Last week my family and I were driving from… you guessed it… Monsey, New York, back home to Cleveland. Yes, we do this trip a lot, since many of our relatives live on the east coast and we are big road trippers when it comes to family simchas. My nephew’s bar mitzvah was on Tuesday evening, and then, on Wednesday, we traveled back — with a minor detour, literally ten minutes off the I-80, in a town called Mt. Bethel, Pennsylvania.
What exactly was taking place at Mt. Bethel, you may ask? Our daughter Miriam’s close friend got married (we call her Rose since her last name is Rosenberg, a nickname that was born during their year in Israel which is where they met). Miriam was the Jewish version of a “maid of honor,” which is called a “shomeret” (guardian). A shomeret is usually a good friend of the bride’s whose job it is to be with her as much as possible the day prior to the wedding to help protect and guard her spiritually during this time of heightened emotions and vulnerability.
I must tell you that I was absolutely kvelling to watch Miriam and her buddies reunite after a decade since their year in Israel, and to watch her play this beautiful, loving, supportive role for her dear friend. She stayed with Rose the night before her wedding, helped her with details like her veil and other technicalities, and was a steady and kind presence for her throughout.
Many times before a wedding we encounter “bridezilla” — that monster, who looks an awful lot like the bride, who emerges like a rude prima donna, insisting that everything be perfect, and freaking out when it isn’t. In a spiritually Jewish wedding, the bride and groom are indeed likened to a queen and king, and everyone who comes to the wedding should be concerned with gladdening them. That’s the actual mitzvah of attending a Jewish wedding: to make the bride and groom happy.
But also, the bride and groom’s job is to ensure that the wedding is really the first day of their marriage, and the best education for marriage is ensuring that it’s not all about you.
Rose was a beautiful, humble, grateful, radiant bride. I caught a glimpse of her engrossed in heartfelt prayer just before the chuppah. Tradition teaches that the day of one’s wedding is a personal Yom Kippur, a day to pray, to clean one’s slate, to ask forgiveness from those who need it, and to ask God for divine assistance as she embarks on building her new Jewish home.
For Miriam to be blessed to have played a supporting role to this type of spiritual royalty is, indeed, what true honor is. She may not have been the Maid of Honor, but she certainly was “made of honor” — giving and receiving honor to and from her beautiful friend, and becoming truly honored thereby.
“Who is honored? One who honors others” (Pirkei Avot 4:1).