My second son is engaged to be married and we celebrated last night. The kallah told me last week that we would be “breaking the plate” at the engagement party.
I began to hyperventilate.

Last year, my eldest son got married and we “broke the plate” at the wedding. This is a small ceremony in which the mother of the chatan and the mother of kallah break a plate, and the shards of broken ceramic pieces signify that just as the plate can’t be put together, the marriage can’t be broken. Beautiful concept, but it never resonated within me. Breaking the plate last year almost gave me a small heart attack. As the kallah’s mother pushed the plate to the floor to drop it, I raised it up. She again pushed it towards the floor, and I lugged it up….this went on and on until someone screamed out, “Karen, you need a Psychologist,” which made me laugh so hard, because I am a Psychologist. Finally, I just let go of the plate…and with the crash I cried with happiness, and then I shook while hugging the kallah’s mother, and then I was traumatized…..what had I done?

When the kallah told me we were breaking “the plate” at the engagement party, I said, “No, I don’t think I can.”

“What do you mean?” she asked.

“Well, it is like putting me at the cliff again, and telling me to jump off, I just don’t think I can, I’m not ready.”

My husband, chimed in, as he quickly saw how confusing and overly dramatic I was sounding, “Of course, she’ll break the plate, don’t worry.”

Over Shabbat, before the party, I explained several times how difficult I found this symbolic tradition. I mentioned that I have a hard time “letting go.” I explained that I want my son to have a wonderful marriage but I see no reason I have to break a plate to prove that. I explained that as a mother of boys, I liked to participate in what they do…if we all broke plates then I would too, but why did I have to be the one to be bold? This is quite funny, because I love to be bold.

And then it hit me. Breaking the plate wasn’t a test of my love for my son, it was not a test in what I personally believed in, it was a statement of wanting to be part of the future of this happy couple. It was a role I was creating for myself to not just give my blessing in my head and with my words but to be bold and to scream this is unstoppable…..I’m on this ride.

At the engagement party I held the plate above the floor with the kallah’s mother. The kallah had decorated a plate with a beautiful verse about being bound forever in faith; she had planned ahead to give pieces of the broken plate to anyone looking for his/her soulmate. The mother of the kallah said, “Are you ready?”

I said, “No.”

I just couldn’t get out of my head the thought that breaking “the plate” was giving away my son….and then again it hit me–I was giving away my son to a beautiful future, a beautiful kallah, the love of his life; how could I not be bold and keep him from moving forward. I held the plate tighter, not really wanting to let go, but I felt my grin rising. I closed my eyes, I let go of the the plate. It was wrapped in a bag to hold the magical pieces, it shattered…. my smile was so huge. Then I bent down, took the bag off the floor, and threw that darn plate again.

Mazal tov to everyone!

About the Author
Karen Zivan is a mother of five boys. She is a practicing AEDP and School Psychologist who practices therapy with teens, adults, and parents. Karen is a Yoga Teacher who enjoys traveling around the world to donate yoga. In Israel she donates yoga to soldiers and to her community in Hashmonaim.
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