From the Desk - Shtisel and the Teenage Marriage
We are so excited and privileged that our community is currently hosting 10 Israeli veterans as part of the Beit Halochem program! I have already met nearly all the veterans and they are delightful people. On so many levels, it is special to welcome them to our community. We are inspired by the presence of people who served the State of Israel with such dedication to keep our land secure and to protect our brothers and sisters who live there. We convey to our visitors the appreciation that we have for all that they have done. And by welcoming them to our community, we deepen our bond with the land of Israel and with those who live there. I know that many of you have had the pleasure of meeting the veterans already at last night’s BBQ and I hope that very many of you will join us and them in synagogue this Shabbat. What a privilege it is to participate in this program! Each of us has a role in welcoming our guests and in marking the special occasion of their visit. Most particularly, I want to thank all the host families, Liana and Howie Brown and the leadership of Beit Halochem for their inspiring dedication to this project.
We are delighted that this week saw the beginning of another Rise Together Project learning group. Our women’s learning group with Mrs. Esther Hochstadter started last night and inspired and engaged all the participants with so much to think about as we approach the High Holidays. We also remind you about our next Rise Together Project activity – The annual Beth Ora Giant Fruit Salad making. This is an opportunity for participants of all ages to come together to prepare and donate huge amounts of fruit salad to lots of worthy causes – and have a lot of fun at the same time! I hope that lots of you will join us for this event on Sunday, September 15th from 10:00 AM to 12:30 PM. Please also help by donating food and by offering to deliver the fruit salad to their recipients. We are also excited for another very important event in our community. The overwhelming focus of Beth Ora activities are directed toward the development of our synagogue and on engaging local Jews in our activities. This is entirely appropriate and serves our main purpose as a synagogue. At the same time, it is also important for us to recognize that our synagogue is part of a broader community of Ville St Laurent, which we share with neighbours of a range of backgrounds and ethnicities. On Shabbat, September 21st, we are running our first Civic Shabbat at Beth Ora. At the end of our Shabbat morning service, we will be joined by our mayor, MP, Member of the National Assembly, local councilors as well as a number of clergy members for a short and meaningful service to affirm our commitment to the common good. Too often in our world, religion serves to create distance and animosity among people of different backgrounds and faiths. We are proud to affirm that our faith inspires us to seek the good of our wider community. I hope that you will put this special event in your calendar and that you will join us for the Civic Shabbat. As last year, we are delighted to present a special first night Selichot program (evening of Saturday, September 21st). In addition to our traditional memorial service and the Selichot service itself, we invite you all to join us for a light supper and the screening of a fascinating documentary about a journalist who developed a relationship with the family of an Arab terrorist who had tried to kill her father. The story is intriguing from a political perspective but it also speaks to each of us as we grapple with issues of forgiveness and our attitudes toward those who have done us harm. It is exciting to be running such a range of meaningful and excellent programs at Beth Ora and we hope that these will create a great deal of positive energy and inspiration as we approach the new year. Wishing you all Shabbat Shalom, Rabbi Anthony and Carly Knopf Dovid, Rachelli, Yehuda and Avrami
What’s the Deal with… Shtisel and the Teenage Marriage? In the Netflix series Shtisel, 16 year old Ruchami has an impromptu marriage to another teenager, Chanina. He recites a line in Aramaic and places a ring on her finger in the presence of witnesses. After the wedding, Chanina says that the marriage is distracting him from his religious learning and they discuss getting a divorce. Mireille Alvo asked if this couple would really be considered married. Is all it takes for a man to say this line to a woman and put the ring on her finger. So, what’s the deal? In actual fact, there are two stages to a halachic marriage. These are known as Kiddushin and Nisu’in. These two parts are performed on the same day, at the wedding ceremony, though in Talmudic times they were separated by up to 12 months. One of the ways in which Kiddushin works is by the man giving something that belongs to him (of at least minimal value) to the woman. The act of Kiddushin must also include a statement of intent, as well as two witnesses. After Kiddushin, the couple is considered to be married and the woman cannot marry another man. After Kiddushin, the relationship can only be terminated through a get so we see that Shtisel represented the Jewish law correctly. As we mentioned, there is another stage of Jewish marriage called Nisu’in. Nisu’in initiates the more intimate aspect of marriage. For example, only after Nishu’in does a husband become responsible for providing clothing for his wife and for fulfilling his marital duties. What is Nisu’in? There are different views on this among the halachic authorities. Some maintain that an act or situation that reflects the most intimate aspect of marriage – sexual relations – functions as the beginning of Nisu’in. Alternatively, Nisu’in does not require sexual relations but merely for the bride and groom to be secluded in a room together. This is why the traditional Ashkenazic custom is for the bride and groom to be secluded after the chuppah and for witnesses to stand at the door. Sephardim generally do not follow this practice. Others say that Nisu’in takes place when the bride walks under the chuppah. A final view holds that it happens at the bedecken when the groom places the veil over the face of his bride.