Thursday, December 28, 2017

Weddings and Destiny

Every wedding at which I officiate there is always a hint of beshert. Even in this age of JSwipe I hear fate’s echoes. “I did not think anything would come of it, but he would not stop texting me, so I figured I would meet him for drinks and that would be it. And then on that first date we could not stop talking.” He adds, “She is so intelligent and beautiful. We soon realized that we share the same values.”

How can one not believe in divine providence when looking at a young couple standing beneath the huppah? The Baal Shem Tov teaches, “From every human being there rises a light that reaches straight to heaven. And when two souls that are destined to be together find each other, their streams of light flow together, and a single brighter light goes forth from their united being.” Their smiles illuminate. That single light shines.

This love must be more than mere happenstance. It is evidence of God’s hand.

And yet I often teach that we do not believe in destiny. The High Holidays would be meaningless if we did not believe that people could rewrite their future. Over and over again we profess our belief in the promise of repentance. Everyone can make amends and change. No one’s fate is sealed. The huppah suggests otherwise.

The Torah concurs. Before Jacob dies he gathers his children around him to offer blessings. “And Jacob called his sons and said, ‘Come together that I may tell you what is to befall you in days to come…’” (Genesis 49) Simeon and Levi, who kill the inhabitants of Shechem, are forever tainted. Jacob states, “Cursed be their anger so fierce, and their wrath so relentless. I will divide them in Jacob, scatter them in Israel.” Their past actions seal their destiny. Their future is written.

Fate is again illuminated. And our theology shadowed.

I recall the huppah.

Yehudah Amichai comments:
Joy blurs everything. I've heard people say
after nights of love and feasting, "It was great,
I was in seventh heaven." Even the spaceman who floated
in outer space, tethered to a spaceship, could say only, "Great,
wonderful, I have no words."
The blurriness of joy and the precision of pain —
I want to describe, with a sharp pain's precision, happiness
and blurry joy.
I look to the couple, standing beneath the huppah. God’s hand materializes.

Perhaps things can never be as precise as theology and philosophy suggest. We carry that moment when the stars appear to align, forever.

No comments: