It’s an altruistic brachah, entirely l’Sheim Shamayim
“Our sister, may you become thousands of myriads, and may your offspring inherit the gate of its enemies.” (Bereishis 24:60)
At a badeken, the father of the kallah (and often the father of the chassan) bless the kallah. The ancient custom used to be that the elders of the city gave the kallah a brachah. What brachah is given? This blessing that Lavan gave Rivkah.
A person might ask — of all the blessings in the Torah, this is what we say to a kallah immediately before her chuppah? We emulate the conniving Lavan? It seems strange, to say the least! (Rabbi Yissocher Frand, Torah.org)
The breeze was blowing softly, and I relaxed on the bench. With the long days of home schooling, taking the kids out to the park has become a survival mechanism. My enjoyment brightened even more when my neighbor, Temima, settled on the next bench. We exchanged news and inevitably the conversation veered into Top Trending Topic: COVID.
“You know what I miss most?” sighed Temima.
I turned to her to better hear what she was saying. (I don’t know why masks hinder my hearing. Did I used to lip read? Or maybe it’s the same concept that renders me hard of hearing when I’m not wearing my glasses.)
“I miss going to simchahs. It seems like the simchahs keep getting smaller, and the Tehillim list just gets longer.”
I sighed too. In the past I’d often grumbled that the last thing I wanted to do on a late evening was get dressed up and go to a simchah. But with Temima’s words, I realized that once I no longer had simchahs I was obligated to attend, I really did miss them.
Usually, when your daughter, your sister, your relative goes to the chuppah, you’re thrilled. She’s getting married! A fine family! The whole works! Lavan, however, did not like this shidduch, not one bit. Do you think he was happy that she was leaving? He tried to talk Eliezer out of taking her immediately. Lavan was into money. He didn’t want his sister to marry Yitzchak, who spent his time praying. “I don’t want my sister to become some kind of Meah Shearim rebbetzin! I’m not happy about this!”
But what does Lavan do? He overcame his prejudice, his hesitancy, and he gave a brachah entirely l’Sheim Shamayim. “I may not be happy with this shidduch, and I don’t like this lifestyle. This is not what you learned in your father’s house, but I’m giving you a brachah with a full heart.”
“I did go to one chasunah last week,” Temima continued, “and boy, was that an experience!
“The kallah’s my neighbor, a nice Israeli family; they daven in our shul. The girl went through some rebellious years as a teen. Eventually she straightened out, yet she landed in a very different place than the rest of her family. Still, her parents were so pleased she was settled. Her chassan and his family are waaay different than my neighbors in just about everything — background, minhagim, dress — you name it! The chasunah was outdoors, and there weren’t that many people there, but it was clear who belonged to which side!”
When we say those words to our daughters at the badeken, we’re implying that Lavan’s brachah should be an inspiration to us. Because the true brachah is one in which the person who bestows it does not expect to get anything out of it. It’s an altruistic brachah, entirely l’Sheim Shamayim. “For you — not for me, I get nothing out of this shidduch.” It’s a brachah entirely for the kallah’s benefit. That’s how we want to bless the kallah.
“But you know what the most beautiful part was?” Temima paused, and I leaned forward, drawn by the wistful tone of her voice. “There was her father, with his trim beard and black hat. When he bent over his daughter and bentshed her before the chuppah, there were tears flowing down his cheeks, and you could tell they were tears of simchah and nachas.”
I felt tears coming to my own eyes with her story. Here was a parent, about to walk his daughter down to her chuppah in a wedding setting that no one could have imagined a year ago, and to a bochur that he would never have pictured as his future son-in-law, and he was crying from joy.
The breeze continued to blow softly, carrying my thoughts upward: Hashem, we need more such simchahs.
(Originally featured in Family First, Issue 717)
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