Sunday, September 22, 2019


Saturday evening, I officiated Sarah and Sam’s wedding ceremony at Arlington Hall at Oak Park, in Dallas, Texas. Here are the remarks I shared with them and their guests:

I ask every person I marry to answer two essential questions: “Why get married and why now?” I am, actually, one of the only people who can ask them that question. Anyone else asking this question would be exhibiting extremely rude behavior. Just imagine your co-worker strutting into the office Monday morning and offering her hand, so you can see her new engagement ring. Now, imagine her reaction if instead of, “Congratulations,” you responded with, “Why?” That’s one awkward day at the office! And, yet, in all seriousness, we need to be able to answer these questions, so someone – yes me – needs to ask them.

I love how Sarah and Sam answer these questions, especially because they are layered answers. Sam says, “’I want to get married because I… couldn’t see my life without her.” He is very realistic about human relationships too: “I’ve realized relationships will always have issues… and it’s about working through those issues with someone whose positive moments and attributes outweigh the negative ones.” Now, you might question why I mention that quote; I mean it is not about to be printed in any Hallmark cards. Because I truly believe what Sam says is true, and Sarah does too. She says that marriage is about having, “a true life partner to experience everything with – the highs and the lows,” and both are equally important, in reality.

Sarah and Sam are also very clear about why now. Sarah says, “I knew Sam was the one pretty early on. After a month or so of dating I decided I wanted to bring him on a family trip with me in Mexico, which was absolutely unheard of to my family because I never brought guys around, much less on a vacation. I think they knew then too. Even though I knew I loved him early on we clearly weren’t ready for marriage then but couldn’t be more ready now.” That self-awareness is very lacking in today’s world and is invaluable to the success of any relationship.

Now, Sam does one more thing that threw me for a loop in his discussion of why marry and why now. He pulls the ultimate Jewish power move. He answers my question with a question. Do you know why a Jew will answer a question with a question? Why not?!  

Seriously, though, he asks, “Why marriage vs. just living together?” This is a question that is not asked often enough. In Europe, for instance, it is quite normal to have an extremely long-term partner, without formalizing the arrangement through marriage. Even in Texas, which is not very European, once a certain time elapses, common law allows for some type of sui generis marriage. 

Interestingly, about 830 years before Sam asked this question, the great rabbi and philosopher, Maimonides, implicitly asked the same question. His answer is intriguing. He says that before the giving of the Torah, something akin to common law marriage was perfectly acceptable, with nothing else required. However, says Maimonides, “Once the Torah was given, Israel was commanded,” to marry in the presence of witnesses.” Or, as Sam puts it channeling both Maimonides and the Fiddler’s Tevya, “Tradition!” It is indeed our tradition that calls on us in Sam’s words to, as we will do in a moment, solidify, “our bond in front of family, friends, and God.”

It is with this type of solid bond in mind that Sarah says, “I couldn’t imagine not coming home to him every single day. We… realize how big a step this is, and we’re excited for the journey ahead.”

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