Part 1 – Why I found myself at a Hassidic Wedding Feast
There’s a piece of poetry in every story. A story in a every poetry, and a subliminal subconscious note hidden in every line. The subliminal note is often of an untold emotion, and that emotion often carries it’s own energy signature.
I once heard a woman define poetry as the attempt of a poet to describe a certain emotion. The Poet tries to use words as a painter would use a brush to paint a visible picture.
The hardest dilemma is making something as ethereal as emotions visible and tangible as a house or a rock.
When Christ said; “the words that I speak to you are spirit and they are life”, he was doing the very act of a poet by explaining that his words are the tools he uses to paint the very foundations that will give you life and the fabrics of what we call tangible existence…
Now why am I being very philosophical today? I’m trying to paint the picture of a story within another story, which could lead to even another story. But before I lose your attention, I’ll cut to the chase and tell today’s story.
On June 19th I posted a blog titled “there is a Story” (if you haven’t read it, please read it). The post was just me paraphrasing or retelling Jesus’s parable from Matthew 22:1-14 in my own words. What wasn’t obvious was the emotion hidden behind my decision to write that post. In the past, I would use my own words and write a poem that carefully described the emotions I was feeling at the moment. Those words when read by others, often tend to take their own meaning depending on who’s reading it. But lately I’ve come to discover that there’s a parable or “sayings” by Jesus that carefully reflected what I was feeling at the moment. On that day, Matthew 22: 1-14 described in great detail the frustration I was feeling with trying to show people God’s love for them, and getting zero interest or lack of commitment from them. I could literarily feel Jesus’s frustration with his peers in trying to convince them on who he was.
Anyways, this story is a continuation of that post, and I guess a child of Jesus’s Story 😊
Now, back to me posting the blog on June 19th. A few minutes after I posted that blog, I got an email from Rabbi Z (let’s call him Z for short). The title of the email was “this is personal”. I read the email and it was an invite to his daughter’s wedding. I was dumbfounded and confused. I was like “Lord is this a test”? I mean what are the odds? I just finished writing a post about a man inviting people to his son’s wedding and suddenly I get invited to a daughter’s wedding. Cautiously (mixed with a little bit of skepticism) I responded with “Yes, the address is correct. Send the Invite and I’ll be there”.
Sure enough, the invite came in my mailbox in a fancy envelope about a week later. The invite was written in beautiful Hebrew script and English. At this point, the only question that kept racing through my head was ummm why me? I mean I’m not the greatest donor you have? And I bet he doesn’t know that I believe in Yeshua. But I was still curious. I wanted to know what a Hassidic wedding felt and looked like. I also wanted to know what God was willing to teach me here, or what he wanted me to do here. Suddenly I felt like I was on an assignment from God. I booked our tickets, and we were off to NYC to attend a wedding in Stamford.
Even though I had no expectations on what would happen, I couldn’t help but wonder if this was a mere coincidence that I got the invite a few minutes after I wrote the post, or if this was all part of God’s grand design you know? Like he knew the state of my heart while I was writing that post, and he knew how to make Rabbi Z send me that email at that exact time to get my attention.
I kept picturing myself in Jesus’s parable. I know I didn’t want to be one of the guests that made excuses and never showed up, but I also didn’t want to be the guy that showed up without a wedding garment and ended up being kicked out. Something at the back of my head told me I was invited because I had given to their organization in the past, but I was hoping I would fall into the category of the other poor and lowly people who got invited from the streets to fill the wedding banquet (thanks to those who gave excuses and refused to show up).
I thought about the guy without the wedding garment who got kicked out. Did he get kicked out because he didn’t know what he was doing or where he was going? Or was he just a wedding crasher looking for food and a good time? Would I be the inappropriately dressed attendee because I didn’t know what I was there for?
I mean I knew as much as I could about the Chasidic community, but my supporting them wasn’t because I had anything in common with them. I just knew they had something precious that I wanted and since they were giving it away for free, it was a good idea to support them.
So, I got to the wedding and was on the lookout for that almighty question “Friend, how did you get in here”. And like magic, I got asked that question by a handful of people. One lady stopped to ask in a very intently curious voice. “How did you get here? Are you a maid or nanny to one of the guests? I responded with; No, Rabbi Z invited me. She responded with “Oh” and walked away as if disappointed.
A quick breakdown of scenery might help you see why I was like the fly on the wall waiting to get squashed. I was the only black person at this event. I looked no way like the event in any shape or form. The only other black person at the event was a nanny babysitting for one of the family members, and she too thought I was a maid. I felt encouraged when the nosy lady asked if I was the maid, because as soon as she asked, I felt a sense of relief and happiness. The scripture that immediately popped into my head after she walked away was Mark 10:43. Repeatedly, Jesus says “he who is greatest among you, must be a servant”. For some weird reason I felt glad that they thought I was a servant.
