Ask Wendy

Jewish World Review August 9, 2002/ 1 Elul 5762


Wedding woes are a commercial for elopement;
miss the bris (circumcision)?


By Wendy Belzberg

http://www.jewishworldreview.com | Q: We are in the process of planning our daughter's wedding. We have limited the number of guests and are asking our future in-laws to do the same. The groom's family would like to invite more than 120 people and are demanding that we foot the bill. When we suggested that they pay for any additional guests beyond the number we offered, they refused and said they should be able to have anyone they want. We don't want to cause any problems for our daughter.

A: Yours is a commercial for elopement if ever there was one. Assuming there is to be a wedding, however, how about letting the bride and groom determine the size, at least so long as your budget allows? Then sit down with your future in-laws and work this problem out like grownups.

As long as you are footing the bill, you are entitled to tell the parents of the groom how many guests they can invite. Present your point as a simple equation: Total budget divided by cost per head equals the number of total heads. Take that number and divide by two. Half the invited guests from your side, the other from theirs. This is not higher math, and it does fall in a time-honored tradition.

I suspect your future in-laws are not about to become your new best friends. Get through this as graciously and painlessly as possible, and hope that your new son-in-law fell far from his family tree.

Q: Please give me some background about the ceremony of circumcision. I think of bar or bat mitzvahs, weddings and funerals as important enough to travel for. I have not considered the bris in the same category but may have offended my sister by not traveling to another part of the country for her grandchild's bris.

A: It is a little late to be asking this question, as the damage - if in fact there is any - is already done. In the future, try asking the following question of family and close friends at the get-go: Is it important to you that I be there? This simple query covers all occasions - religious and non-religious alike - and cuts directly to the heart of the matter. Obviously an 8-day-old baby will not hold it against you if you don't attend his circumcision, so the question goes to your sister, who may well be holding a grudge.

For the record, a bris - which takes place on the eighth day of a Jewish male's life - symbolizes the covenant between G-d and his people, and marks the child's official initiation into the Jewish people. The ceremony is considered so important that if you are invited to a bris , you are obligated to attend. And so, rather than place someone in the position of failing to fulfill the mitzvah of attending a bris , it is customary not to issue an invitation. In the life of a Jewish male, the importance of the circumcision ceremony ranks right up there with his bar mitzvah and wedding day. You missed his bris ; don't wait 13 years before meeting your sister's grandson.



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© 2002, Wendy Belzberg