Talkers and Do-ers

When I perform at a wedding as a singer/band leader, my job is not to moralise or give social commentary. Band leaders have developed techniques and share them, to overcome those who feel they just “have to tell you what you should be doing”. Twice in over 3 decades I’ve succumbed, and said something, albeit for less than a minute.

Last week, I performed at a nice wedding. It was lebedik, and all was going well until suddenly, the Mechitza started to come down down. One end of the Mechitza (lightish white curtain material) started to come down, because one end had become unattached.

It was the height of Simchas Choson V’Kallah. The band were playing, both sides were dancing. Some hadn’t realised it had come down. Others quickly noticed, and attempted to assist in whatever way they could. Some quickly picked up the Mechitza and stood there holding sections aloft, while others quickly attempted to re-attach the end that had come loose and bring it to its previously taut and supportive state.

Suddenly, two well-meaning gentlemen approached the band stage and effectively “suggested I stop playing immediately”. I doubt either had license from the Ba’alei Simcha but that’s a side issue. Halachically, they were correct. One should not continue dancing without a Mechitza. Halachically, however, there was another solution. Instead of merely being talkers, those two people could have added to the group of do-ers and held sections of the Mechitza up, so that it was temporarily functional while others were re-attaching it. 

In five minutes time, or less. The Mechitzah was back up, and all resumed as before. At the end of the music bracket, I was quietly seething. This was a reflection of our society. There were those in our community who were only too quick to “advise us” of the halachic impropriety of the descended Mechitza. They were the talkers. They are well-intentioned, and no doubt very earnest. I know both men, and they are the “real thing” in the sense that they are יראי שמים. Neither, however, was ever going to become the Rav of people.

A Rav has to (in my mind) at least find halachic solutions that are more creative. What would have been wrong with those two fine men both lending their own hands to hold up the Mechitza, and at the same time calling for 4 more volunteers? They could have proverbially killed two birds with one stone. Both Halacha would have been satisfied, and those who were actually involved in fixing the Mechitza could have continued their job, quietly and efficiently.

We are too quick to impose and pass cold and less than innovative commentary on situations. Worse, we are quick to act with our mouths, as opposed to our hands.

Today is the Yohr Tzeit of R’ Chaim Brisker ז’ל. On his Matzeyva, the words רב החסד are enscribed. Why? There are many reasons. When Brisk burned down, R’ Chaim refused to sleep in his own rebuilt house until the simple poor people had their own homes rebuilt. There was no hierarchy for him, despite the fact that he was the undisputed Torah genius of his generation. R’ Chaim ז’ל had no problem playing with little children. He would sometimes be found tied up to a tree while the children ran around with glee. This was someone who was at home with the Rambam, Ramban, Rishonim and Shas, in the same way that we breathe air. And yet, R’ Chaim was a do-er. Oh yes, he spoke, but he did.

The same people who cry עד מתי should perhaps also look at some of the answers to this question. There are some very easy things we can all do, ואני בתוכם.

Act! Don’t just talk.

Author: pitputim

I've enjoyed being a computer science professor in Melbourne, Australia, as well as band leader/singer for the Schnapps Band. My high schooling was in Chabad and I continued at Yeshivat Kerem B'Yavneh in Israel and later in life at Machon L'Hora'ah, Yeshivas Halichos Olam.

6 thoughts on “Talkers and Do-ers”

  1. I wonder how embarassed stopping the music would have been for the Baalei Simcha? What about the serious issur of כל המלבין פני חבירו ברבים etc etc? Your story is just another example of frumkeit at the expense of normative Yiddishkeit if you ask me.

    Whilst on the topic, are you sure they were “halachikally correct” in their concern visa vis the mechitza. Where in Halakha does it mandate a mechitza requirement for weddings? The last Mishnah in Taanit certainly makes no reference to a mechitza – adaraba, the bachurim were encouraged specifically to look at the Bnot Yerushalayim dancing in the vineyards!

    I’m quite aware of the references in Shas to Simchat Bet Hashoeva, Kalut Rosh etc., but if we are talking real Halakha, then what is the Seif in Shulchan Aruch that mandates a mechitza for dancing at weddings? Can someone locate it for me?

    Not for a moment suggesting that the Bnot Yerushalayim of Masechet Taanit and modern wedding scenes are highly analogous, nor that there is no tzad lehachmir, but is this minhag or serious Halakha?


      1. Of course – but there’s no Seif in the Shulchan Aruch that mandates a mechitza to separate two sides of the dance floor at a wedding. Nothing explicitly “Halachik” about it . . . . .


        1. Well you need a system to avoid this at the dancing. R Schachter pointed out that the mode of clothing even at frum weddings has implications today, as does the style of dancing/music which I guess I’m partly culpable for 😳


    1. Where is the se’if in Shulchan Aruch that requires a mechitzah in shul? There isn’t one. And yet nobody doubts that it is indeed required.


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