer. Besides all of the political leaders, there were chief rabbis, sages and scribes, all identified by different ceremonial garb.
Photos of wedding can be seen here.
I must admit that I laughed as I opened a few responses to Part 1. There was one collective question: Where were the WOMEN? Where was the BRIDE?
My original intent in sharing about this wedding was exactly to share some of the interesting differences that you likely won’t see at a western wedding. Although many things have changed throughout the millennia, but others haven’t changed much.
In the orthodox traditions, men and women are separated. The women are kept from the eyes of men so the men can avoid temptation and distraction.
I am so thankful for The Holy Spirit Who leads us into clean paths. Years ago, the Holy Spirit began teaching me that holiness was more than not sinning. If I guard myself from all temptation so that I do not fall into sin, I may open the door to legalism.
He showed me that the purifying work of The Holy Spirit takes place in the hidden rooms of the heart, replacing my nature with His, so that He in me is repulsed by the sin that my flesh loved. Entering into victory is a work of His Spirit and so, of course, we flee temptation.
But that evening we were separated into different areas for the reception, by a thick curtain. Men on one side and women on the other. The dancing is traditional circle dances. Women with women and men with men. The dancing men were displayed on a large screen on the women’s side, but the women were not displayed.
I must back up a bit though.
The wedding itself took place outside at the traditional time: just before or just after sunset. It was under the chuppa. a wedding canopy held by 4 poles and often the poles are held by 4 young men. I looked around at the crowd and was afraid that I was the only woman present aside from those in the wedding party, but I spotted a few others scattered around. So I felt safe about staying.
This wedding took place the night before our Knesset elected a new Israeli President for the country, but even though it was such an important political event, I was saddened that during the ceremony itself, few of the distinguished guests were praying or paying attention. They spoke with one another or on cell phones. It grieved my heart as the political wheeling and dealing swirled around me. So I prayed.
There are 7 blessings read at the end of the ceremony. Famous rabbis and sages proclaimed these blessings for the couple. The groom broke the wine glass, sealing the covenant, and more rabbis examined the papers of the couple before signing the ketuba or wedding contract between the couple and before God.
The happy couple and their families finally came down from the chuppa to shouts of “mazel tov” (good luck). But the couple did not yet join the guests, as it was necessary for them to first consummate the marriage before being presented to the waiting guests. If it is necessary for the marriage to be annulled, it is my understanding that it would happen at this time. There is a separate little room for the couple to go to while the wedding guests wait.
When the bride and groom emerge, the rejoicing and dancing begin, and it is a most joyful time.
Sephardic tradition is known for its passion, warmth and fiery emotions, whereas Ashkenazim are known for more reserved, intellectual, and cultured ways. The wedding atmosphere displayed this somewhat. A few years back there was a HUGE wedding here in Jerusalem in the Ashkenazi Orthodox community. (You can see it here.)
If I remember correctly there were more then 25,000 people at that one.
So, to answer your question: the women and the bride WERE there, but you won’t see their photographs.
Right now we are praying that the 3 kidnapped teens will live and return to be blessed at weddings of their own in the future.
I share about these issues because I write to a wide variety of brethren, some very knowledgeable about world events and others less so. Thank you for your patience. There are many prayer gatherings here for the safe return of these three, nationally, on smaller group levels and in our Knesset. The worldview, sadly, is decidedly different. One such opinion can be seen here.
In the years that I have lived here, I have watched the fulfillment of scriptural prophecy progress rapidly, and things that appeared far off just a few years ago now seem to be knocking on the door. Israel standing alone seems far more real in spite of wonderful pockets of believers who know and stand with us, recognizing God’s purposes. But from my perspective in Jerusalem, it seems the groups are getting smaller and smaller.
There seemed to me to be a time of grace and learning and opening of doors of hearts and understanding, but time has so sped up that suddenly we may be shocked to look around and find ourselves in a completely different, hostile environment.
Brothers and Sisters, I have such a sense of our need for watchfulness. When I say that, I believe that it means us individually. If we are watching, He is well able to show us the larger picture as need be for each of us. IF our hearts are steadfastly watching and waiting, we can be prepared to be used by Him at a moment’s notice.
Oops…I turned melancholy again. Not really melancholy, but serious. My portion is to share what I witness. Thank you for looking through my window. I send much love.
Your sis in Jerusalem, the pressure cooker at the center of the world,