Isaac Kaplan

"Is it any wonder I've got too much time on my hands?"

Sunday, June 13, 2004

Whatever Happened to the Wedding Takanos?

Wow, does it bother me how one of the greatest ideas of our generation simply bombed. I'm talking about the infamous wedding takanos.

When I first saw the takanos, I said, "right on!" It was about time that such a strong message was sent to our all-too materialistic community. I could just imagine the scene: One of those awfully overdone weddings, with a ritzy smorgasbord, a ten-piece band, and the works. Suddenly, comes the chuppa, they're about to announce the boy's rosh yeshiva as mesader, and they can't find him anywhere! Or, he walks up there, talks about the severity of violating the takanos, and storms the heck out of there!

Yet has this happened? Once?

If it has, I haven't heard it yet. And no, I'm no big macher, but I'm sure it would've been the talk of the town the first time a prominent rosh yeshiva would've done this.

I simply do not understand why the takanos have gone unenforced.

a) The first argument for the inaction is, "hey, there's a disclaimer there!" This is true; the takana states " - barring familial and extraordinary circumstances." Now what does that mean, extraordinary? If the wedding is extraordinary enough, they'll show up?? And if this disclaimer is used as an excuse each time the rabbis show up at a Hilton wedding, then isn't the whole takana pointless? Doesn't the use (or abuse) of that disclaimer defeat the whole purpose?

b) A similar argument is that the rabbonim simply cannot afford to walk out and lose the potential big bucks of the families making the chasuna. Well, if this is the case, what's the point of the takanos? Besides, doesn't the fact that the takanos were made and are not being enforced cause the rabbonim's words to lose credibility? There are many gemaros of how Beis Din would'nt switch a psak in order for it not to look like a joke. And granted, whether that exact principle should apply here is debatable. What's not debatable is the potential loss of credibility that can be caused by the takanos being a joke. I know my personal emunas chachamim has been greatly tested throughout this debacle, and I'm sure there are many others out there feeling the same way.
Also, if the takanos are for the middle-class people who are struggling to keep up with the Levis and are going into serious debt to make chasunas, won't they feel worse if the rabbonim would come to a bigwig's chasunah despite the takanos? After all, here is a takana that's supposed to be for them, and it's a joke!

c) One of my buddies wanted to say that the rabbonim didn't mean the takanos seriously, rather, their point was to tell everyone to cut down on the materialism. I think this argument is terrible. Are you accusing the rabbonim of lying!? The fact is, a takana is a takana. And as the Sages say, "the words don't leave the pashut p'shat." So the takanos should have credibility at least at face value. And besides, if they want to condemn excess materialism, then let's hear more mussar about that! Why can't we give the mussar directly!?

I am not one to judge rabbonim. I'm sure there's some truth to their motives. But, for the life of me, I simply do not understand this one.


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