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Sacred Bridges and Unions

07/03/2019 11:34:02 AM


Rabbi Sam Trief

A momentous lifecycle event rapidly approaches for my family—my sister is getting married this Sunday. Surprisingly, I find myself more emotional than I thought I would be. 

My sister and I were always very different, we played different sports, had different friends, and went to different sleepaway camps. It feels like yesterday that I was dressing her up in a kippah and tallit, while we played “Temple” in our shared bedroom in New York City.  If you asked me 25 years ago if my sister would ever get married, I would tell you, “NO! Who would ever marry someone who sleeps with the lights on?” After a few years, we moved to the suburbs, upgraded to our own bedrooms and, though very close in age, somehow exchanged few words throughout most of middle and high school.

While in college, both in Washington DC, a turning point occurred. When I was a junior, and she was starting her freshman year, she needed an emergency root canal. I rented a red convertible (this was before Uber), picked her up at her dorm, and took her to the oral surgeon. She was writhing in pain as I tried to distract her and make her laugh. We talked about our parents and our grandparents.

We reminisced about family vacations and recalled the time during Rosh Hashanah when I locked her in my grandparents’ basement without anyone realizing for hours…the other time that she dumped a bowl of cucumber salad on my head at Passover seder. And as we shared those sacred family stories in that doctor’s waiting room, though neither of us would admit it, we knew from that day forward that we would be best friends. 

As members of a tiny family, we knew that the future of our family depended on our relationship. So although we will never have the same friends, or the same interests, we will always have each other, and no one will “get it” quite like the other one does.

In the Torah portion of this week, Korach, we see a certain word often repeated: eydah, translated as tribe or family group. We learn a cautionary tale of how an eydah can be used for a curse as some members of the Israelite community rise up against Moses. We learn a timeless and tremendous lesson from this story: It is up to us to use our eydah for a blessing, to build bridges and create unions.

I stand in gratitude as I get to officiate the marriage of my sister to her beshert, as they build this sacred bridge for our small family.

On this holiday weekend of July 4th, I marvel with gratitude at the sacred rituals of our tradition, passed down for thousands of years. May this new union be one for blessing and health. May families and friends come together on this July 4th weekend in gratitude to celebrate our independence and the immense beauty of our country. May it be one of health and happiness for us all. 

Shabbat Shalom. 

Wed, February 19 2020 24 Sh'vat 5780