תמוז תשכ"ג - ר' זלמן יפה (אנגלית)

מתוך Yomanim

קפיצה אל: ניווט, חיפוש

תוכן עניינים

Visits of Choson and Kalla

At some point during their year-long engagement, Hindy wanted to travel to New York. She asked for theRebbe’s approval for making such a visit. The Rebbe responded in a postscript in a letter to her dated Tishrei 6, 5723 (October 4, 1962):

Regarding your desired visit to New York, as I indicated to your i,j [choson], it is suggested that the time of the wedding should at least tentatively be considered, and then it will be more practical and easier to consider a visit, etc.

Hindy indeed travelled to New York (of course after the wedding date was fixed.)

We also wanted Shmuel to come to Manchester, so we could introduce him to our family and friends. We wrote to the Rebbe to that effect and in a letter dated 8th of Kislev, 5723 (December 5, 1962), the Rebbe wrote:

I duly received your letters, as also your regards through your daughter, who doubtlessly also conveyed my regards to you.

With regard to your future son-in-law’s visit I suggested that there should be some external ostensible occasion for his trip to minimize possible criticism.

Wishing you and yours an inspiring Yud and Yud-Tes Kislev, as well as Chanukah.

Wedding Preparations and Flight

The months soon passed. Avrohom, who was in New York, reserved the hall, the orchestra and the caterers for the wedding dinner. We would have to settle the various details and the prices when we arrived in Brooklyn. He had also ordered the invitations. Here again, the times of the chupah and other particulars would have to await our coming to Crown Heights.

Meanwhile, we had sent out invitations to all our friends to attend the Manchester sheva brochos and had received all their replies. This enabled us to make the seating plan and complete all the details concerning this affair before we left Manchester for New York.

This charter flight was £50 round trip per person, which was still quite a bargain to fly to New York. We were scheduled for departure on Tammuz1, 5723 (June 23, 1923).

There were so many of our friends wishing to travel for the wedding that we chartered a second plane! Both plane-loads of passengers - 240 - were invited to join us at our simcha and many did avail themselves of this opportunity to attend a chassidic wedding.

(Before we left Manchester Airport, the airline representative inquired whether our Rabbi wished to bless the airplane!)

The Rebbe Will Officiate

Immediately after we arrived in Brooklyn, I begged for an audience with the Rebbe; for we were still uncertain whether the Rebbe himself would be officiating at the ceremony.

During this yechidus, I reminded the Rebbe how I had taken a leadership role in the Manchester community, due to the Rebbe’s urging. “Now my only daughter was getting married and I have transferred my entire celebration to New York, brought along hundreds of wedding guests and - you don’t need to answer me now, but - I am expecting the Rebbe to officiate!” The Rebbe smiled but did not answer.

To me that smile meant the Rebbe’s agreement to officiate. (I knew that if the Rebbe had no intention of officiating he would have said so right then and there. The Rebbe could never be pushed around by anyone!)

For the time being though - just two weeks prior to the wedding date - thechupah was still set for 7:30 p.m. at another location outside of Crown Heights. (We knew that in the past when the Rebbe would officiate at weddings, the chupah would take place outside 770 and would need to begin at 5:00 p.m.)

On Thursday, Tammuz 5 (June 27), which was ten days before the wedding date, Shmuel and Hindy were granted a pre-wedding yechidus, as was customary before all weddings. The Rebbe asked them, “Why is the chupah scheduled for 7:30; was the hall not available until that time?”

Shmuel took the easy way out and said he did not know. The Rebbe then said “I will talk to your mechuton about this.

Later that same night, (early Friday morning to be precise!) Roselyn and I were in yechidus and the Rebbe asked us, “Why is the chupah is so late? It is a rachmonus (pity) that the choson and kallah should have to fast for so long.”

I told the Rebbe, “They would fast for two weeks if the Rebbe would only agree to officiate.” The Rebbe responded. “It is not necessary.”

The Rebbe then informed me that he intended to officiate. The Rebbe then added the following three instructions: 1) A new invitation (with the changed time and place) should not be submitted to the printer until three days before the wedding. 2) This new invitation should not mention the Rebbe’s name in any form. 3) We were not to publicize that the Rebbe would be messader kiddushin. It seemed that the Rebbe wanted his participation at the wedding kept secret until the last possible moment. The Rebbe also stressed that the chupah take place at 5:00 p.m. precisely.

Shmuel’s aufruf was, of course, at 770 in the Rebbe’s presence. One of our wedding guests, Rev. Hass, was honored with being chazan during the Shabbos services. We instructed him not to repeat any words, as is the custom amongst many chazonim. He felt greatly honored to officiate at 770 in the Rebbe’s presence. He davened very nicely indeed. (Many years afterwards he still recalled this as one of the great occasions in his life.)

Inviting the Rebbetzin

I asked the Rebbe for permission to invite his Rebbetzin - Chaya Mushka - to the wedding. The Rebbe said: “You can invite her. She will be delighted; although, she will not come physically. She does know of you, since you always ‘say it with flowers’.” (The Rebbetzin did not like appearing in public. However, we had for some time now been sending her and the Rebbe flowers before Yom Tov).

Just over a week before the wedding, the choson and kallah and ourselves were granted the honor and privilege of meeting the Rebbetzin in her home for the first time. One incident comes to mind, illustrating the wonderful and perfect hostess she was.

Shmuel accidentally knocked over a glass of red fruit punch. Shmuel’s face turned the color of the now bright red table cloth. The Rebbetzin immediately assured him that it was a wonderful simon brocha (sign of blessing) and so on. She seemed so happy about it that I was tempted to knock over my glass, too!

