The Revolt of the Lovers

If more young couples had decided to get married according to their own wishes, a revolution would have taken place - religion would have been separated from the state.

Now that they are undergoing a change of life, those rabbis have found rejuvenation. Matters will be determined not only according to their mouths but also according to other parts of their bodies. True, they are employed by the state, but it is the state that worships them. Only their flaming and boorish fanaticism is comparable to their racist nationalism - Don't touch our girls! In the name of the army of the Lord, and with the assistance of Benjamin Netanyahu, they dug a grave this week for "the army of the people," but not a mass grave for brethren.

Were I to be married in these times, I would not invite an ultra-Orthodox rabbi or one belonging to the National Religious stream to officiate. The rabbi who married us then, 47 years ago, was Rabbi Aryeh Levin, who was known as "the father of the prisoners" [for visiting members of the Jewish underground movements imprisoned by the British] and who was recognized also by secular people as having special attributes. There were not many like him - and there have remained but a very few.

The rabbis have been terrorizing us, saying that if we free ourselves of their tight grasp, we will be buried alive outside the fence and our names will go on the blacklist. The skies above have darkened, they have become very gray after being asked to spread a black canopy above our heads.

But the main thing is that we should not at all be afraid of these threats and of the terror because we are used to the scarecrow in rags. If "one people" means one language and a few common things - shared terms and values - then we are talking about at least two peoples. Light years and mountains of darkness separate us from each other.

Why should we care if two lists are moving around among us, and everyone in Israel has his own list, even before the argument over conversion has been settled? After all, it will never be settled, since anyway virgins from the holy communities have never married boys who are secular, and the hilltop youths have never sanctified the girls of Mahsom Watch in marriage.

If more young couples had decided to get married according to their own wishes, a revolution would have taken place - religion would have been separated from the state. Without the forced intervention of politicians and the High Court of Justice, it would have retreated. Israel would have been relieved of its enslavement to the rabbinate and would have achieved national and personal redemption in sovereignty. Life would have gained the upper hand over the dead letters, rather than their institutes of learning and their sermons. What do we have in common with them? Thank God, we were exempt from the presence of a stranger and his weird speech at our marriage ceremony. What would he have said, and what would all that have meant to us? We hereby declare a revolt of those who are in love!

Already today, many thousands of people are prepared to forgo their services according to the way the faith of Moses and Israel is seen in their eyes. I personally have married dozens of couples who preferred to use me as their "rabbi" - a matter of taste. To their regret and mine, I do not have the capability of registering their marriage in the Population Registry at the Interior Ministry. But to their delight and mine, they were spared the ways and inflections of aliens; the bride did not have to purify herself of defilement in a ritual bath; the bridegroom did not have to break a glass to strengthen himself and the memory of Jerusalem did not cause their tongues to cleave to the roofs of their mouths. They were given the right to speak about their good hopes.

How did the couples and their guests know that I was not pretending to be a rabbi, that I was not a shepherd and they were not the sheep of the flock? First, because I arrive at a wedding on time and no one has to wait for me. Second, because I do not take a fee, even though I am permitted to do so while the rabbis are not. And, third, because I speak to them more about their lives and their love in their new home and less about the destruction of the old tabernacle.

It is not only a wedding that can be held without ambassadors from above. It is true also of a circumcision where any surgeon will remove the foreskin while not every rabbi will remove what covers the heart. And it is possible also at a funeral where our integrity will precede us even if the members of the Hevra Kadisha (burial society ) are not walking in front.

This is all a matter of choice. If the majority of a minyan holds a festivity or an event of mourning according to its own way of thought, if it lives and dies according to its own beliefs and not according to their dictates, then no force on earth will trample on us as happens at a threshold, not even force majeure. And we will have been set free.