| Family Tempo |


The veil hanging in my bedroom reminded me of all I had to daven for

As told to Bracha Stein

Whenever I opened my closet door, I saw the delicate layers of tulle and lace, the exquisite cream-colored gown, a symbol of all my dreams. Its very tangible, immediate presence felt like a promise: You have the gown. You’ll have the wedding soon, too.

Years ago, my aunt’s friend had given her the wedding gown she’d had custom sewn for her daughter’s wedding. My aunt had hoped to give it to her own daughter — six years my junior — but that cousin decided to wear a pure white gown. When I visited, my aunt looked me up and down, then clapped her hands in excitement. “You know, I think Shevy’s gown would be perfect for you! Why don’t you take it?”

We climbed the steps to the attic where I tried on the gown, fingering the lace as my aunt carefully zippered it. I’d already been dating for a number of years; it was hard to picture myself in a gown. But my aunt was right — it did fit perfectly. She saved it for me in her attic, and from time to time when I visited, I’d try it on.

When my aunt moved, I took the gown home and hung it in my closet. It was huge and bulky, what with the layers and petticoats and veil, but I loved having it there. Now all I needed was the chassan!

But then one year passed, and then another. And then 12 years had passed from the day my aunt gifted me with the gown; it was no longer fresh and new. Neither were my hope and optimism.

One day, my mother opened the closet and sighed. “This gown is already so old and dated, Ahuva. When you get engaged, we’ll buy you a new gown.”

It was time to give up on the gown. It was a bittersweet moment; it felt as if I was giving up, admitting that my wedding wasn’t just a few weeks away. We donated the gown and all the assorted paraphernalia that came with it.

Or so we thought. A few weeks later, I found the dek tichel at the bottom of a laundry basket. It felt like a sign, somehow, that everything would be okay, that I’d finally find my bashert, that my father’s worrisome medical symptoms would be easily resolved.

I picked up the veil and hung it in my bedroom, next to my bed. That would become my davening spot, the place where I’d pour out my heart as I envisioned my dreams coming true.

Unfortunately, things didn’t get easier. I was still single. My father was diagnosed with cancer. He enrolled in a clinical trial, but his prognosis was frightening.

One day, I was staying home with my father — my family had traveled out of town to daven by kevarim — when I was hit with a wave of despair. I can’t do this anymore. It’s too much. I davened and cried and begged until I wore myself out and fell asleep on the couch.

I woke up to a text from a shadchan. With a suggestion. That actually sounded like it was in the ballpark. My heart lifted.

We started dating, and I began to feel the first tentative tendrils of hope curling in my heart.

But then the promising shidduch came to a standstill, and my father’s condition kept deteriorating. It became harder and harder to hold on.

Then — just six months after his diagnosis — my father told us the end was near.

My mother had always been a beacon of strength. Even now, she didn’t waver. “When?” she asked.


We knew we had to say goodbye. But I just couldn’t. “Ta,” I sobbed, “you’re not going anywhere! You can’t! You didn’t walk me to my chuppah.”

My father’s emunah — which had accompanied him throughout his illness — stayed strong. It was clear to him that this was Hashem’s Will, and he accepted it with quiet strength and dignity.

Suddenly, I remembered the veil. I ran to my room and retrieved the dek tichel, then returned to the living room and put it on. “Tatty,” I whispered through my tears, “bentsh me for my chuppah.”

And he did.

So many things became so much harder after my father’s petirah. As a family, we’d always tried to make Shabbos beautiful. My father received chemo on Fridays, but he was always so positive. “Look, we get another Shabbos!” he’d say.

He approached even the darkest moments of his illness with simchah. He had always been more reserved, refined, but after his diagnosis, he would start dancing, singing, “Ein od milvado.”

After his passing, my mother tried her hardest to continue his legacy. She was insistent that there would be no crying on Shabbos; we needed to be b’simchah.

But I found it hard to even come to the Shabbos table without a father there.

I spoke to a rav I was close with about how hard it was for me to be happy on Shabbos. He advised me to focus on Kabbalas Shabbos. “When you get to ‘bo’i kallah’ in Lecha Dodi, picture yourself as a kallah,” he told me. It was hard, but I tried, and it gave me chizuk.

A few other shidduchim were suggested here and there, but none of them were on the mark. I’ll never forget what one woman told me after I ended a particularly unsuitable shidduch. “Be realistic!” she said, her tone tinged with exasperation. “What else do you think is out there? What are you waiting for?”

I felt weighed down, both by my mourning and being single. It was easier to cry than to be positive. One day, I felt that I’d reached my breaking point.

I called my rav in distress. “I can’t do this! I’ve waited so long, but I can’t do this anymore, I can’t invest what it takes.”

The rav paused for a few moments. When he spoke, I could hear the pain in his voice. “Give me the names that were suggested to you,” he said. “Let me look into them.”

A few days later, I met my husband.

People who know me sometimes ask what I finally did, how I got married. But it wasn’t me; it never was. Hashem was the One Who made it work out.

We got engaged on Erev Shabbos Nachamu, when Hashem tells us, “Nachamu, nachamu, ami. Be comforted, My nation.” I’d always wondered: How can we find comfort, when we still don’t have a Beis Hamikdash? Now I understand that nechamah doesn’t mean denying that the pain happened; it doesn’t erase galus. But it’s a broader perspective, it’s the realization that Hashem took out His wrath on wood and stone, and continues to protect His nation.

Getting engaged doesn’t erase all those years of being single. It doesn’t erase all of the pain. But it brought nechamah, it brought a broader perspective. Looking back at the full picture, I can see Hashem’s Will in everything that happened.

And after all those years, finally — finally! — I was planning a wedding.

I knew I wanted to do things a bit differently. We planned our wedding for a Friday. I wanted the wedding to be simple and beautiful — the way weddings used to be. And I’d spent enough Yom Kippurs in shul to have a sense of what Yom Kippur was. I wanted to maximize the Yom Hachuppah, to focus on what was really important.

We planned to invite friends and neighbors to a badeken, then the chuppah, which was followed by a reception and dancing. Our family would stay with us for Shabbos, when we’d celebrate the resolution of all those years of waiting and pain on the day my family had always honored with joy.

The day of my wedding finally arrived. Friends and neighbors drifted in and out, all of them thrilled to join us in celebrating our long-awaited simchah. It was beautiful and emotional. There were so many tears as my chassan lowered the veil — the same one in which my father had bentshed me  — over my face.

And then came the chuppah. I walked down the aisle just hours before Shabbos, accompanied by the words that had accompanied my years of tefillah, faith, and waiting.

Bo’i kallah, bo’i kallah. 


(Originally featured in Family First, Issue 803)

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