Visit to the Rebbe’s Mother

Through the good offices of Rabbi Shemtov, we had over the years become very friendly and attached to the Rebbe’s mother, Rebbetzin Chana. We always made it our business to visit the Rebbetzin, whenever we were in Brooklyn.

Rabbi Shemtov used to take us to her home. There, the Rebbetzin held court like a queen. Although she exuded grace, charm, majesty and regality, she was very much down to earth. She sat at the head of a large table, surrounded by her admirers and courtiers and insisted upon hearing all the latest news and events, especially relating to births and marriages. She had a lively and energetic mind. She was fond of discussing the “old days” in Russia with Rabbi Shemtov and others. Best of all, she loved to talk about her son, the Rebbe (so did we all). The Rebbe visited his mother every single day, without exception, on his way to 770 from home. When we invited Rebbetzin Chana to the wedding, she said she will not be able to attend. However, she requested that the kallah come to see her on the day of the wedding, in her wedding dress, so that she can give the kallah her blessings.

The Wedding

It was now Sunday, Tammuz15, 5723 (July 7, 1963). The day of the wedding had arrived. The Rebbe was at the ohel today. We knew that the Rebbe would be back before 5:00 to have the chupah on time. We were well aware that the Rebbe must not be kept waiting. The Rebbe had said 5 o’clock, and 5 o’clock on the dot it had to be.

For mincha, Shmuel got to use the Rebbe’s siddur as was customary.

Before the kabolas ponim, we took Hindy to visit Rebbetzin Chana.

At 3:45, the kabolas ponim was in full swing. Everything was going according to plan. A few minutes before 5:00, the Rebbe returned from the ohel, where he had spent most of the day fasting. Rabbi Chodakov assumed and surmised that the chupah would now take place after mincha (later than five). He rushed into the Rebbe’s study to obtain confirmation of this - and he rushed straight out - shouting that the chupah will take place immediately, as arranged.

As the clock struck the hour, precisely at 5:00 p.m., the Rebbe came through the doorway of 770 and walked down the few steps toward the canopy. The chupah was erected in the center of the pathway leading from the door of 770 to the sidewalk. At exactly the same moment, Hindy and her entourage walked up the few lower steps towards the chupah, under which she and the Rebbe met at the exact same moment. Shmuel was already there waiting.

The parents and grandparents were holding candles, and it was our intention, as well as our duty, to walk around Shmuel seven times. There were some bridesmaids “somewhere” (I saw them later in the photographs!). However, where was the choson? It was a terrible and fearful task, circling the choson pushing our way through solid masses of bochurim and men who all wanted to be near the Rebbe at this historic event. I was covered with candle wax and at least once we were actually standing outside the chupah!

We did see the Rebbe standing very erect under the chupah. Everyone of course held the Rebbe in reverence and great awe; otherwise, I am afraid the Rebbe would have not been under the chupah either. (Of course, no such reverence was accorded the choson and kallah, or the mechutonim). It was of course a small price to pay for such a tremendous honor and privilege of the Rebbe being messader kiddushin.

The Rebbe recited the blessings and then all of the sheva brochos and the ceremony was over. The time was nearly 5:15 and Shmuel and Hindy were now man and wife.

By 5:15 when the area of the chupah was already deserted, it began to pour torrential rain! If the chupah had been delayed for even a few minutes, everyone would have been drenched. We were very thankful to the Rebbe for being brief and starting the ceremony punctually.

In due course we all arrived at the hall for the dinner and dance. Everyone sat at their allotted tables, men on one side and women at the other side of the mechitza (partition).

The hamotzie was recited over the bread, and waiters served the first course, the hors d’oeuvres. Suddenly the orchestra, the band, exploded into a lively and exhilarating tune, which compelled everyone to join in the dancing.

The tables became deserted, the hors d’oeuvres left on the plates, untouched; and with trumpets blaring, we entered into an era of non-stop, uninterrupted dancing for the next four hours. After twenty minutes or so the waiters came along and took away the hors d’oeuvres and placed the next course, the fish, onto the table. Twenty minutes after that, the fish was removed and soup substituted. So it went on until the dessert and the coffee were served and removed. I did mange to swallow a few mouthfuls of food in between my dances. I noticed that one or two others did the same. But the music was so exciting and compelling that nobody cared to miss even one moment of the dancing; but it was very annoying and aggravating to me to see all this food, for which I was paying good money, just simply not being eaten.

There was no doubt that all our guests were having a jolly good time. I did my share and I believe Roselyn also danced well and continuously in the women’s department.

At one point, I was dancing with Mendel Shemtov, who wears a seemingly small brown beard. Well suddenly, I found that my partner had grown a long bright red beard, which reached past his waist – unbelievable!

There was not one speech, not one word of Torah, and it took a very great effort on my part to ensure that we had a minyan to bentch and say the sheva brochos!

Sheva Brochos on High

On Tuesday, Tammuz 17 (July 9, 1963), we travelled back to Manchester to continue the festivities. Our airplane included the whole wedding party, including the choson and kallah and the mechutonim. We recited the sheva brochos at every meal on the plane.

Back in Manchester, we joined our 450 guests for the dinner and sheva brochos for our friends who were not able to be at the wedding in New York. We had erected a beautiful mechitza of flowers in the hall, and everything looked wonderfully well.

In contrast to the wedding dinner in Brooklyn, where the food was left untouched, where the dancing was non-stop and not one word of Torah was said, here in Manchester everyone ate the meal, there was not one dance, and there were fifteen speeches and divrei Torah.

After the week of Sheva Brochos, Hindy and Shmuel remained for the duration of the summer, in order to visit various Jewish communities around England. This “mission” came directly from the Rebbe. They then returned to Crown Heights, where Shmuel was to spend the following year or so studying at the kollel.