Twenty-six years ago tonight, 29 Tishrei, I woke up early (well, I hadn’t really slept), left my small children with various friends, put on the wedding dress I had borrowed from a free loan society, grabbed my overnight bag, dog-eared prayer book, and cosmetics case, and drove upstate to Ellenville, New York.
I didn’t want the groom to see me without makeup (I found out the hard way, a year later, that he hated the makeup; and in fact had never seen me without it), so I made straight for the ladies’ washroom and stayed there until the guests shouted, c’mon already!
A photographer we had found advertised on a billboard herded the family outside and lined us up, until we realized, hey, it was raining.
Then it rained harder.
Obviously; at this time of year people read the portion of Noah. They do it every year, and it starts raining.
My 90-year-old mother-in-law, of blessed memory, years ago had hand-embroidered a famous scene from the story of Noah: his family and all the animals stampeding out of the ark. No doubt she intended this canopy for her grandson’s wedding, which had taken place years before ours.
Obviously, G-d meant this chuppah for us; I mean since people were reading the portion of Noah and the rain was falling hard. And the rain didn’t let up.
My sister-in-law, custodian of the family chuppah, insisted we take the thing down and set it up inside.
Meanwhile, the rabbi of the Ellenville shul found out we hadn’t filled out forms at the County Clerk’s office for an official marriage certificate, and so he refused to conduct the ceremony.
But it was Sunday; the County Clerk’s office was closed.
No big deal, we said, and recruited one of the rabbis from Satmar (we are Teitelbaums, after all), who said no way will he conduct the chuppah ceremony indoors.
And outside, the rain fell in torrents.
Fortunately, the spirit of our yet-to-be-born teenage son, Nachman, hovered above us and cried out, JUST DO IT!
And Rabbi Eisner, of blessed memory, a tough little man who survived the death camps and founded the Ellenville Shul, did just that.