Monday, August 15, 2011

CHUPA

As the evening gently slid into night, Ari's prophecy became a promise fulfilled.  How true,  I have not seen the likes of their wedding!


The first intimation that a ceremony sumptuous with mystery was in the offing was when I set eyes on their CHUPA.  It was grand in proportion with four pillars thickly shrouded in white drapes bound at intervals and holding up the white canopy.  It was set up against one wall of the rooftop and it stood directly under the stars.  There was a j'en sais quoi quality to this Chupa that I have not sensed in other Chupas I've attended.  It was an unnameable mystique.  I made a beeline to it, shamelessly coming up front, as close to it as I can without actually being underneath the canopy.  Ari explained to us earlier that there is no barrier whatsoever between God and anyone in the sacred space of the Chupa. Later after the ceremony I found myself in it with Moshe and Noya.  I wondered, did it count since the rite was over?


As I approached, the ceremony was already under way.  At the edge of my mind I noted that the guests were again separated by gender by an arbitrary divider.  Some guests were seated, most were standing to better see what was transpiring.  There were bright lights for filming purposes.  Again the filming crew were busy at work.  And doing so, they inadvertently covered the view from time to time.  It was a challenge to my resourcefulness but I was equal to the task.


In the meantime,  with face still covered and escorted by Sapir and Noya, Menuha was circling Ari several times,  who was wearing a pure white bunny suit over his wedding clothes (white shirt, black pants, black vest, tie, black suit, and black shoes, all of which were brand new) had his eyes closed while praying and tilting back and forth gracefully.  I think this characteristically Orthodox manner of praying is what is called davening.  He was flanked on each side by Moshe and Yoel.  In one corner of the Chupa there were several rabbis who were in front of a microphone praying and chanting, one rabbi after another, and also Iyov.  At this point I noted that Shmuel was under the canopy on one side of the Chupa.  I do believe that whoever they were that were in the Chupa with Ari and Menuha were of course significant personages in their lives, predominantly Ari's which by extension became Menuha's.


Then Ari placed the ring on Menuha's finger.  She is the only one who gets a wedding band, Ari does not.  There was an explanation why this was which eludes me at this time of writing.  Then Yochanan came under the canopy to place the glass wrapped in thick cloth horizontally in front of Ari's left foot which stomped on and crushed it, the doing so signaled the close of this sacred age-old rite and the beginning of partying-a-la-Chareidi.


Despite my avidity, there were many details I missed which I predict will come in time as we talk about it later.  I can google the rest to fill in the gaps but then doing so will intellectualize an experience that is abundantly personal.


CHUPA was my spelling of choice in honor of the way it was listed on the invitation.  It was an invitation that was one-of-a-kind, forwarded to me by Ari's parents on e-mail. It was in Hebrew with a few parts of it in English written in blue and blue-black ink on a white background.  Modesty was an element listed to signal the deep conservativeness and the holiness of the event including the dress code.

To my anecdotal understanding, chupa refers to both the four pillars and canopy of a wedding chuppah as well as to the marriage ceremony within it.  It can also refer to the first home of the newly-married couple, the absence of furniture signify that human beings take precedence over material possessions.  And chupa is also symbolic of hospitality to weary travelers recalling Abraham's tent which is soft-sided without concrete walls to speak of.