2007 A Story From Chelm
Chananya Weissman
January 26, 2007, The Five Towns Jewish Times

This is in response to a recent advertisement in Jewish newspapers by a "young yeshiva bochur", who wrote as follows: "My father is b"h blessed with many children. A number of us are already married and setting up their own homes. My father married off part of them without much anxiety as he sold his apartment to pay for part of the expenses. Unfortunately this didn't wipe out his full debt. My father became unwell recently, precluding any prospects of additional income necessary for additional medical and simcha expenses. My father's condition was caused primarily by stress. I knew, once I had become a chosson that he was very happy for me; yet I realized that the additional stress of providing for my chasuna was affecting my father's health detrimentally." This young man then proceeded to solicit contributions, with an "endorsement" by several prominent rabbis.

One day a yungeleit by the name of Yankel decided to get married. Unfortunately, his aged father was already broken from previous "simchas". He had sold his apartment, liquidated his assets and meager savings, and gone deep into debt that he had no realistic hope of recovering from. No, poor dad wasn't going to be able to fulfill his fatherly obligations with Yankel's wedding. Poor dad had failed Yankel.

It occurred to Yankel in a moment of weakness that he should go over to the dark side and earn money to pay for his own wedding. Yankel quickly said some Tehillim and repeated a few mantras ("God will provide", "People who work aren't yirei shamayim", "What would the neighbors say", etc.), and the Yetzer Hara's pernicious voice was stilled.

It then occurred to Yankel that the girl's family should pay for the entire wedding. But wait! The Gedolei Chelm had recently ruled that the boy's family should share the expenses, so that the poverty and hardship should be distributed a little more evenly. So that eitza was no longer practical.

It then occurred to Yankel that he should perhaps have a less extravagant wedding. After all, just because everyone else was going deep into debt to pay for a Rolls-Royce Wedding, why couldn't he have a Toyota Wedding? They would be just as married and might even have some money left over to get their married life started off in a more appropriate fashion.

"Fool!" cried his Yetzer Tov. "You will be the laughingstock of Chelm! Your children will never get shidduchim! Everyone else is making extravagant weddings. You have to do what everyone else does."

"But wait," said Yankel. "Just because everyone else is doing something doesn't mean it's the right thing to do or even a very intelligent thing to do. I see how so many other families are suffering a nightmarish fate. Why should I go down that road? Why can't I be different?"

"Heresy!" cried the Yetzer Tov. "Have you become infected with secular ideas all of a sudden? You must do what everyone else is doing and you must never complain."

"I'm sorry, you're right," replied Yankel. "I don't know what got into me. I'm just so scared."

"Shh, don't worry," said the Yetzer Tov, flashing a shiny grin. "You will have a fancy wedding just like everyone else. Your Rosh Yeshiva said you're one of the top boys and that you have a bright future in learning. You might even be a Gadol some day! The shadchan said you're a great catch. Of course you're going to have a fancy wedding that you can't afford. You DESERVE it!"

"You're right!" said Yankel, his face brightening. "I do deserve it! And if I can't pay for it, someone else should! I'm going to take out an ad in the newspaper and beg for the money! It's the only dignified thing to do!"

"Now you're talking!" said the Yetzer Tov. "And remember...it's a mitzva for people to support you!"

Next week in stories from Chelm....the scheme to stop terrorist attacks by giving money and weapons to terrorists, setting captured terrorists free, and repeating mantras.