Friday, August 24, 2018

Live the Life of Love

Thursday evening, I officiated Sue and Raphael’s wedding ceremony, at the Munro Boutique Hotel, in Johannesburg, South Africa. Here are the remarks I shared with them and their guests:

I was born and live in the United States, but I grew up in Israel. Last month, on American Independence Day, I posted this observation on Facebook: The great thing about being a dual citizen of both countries is that, unlike my fellow Americans, I have personally met many people who resisted British tyranny, and fought in the War of Independence

One of the most interesting characters of early Israel was Golda Meir, who became Israel’s prime minister. My favorite thing about Golda was her acid tongue. That’s characteristic of us American Israelis. Her best one-liner, in my opinion was something she once said to Israeli bad boy and much feared general, Moshe Dayan. Reportedly, since she had ice in her veins, she kept it together during the dark hours of the beginning of the Yom Kippur War, while he lost it. And, so on another occasion, exasperated with his pompous behavior, she said, “Don’t act so humble; you’re not that great.” I know it took a while to tell that one, but you have to admit, it was worth the payoff!

Why do I bring this up? Well, because I have had the privilege of interacting with Sue and Raphael over these past few months, and the first thing that comes to mind about them is their humility; not the fake kind exhibited by Dayan, the real kind. What’s the difference? Well, the Talmud, the foundational book of Judaism, tells us. It quotes a source that says that, “When Rabbi [Judah, the Patriarch] died, humility and fear of sin ceased.” Then it says that “Rabbi Joseph said… Do not include the word 'humility', because there is I.” Did you get that? Humility is still alive and well, he says; just look at how wonderfully humble I am!

Now, though the Talmud does include jokes, this is not one of them. Rabbi Joseph is being serious. A later sage clarifies what he means. Humility does not mean thinking you are dirt. True humility means knowing your worth exactly, not more and not less. So, Rabbi Joseph was not bragging; he just felt like he knew his true worth. And that quality of Rabbi Joseph is the quality that I saw in both these people, Sue and Raphael.

In fact, one of the first things Raphael said about Sue is how humble she was. Like every brash American, one of my first questions was, “What do you do for a living?” Sue explained what she did, nothing more, nothing less. Raphael made sure to point that out, that she was kind of a big deal at her company. You know what he then did, though? Described what he did, nothing more. Since, I have every person I marry write an autobiographical essay, I discovered later, that a less humble man would have made a very big deal of the success he has had, with his careers, plural. Raphael is very level-headed about it. He truly realizes his good fortune in having had two great mentors, who helped him get to where he was.

Now, you might wonder why I am harping on their professional success? Isn’t this supposed to be about their love story? Well, it is. At the core of their love story lies the same humility, in the sense of truly and accurately understanding your worth and who you are. It is the secret of their relationship. The ideal love story is one where you fully know yourself, and this realization helps you understand how lucky you are to have that special someone in your life.

Listen to what Sue says, and you’ll see what I mean: “I love Raphael with my entire being and I want to continue to grow with him emotionally… He brings out the best in me and makes me very happy. I know that he loves and cares for me… Marriage takes two individuals to spiritual depths that can't be achieved by any other means. I believe that to make a commitment in the eyes of God is the ultimate union between a man and a woman and I want to do this with Raphael as I want to share the rest of my life on earth with him.”

What can you say to that, but wow.

Now, listen to Raphael, “I now know the meaning of love, how it feels to love and be loved. Words do not express the emotion of our love for each other… Sue and I revel in the intense spiritual depth of our togetherness… I… want to share everything that life has to offer with her. We enrich each other’s life so much and bring out the very best in each other… We have both waited all our live to find each other, now is the time to live the life of love, passion and romance that eluded us both for so long.”

I can’t top that; there is no use even trying.

Sue and Raphael, what we wish for you is that you continue to exhibit and practice this true humility that has made you what you are, as individuals and as a couple. With that, your bond will truly be unbreakable.

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