Thursday, March 08, 2007

Gashmius NOT on Parade:
A Leader Sets the Tone

Hat Tip: Ari Kingsberg

"Thrift' is buzzword at Ger grandson's wedding" is a recent article that Haaretz ran and it is nothing short of a good news in my opinion. Much ink has been spilled about materialism in the frum world and nowhere is the level of materialism so on display than at weddings. From the protocol of dating, to the expected engagement "gifts," to the accompanying l'chaims/vorts (plural), aufruf/Shabbat Chatan, Shabbos Kallah/Henna, Sheva Brachot, and the wedding itself, the average family is spending a hefty sum. And, for many parents, the wedding is only the beginning of the cash outlay.

Unfortunately the efforts of the Agudah via the "Simcha Guidelines" to reign in weddings expenses on a mass scale have proven to be a failed experiment. And it is really no surprise that the takana has proven unsuccessful on a large scale: There were "loopholes" built into the takana allowing the signers to continue to attend affairs that did not conform should they feel obligated to do so, and the signers are seen at many of the affairs rendering the well-intentioned takana somewhat of a joke. And it is a real shame, because general acceptance of this takana would set a different tone that would benefit the community on so many levels.

In contrast, Chasidei Gur has managed to gain control over their followers through action, although they have long had their own takanot that are more largely adhered to limiting the size of weddings. "Do as I say, not as a I do" is bound to fail, as we all have learned that "actions speak louder than words."

As Haaretz reports: "This wedding was a chance to transmit one message, albeit without words: Cut costs for the weddings of your children and grandchildren." The Rebbe set a tight budget, and while the Rebbe invited all to the chuppah, he limited the seudah to "only a few hundred. . . . while the rest made do with light refreshments. Spokesmen for the Hasidic sect said the rebbe had set new norms that were meant as an example for his followers."

An example it certainly is. And I believe, hopefully not naively so, that if Rabbonim and the "Well to Do" in each community regularly set similar examples the community at large would bring down its standards which are clearly out of control. May the time come speedily in our days.

Related: See my post on Wedding Costs and all the great comments (!) and other posts with the label Weddings. (I'm working on my labelling. It is a long arduous process).

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Wedding costs are nuts. We are bringing up our kids to think that a wedding must have. . . and an engagement . . . Mock weddings are now held in school and are quite extravagant. My parents got married and did not have flowers, not even rental flowers. The caterer picked ferns and decorated the table. My friends parents got married in her parents living room. A quite wealthy woman got married in the living room and cooked for her own guests--Mrs. Louis Resnick olehoh hashalom as reported in the Times Herald Record at My own children expect an engagement ring, a gown, a catered affair, a one man band, etc. I am expected to buy a gown. I can afford it but think it is a total waste.