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Unconditional Love

Sweetest Friends Shalom!!! [Or, as one of my favorite Mageedei Shiur likes to start "Shalom Aleichem Sweetest Friends!!" The truth is I walk around the house habitually just saying "Shalom Ale..." My kids think I am funny - some of the neighbors think I am weird. OK - I made up the neighbor part. Why does neighbor have a "gh"? How did the "gh" find its way into the word laugh? Sometimes I say l-a-u-g-h - phonetically and people laugh. Just something to use if you are on a dull date and want to liven things up. Then say "A friend of mine once sent me a post card with a picture of the entire planet Earth taken from space. On the back it said, "Wish you were here."]

When A Chosson and Kallah enter the ballroom after the elongated yichud period, there is a custom for their friends to stand in two rows facing each other, hold on to oval-shaped sticks [or something like that] and the Chosson and Kallah RUN in between the two rows under the sticks and then separate to their gender appropriate side for lots of sweating and good fun. There is SOOO much simcha at a Jewish wedding! But where does this "running in between the two rows" custom stem from?

After searching high and low in our traditional sources and coming up empty I think I found the source!

Football!! Yes, at the beginning of football games that is how the players enter the field. I have found no other source. Thank G-d [!] my friends didn't follow this custom at my wedding for had they done so I fear that I would have spent the rest of the wedding tackling and blocking people. Plus, I was wearing a dark suit and the kallah a white dress, so that means that she was on the other team.

Uh oh!

Maybe people adopted this custom because the wedding hall is called a "ballroom".

In any event I would like to talk about marriage [and relationships in general]. What does a man REALLY want? What does a woman REALLY want?

Sweetest friends, please open your hearts because what I am about to say is critical and sorely lacking.


"Of course", you say, "I knew that!" I will tell you a secret. Chances are that people close to you PROBABLY don't feel loved by you unconditionally. I meet many children who don't feel that their parents love them unconditionally. I know many spouses who also don't feel that way. What about teachers towards students? How many students feel that their teachers love them unconditionally? How many students feel that their teachers love them at all? Think about your teachers and come up with a number. If all of the fingers on one hand are used up - consider yourself extraordinarily fortunate!

The constant barrage of criticism expressed makes people feel that they are only loved "if". Kritcism Kills [sic. Refuah Shleimah!]. Note that the traditional phrase we use to marry a women is NOT "Harei at mekudeshes li al minas she-aruchat erev muchana bazman" - You are betrothed to me on condition that dinner is ready on time. We say Harei At [I affectionately call my wife "Harriet" for this very reason. She calls me Xavier becuase it has such a high score in scrabble. I made that up.] mekudeshes li - you are [literally] SPECIAL to me - no matter what! [Just take this ring from me! I don't wear jewelery and have nothing to do with it.]

In this weeks parsha we read that Moshe says "Banim Atem Lashem Elokeichem" [14/1]. Rebbe Meir [whose Rebbe was the famous Acher - Alisha Ben Avuyah] interprets this to mean that we are Hashem's children even when we serve idols, even when we rebel!! Hashem loves us NO MATTER WHAT! Isn't that a great feeling! Unconditional! It is our birthright [there is the "gh" again..]. [The Rashba points out that the Halacha is like Rebbe Meir.]

Of course, as a loving father He tells us that if we sin we will be doing ourselves great harm, but NOT that he is no longer our father. I often tell my children that if they smoke they are stupid - dozens of carcinogens in every cigarette. But that doesn't mean that they are no longer my children if [Chas Vi'shalom] they foolishly choose not to listen. Hashem gives us great advice - keep the mitzvos. The Zohar calls the mitzvos "taryag etin" - 613 sound pieces of advice. But OF COURSE He loves us regardless.

That is how we must relate to those around us. Love NO MATTER WHAT, while at the same time positively encouraging proper behavior. This will drastically improve society. Many more people in the world lack even one person who genuinely loves them than those who lack bread to eat. And love is to the soul what food is to the body.

Oh, how peoples souls are so malnourished.

This blog is dedicated to the merit of the people who recently emailed me [or told me orally - or-ally, I like that word! But why the "or"?] and gave me tremendous chizzuk by telling me that the blog gives them chizzuk. Sometimes I wonder if the time I spend writing this blog would be better spent cracking a Rebbe Akiva Eiger or a Ketzos. But if even ONE person tells me they get ruchnuyis from here then it is all worth it. So thank you all! You - and Hashem - know who you are.

Unconditional Love and Blessings To All!

Good Shabbos!!

"gh" used to be pronounced in the English language. Now it's silent. But the spelling remained the same.

...that's why I used the NFL theme before walking in! :D

thanks R' Yaakov.

Great idea Ezzie!!

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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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