A haredi couple from Jerusalem, married just last week, was looking forward to a very festive Shabbat this weekend. They left their home on Friday afternoon, rushing to catch the transportation arranged by their families to a Sheva Brachot meal in Bnei Brak, about an hour away by car. But when they arrived at the pick-up location, they discovered, to their horror, that it was too late: The bus had already taken off.
With public transportation already unavailable—Israeli buses and trains do not operate on the Sabbath—the couple tried to hitch a ride, but had no luck. Panicky, they hailed a cab driven by an Arab neighbor, and asked him to step on it.
Again, luck wasn’t a lady: Not far from Modi’in, a community outside Jerusalem, they got stuck in a massive traffic jam. Looking outside the window, they could see the sun setting. Terrified of violating Shabbat, they stepped out and started walking along the highway. Just before Shabbat began, the groom called one of his relatives and told him that he and his bride were alright.
It was hardly enough to comfort the families gathered in anticipation of a joyous meal in Bnei Brak. One friend of the couple’s told the haredi blog Behadrei Haredim that the scene “resembled a mourners’ dinner, with the parents of the bride and groom both weeping. No one knew what was going on. We didn’t know what to do, so we did our best to make them happy.”
Eventually, the guests all went home. A few hours later, in the middle of the night, the couple knocked on the groom parents’ door, after an arduous eight-hour journey by foot. To which we say: Siman tov and mazal tov…
Liel Leibovitz is editor at large for Tablet Magazine and a host of its weekly culture podcast Unorthodox and daily Talmud podcast Take One.