I read a short book last year while fasting during Yom Kippur and this year I decided to do the same, both as a center of meditation and as a way to not focus on hunger. I had picked up this book out of curiosity when I saw it pop up on the New Haven Buy Nothing community, and I found that I wrestled with it a great deal more on Yom Kippur than I think I would have had I read it in anticipation of an upcoming marriage. The fact that I do not have a marriage on the horizon has been the topic of a significant amount of conversation in my life especially during the end of this last year, 5782. I am older now than the vast majority of my family members were when they got married, and not only do I have no marriage prospects, the prospect of a marriage is somewhat fraught for me, as it represents an immense Jewish ritual that I would be inviting all of my not-Jewish family to participate in.
Today, I am supposed to be atoning, seeking forgiveness, and as such I am thinking about what I have done wrong. Reading this book today has represented something of an internal threatening question that I have been chewing on lately: is my life path, which already does not look how I expected it to look, somehow a mistake? Do I err in foregoing (or at least not focusing on) what is supposedly the greatest good a person can achieve? I do not think so, but I am uncertain, which is surprisingly haunting. I think though that even after this meditation the only sin I would bring to temple to confess is the sin of letting my fears distract me from joy, work, and mitzvot, which I suppose is not so terrible a sin at all.
The book itself is a hilarious thing to have been the foundation for these thoughts. It is simple, but a fine start I would think for planning a Jewish wedding. It is very welcoming and non-judgemental, which is great, but the prose are quite uninspired throughout, and I feel like a person could probably find better, more creative resources online in a matter of minutes. The best part of it in my opinion was a suggestion for wedding invite text, which read “we will meet in the streets of Jerusalem, or, if the messiah tarries, at this synagogue.” I’m going to start using that as a way to tell Jewish friends where we’re getting brunch, for sure.