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A Unique Opportunity

It became clear to Rivka why she had to travel four hours to attend a wedding where she knew not a soul


ASRivka and her husband Zev pulled into the parking lot in Monsey, they breathed a sigh of relief. They had traveled over four hours from Baltimore and were elated to arrive in time for the chuppah.

The chassan was her husband’s former chavrusa, and he had waited a long time to find his bashert.

Initially, Rivka was not planning on making the trek from Baltimore to Monsey. And she had compelling reasons not to attend.

She had to be back in the classroom early the next morning. Besides that, Rivka assumed she wouldn’t know any of the women at the chasunah.

However, she knew her husband didn’t like to drive alone, so she joined him for the trip.

After checking their coats, Zev joined his old yeshivah buddies at the chassan tish, and Rivka made her way into the women’s section, somewhat nervously and timidly.

The kallah was already seated in her place of honor, surrounded by her close relatives. Rivka stood to the side, taking in the simchah with joy but feeling a bit like an outsider.

Rivka scanned the room and did not recognize even one woman among the crowd. She began to question her decision to make the long trip.

Suddenly, she noticed Leah Fineberg,* whom she vaguely recalled from seminary 20 years before.

Rivka hesitantly made her way toward Leah. But as she moved closer, she noticed something was amiss.

Standing between them, facing Leah with her back toward Rivka, was a woman who appeared to be very agitated.

As Rivka neared the pair, she could hear quite clearly, as could many other women in the proximity, that the woman was unleashing a furious tirade at Leah, hurling hurtful invectives and accusations.

The scene was not only humiliating for the target of the woman’s rant, it was embarrassing to everyone at the simchah.

Finally, another woman deftly and delicately persuaded Leah’s antagonist to leave the hall, defusing the embarrassing situation.

After the enraged woman had departed, everyone was frozen in a silence that permeated the entire room. An overwhelming awkwardness threatened to crowd out the simchah of the chasunah.

Everyone was looking at Leah, who had somehow remained calm and never responded to the verbal onslaught.

Suddenly, an idea entered Rivka’s mind. During the four-hour drive to the chasunah, she and Zev had listened to a shiur by Rav Fischel Schachter.

Rav Fischel had related, in the name of many gedolim, that if you see someone being publicly embarrassed by another, receiving the humiliation in silence and not retorting in kind, you have a unique opportunity. That person can bestow potent, meaningful brachos.

Suddenly, it became clear to Rivka why she had to travel four hours to attend a wedding where she knew not a soul.

Suddenly, Hashem’s plan became obvious to her.

With trepidation, she approached Leah. In a clear yet humble tone, Rivka asked Leah to bentsh her. Leah responded as if it was the most natural thing for her to do.

And then the most amazing scene unfolded.

Dozens of women began to line up and request brachos from Leah. One woman asked for a shidduch for her son. Another needed parnassah. And a third asked for a refuah sheleimah.

In a flash, the atmosphere in the hall was transformed from utter silence to  brachos, tefillos, and simchah.

As Rivka observed the line of women in front of Leah, she could not help but ponder, “And to think she almost did not make the trip to the chasunah….”


(Originally featured in Mishpacha, Issue 1001)

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