click here to jump to start of article
  • Torah Reading: Tzav
Join Our Newsletter

Get latest articles and videos with Jewish inspiration and insights​

Show Up and Show You Care
Mom with a View

Show Up and Show You Care

Don’t sell yourself short. Going to that wedding or shiva house does make a real difference.


"I didn't realize until I made my first wedding what a difference each guest makes," a friend commented to me recently. "I'm going to make more of an effort to attend weddings in the future."

Another friend made a similar comment from a different perspective. "When I was sitting shiva for my mother," she told me, "I noticed who came – and, unfortunately for my piece of mind, who didn't. I'm going to try to go more frequently to make a shiva call, even if I'm not particularly close to the mourner."

In our busy and overscheduled lives, we may not have the chance to stop and realize what a difference our presence makes in these situations. We may think they already have a lot of guests or visitors and they won't miss me. But we would be wrong.

Our joy is much greater when we share it and the more people we share it with, the better the feeling! A guest who doesn't turn up robs both the host and him or herself of this opportunity.

Likewise our pain is alleviated when shared. Each visitor to a shiva house removes a small component of the mourner's sorrow. Even if they just sit there silently.

Because we are so busy (or so tired!) we tell ourselves that we don't really matter, that it's not a big deal whether we go or not. We are selling ourselves short. Every individual makes a difference. If they didn't want us there they wouldn't have invited us! And every individual provides their own unique and individual brand of solace and comfort.

As wonderful as a wedding can be, I've heard people moan and groan about their obligation to go. We've lost touch with our sense of gratitude, with what really counts and with how lucky we are to live in a society where weddings are so common and able to occur in an environment of openness and acceptance. We've forgotten how wonderful it is to share someone else's joy. Is it a rational decision to say I've experienced enough joy for today; perhaps I'll try for some more tomorrow?

And, conversely, we've lost touch with how comforting it is to share someone's pain and sorrow, how it deepens our own compassion and how a simple act can mean so much.

Yes, there are times when we just can't make it; we are just too exhausted or we have a prior commitment. But it should never be because we're just too busy and we should never complain about the good our community is experiencing. We should put in that effort to show up, to make a statement that says "I care" and to fully share in the joys (and pains) of our brothers and sisters.

Even if there are (as it said on our community newsletter) five shalom zachars in one Friday night.

September 17, 2016

Give Tzedakah! Help create inspiring
articles, videos and blogs featuring timeless Jewish wisdom.
The opinions expressed in the comment section are the personal views of the commenters. Comments are moderated, so please keep it civil.

Visitor Comments: 6

(3) Anonymous, September 23, 2016 2:45 AM

No more guilt-tripping, Emuna!

On top of everything else we have to do as Jews, Ms. Braverman now tells us we must attend weddings! Enough of the guilt-tripping, Emuna! If a guest wants to attend, that's great. But if he doesn't, he shouldn't feel guilty that he's not. Sometimes, an invitee is just too tired and worn out to attend. Other times, he'd rather stay home and study, read and enjoy a quiet, but necessary, afternoon or evening. Whatever the reason, the choice is his. And he shouldn't be made to feel guilty about it!

Anonymous, September 23, 2016 11:46 AM

To commenter #3

With all due respect, I'm not sure that Ms. Braverman is tellling us we must attend weddings. I think the message here is that we need to be grateful for the Simcha taking place. Sometimes it is just impossible to attend a wedding for any number of reasons. Several years ago I was invited to a wedding and could not attend because I was in aveilos for my mother, a"h. Re: Shiva visits. IMO, we need to make those visits a priority. Ultimately we are the ones who know our schedules and time/financial limitations. However, sometimes it is possible to push past those limitations and attend a Simcha and/or a Shiva visit. It is indeed something to ponder.

(2) Anonymous, September 22, 2016 2:00 PM

Attending weddings in Israel

As much as I'd love to attend every wedding I am invited to and share in their simcha, unfortunately I need to think whether I can afford going or not. I'm not familiar how things work in other parts of the world, but here in Israel, it is expected that you 'pay your way' with a check. If my husband and I attend a wedding, we are expected to give a gift of at least 600 shekels. One or two weddings like that a month and it adds up to a hefty amount. Unless it's very close family, we never take our children. Sometimes just one of us attends the simcha , other times we opt out altogether. It's not that we don't want to share their wedding - it's just that the consumer mentality leaves you with no choice. Obviously a shiva call is a whole different ball-game.

Shoshana-Jerusalem, September 22, 2016 3:24 PM

never heard of such a thing

We have married off all our children and a few of the grandchildren and I have never heard of anyone giving even near 600 shekel. People very often give 50 shekel, some who have more give more. Many buy a small gift, sometimes a few neighbors and friends get together and chip in 40 shekel each and buy something a little nicer.

Maybe outside of the yeshiva world people have more money but still 600 shekel seems crazy.

Also, in our community it is very acceptable to go after the meal for the dancing, and then you don't have to give a gift at all. Or for the chupa, to say mazel tov. Either way, the ba'alei simcha are happy that you came.

During the "wedding seasons" we can have at least one wedding
a night, if not more. Of course it's not physically possible to attend them all but we often go from one to the other if they are nearby, and just stop in for a couple of minutes The chasan/kallah's parents are happy you came and are too busy anyway to notice when you left.

Kein yirbu simchas b'Yisrael!

netty, September 24, 2016 8:34 PM

Pay your way in Israeli weddings- unfortunately very true

Shoshana- i must say that i am quite surprised to hear that you have never heard of people giving fat checks at weddings in israel.
even if you live in the Israeli yeshiva world, which in itself is a wide concept, you must have heard of all the Israeli discussions and debates of how it is extremely expensive to attend friends and family's weddings in Israel.
like, anonymous, i too have heard of many families who cannot afford to attend friend's wedding since they feel obligated to pay per head.
It's like a sad egg/ chicken story.In Israel, most people cannot really afford to make lavish weddings since the average or even median salary in israel is much lower than in the rest of the western world. so somewhere along the road, somebody came up with the idea of having the guests pay their way. the only problem is that the guests themselves dont make that much money either, so only one or two family members will attend the wedding.
what is worse, is that if people bring actual gifts like pots and pans or electrical home appliances, many a time these people will be looked down at as stingy.

See All Comments

Submit Your Comment:

  • Display my name?

  • Your email address is kept private. Our editor needs it in case we have a question about your comment.

  • * required field 2000
Submit Comment