Sunday, November 19, 2006

The Dek Tichel

There has been a discussion on The Areivim E-mail List about the value of something called a Dek Tichel. A Dek Tichel is the Yiddish phrase for an opaque bridal veil. It is used mostly by Chasidic brides. The purpose, I assume is to make the Kalla more Tznius. Since everyone looks at the Kalla as she walks down the aisle I suppose Chasidim feel that an extra measure Tznius is called for.

The problem is that it is becoming more common in non-Chasidic weddings. I attend a great number of wedding during the year and the more Yeshivish the wedding, the more one will see an opaque, or near opaque veil.

This is just one more example of the “Chasidization” of Torah Judaism. And nowhere is that more apparent than at weddings. The increasingly wide spread use of Dek Tichlels goes right along with other such Chumros adopted from Chasidim. Like the Kalla not going into the men’s dance for Keitzad Merakidim. This too is now almost gone from the Yeshivishe world.

This was once an automatic occurrence in the Yeshiva world. Now it is the rarest of occurrences. And that’s too bad because the best dancing by the men usually occurs when the Kalla comes over to see the men dance. Telzer Rosh HaYeshiva, Rabbi Chaim Dov Keller is an exceptional dancer who’s dancing really perks up when the Kala comes over. But this is now rare. It is reserved mostly for the “less Yeshivish” and the modern Orthodox. This new “Chumra” also comes from Chasidim.

Chasidim never allow the Kalla into the men’s side. In fact the Sheva Brachos at Bentching are very awkward at such weddings since the Kalla has to sort of come over to the Mechitza and sort of hang out there so she can hear the Sheva Brachos. Satmar… Lubavitch… it doesn’t matter. Women are forbidden on the men’s side even for bentching,.including the Kalla. And at the weddings of children of Chasidic Rebbes… well if the wedding is large enough, the women, including the Kalla are in an entirely different building!

And these aren’t the only Chasidic Minhagim that the Yeshiva world has adopted. I have written about this before. Mixed seating is another such custom dropped by the Yeshiva world in favor of sepearte seating. Mixed seating was the norm in pre- holocaust Lithuania. It is now non-existent in the Yeshiva world of today. All these Minhagim and probably a few others that I can’t think of at the moment stem from Chasidim. I have discussed mixed seating at length and will not do so here.

This brings me back to the Dek Tichel. What exactly is accomplished by wearing it? If indeed it is Tznius that Chasidim are concerned with, how do they explain the Mitzvah Tanz? (This is one Chasidic Minhag I am sure that the Yeshiva world will not adopt.) The Kalla does not wear a Dek Tichel while she stands in front of hundreds (and in the case of Chasidic Rebbes, thousands) of men while her uncles, brothers, father in law, father, and Chasan dances with her. Where is the Tznius concern there? She is the focus of attention more at a Mitzvah Tanz than she is under the Chupah or walking down the aisle with her parents!

I have heard that some women actually prefer that they be covered because it affords them more privacy at that moment. Some Kallas get very emotional and prefer that no one sees them. The problem is that she has to be seen… by the Eidim (witnesses). Without their witnessing the moment of Kedushin, the marriage is not valid! I have seen Lithuanian Roshei Yeshiva fore the Kalla to lift the opaque veil so the Eidm can see the Kalla. If that isn’t awkward, I don’t know what is. But in Chasidic weddings, the Eidim do not even see the Kalla’s face. When asked about that, Chasidim say, “the Eidim know that she is the Kalla… who else is it wearing that white gown?” But the fact remains that her face remains hidden from the witnesses. Shouln’t one be more Macmir with respect to the Hlachic requirement of witnesses than one is with respect to such an “over-the-top” chumra of Tznius?

And what about the fact that she is walking almost completely blinded by that opaque veil? I have often seen a Kalla trip because she can’ see where she is going. If it were not for the parents “catching” her fall, she would be flat on her face… or worse! And shouldn’t the Kalla have a right to see what’s happening at the most important part of the wedding, the Chupah? At should at least be up to her whether she should have to wear a Dek Tichel or a sheer one. It really pains me to see some Kallos indoctrinated to believe that the Dek Tichel is a preferred veil. But that’s the trend. And it is to no good purpose that I can see.