Tuesday, September 16, 2014

A Wedding Reading

My reading from a Wedding -- July 2012

Helen and Kris asked me to add a Yiddish and Jewish element to their ceremony.   Obviously, there are traditional formal ceremonies that are performed at weddings, but Judaism also has a strong tradition of vernacular story-telling, and is also a very matriarchal culture.  So before I read the eight traditional Hebrew wedding benedictions, I think it’s appropriate to share this Yiddish story:

Among Yiddish speakers, the expression Skotsl kumt, which means “Skotsl’s here,” is used by a woman to greet another woman when she comes into the house.  There is a story that explains that domestic greeting.  The story goes like this:

Once upon a time, women complained that everything in the world belonged to men.  Men got to perform the mitzvoth, or Jewish religious commandments.  They were called to read from the Torah… the world seemed to belong to them, and they got to do everything.  As for  women, they got nothing.  In fact, no one paid them much attention at all.  So they decided to form a group that would take their complaint to the Lord of the Universe.

But how was it to be done?  Well… they decided they would heap women up into a tower, one on top of the other, until the woman at the very tip could pull herself into heaven.  

The first thing they did, then, was to dig a pit in which one of the women knelt.  Then the other women climbed on her, one on top of the other.  They decided that at the top of the pile would be a woman named Skotsl.    Skotsl was very clever and as skillful speaker, so she was chosen as the one who would talk with the Lord of the Universe.  

Everything went well as the women were climbing onto each other.  But just as Skotsl reached the top of the tower, the woman at the base twisted about, and the women came tumbling down.  Well, of course there was nothing but noise and confusion, with everyone trying to locate everyone else.  And though they searched for her everywhere, Skotsl was nowhere to be found.

It was unclear whether she had reached heaven or not, but the situation of the women remained unchanged.  Everything still belonged to the men.  But from that time on, women have not lost their hope that Skotsl will complete her talk with God and come back.   

And that’s why, whenever a woman comes into a Yiddish home, all the other women call out joyfully:  “Skotsl kumt,” or “Here comes Skotsl!”   Because, they reason:  Who knows?  One day she might really be here, and change will be possible.

This is a story about cooperation and about hope.  Cooperation and hope are the best elements of a good marriage.  Cooperation is essential… but when things in this story went wrong, the women stuck together and hoped for the best.  Without hope, the entire story would change.  These women didn’t blame each other.  They didn’t despair that things hadn’t gone as planned.  They remained joyful, and continued to greet and welcome each other into their domestic spaces. 

The story is also about mystery.  Did Skotsl make it to the Lord of the Universe, or was she somehow lost along the way?   

There are some things that can’t be known, and mystery should not be feared.   But I think that weddings like this one are evidence that Skotsl did make it to the heavens.   Things are changing, and change is good.  Helen and Kris, continue to be cooperative and hopeful, and welcome mystery into your lives. 

And with that, we’ll start the eight Hebrew benedictions, or traditional wedding blessings.  I’ll read them in Hebrew, and then translate them into English

No comments:

Post a Comment