Well Shoshana’s “wedding” was a night to remember, or better to forget. I was supposed to give away a daughter as a bride; instead, a different daughter ran away and the bride was left sobbing at the altar.
Would you believe I know a Midrash to explain even this? It’s true.
It seems an important man in the town of Kabul invited the great rabbis of his generation to a wedding party for his son. During the meal, the father noticed that the wine bottles on the table were empty. He asked his son, the groom, to go down to the wine cellar and get some new bottles.
The young man went down into the dark cellar and, while gathering up some bottles, did not see that a poisonous snake had slid out from between the wine barrels. The snake bit him and he died instantly.
When the groom did not come back for a long time, his father went down into the wine cellar to find out what had happened. He found his son lying on the floor. The father went upstairs quietly and finished his meal without saying a word to the other guests.
When the meal was over and it was time to say the Birkat HaMazon, the Grace After Meals, the father got up and told his guests there would be no more celebration, but that they must join him in saying prayers for mourners, and help him bury the young man.
So, what do we learn from this story?
That no perfect happiness exists in our world. Even times of rejoicing can suddenly turn into tragedy.
This is a lesson Tevye knows only too well. I tried to tell the story to Golde, but she wouldn’t listen. I’m very concerned about her. She had finally begun to pull out of her dark mood when the wedding was announced, but now she’s falling into an even deeper abyss, muttering all day about her family being scattered, and the shame of a daughter scorned on her wedding day.
This excerpt is from Mitchell Bard’s novel, After Anatevka – Tevya Goes to Palestine available now in paperback and on Kindle.