The Human Side of the Story

For the week ending 19 June 2010 / 6 Tammuz 5770

Saved from the Queen

by Rabbi Mendel Weinbach zt'l
The Color of HeavenArtscroll

A serious dilemma faced the great rabbi of Prague, Rabbi Yechezkel Landau, author of the Responsa Noda BiYehuda. A kohen in the community asked him to officiate at his marriage to a divorcee. When he refused to do so on religious grounds, the man reported him to the Austrian Queen Maria Theresa who ordered the rabbi to perform the service or face serious punishment.

The rabbi thereupon informed the informant kohen that he would indeed officiate and arrangements for the wedding were made. As the couple stood under the chupah and the climatic moment arrived, the rabbi turned to the kohen and asked him to repeat after him word for word this marriage declaration:

"You are betrothed to me according to the rule of Queen Maria Theresa."

The guests broke into loud laughter and left the kohen and the divorcee to themselves. The brilliant rabbi of Prague thus remained faithful to his religion and no longer in danger from the Queen.

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