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Having Fun Is NOT Everything

I don't think people are bad, just misguided. Let me explain.

Recently a couple I know got married. Another [religious] couple I know [old friends of the Kallah] was invited to the wedding. They inquired as to whether there would be mixed or separate seating. The answer was: Separate. Well, they said [very politely], we are really sorry but we won't really enjoy the simcha if we don't sit together so we are not going to attend.

I am not being critical of this couple. A] It is not my place and B] it makes me feel physically ill when I am critical of people.


But I do want to relate to the ATTITUDE. When a person is invited to a simcha the reason he attends is NOT in order to enjoy himself. You attend a simcha to enhance the joy of the ba'al hasimcha. Having a "good time" is IRRELEVANT. That doesn't mean that one SHOULDN'T have a good time. It just means that the goal is the other persons gratification and not yours. Having a good time is a by-product. If one prefers to sit with his/her spouse, that is LOVELY. It is great if you enjoy the company of your spouse. But to refrain from fulfilling the super-duper mitzva of adding to the joy of a fellow Jew because it won't be so much fun???? That comes from an attitude that I can only deem - self-centered.

That is Western Culture. I, I, I, I. How does that make ME feel? How will this decision affect ME? This is a topic that requires not a post but a book so I am just presenting the tip of the iceberg. There are countless examples: Interrupting a conversation to answer a cell phone, cutting lines, being noisy in residential neighborhoods at night, not returning phone calls, pushing someone when walking by, ignoring traffic laws, not paying back loans on time etc. times ten million.

The way to relate to another person is simply as follows: Pretend that you were the other person and act accordingly. Everybody knows it but how many fulfill it????

I think many people won't understand what I am talking about because in order to fully grasp it one must spend years studying mussar sefarim, but I tried.

One note: The writer of these lines makes no claims of perfection in this [or any] area. I am light years away from the Torah ideal. You are probably much much greater than I [me? I am also lousy at grammar as you have probably noticed]. I am not saying that in order to sound modest but because it is the truth. But maybe there is ONE person out there who will become SLIGHTLY better due to these words.

That alone will be the greatest reward I can ask for.

By the way, I went and had an AWESOME time and even had the most personal and meaningful conversation with a complete stranger that I have ever had in my life. And my wife enjoyed herself on the other side of the mechitza.

Love and blessings!!!!!!!!

i know that the separate seating issue is only the background and not the point of the post. if both spouses would actually add an element of simcha to the hosts, then i couldn't agree with you more. but, often, people are invited as a couple to a simcha that only one spouse is actually friendly with. in many cases, a husband could find himself on a side of the mechitza that he doesn't recognize anybody, including the baal hasimcha himself. in that case, wouldn't you agree that it wouldn't be self-centered if only the wife came to the event? (aside from the nominal b'rov am element that "everyone counts")


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About me

  • I'm Rabbi Ally Ehrman
  • From Old City Jerusalem, Israel
  • I am a Rebbe in Yeshivat Netiv Aryeh.
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