Men and women dancing separately is a blessing

No one needs to worry if they have a partner or if they will end up being a wallflower


(Photo by AHMAD GHARABLI / AFP) (Photo by AHMAD GHARABLI/AFP via Getty Images)

July 03, 2024 10:18

Over the last few weeks, my heart and my household have expanded and contracted, sometimes in different directions. Two of our seven children who had been living abroad for extended periods of time came home and a third got married, expanding our family and freeing up another bedroom.

This was the second daughter we have been privileged to bring to the chupah and although the joy and hope was the same, the overall experience was quite different. None of the siblings are children anymore, with that role having been passed on to our granddaughter (who was a conscientious bridesmaid, distributing petals down the aisle with great concentration).

The first time, I spent much of the previous week in tears, until I sobbed my way through a preview of the chupah music a couple of days before the wedding and got it all out of my system.

This time, having spent a restful, family-focused Shavuot only a few days earlier, I was far less weepy, unlike all the other women in my immediate family who sat teary-eyed during the chupah.

Before our oldest daughter’s wedding, a good friend passed on a suggestion she had received from a cousin: If you’re going to bless your child before the chupah, do that just for the photos, and give them the real blessing before you leave the house. It worked well last time, so we did that again, and that was when the tears really flowed as we all nearly lost ourselves.

The blessing – May God make you like Sarah, Rivka, Rachel and Leah, followed by the priestly blessing – is the same as we have given to each of our daughters every Friday night that we are together and at the end of Shabbat after havdalah.

This brings me to a question. The biblical matriarchs did not have very easy lives. Why is being like them such a blessing?

I think the answer lies in their qualities, rather than their struggles. They were all renowned for their kindness to other people. They had an intense and reciprocal relationship with God and they all had a tremendous sense of purpose, which enabled them to cope with difficult situations. These are significant benefits with which to enter married life, and I was so enthusiastic and full of joy after having blessed our daughter at home that, before we did it again for the cameras at the hall, I went round and blessed all our children, somewhat to their surprise. I felt I should take advantage of this auspicious time to spread the blessings as much as possible. Definitely something I hope to repeat at future weddings.

For me, the most enjoyable part of a wedding (other than seeing so many friends and family members) is the dancing. There is something very special about separate dancing. No one needs to worry if they have a partner or if they will end up being a wallflower. Everyone can just join hands with someone and become part of the joyous circle.

There are usually several concentric rings: The bride dancing with her relatives and friends, an inner circle of siblings and close friends, dancing quickly and enthusiastically, and one or two outer, slower circles for older or less experienced dancers. As our daughter danced in turn with me, her mother-in-law, her sisters and sister-in-law, then tenderly with her and her husband’s grandmothers, and we danced with each other in different permutations, it was a beautiful analogy for the melding of two families and the creation of a new link in the chain of Jewish history.

The circles formed and reformed as people moved between them, sometimes breaking into smaller circles to dance at different speeds and sometimes engaging in some fancy footwork to a particular song. Prince William was recently mocked for his ‘dad dancing’ at the Taylor Swift concert. Is there a female equivalent? If there is, I’m afraid the photos will show me having a great time “mum dancing”.

My personal highlight was seeing our beautiful and poised daughter, who was quite shy as a child, giving an eloquent speech. It was a huge nachas moment and one for which we must give considerable credit to our new son-in-law, whose love for our daughter has infused her with confidence. My blessing to them both: may you build on the love you felt for each other on your wedding day, boosted by the good wishes of your family and friends, to enjoy many years of good health, happiness and contentment.

Vicki Belovski is the editor of Hamodia

July 03, 2024 10:18

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