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Thought for the Day: Attending a Non-Orthodox Chasuna

Since becoming Orthodox Jewish, I have been invited to two non-orthodox weddings.  In both cases I had the z'chus of have a moreh ho'ra'ah to guide us in what we could and could not do, how much of the event we could attend, etc.  But let's suppose you wanted to find a discussion of this topic in the Mishna Brura; where would you look?  True enough the Mishna Brura is structured as a commentary on the Orach Chaim section of the Shulchan Aruch, but R' Yisrael Meir Kagan planted oodles of goodies (aka easter eggs) on all sorts of topics that face a Jew in his daily life.  So where would you look?

The place you are most likely to first stumble on this topic is in hilchos Chanuka, siman 670, sk 8.  The Shulchan Aruch says (syef 2) that the extra eating on Chanuka is not a mitzvah, but (adds the Rema) by singing songs in praise of the Creator, the s'udah becomes a s'udas mitvah.  The Mishna Brura comments, "and similarly when the daughter of a talmid chacham marries an am ha'aretz, you can turn the s'uda into a s'udas mitzvah by singing z'miros).  As surprising as it is that just singing songs in praise of the Creator can transform a meal into a s'udas mitzvah, I was much more surprised to learn that a s'uda at such a chasuna was not otherwise a s'udas mitzvah!

That's the entire discussion there, but the Dirshu pointed me to siman 415.  That one is trickier to find, as it is in the "Hogwarts Platform 9¾" of the Mishna Brura -- chelek 4.  In case you haven't seen it, it is thinner than the rest of the volumes and is nearly always in mint condition on the shelf where s'farmin are supposed to be re-shelved when you have finished with them (hint, HINT).

Anyway, there in hilchos eiruvei t'chumin, you will find that one is only allowed make an eiruv t'chumin in order to be able to get to a mitzvah event, such as a chasuna.  The Mishna Brura (sk 2) again notes that a bas talmid chacham to an am ha'aretz is not a s'udas mitzvah.  However, he adds, we don't really have the caliber of am ha'ratzim that the gemara is discussing.  Nowadays, if two Jews are getting married, you should go.  Unless, notes the Mishna Brura, they are among those who disgrace the Torah; eg rabbis of the Reform religion.  So if two reform rabbis are getting married you should not attend.  Unless (I love all the unlesses here) you can have a positive influence on them; preventing mixed dancing, for example.

That is precisely what happened in the two cases I mentioned at the beginning.  Several of us orthodox Jews attended on condition that there be separate dancing.  We stayed, danced our hearts out, made a nice kiddush HaShem (several of the single guests came to thank us and told us they plan to have some separate dancing when they get married because they had never had so much fun dancing at a wedding before), and then left when things began to deteriorate.

You may want to check out more wonderful and mystical topics contained in volume 4.  Be careful, though... it could change your life.

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