This week we are reading parshat Nitzavim, and the haftarah is from Isaiah 61:10- 63:9. It is the seventh Haftarah of consolation after Tisha B’Av and is read on the Shabbat preceding Rosh HaShana. King Cyrus has defeated Babylonia and the possibility of returning to Israel is ever closer.
As in other haftaroth that we have read recently God is presented as a bridegroom and the nation of Israel as a bride. There are two lines in this haftarah that are often sung at weddings- (excuse the transliteration) “um sis chatan al kallah, yasis alayich elokayich “. “And as a bridegroom rejoices over his bride so will your God rejoice over you” Isaiah ch. 62: 5.
August is a beautiful month to get married. The trees are green, the flowers are bright and colourful, and we are enjoying the last relaxing weeks of summer. Two weeks ago a lovely young couple- Tova and Cliel Schachter- got married. Surrounded by family and friends they formalized their commitment to each other, embarking on a new path together.
Tova and Cliel wanted a special ketubah that would represent their values, outline their dedication to each other and reinforce their commitment to mutual respect and equality. Together we discussed the steps they had taken throughout their lives to reach this point and the ideals they share.
Their love of family, friends and Judaism are paramount in their lives. They have a desire to better the world. Their creativity and joy in all they approach is obvious. So- how to put this into a ketubah design?
It occurred to me that they had mentioned that the events of their lives were steps they had taken to arrive at this point in time. And nothing is more important to Tova and Cliel than family. The idea of a staircase rising within a bower created by two trees seemed perfect. They used a traditional Aramaic ketubah under the chuppah and also signed a Brit Ahuvim which discusses love, respect and mutual responsibility. The Brit Ahuvim is the text shown here.
The two family trees are growing together, sheltering and guiding a staircase that will reach to the future- to heights beyond imagination.The papercut leaves are the relatives and friends and children of the future. In the sky are 18 23 karat gold stars- a life of precious beauty.I put it all together, writing the Brit Ahuvim on the staircase, cutting the trees and leaves in a papercut design, adding the 18 stars and then combining all the elements.
It was a perfect day for the young couple, and in terms of our Jewish calendar it is a perfect time too.
We are approaching the New Year, a time of reflection and renewal. We read aboout God’s commitment to us and our promises to God. In this week’s haftarah Nitzavim we are likened to a bridegroom and a bride. As bridegroom and a bride enter a new life together with commitment and joy, may that be a template for us and our new year as well.
Mazal Tov to Tova and Cliel, and Shabbat Shalom to you!