Monday, September 05, 2005

VOWS

When Daniel and I got married, I had been working for a large, Jewish congregation in Johannesburg, South Africa, under the leadership of Rabbi Ady Edward Assabi. Over the three year period that I worked for him, he became my mentor, teacher, friend on a soul level and someone whom I looked up to as I had never done before. Our three year friendship encompassed a lifetime.

He officiated at our wedding and in celebration of our 12th wedding anniversary on September 5th, I decided to transcribe the Rabbi’s speech. I watched our wedding video for the first time in many years a couple of weeks ago. After 12 years of marriage, I realized how deeply profound this speech was. There was no way I could have appreciated the depth of his words at that time.

Ketubah – Jewish Marriage Contract
Chuppah – Jewish Marriage Canopy
Kippah – Jewish men/boy’s head covering



"This ketubah witnesses before G-d and man that on the eve of the second day of the week, the 20th day of the month of Elul, in the Jewish year 5753, corresponding to the 5th day of September, 1993, the holy covenant of marriage was entered into between the bridegroom Daniel Nathan and his bride Dawn at Johannesburg, South Africa. Duly conscious of the solemn obligations of marriage, the bride groom made the following declaration to his bride:

To be consecrated unto me as my wife,
according to the laws and traditions of Moses and Israel I will love, honor and cherish you. I will protect and support you and I will faithfully care for your needs as prescribed by Jewish law and tradition.

The said bride made the following declaration to the groom: I pledge you all my love and devotion and I take upon myself
the fulfillment of all the duties incumbent on a Jewish wife.

Bride and Groom then together declared before G-d and man
that they had signed their names to this ketubah of their own free will without reservation or restraint and that they intend to be bound by this holy covenant so long as they shall live.

Having read the Ketubah which is the binding Jewish document of marriage,
standing here under the chuppah which symbolizes the presence of G-d, having shared a cup of wine as we hope you will always share all your joys and sorrows from now on, I can almost declare you to be both civilly and Jewishly husband and wife.

Before I do so I would like to express to both of you and your respective families,
my personal, deeply felt best wishes for what will hopefully be an arrival at an abode of peace and tranquility.

You have both walked a long way through the pain and agony and the tribulations of life.
You have had plenty of the cup of sorrow. And one of the basic elements that makes you the couple that you are, is probably your respective mutual experiences and your heightened sensitivityto the needs of each other. And so you found each other, almost as an act of Divinity and you ran into each others arms as if you were destined for each other from the day you were born.

You might have each taken different routes, but that which needs to be,
will eventually take place. The ‘D’ cannot stay away from the ‘D’. And that was the role of the Levites in olden days. They were running in between. Serving the priests on the one hand, and representing the people on the other. And this Levi here has done his fair share of running until he came across the dawn of a new light in his life. The emergence of true care, of compassion and understanding as only you Dawn, know how to give and how to express.

Both of you will have to put everything you have into this union.
You will have to remember that you are two separate individuals; that you do not become one today; that you retain your individuality and the need to respect each other’s individuality; that what you pledge to do is to walk together through the path of life, hand-in-hand – what ever it may bring, and to support each other - as friends, as companions and as comrades.

The one thing that you need to remember at all times is that the openness,
the ability to say what is on your heart, the avoidance of any kind of keeping things to yourself, but rather verbalizing it when you feel it and when it comes, and being able to accept it from each other with mutual respect - is what is going to make every day a very special day

As G-d renews the work of creation
so must you renew your love for each other. As the cycle of life continues every day, and the beauty of its harmony, so must you enhance each other every step of the way … and please G-d you will be blessed with the ultimate fruit, and you will have the privilege of raising little boys and girls in good Jewish tradition - faithful to the heritage from which you come and destined to spread and radiate the love that you feel for each other.

May G-d be with you wherever you turn.
May you bring out the best in each other and may,
through you - those who come in touch with you - be blessed for ever more. Amen"


ADY EDWARD ASSABI
March 29th, 1947 – June 15th, 2003

Ady,
Perhaps it is your wisdom that guides us,
perhaps it is that Divine spark you spoke of …
what ever it is, I could not think of a better way of honoring your memory
other than simply stating, we have done it … and then some!
On the eve of a new school year, as I lay my son’s kippah out for him to wear to school tomorrow, I know you are smiling down on all of us.
I thank you and I miss you.
Love,
Dawn

 
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