The timing couldn’t have been worse for Rabbi Yaakov Litman and his 18-year-old son, Netanel. Arab terrorists gunned them down five days before the wedding of Yaakov’s daughter, Sara Techiya. The family was driving on Thursday to the aufrauf, the groom’s pre-wedding Shabbos celebration, when their car was fired upon. Which means that instead of being married to Ariel Beegel the following Tuesday, Sara Techiya Litman was sitting shiva for her father and brother. Even though the slaughtering of Jews rarely captures the world’s attention, this story had a fighting chance. But because this attack happened the day before the assault on Paris, the story barely surfaced.
But this couple’s saga took on a life of its own, and it’s too triumphant not to share. Their wedding was postponed, but last Thursday, Sara Techiya and Ariel got married. You would think they would have wanted a small, private wedding. Surely the family is still numb from the horror; Sara Techiya’s mother and four siblings were riding in the car when they were attacked (thank G-d, their injuries were minor). But, in true, two-thousand-year-old Jewish tradition, they refused to buckle under the pain. Instead, they invited the entire Jewish nation to celebrate with them at Jerusalem’s convention center. Thousands attended, knowing that it’s a mitzvah to bring joy to a chassan and kallah, groom and bride. First they filled the convention center and then the streets. Synagogues from around the world raffled trips to Israel so their communities could be represented. Jewish singer Avraham Fried made a surprise guest appearance. As I watched the wedding streamed live on You Tube, I felt like a virtual guest whose small presence helped affirm, “Am Yisroel Chai,” the Jewish nation lives. (I sent the new couple a real present through gofundme.)
In the invitation they sent to the world via social media, Sara Techiya and Ariel wrote, “Do not rejoice over me, my enemy, for I have fallen but I have gotten up” (Micah 7:8). The timing of their wedding, their “getting up,” could not have been more fortuitous. It’s not just that Jews in America were at home on Thursday for Thanksgiving and able to watch the wedding on You Tube. It also happens that their wedding took place on the 14th of Kislev, the anniversary of the seventh Lubavitcher Rebbe, Menachem Mendel Schneerson, and his wife, Chaya Mushka, who were married in 1927. You can be sure that unleashed spiritual power. And last week’s parsha, Vayishlach, relates how our patriarch Jacob’s triumphs over the angel of Eisav: “The sun rose and was shining upon him…” (Genesis 32:32). Throughout the darkest days in Jewish history, these words have been our guiding light. No matter what challenges we face, no matter how hopeless the situation appears, G-d assures us we will always prevail, through our sweet revenge of family and joy, until we enjoy the truest and sweetest victory with the coming of Moshiach.
G-d knows they’ve tried to destroy us, but no one can. No Babylonian, no Hellenist, no Roman, no Spanish Inquisitor, no pogrom participant, no Nazi, no Communist, no Arab terrorist has ever been or will ever be able to eradicate us. Because the Jewish people’s existence is beyond nature.
How else can you explain Sara Techiya and Ariel’s magnificent celebration last week? Their timing was perfect. Too perfect not to share everywhere.