This might be unfortunately uncomfortable for some people, especially given today’s race and gender bias. But I didn’t have much to prove to anyone. I was there as a servant of God. So it didn’t bother me that anyone thought I was the nanny. I was happy.
I soon found Rabbi Z and thanked him for inviting me. I asked him why he had invited me. He said those who give to their work are seen as partners and family. I thanked him again and went into the banqueting hall.
What Rabbi Z didn’t know about me was that I only have 1 Rabbi and his name is Yeshua. He was the one that taught me to give, and do good to others even when it was contrary to my own benefit.
I remember each time I wanted to give, there was a voice in my head asking; “why are you giving to them, they don’t even believe in Yeshua”. But then there was always Jesus’s words from Matthew 5:44-46 “But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven. He causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Do not even tax collectors do the same?”
In the post “there’s a story” I called the inappropriately dressed guy, a “naked guy” but I’ve come to realize that the guy wasn’t kicked out because he was naked or dressed for the wrong occasion. He was kicked out because he was speechless. The Greek word is Phimo which means to muzzle. Meaning he was tongue tired.
Apostle Paul uses the same word in 1 Corithians 9:9 when he quotes Moses as saying “do not muzzle the mouth of an Ox when it threads out the grain”. People muzzle the mouth of the Ox to prevent it from eating the grain it’s threading. Mostly because they want more grains from the harvest and see the Oxen as a mere work tool. But God says not to muzzle the Ox, which Paul interprets as allowing the servant who threads out the grain a part in the same hope as the one who sows the grain. The one who sows is hoping for a bountiful reward, while the one who threshes hopes to be a partaker in his master’s bountiful reward.
Its amazing that Jesus uses two people as being the people we ought to emulate in order to be great in the kingdom. The first is the servant, the other is a child. In Matthew 18:1-4 it says, “At that time the disciples came to Jesus, saying, ‘Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?’ And calling to him a child, he put him in the midst of them and said, ‘Truly, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.’”
The Ox is the servant, while a child is simply a child. But notice you have to “Turn” to become a child. In Hebrew this would be to Teshuvah which really means to return i.e to make a U-turn. Both servant and child are completely at the mercy and benevolence of their owner (master or parent), but the child has a permanent position.
Ok, back to the wedding. I was told not to bring my kids, because only kids of family members were allowed. So I didn’t bring my kids, but it was fascinating to see kids running around the place with so much freedom and care for nothing. Contemplating the simplicity of childhood while I watched them was a breath of fresh air.
The only other black person in the venue as I mentioned earlier was the nanny to one of the families present. She was carrying a 3 month old baby, and sat quietly in the corner away from the crowd and conversation with anyone. I sat next to her for a brief moment and struck a conversation. She thought I was also a nanny like her, but I told her I was invited to the wedding. She told me how she has only always been a nanny for Chasidic Families because they are a tight knit group. Each family she worked with referred her to the next family because they trusted her. My phone was dying, and I didn’t have a charger, but she was kind enough to loan me her charger. Suddenly I couldn’t help but think of how she was prepared and I wasn’t.
As a nanny she was probably prepared from experience, but you would probably think and ask me; “chargers are so basic why didn’t you take one with you on your trip?” Well, truth be told, I couldn’t take one because iPhone chargers have changed and I didn’t have the matching port in the car. I could use the old chargers to charge my phone, but my modern day charge cord didn’t work with my old fashioned USB port.
Sounds like a flimsy/unimportant detail to pay attention to, but seeing God in the most minute detail of things is key to understanding God’s intricate design and purpose for our lives. I could simply tell you that a servant is humble and a guest is not, but the truth is the good and faithful servant is always prepared and the guest is not always prepared. I could easily tell you the servant is old fashioned and understands the masters language more than the guest, but the truth goes deeper than that. Life is always evolving and things change constantly. Sometimes the old is outdated and put out of use. But the old is always the foundation and building block for the new. Nothing we build or form is ever created out of nothing.
Take language for example; the Koine Greek word for voice (or sound) is Phone (pronounced Fonay). From this comes the English word Phonetics, telephone, microphone etc. Suddenly my phone dying didn’t simply mean my physical phone dying. It meant my ability to communicate through sound and voice.
See.. the inappropriately dressed guy was kicked out because he was speechless. Did his voice die out? Did his language become obsolete? Or did he not have an excuse?
I thought about Revelations 19:9 – “And the angel said to me, “Write this: Blessed are those who are invited to the marriage supper of the Lamb.” And he said to me, “These are the true words of God.”
There is an untold story in every told story, and this story is the beginning of another story 😊