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Saturday, June 9, 2012

Marriage, A Reason for The Heavy Veil

Not long ago I attended a wedding at which the bride walked was led down the aisle.  There's no way she could have seen through the heavy fabric hooding/hiding her face and head.  One thought went through my mind:
"She has no idea of what she's getting into."
That heavy covering was woven with meaning, some of it maybe not all that pleasant.  Brides veiled like this one are generally pretty innocent and inexperienced in the ways of the world and sex.  They are frequently young and have met their chattan, groom or spouse to be via a matchmaker, after her parents checked out and approved him and his.

According to modern wisdom this should be a recipe for disaster.  Is it?

I don't know.  Maybe I was influenced by an article Heshy wrote on his Frum Satire blog about divorce in frum society.  He wrote from experience that the matchmakers try to fix up religiously problematic men with much more religious women with the expectation that they can get the guys to become more religious.  When the women fails in the task, and the man becomes even less observant, the marriages often become unbearable and they sometimes divorce.  I really think many of those marriages are headed for misery.

Last year I reviewed an excellent book about finding the right marriage partner called I Only Want to Get Married Once.  It stressed that the couple should be matched according to the principle of having the same goals, aims and values.  And that goal shouldn't be "to get married and have children."  There's lots more to marriage than that.

And yes, marriage is a risk and mystery.  There are no money-back guarantees.  It's rare to hear of a perfect marriage.  I've helped friends through divorce. Sometimes divorce is the only way to survive.

Sometimes knowing too much is worse than knowing nothing.

Brides like the one pictured may seem to be powerless, but in some ways they aren't.  There's frequently a support group to help them out.

It's said that no matter how well and bride and groom knew each other before the wedding, they will experience the unexpected once married.  And it is definitely worth taking the risk.


Miriam-Feyga Bunimovich said...

I've also had a 'heavy' veil. but a beautiful one. it really helps to focus on the mistic meaning of the marriage and hide away from gazes and flashes.
my husband and I have thoroughly prepared for the marriage. in addition to traditional hadracha, we've learned together rav Ginzburg's 'Brit ha-Nesu'in'. so I can't say I felt innocent and knew nothing about marriage. but, however, later on I discovered that my learning experience wasn't enough to cope with the problems that we've encountered...

Miriam-Feyga Bunimovich said...

by the way, my husband said I looked like 'terminator of beauty' in that veil (:

Jennifer in MamaLand said...

I have loved every wedding I attended as a guest where the kallah wore an opaque veil. However, these days, with the trend towards hiding women, removing them from photos and generally concealing them from public view, I worry that folks will misinterpret the veil in horrible ways.
At the last chassunah I went to (we don't go to many), I noticed several men pointedly looking the other way as the (opaque-veiled) kallah came down the aisle. Like just a glimpse of her would turn them into raving sex criminals. (how is this "mesameyach" the kallah?) I believe with either veil, the kallah should be admired and flattered in every possible way.
Also, in terms of sholom bayis, always tell the "new" partner (the one that's new to me!) one or two positive things about the one I know. They may not know each other well, but the idea is that the community has created the shidduch and has an obligation to help them get started on the right footing...

Batya said...

Miriam, thanks for the input, your memories. A couple can never be truly prepared, for good and for bad.

Jennifer, that's a good idea, but tell good things beware of lashon haraa, which includes the positive.

Anonymous said...

I have to disagree with you. Last week I went to the best most joyful Chasidic wedding I've ever attended.The bride is not naive, she is baal tshuva, 30 years old. The kallah had on one of these veils and was led. And believe me, no-one looked the other way.There was also a mechitza at the wedding. It was awesome! We danced all night!

Batya said...

a, G-d willing, but there never are guarantees, which must be remembered. Marriage is hard work.

Hadassa said...

Sometimes it's the ba'alei tshuva who are the most naive about what a religious marriage will be, even when they are 30 years old.

Batya said...

Hadassa, excellent point. BT's are most unrealistic unfortunately.