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In Tune

This was no regular second marriage. (Are there any “regular” marriages?)



The chasunah took place on a rainy Sunday in December.

The bride was seated on a kallah chair, and well-wishers gathered around her to say mazel tov.

The chassan sat at the head seat in the chassan’s tish, surrounded by relatives and friends.

Then, chassan and kallah proceeded down the aisle as the enchanting melodies of “Baruch Haba” and “Bruchah Haba’ah” filled the shul.

Chayaita, our kallah, was radiant as her smile illuminated the room.

The chassan, Gedalia, was beaming just as brightly, euphoric and majestic as he strode out from under the chuppah to meet his kallah a few steps before the chuppah and escort her under the canopy.

They made a beautiful couple.

Each of them had gone through their own challenges and vicissitudes to reach this wonderful occasion. Both had been married before. In fact, I was mesader kiddushin for Chayaita’s previous marriage and had known her for over 25 years.

Gedalia, whom I met a few months before the chasunah and had already forged a close friendship with, had also lost his spouse of many decades.

As the couple stood under the chuppah and I made the brachos sanctifying the kiddushin, there were more than a few tears in the room. This was no regular second marriage. (Are there any “regular” marriages?) This shidduch came about in the most unlikely of ways.

It began at a Shabbos retreat organized by Ohel and their bereavement division, a retreat that was in itself very unique. It was a Shabbos of chizuk specifically for parents who had lost adult children.

This amazing support group is one of Ohel’s most unique, and most unknown. Under the direction of Dr. David Mandel, Ohel established this support group as part of their trauma outreach services run by Dr. Norman Blumenthal, and many couples and individuals who have lost adult children have found chizuk through this amazing group.

A few months ago, Gedalia and Chayaita — who have both lost adult children — were attendees at a Shabbos retreat. As Friday night davening ended, and Gedalia slowly made his way to the dining area, he sang “Yigdal.”

Yigdal, which emphasizes our belief in the fundamental tenets of Yiddishkeit, is one of Gedalia’s favorite niggunim.

He sang it to his wife when she was sick, and he sings it to himself every Friday night, giving him much-needed chizuk and hope.

On this particular Friday night, Chayaita, who happened to be walking just a few feet behind Gedalia, heard him singing.

“That niggun reminds me of my father. He also used to sing Yigdal to that beautiful tune,” Chayaita said, surprised to hear it.

This was their initial introduction and, ultimately, a date was arranged.

The Shabbos designated to cope with loss had become a Shabbos of discovery, where each one of them found their bashert. A few days before Chanukah, on 20 Kislev, Chayaita and Gedalia became husband and wife.

Who else but Hashem could have orchestrated and planned that two people grappling with losing loved ones would actually find their soulmates on a Shabbos dealing with loss?

Yet even more, Who else but Hashem could have brought together a 90-year-old man with a 77-year-old woman and have them celebrate their wedding with the same freshness and excitement of a couple many decades younger?

Shidduchim are indeed made in Heaven.


(Originally featured in Mishpacha, Issue 991)

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