Anyone who ever invited Reb Shlomo (ZTz”L) to a gathering, concert, retreat or any other event knows that Reb Shlomo was almost always late. Shlomo lived in a different time zone than the rest of the world and in his world – Shlomo was always on time. This battle of the time zones was often annoying for many people, but Shlomo wouldn’t let anything add to his stress level, no matter what time was advertised, as far as Shlomo was concerned, it always started when it was supposed to start.
On Selichot night 1970 at the Khan theatre in Jerusalem and in the middle of his concert, Shlomo performed a Tena’im ceremony declaring my intentions to marry my dear wife Kathy (A”L). The night was magical, all our friends and some family were in attendance at the Khan and Shlomo was as always extraordinary. After joining Shlomo for Selichot prayers we all gathered at someone’s home for study and singing and as a couple we met with Shlomo regarding our wedding plans.
Shlomo informed us that he would next be in Israel in December for a series of Chanukah concerts and that the first night of Chanukah was free for the wedding. So it was settled. We would get married on the first night of Chanukah on Mt. Zion in the inner courtyard facing the entrance to King David’s tomb and our teacher and friend Reb Shlomo Carlebach would perform the ceremony.
Our parents wanted us to marry in North America. However, we were experiencing and participating in a Jewish renaissance in Jerusalem and wanted nothing to hamper the “moment.” We planned for a small wedding (knowing that this would change the moment word got out that Shlomo was going to be there) and arranged with friends to prepare food for one hundred people.
When our parents arrived the day before the wedding they were appalled that everything was so informal. We wanted to emphasize the Ruchani’ut – the ceremony and the spiritual aspects of the wedding, they wanted the “Gashmi’ut – the material emphasis” to be reflected in the hall, the food and the comfort available to the guests. We decided to the leave the Gashmi’ut to our parents so as to avoid any conflict.
The day of the wedding arrived. It was the custom at the Mt. Zion Yeshivat HaTefutzot that the Chatan (groom) would spend the day in meditation with his Shomrim (guards). We would pray Mincha at the Cave of Machpelah (burial place of the patriarchs and matriarchs) in Chevron, go for a Shvitz at the Turkish baths and then proceed to the Chupah.
It was a brisk December evening and I had retired to a private area with my Shomrim. Guests were arriving. Kathy was setup for the Badeking and receiving guests in the small chapel near King David’s Tomb. The wedding was supposed to begin at 4:30 pm and Shlomo had not yet arrived. Time was ticking down and my parents were getting very antsy and kept inquiring when we would begin and I kept replying, “Shlomo’s plane is late and we’ll start when Shlomo gets here.” This went on for a few hours until my father came and “emphasized” that my mother’s family were elderly and very cold and we needed to begin immediately. I tried explaining to him that we couldn’t begin until Shlomo arrived, but to no avail. Finally, I agreed to begin the wedding at 7:30 pm. My father looked me in the eye and said in Yiddish that now I was becoming a man and “Ah Vort is ah Vort – a word (oath) was a word.” At 7:30 we began the procession from the Yeshiva area to the Badeking area when six or seven tour buses arrived. Shlomo hopped off one of the buses and came over to me and said that he was sorry but his plane was delayed and also that he had invited everyone on the plane to join us for the Chupah.
My father saw that I arrived promptly to the Badeking ceremony and said with a twinkle in his eye “Ah Vort is ah Vort.” Shlomo did a superb Chupah, my parents were delighted, and Kathy and I lived happily together for 27 years and brought up 5 children on 3 continents. I’ve gone through many different challenges and have concluded that Shlomo was correct, things happen when they are supposed to.