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No K’suba Without A Quarrel
By Menachem Ziegelboim

Rabbi Tamir Kastiel is the young director of the Chabad House in Katamon, Yerushalayim (see Shlichus article The Ninja Rabbi). In the interview with him presented in this issue, Tamir told us about his work in disseminating Torah and Chassidus and the besuras ha’Geula. He also told of an incredible series of answers he received in the Igros Kodesh before his marriage.

When I was becoming religious, I heard many lectures from Rabbi Yisroel Halperin, the Chabad Rabbi in Hertzeliya and my . Rabbi Halperin is my mashpia with whom I consult on virtually every matter.

One day a shidduch was suggested to me. The girl came from a home whose philosophy was close to that of the Mizrachi movement. They highly recommended the girl, and we met a few times until we finally decided to get engaged. A few days later we made a vort (engagement party) in the girl’s house.

We began preparing for the wedding by reserving a hall and hiring a photographer, band, and everything else we needed. Then one day Rabbi Halperin had a little talk with me. It was a serious discussion in which he said that I was about to build a Jewish home and the Rebbe wants Jewish homes to be built on a foundation of Torah and mitzvos without any compromises.

He was referring to the fact that since the kalla came from an environment in which women covered their hair with a kerchief and not a sheitel (wig), I should ensure that the kalla wear a sheitel after the wedding.

The kalla herself had moved slowly but surely towards Chabad, but at her own pace. She found it hard to digest the fact that she would have to wear a sheitel after the wedding. She said she would wear a hat and that in general some things she was willing to accept, while other things she wasn’t ready for. After my talk with Rabbi Halperin, I insisted on a sheitel.

I didn’t know what to do and how to proceed. I decided to write to the Rebbe, the first letter I had ever written to the Rebbe. The date was the seventh of Tammuz 5755.

I wrote about many subjects, first describing my personal history at length, including where I had come from and how I had come to Yiddishkeit and Chabad. Then I asked for a bracha for the shidduch and added the topic of the sheitel, which the kalla refused to wear. But I still asked for the Rebbe’s consent and blessing for the shidduch. The final part of my letter was about my parents, and I asked the Rebbe for a bracha that my parents become religious.

I put the letter randomly in Volume 9 of the Igros Kodesh and the letter I opened to was dated the 7th of Tammuz, the same day I put my letter in.

This is what the Rebbe wrote on p. 174-175:

"In answer to your letter…in which you write the highlights of your life thus far and your state at present.

"About your writing concerning the [shidduch suggestions] they are offering you…in my opinion, you should also look into other suggestions, and with time – you will see and discern. Then about your second question as to what to do after the wedding, and how to set yourself up, there is still time to discuss this. For a wedding is something eternal and you shouldn’t rush it and grab the first suggestion."

Then the Rebbe went on to answer the final point in my letter:

"Concerning what you wrote about the spiritual state of your parents, you should try to get them acquainted with religious people, preferably Lubavitchers, where they live. Ask these religious people to look for opportunities to influence your parents and be mekarev them to our Father in Heaven."

The Rebbe concluded the letter with a point whose relevance to me I didn’t understand:

"I am sure you know the customs of a birthday, with an aliya to the Torah, giving tzedaka before Shacharis and Mincha, and if the birthday falls on Shabbos, then to do these things the day before; and an additional shiur in Torah study in nigleh and Chassidus. May Hashem give you a year of success in learning nigleh and Chassidus and in the punctilious fulfillment of mitzvos.

"With blessings for success in all the above."

I read the letter and was stunned. It was the same date on which I had written my letter and it answered everything I had asked, topic by topic, in order.

I reread the letter and understood from the Rebbe’s answer that I should drop the shidduch, for the Rebbe said to look into other suggestions.

I went to my kalla and told her about writing into the Igros Kodesh and told her I couldn’t go against the Rebbe, and since the Rebbe said to look into other suggestions, we couldn’t get married.

Naturally she was very upset. "Do you think that you’re the only one who can write to the Rebbe and get an appropriate answer?" she said. "I can also write to the Rebbe!"

She sat down and wrote a letter and described our difference of opinion about a head covering. She made sure to mention my unusual "stubbornness." Then she put the letter into the Igros Kodesh and received the following amazing answer (Volume 9, p. 111-112):

"I received her letter in which she writes what was given over to her in my name, and replies that there are details she agrees with and details which she doesn’t want, and so it will only be forced, etc.

"This whole approach is not correct or appropriate when approaching the beginning of a daily schedule, and obviously everybody wants a happy life, and happiness in life is dependent on quality and quantity...the question is not what a person wants and doesn’t want, but rather the approach is on what and who happiness depends on, and under which conditions one can hope to have actual happiness.

