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Thought for the Day: Why the Presence of a Chosson Exempts Us from Tachanun

I work with a lot of very young programmers who are from India.  Most of them have never hear of Jews before, but because of their caste system, they are familiar with different groups have different religious obligations.  They also have a system for getting married that not so much different from ours: The family and/or friends recommend a possible match, the young people meet (usually in person, but sometimes over skype), and (if the couple is agreeable) they make a wedding.  So we understand each other.  In fact, I say a young man being congratulated, so I went and asked him if he was getting married.  He replied in the affirmative.  I congratulated him and asked (because of the look on his face): Are you more excited or nervous?  He was very nervous.  So I told him, "Good!  Your marriage has a good chance of being successful!"

It's a huge thing to get married.  Two Jews who are as opposite as opposite can be (one boy and one girl), who grew in different families, usually completely unaware of each other, are now going to move in together, often far from previous family and friends, share even the most intimate aspects of their lives together, and build a בית נאמן בישראל -- a steadfast Jewish home, the bedrock of our culture.  Huge, in fact, is too small of a word to express the magnitude of that undertaking.  Of course, therefore, the mitzvah to gladden a chosson and kallah is very important.  Moreover, it is a community mitzvah, because the building of a בית נאמן בישראל is also building and expanding the relationship of Klal Yisrael with HaKadosh Baruch Hu.

Ok... but give up tachanun?  Tachanun is a very powerful prayer.  It is a time for us to admit our mistakes and work on building our individual relationship with HaShem.  Why should I give that up for the chosson?  Why not do both; I'll say my tachanun and then I'll give him a Mazal Tov.

Imagine a married couple with a basically good marriage, but has issues that need work.  (If you can't think of one then you are not married and you must not have parents.)  Of course the issues need to be discussed and resolution sought.  All kidding aside, that is a lifetime worth of work and is in many ways the point of marriage.  Still, when the couple goes out for a celebration -- an anniversary, birthday, or just night away from the kids -- that is not the time to discuss the issues.  The issues are there, but we need to take time to also remember that the relationship is strong and beautiful.  The issues are only worth working on because the marriage is so strong.  That night out is a time to refocus and infuse the marriage with vitality.  Staying away from negative conversation is not avoiding the issues, it's putting them in perspective.

When we are in the presence of a chosson, we aren't avoiding the mistakes we have made in our relationship with HaShem by skipping tachanun, we are putting them in perspective.  We are helping him to appreciate the beauty of his new relationship, and in doing so, we remind ourselves of the beauty of our ongoing relationship with the Creator of the world.

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