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March 27, 2020
By Dr. Pinny Young

Thursday March 26th was the day our daughter Leia was going to marry Moshe Baitelman of Vancouver, BC. The wedding festivities would begin with a beachfront ceremony in Florida, followed by a rooftop reception overlooking the ocean. Friends and family from all over the world would come and revel in the celebration. We would all spend Shabbos together continuing the Simcha. Well that was the plan anyway.

Turns out that G-d had a different plan.

The wedding took place in our backyard with the immediate family and the required 2 witnesses. No caterer, no florist, no band, no fancy Viennese table. There was love and joy and closeness and Simcha abound. The Baitelman family, the bride and groom all arrived in Buffalo from their respective self-quarantined quarters. Thank G-d no one developed any symptoms at all.

At the veiling part of the ceremony, I told my daughter that Moses received the first set of tablets with great fanfare and noise. They were shattered not long after that. The second set of tablets were given quietly, with none of the previous grand public display. The second tablets are forever. This marriage too was celebrated with an intimate crowd of parents and most of the siblings. They stood under a chuppah made from a silk sheet decorated by the young siblings attached to bamboo poles. The father of the groom performed the ceremony. A modest affair by all accounts with the feel of a wedding in the old shtetl. But the joy was palpable, the simplicity added to the depth of experience. An event openly orchestrated from on high.

When the dust settles from the current crisis, maybe people will have a different outlook on what’s important in life. Maybe we will see the value in more shtetl-style weddings. Certainly this allows us to strengthen our commitment to our nearest and dearest and to deepen our relationship with G-d.

As we stay home this Shabbos with our families, let’s experience the true serenity of Shabbos, – no cell phones, TV or other distractions. Let’s keep in our prayers all those who need a speedy recovery from illness, reach out to those who may be alone and let them know you care. Good Shabbos.

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 Dr. Pinny Young is an ENT and the director of Otolaryngology at the Millard Fillmore Suburban Hospital. He is also a Rabbi and he and his wife Sonia are the proud parents of 7 children.

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Back to the Shtetl - siblings decorating the chuppah before the ceremony scaled

Decorating the chuppah before the ceremony!