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Friday, May 27, 2005

Lag B'Omer 2005

Lag B'Omer passed quietly...I didn't hear any fire engines nearby, so I slept relatively peacefully, assured that Hagai and his friends weren't burning down the neighborhood with their bonfire on the road below the house. Hagai returned about 7:00 a.m. and stayed up to talk to his friends till 8:30, when he plopped down on the couch, told me how "wierd" it was that he didn't feel tired, and then, within about 3 minutes, nodded off.

This Shabbat, there are hundreds of people in Tzfat who came up for Lag B'Omer on Friday, and decided to stay over for Shabbat. One of them, the Hornsteipler (or something like that) Rebbe, is here. He used to be known as the "Denver Rebbe" because he led a community there for awhile before moving back east. He's a member of the well-known Twersky family, who run several Hassidic dynasties. One of the brothers, Abraham Twersky, is also well-known as a psychiatrist who works with alcohol and drug recovery, and has written a number of well known books.

Anyway, the "Denver" Rebbe was last hear about 4 years ago, when he prayed with his followers and friends, and during a Third Meal on Shabbat, discovered that a young couple in the group who were in Tzfat for their honeymoon had not had a proper Jewish wedding. They had had a service which didn't meet many halachic guidelines for a marriage, and the Rebbe decided to remedy the situation -- on the spot.

"How would you like to have a traditional Jewish wedding?" he asked the couple, and as soon as they replied in the affirmative, he began to plan. The minute havdallah was chanted, one of his lady followers whisked the kalla (bride) off to the mikve, while the men huddled to write the ketuba.

In the meantime, a group of American teenagers, who were scheduled to come to an evening of singing in the yard where the Rebbe was holding court were drafted to help. Ponytailed, multiple-piercings and tatooed youngsters were invited in to witness the signing of the ketuba (where the Rebbe explained to them, step-by-step, what they were doing)and assigned to hold the chuppa corners, assist in setting out the food, and given dabuka drums to bang as the bride walked up the asile.

Again, throughout the chuppa, the Rebbe explained to the assembled entourage exactly what was happening and what he was doing, step by step, and got them to help at various steps throughout the ceremony. Afterwards, the wild dancing and singing went on for hours, and it was a night that few will forget.

Which is why I will try to go to the shul where the Rebbe is davening, even though it's a place that I seldom go to. His love of all, and ability to include everyone in his joy of his Jewish practice is something that I want to be a part of!

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