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The Dancing Jew

by Rabbi Lazer Gurkow

  

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The Hora
I’m not much of a dancer. I don’t like dancing and I’m not much good at it. So I often find myself on the side of the dance floor watching rather than joining. The dance pace at a Chassidic wedding is intense but the selection is pretty much standard—the hora, the hora and yet another version of the hora.

Actually, when you think of it, the hora fits the marital theme. Dancers stand in close proximity, hold hands, and dance in a tightly knit circle. Can you ask for a better wedding metaphor? The newlyweds also hope to live at close quarters, hold hands, and maintain an egalitarian relationship.1

An Inspired Dance
The hora is indeed a beautiful dance but I was once at a wedding where a much more inspired dance was performed. The dance floor was circling with various styles of the hora when two young Chassidim squared off before the groom and began an intricate yet soulful dance. I don’t know the name of this wonderful dance but for the purposes of this essay I have named it “The Inspired Dance.”

Loving unity between spouses is not constant, is never steady. It is a dynamic energy that thrives on being in a constant state of flux. It grows and fades and then grows back again even stronger than before
The dance floor emptied as everyone paused to enjoy the spectacle. The dancers faced each other at a distance but acknowledged each other with a bow. The dance began as they slowly circled each other, alternately facing towards and away from each other. Animatedly angling back and forth, they alternated between drawing closer and pulling away.

To me, the choreographed steps told an exquisite tale of two people who yearned for each other but were not yet ready to reach out. The dancers hesitantly surrendered to their yearning but then quickly pulled back. They drew closer again only to pull back once more. They weren’t ready yet, there was still so much to explore about each other and about themselves. Reluctantly, they pulled away and gazed from a distance.

As the dance progressed so did the pace, and the dancers wound their way across the floor. They advanced and fell back, drawing each time progressively closer. They twisted and turned, barely avoiding, nearly colliding in their quest for mutual closeness. The dance wound to an end and the dancers reached their peak. They finally approached each other and engaged in a hesitant but warm embrace. The dancers exulted and the spectators applauded celebrating the triumph of happiness.

Siblings and Spouses
The drama that played itself out on the floor told a story that echoes across the journey of married life. Marriage requires enthusiasm, commitment and, above all, continuous labor. It is a never-ending process of drawing together but a never-ending challenge of overcoming obstacles. After all, marriage brings together a man and a woman, each with natures and characters from the opposite stream of life.

Loving unity between spouses is not constant, is never steady. It is a dynamic energy that thrives on being in a constant state of flux. It grows and fades and then grows back again even stronger than before. Like the inspired dance, it rises and falls, peaks and dips, advances and retreats. The hora, on the other hand, maintains a steady pace of close contact with very little drama. There is no fanfare and no triumph, just a steady pace symbolic more of the relationship between siblings than that of husband and wife.

Footnotes

  • 1. The circle represents perfect equality as it has no beginning or end, no head or tail, no top or bottom.

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RELATED CATEGORIES

Life Cycle » Marriage » Married Life

Torah
Torah is G–d’s teaching to man. In general terms, we refer to the Five Books of Moses as “The Torah.” But in truth, all Jewish beliefs and laws are part of the Torah.
Chassidim
(Pl.: Chassidim; Adj.: Chassidic) Following the teachings of Rabbi Israel Baal Shem Tov (1698-1760), the founder of "Chassidut." Chassidut emphasizes serving G-d with sincerity and joy, and the importance of connecting to a Rebbe (saintly mentor).
Chassidic
(Pl.: Chassidim; Adj.: Chassidic) A follower of the teachings of Rabbi Israel Baal Shem Tov (1698-1760), the founder of "Chassidut." Chassidut emphasizes serving G-d with sincerity and joy, and the importance of connecting to a Rebbe (saintly mentor).
G-d
It is forbidden to erase or deface the name of G-d. It is therefore customary to insert a dash in middle of G-d's name, allowing us to erase or discard the paper it is written on if necessary.