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Rabbi's Reflection: Vows

By: Rabbi Steven Schwartz

He fed her tenderly, a soft smile on his lips, and a gentle glow in his eyes.  They had a table for two, at the back of the restaurant, just at the edge of the candlelight.  She was dressed elegantly; her eyes sparkled, she smiled, they talked and laughed together, their conversation a product of years and years of a shared journey.

The waiters hovered, not too much, but they kept an eye on the couple.  Perhaps they knew the story, the background, what had happened, the history of what led them to this moment.  It was a fancy place, fine French food, the wait staff in black tie, the wine list extensive, the dishes classic and perfectly cooked.  Each table was occupied; the hum and buzz of conversation filled the small room.  You could hear the sizzling of meats and fish from the open kitchen.

It was such a small table that they shared.  Looking casually about the room, you would never have noticed they were different than any of the other couples, that their table was different than any of the other tables.  But he was feeding her. Patiently cutting her food, gently reaching a fork across the table to her mouth, then wiping her lips with a soft white napkin.  Each forkful was filled with such devotion and love and care.

It was her hands.  When not at rest, they shook terribly, and she would never have been able to force those trembling hands to make the short trek from plate to mouth.  I thought about it for a long time afterward.  Did they talk about it?  Discuss what it would be like to be out in public?  The potential embarrassment of it, the staring, perhaps the questions or well-intended yet uncomfortable comments?

There was such peace to it all. This is who we are, let it be, and we’ll live our lives.  We need not hide; there is no shame in this.  Sadness perhaps, challenge and difficulty, struggle even.  But it was life in all its beauty and frailty and humanity.  And they were living it together, as they had for so many years.

This article originally appeared in the April 2019 edition of The Voice. 

Thu, July 2 2020 10 Tammuz 5780