This was printed in the Letters to the Editor in the FJJ (Flatbush Jewsish Journal)
A Public Plea From An Older Single Sibling Of The Kallah
In a perfect world, all siblings would marry in the order that they were born, because a perfect world is fair.
However we live in the Olam Hasheker, which, by its very definition, appears to be cruel and unfair. We accept this as a reality of life and we believe that everything Hashem does is for the best.
However, it does not make the situation any less painful for us.
It is extremely painful that our baby sister, whom we bathed, fed, dressed, walked to preschool, taught how to whistle, took to Disney movies, etc. etc. is walking to the chuppa before us and (in many cases) to the first male that she interacted with socially since playgroup.
If we had it our way, we would not be present at this simcha at all (admit it, it’s true!). Yet we know that we have to do what is right for our families and for our sisters.
However, I am making a request to all of you readers who find yourselves at such a wedding.
Please take my words to heart as rachmanim bnei rachmanim and hopefully we will soon hear kol chosson v’kol kallah b’arei yehuda v’chutzos yerushalyim, Amen.
My request is as follows.
Reserve all Mazel Tov wishes to the chosson/ kallah, their parents, and their grandparents. Do not wish the older single siblings (applies to males and females!) of the chosson/kallah a Mazel Tov. It is not their simcha. They are not getting married. It is not a well wish. It is a punch in the gut. Let’s not even get started on “Im yirtzeh Hashem by you soon!” These words are the nadir of halbanas pnei chaveiro b’rabbim, which Chazal equate to murder.
Please daven for us, and have us in mind during Tehillim, Hadlakas Neiros and Hafrashas Challah, but do not verbalize your wishes to us. It hurts. It makes us cry. In fact, do not even speak to the older single sibling at all. Let him/her make the first move, just as the Halacha is with Nichum Aveilim. If the avel wants to cry the whole time, s/he is 100% entitled to do so. Perhaps the older single siblings wants to be left alone, as s/he is spending the whole night hoping and davening that s/he won’t cry, faint, vomit, etc.
If the older single sibling wants to talk, then s/he will greet you and say something like, “Thank you for coming. I’m so happy to see you.” If the older single sibling greets you, discuss neutral topics. Ask a question such as, “How’s work/ school?” “I hear you were just in London. How was?” “I hear you just passed your road test. How exciting for you!” Believe me, if the older single sibling wants to discuss the simcha, s/he will steer the topic in that direction. And if s/he doesn’t, s/ he will be grateful for your sensitivity and understanding.
Let us look at the story of Chana and Penina in Shmuel Aleph, Perek Aleph. Penina tortured and taunted Chana every day about her childless state. The Midrash quotes examples of what Penina used to say to Chana. “Didn’t you buy clothes for your children? Haven’t you gotten your children up and dressed yet?” (This is no different than wishing the single older sibling of the chosson/kallah Mazel Tov, isn’t it?)
The Midrash says that Penina did it 100% l’shem shamayim, namely so Chana would daven harder for children. Yet Penina was severely punished for her behavior, because hurting other people’s feelings is wrong, regardless of the intentions behind it.
Maybe your intention is simply to wish the older sibling well. Yet if you really wished them well, you would sincerely daven it and not say it. We will conclude with Rabbi Akiva’s statement in Pirkei Avos, Perek Shlishi, “Siyag lachamah shtika.” literally translated as “Silence is the protective fence of wisdom.” Just as a fence prevents us from entering a place that is forbidden, so too does silence (especially when in doubt on what to say) prevent us from entering the dangerous area of thoughtless, foolish comments and their serious consequences.
With best wishes for all of Klal Yisrael to become chassonim/kallos at the right time and may we hear kol chosson v’kol kallah b’arei yehuda v’chutzos yerushalyim. A Fellow Jew