It was the wedding day of Reb Yaakov Yisrael of Tchirkas and the daughter of the Mitteler Rebbe. The groom’s father, Reb Mordechai of Chernobyl, requested that his mechutan,1 the Mitteler Rebbe, share some words of Torah under the chuppah to honor the groom and bride. The Rebbe declined and requested in turn that Reb Mordechai address the assembled family and guests.

The tzaddik Reb Mordechai agreed and related the following teaching: “There are three times in a person’s life in which great commotions are made: when he is born, when he steps under the chuppah [in marriage], and when he is greeted to the World of Truth (i.e., when he passes away).” Continued the tzaddik, “It is obvious that in the first and third instances, man does not boast of all the attention and commotion around him. However, when one is at his chuppah, he is vulnerable to arrogance from having so many people assembled in his honor. Therefore one must know that this event must be similar in his eyes to the first and third instances, in that he should not become overly excited by all that is happening around him.”

This lesson is illustrated in Rashi’s commentary regarding the wedding of our Matriarch Rivkah. On the word vatiskas (and she covered herself) (Bereishis 24:65), Rashi explains that the word is an expression of vatispa’el (the reflexive form) as in vatikaver (she was buried) and vatishaver (it was broken).

The tzaddik Reb Mordechai expounded on Rashi’s commentary and offered a deeper interpretation: vatispa’el can also be used for hispaalus (excitement), in that Rivka’s excitement at the time of her wedding was akin to vatikaver, where, in the moment of burial, the excitement is not tainted by any outside impressions. Her excitement, too, was akin to vatishaver, as the root of the word vatishaver is also applied to the birthing chair (mishbar) on which a mother gives birth to her child. Thus Rashi is in turn saying: Rivka’s hispaalus at the time of her wedding was qualitatively the same as the other two phases of her life: vatikaver and vatishaver. Her excitement was always balanced and was never overly influenced by those who were present at her life-cycle occasions.

Mimayonai HaChassidus Chayei Sarah