Signing the Ketubah is an important part of the Jewish marriage ceremony. I have always felt that my signature as the officiating rabbi and those of the bride, groom, and their witnesses should be clear and legible. It should require an especially reliable writing instrument. And so my deluxe Cross Pen, the top of the line, became my constant wedding companion.
Rani and David had planned two wedding ceremonies. On Saturday there would be a two-hour Hindu wedding complete with a reading from the Vedas, the spiritual scriptures that are the heart of India’s culture , the Saptapadi (or seven steps) , and the vows taken in Sanskrit. On Sunday I would lead a twenty-five minute Jewish Wedding service in a country garden setting under a Chuppah with wine, a glass to break and a beautiful art decorated Ketubah featuring both Jewish and Hindu motifs.
At the conclusion, David smashed the glass and the bride and groom went on to lead the recessional. Rani’s parents and grandmother approached me with joy on their faces and words of gratitude for my service which to them was wonderfully short compared with the Hindu ritual they had endured the day before. But their attention seemed to focus on Rani’s Ketubah which featured a Hindu bride clothed in a multi colored Sari. It was truly one of a kind. I presented it to them for safe keeping and their gratitude was overflowing.
Then came the bombshell. “Rabbi, we must also have the pen which you used for the signing. Both the scroll and pen are now sacred objects for our family and must be kept together for safe keeping.
After gasping for a moment I explained to Rani’s family that my Cross pen was a special one which I only used to sign religious documents, naming certificates and such. I probably indicated that it cost me a considerable amount of money. Rani’s father was cordial yet firm as to his responsibilities in this matter. His demand for both Ketubah and pen were not to be denied.
In that hour I truly learned what it meant to be torn between my Yetzer HaRa (evil intention) and my Yetzer Tov (good intention). And then a moment of blinding clarity came over me. For who was I to deny my Cross Deluxe Pen the opportunity to achieve the status of becoming a sacred object and to assume its rightful place in Rani and David’s home as a treasured memento of their wedding day ? I do remember as my pen passed into their hands that I really felt very good about my gesture and for the sacrifice made that sunny afternoon.
Time had passed quickly, names and faces may be sometimes forgotten but a few years later I was called to lead a baby naming for a little girl. As I walked up their front lawn a smiling middle-aged couple came out to greet me waving a pen. “Rabbi, here is your pen from Rani and David’s wedding. Now you can sign our granddaughter’s baby certificate. Your pen has brought us much good luck “.
– Rabbi Nat Benjamin
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