This week I am headed for the tropical (not!) city of Cleveland, Ohio to attend my nephew’s wedding and where many of my relatives reside, and sigh, where snow still falls in April. This past Friday evening, my sister reminded me that I should take warm clothes for the week we will be away from the sun and warmth of Los Angeles.
I have been looking at the forecast for the area within which we will stay, just outside the Metropolis of the Western Reserve – yes that is one of Cleveland’s nicknames, and yes, the forecast does change a bit each day, but sadly, for a guy who doesn’t care for cold weather, this is the latest:
On the day we arrive, there is a 70% chance of rain and snow showers. Sunday, the day of the wedding, will thankfully be the nicest day, at 46° and partly cloudy. The other days will be cold, and rainy or cloudy. If we wait an hour or so, it will change to who knows what.
Before any of you located In Chicago or New York or Jerusalem or Canada or Montana or Siberia or Antarctica or Pluto or um, Cleveland, call me a wimp, know that I grew up and lived in and drove in the snows of Baltimore and at times we had plenty, and last week when sleet, of all things, plopped on my car as I was driving down Pico here in LA, I thought it was pretty cool, no pun intended. (“Big deal,” you say.)
Well, a couple years back my nephew and I took a road trip in the middle of January and we traversed the snowy/icy roads around and up to Crater Lake in the Cascade mountain range of Oregon, where several feet of snow had fallen and stuck around over the previous weeks and days. My nephew is my witness. So there.
Look, even though the same period of time in La-la land does show clouds and a couple wet days, were I to be here and not there, I would not be freezing my kishkas off, and I so very much hate to freeze any part of my body. (OK, OK, you are still calling me a wimp, fine.)
But we all make choices and I made the move to the land of the Kardashians even before they assisted in making the place (in)famous, while you hardy, thicker-skinned folks decided to stay where “the sun don’t shine” all that much or even gulp, decided to move to the tundra.
But I don’t want this to be yet another kvetching column. (“Finally,” you say.) It is a wedding after all, that has me willing to sit in a cramped, tight airborne enclosure to and from, next to a wheezing, coughing, hygienically-challenged, having-even-more-shpilkas-than-me fellow traveler for four to five hours. And let’s not forget the crying baby behind me. (Right, right, no kvetching, OK, sorry.)
I like Cleveland by the way. My relatives are wonderful, the Jewish community there is close and very friendly, and aside from Jewish values, the area has the added Midwestern values we don’t have here on the west coast. Also, Cleveland is in Ohio, the state governed by my choice for president, the most capable John Kasich. (Shameless plug.)
Right, weddings. Unless a couple ties the knot at the Justice of the Peace, the bride and groom unify in front of beaming relatives and friends, many wondering what will be for dinner. (I already asked.) Flowers and music and cake and calories, all that stuff. But what was the first wedding like, that of Adam and Eve?
Our Sages in the Midrash (a collection of ancient biblical commentaries) tell us that at the very first wedding, God adorned Eve as a bride, decorating her with 24 beautiful jewels and He made for her ten Chupot, wedding canopies, one inside the other. Each canopy curtain was made of fabric interlaced with gold, with precious stones and gems woven into the fabric, shining as bright as the sun.
God then brought Eve into the Chupot and was joyful and told the angels to be the same. And the angels danced and played instruments and sang, and brought gifts from all over the world to the bride and groom. And God Himself in all His glory blessed the couple with wedding blessings. (Source: Ish U’veito.)
Weddings have come a long way since that first holy union where I am sure the caterer gave God a very good deal. To even attempt to do otherwise…
Back to Cleveland. I hope we have Mazal with the weather, and I mean less rain and snow and more sun and warmth, as much as it can be for northern Ohio in April.
By the way, while I am on the subject of Mazal, I once heard a rabbi say that the root word for Mazal, luck or fortune, was Nazel, which means flow. In other words, Mazal Tov really means, may blessings and happiness flow from Heaven to whomever the wish was directed. Nice.
That interpretation and explanation reminded me of when my older sister used to say to her kids when they were young, “Let me wipe your noses, you have Nazelet.”
In any event, I want to wish my nephew and his lovely bride a hearty Mazal Tov, and a Mazal Tov to all relatives and friends. And when I say Mazal Tov, I speak of blessings and happiness, not runny noses, which I am afraid many of us will get anyway.