"And I said to _____ when he was here, that a man’s wife can be an eizer (help) or kinegdo (opposed to him), and even though it’s hard to tell in advance and to know with utter certainty, 100%, how their relationship will be over the decades, a known and important test is the relationship between the young people and taking their philosophies into account – one with the other, before the wedding. He should clarify this (so should every man and woman do when they want to marry) as much as possible.

"For his part, he shouldn’t hide anything from her about his present philosophy in life, and he should ask her to tell him what she thinks about his philosophy. If she acts in accordance with what she wrote in her letter, that she will arrange her life in accordance with her wishes without her taking into account G-d’s opinion and the directives He gave each Jew, he should carefully rethink marriage and this shidduch.

"Since _____ wants to know my opinion in this and my consent, and as he put it, my blessing too, I can wholeheartedly agree when I see the greatest reason for hope that their lives will be happy, and this is dependent on their arranging their lives on the foundations of Torah and mitzvos as they are stated in Shulchan Aruch, and not as each one understands it, agreeing with a certain detail but disagreeing with other details. For Hashem says that going in His ways that He taught ensures a life of blessing and success, as opposed to going in other ways. I cannot take on the responsibility of participating in this matter when one side approaches the whole thing without wanting and not promising, and he is forced to do contrary to his opinion, etc., etc.

"If somebody were to say that it is impossible to concede and to go specifically with a kerchief for a head covering or a sheitel, regardless of the fact that by doing so one endangers their happiness and the happiness of the other side in their joint life for decades – this person has no sense of responsibility, nor the proper appreciation and knowledge of what constitutes a shared life, and how worthwhile it is to concede on even more important matters, as long as it is a happy, united life. As stated earlier, this is impossible in the lives of Jewish men and women without Torah and mitzvos.

"Hashem should give her the merit to recognize her path in life and to decide in her favor with true good, which is both material and spiritual good, for one without the other is truly impossible."

My kalla was in shock. The answer clearly applied to our relationship without a single extra word. She realized how much the Rebbe runs the show and how you can’t get out of it or ask questions and receive answers just to suit yourself.

We parted ways although we already had a hall, a photographer, and a band. We wrote each other a ksav mechila and said goodbye.

I went to 770 to learn and when I returned to Eretz Yisroel I continued my studies at Tomchei Tmimim in Kfar Chabad. Then I worked as a "tankist" in Hertzeliya. I looked into other shidduchim as the Rebbe had told me to do.

One day Rabbi Halperin called me over for another conversation. He told me that in recent months, the girl had changed completely and that he thought it was worth exploring that idea again. I remembered the line the Rebbe had written, "you should look into other suggestions, and with time – you will see and discern." I realized that the time had come to "see and discern."

We met again and I saw a great change had taken place in her Chassidic customs and way of life, corresponding to my own personal growth. We got engaged again, though not before my "getting it over the head" for the previous time...

I wrote a letter to the Rebbe and asked for his haskama and bracha. The letter I opened to was letter #1776:

"In response to your letter of 27 Tammuz, in which you write that your fiancee doesn’t like the idea of making the wedding in Elul (and furthermore, that they are afraid of Elul, but you don’t write the reasons why) and you ask my opinion about whether to insist.

"You certainly shouldn’t strongly insist or strongly not insist, for even though Chazal say there is no k’suba without a quarrel, it is one of those things we are not mehader in, and even without hiddurim you shouldn’t make any efforts. Just agree to their opinion and may Hashem grant that whatever time they choose, it should be a good and auspicious time, and you will certainly let me know in advance when it will be."

The answer was amazingly clear: the Rebbe said that there is no k’suba without a quarrel, and from this I understood that everything that had taken place up until then was in order to fulfill this dictum, "but you don’t have to be mehader in this," and the date of the wedding should be in a "good and auspicious time."

Shortly before I went to the chuppa, I wrote to the Rebbe again and asked for a bracha that everything go smoothly without any problems. The letter I opened to (Volume 12, p. 200) was one I took to the chuppa with a light and happy heart:

"Regarding the wedding of _____ I double my brachos. May it be l’mazal tov, mazal tov and in a good and auspicious time, and an everlasting edifice on the foundations of Torah and mitzvos as they are illuminated by the light of Torah, which is the Toras Ha’Chassidus. With blessings for mazal tov, mazal tov."

Shortly after the wedding, I suddenly figured out the meaning of the last paragraph of the first letter I had opened to in which the Rebbe wrote about the customs on birthdays. The wedding had taken place on the night following my birthday!

Mrs. Noah Kastiel is currently raising a lovely Chassidic family and has three children. She stands by her husband’s side in all areas of hafatzas ha’Yahadus and Chassidus, and supports him in all his work at the Chabad House. She backs him during the difficult times, too, in the course of his shlichus.


The Rebbe said that there is no k’suba without a quarrel, and from this I understood that everything that had taken place up until then was in order to fulfill this dictum, "but you don’t have to be mehader in this," the Rebbe continued.


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