“But the courts in Los Angeles annulled my marriage,” Sharon insisted. “Rabbi, it happened such a long time ago, and it lasted only six hours—a stupid mistake. Done, finished, forgotten forever!”

Rabbi Chaim Mentz, the Chabad-Lubavitch emissary in Bel Air, California, listened sympathetically. He really felt for Sharon and Andrew, a nice young couple who wanted him to officiate at their upcoming marriage.

“I understand how you feel, Sharon,” he explained patiently. “But you see, Jewish law prohibits marriage if the bride or groom had been married before, but not divorced according to Jewish law. A court annulment is not enough. A proper bill of divorce, a get, must be obtained.”

Sharon and Andrew looked devastated.

“Don’t worry,” Rabbi Mentz calmed them. “We’re dealing with a straightforward procedure, but behind this procedure lies the truism that everything a person does has meaning, and so no action should be taken lightly. I will assist you in the process, and things will work out for the best.”

“Yeah,” Sharon thought to herself. “I wonder what good can come from adding extra hassles to my six-page-long list of things to do.”

With the rabbi’s guidance, Sharon contacted the Jewish rabbinical court (beit din) in Los Angeles, and in a matter of weeks she had the get in hand. The rabbi at the beit din wished her well. “Now you can go about planning your upcoming marriage with joy and peace of mind,” he concluded warmly.

“We have it all planned already,” Sharon assured him with a smile. “We’re getting married on the fifth of December.”

The rabbi shook his head with concern. “Oh dear, I’m sorry you didn’t mention that earlier. You see, Jewish law requires that in a case such as yours, you must wait three months before marrying. As you have already demonstrated a high regard for the law, you will surely continue to do so as you begin your new life. May you be blessed in all your endeavors.”

The first thing Sharon did was call Andrew, then she called Rabbi Mentz.

“Rabbi,” she blurted. “I can’t believe this! All our plans, the wedding, our honeymoon! You mean we have to reschedule everything?!”

Rabbi Mentz gently explained the law and its reasons, and encouraged Sharon and Andrew to abide by it. “Judaism maintains that G‑d is the active third party in every marriage. You’ll be demonstrating how important it is to have Him as a partner in your life.”

After some consideration, Sharon and Andrew informed Rabbi Mentz that they would comply with the law, and they rescheduled their wedding for January 23, 2005.

On December 26, they realized just how vital to their lives their Third Partner was. This would have been one of the last days of the honeymoon they had originally planned, and they would have been spending it at the now famous Kaafu Atoll Maldives Hotel on Lankanfushi Island. The room they had reserved was one of those swept away by the devastating tsunami of December 2004!

Adapted by Yerachmiel Tilles from Excuse Me, Are You Jewish? by Malka Touger. Published by Emet Publications.

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