I’ve performed at many weddings, some most special and others even tragic. I’ve seen the good, the bad and the ugly (with apologies to Sergio Leone). The other night I was a guest at a wedding and witnessed a scene that was a first for me in Melbourne.
I was ready and due to commence a dance set. However, at the head table, the father of the bride happens to also be a long-term Rosh Yeshivah also celebrating his 70th birthday. There were probably 50 or more of his Talmidim who gravitated to the head table in a line. Each of them wanted to say L’Chaim to their Rosh Yeshivah. One sees this in Israel and undoubtedly in the USA, but I hadn’t seen it in Melbourne.
Alcohol consumption was strictly controlled and likely based on the (oft ignored) teachings of the Lubavitcher Rebbe. I didn’t see a single person who was “sloshed”. Each Talmid, waited for their turn, and drank from a thimble full plastic cup saying L’Chaim to the Rosh Yeshivah.
There was no way I could interrupt this spontaneity by starting a dance set. I felt this was a unique moment, and sensed that the Rosh Yeshivah, Rabbi Binyomin Cohen, was in a heightened state and that his Talmidim wanted to share that moment.
I was touched, and dared not interrupt the process, marvelling at the order and respect and the way this wasn’t formally choreographed. The best parts of weddings are actually the spontaneous unchoreographed moments.
As it settled, I played what is known now as the Chabadzke Niggun, which ironically is definitely an old Chabad Nigun (sung then at a somewhat slower pace). It was made famous more recently by non Chabad people. I think Berry Webber was the one who put it on the map. It is a catchy tune and happened also to be one of Rabbi Cohen’s favourites and requests.
I commenced with that Nigun, and while I normally switch songs after a reasonable number of repetitions, in this case, I saw the דבקות in Rabbi Cohen’s eyes, and his entire body undulated with that Nigun. I kept it going until he had no more energy to continue, and only then, changed to the next tune.
It was an uplifting moment. I saw someone going through the motions because he had much grief of late. I yelled out to him שמחה פורץ גדר … he acknowledged and nodded his head with intent and hauled himself into the moment.
In summary, this was a touching wedding.
PS. someone needs to drill these points
- don’t come late if you can help it. People pay good money for your participation
- don’t stand around the bar while there is dancing. Do a mitzvah and dance!
- don’t speak during a dvar torah; control yourself for 5 minutes and remain silent.
- dry red wine isn’t meant to be served chilled 🙂