((Please read this in its entirety and then all of you tell me what it is about. What verse, chapter, book or part of the Bible that is referred to by this very simple play. I apologize for its simplicity but I hope that you enjoy it.))
Narrator: Mr. ben-Abraham is a successful farmer in Israel and has 3 sons and only one daughter, Dinah. In the nearby village lives Mr. ben-David, who is a respected merchant. Mr. ben-David has only one son remaining at home, Yeshayahu (Joshua). Joshua is two years older than Dinah but has been in love with her from afar for more than just a few years. Oftentimes, when Dinah and her mother and aunts come to town Joshua would step out into the street from his father’s shop to greet the ladies as they walked past and inquire whether or not they needed anything or any help with their bundles and packages. Now, Joshua goes to his father and presents his proposal for a marriage.
Joshua: Papa, I want to talk with you about something important.
Mr. ben-David: (Looks up from his books to see his nervous son.) Yes? What can be so important that it can’t wait until tomorrow?
Joshua: Papa, I want to marry Dinah Yehudah ben-Abraham.
Mr. ben-David: You should be so lucky. I will arrange a good marriage for you from one of the girls in the village.
Joshua: Respectfully, NO! Papa, I want to marry Dinah Yehudah ben-Abraham.
Mr. ben-David: Mr. ben-Abraham is a well-respected farmer. He has land, and flocks of sheep, donkeys, camels and goats. It was be easier for you to marry the queen of Sheba. Where would you get the money for the bride price?
Joshua: I have saved every mite that you have given me, plus those that I have earned on my own. Uncle Yitsaq has payed me for helping him as has Uncle Laban. I have saved 50 shekels of silver for the bride price.
Mr. ben-David: 50 shekels of silver! Outrageous! Now, I know I could arrange a marriage with the Queen of Sheba. Besides, 30 shekels is a good bride price.
Mr. ben-David: Alright, alright. Tomorrow, I will send your cousin with a letter to Mr. ben-Abraham. Have your cousin Nahum take it too him.
Joshua: Nahum! Papa, Nahum is too slow. He will go to sleep sitting along the creek I will have Micah take the letter.
Mr. ben-David: Micah can out run a horse. You will have to pay him, not me.
Narrator: Mr. ben-David sends a letter requesting a meeting of the 2 fathers, Dinah and her mother, himself and Joshua. Mr. ben-Abraham consults with Dinah.
Mr. ben-Abraham: Dinah!
Dinah: Yes, Papa.
Mr. ben-Abraham: Mr. ben-David has requested a meeting with him and Joshua. How do you feel about that?
Dinah: (Inwardly smiling but trying to remain cool
on the outside) What does the business of men have to do with me?
Mr. ben-Abraham: Batiy. They want to talk about a marriage, to you with young Yehoshua. How do you feel about that?
Dinah: He comes from a good family. He is skilled in the Torah. And, he is not completely unhandsome.
Mr. b-A: Very well. I will send your nephew to him tomorrow saying that we will meet with him and his son, what’s his name…
Dinah: Yehoshua! (blurted Dinah)
Mr. b-A: Yes, yes, Joshua. Anyway, I will let them know that they are invited to dinner 2 days hence. Go inform your mother. Oh, one more thing, you must light the lamp in the window and answer the door.
Dinah: (Responds meekly) Yes, Papa. (Dinah turns to leave the run and then runs back to her father’s side and kisses his cheek.)
Narrator: When the fateful day arrives Mr. ben-David and Joshua approach the ben-Abraham home and see a light in the window.
Mr. b-D: Ah! Look! There is a lamp burning in the window. That is a very good sign.
Joshua: It is just a lamp.
Mr. b-D: You are wrong, my son. It is a ray of hope. Come.
Narrator: Joshua and his father arrive at the door and before the father knocks he looks to his son.
Mr. b-D: Are you ready for this? I mean, are you really ready?
Joshua: Yes, Papa.
Mr. b-D: Okay, knock like I showed you. Knock like a man of the beyth ben-David.
Narrator: Joshua makes a tight fist and with all his strength he strikes the door firmly just one time. Mr. b-D smiles and nods to his son in approval. Dinah opens the door and greets the two men and welcomes them to her father’s house. Once inside she closes the door and directs them into the dining room where there are seats already prepared for the guest. Mr. ben-Abraham rises from his seat and greet the two men, the elder first and then the younger. Dinah’s mother, Naomi, remains seated and accepts the attention of the 2 guests. Mr. b-A directs the men to be seated and then calls Dinah and tells her to serve the wine. At this point the mother rises and helps Dinah serve the wine until Dinah sits beside her mother and then she is served by her mother. Now the negotiations begin.
Mr. b-A: Shalom Mar ben-David and Joshua. You are welcome in our house and please make yourself at home and do not act like a guest in my house. What is the great honor you have given us this day?
Mr. b-D: Shalom, Mar ben-Abraham, Geveret ben-Abraham and Geveret Dinah. Blessing upon this house and all those who reside within it. My son, Joshua, has worked with me and his uncles, faithfully for years and has come to an age and a time in his life where he realizes that in order to truly be successful in life, he must have a help mate. Mar ben-Abraham, you and I know for a fact, that we would not be where we are today without the influence of first, our mothers who taught us Torah, while still on their breasts and later in life, with the gentle urgings of our wives. It is for this reason that I have proposed to my son that he consider an arrangement with your very beautiful daughter, Dinah, as being the perfect help mate and the one who could best, uh, encourage him to excel in all his endeavors. It is for this reason that I have asked for this meeting.
Mr. b-A: Mar ben-David, this is a great honor that you have brought across our threshold. It is an unexpected surprise and one that must be carefully considered. There is much both houses could gain by such a union but it is one in which I must consult my most trusted advisor, my wife and also my daughter. Having said that, I will state that as of this moment will call this occasion our Ketubah feast. You have made a compelling argument and we will consider this our entering into covenant. Dinah, help your mother serve the challah and salt.
Narrator: Mrs ben-Abraham and Dinah arise and fetch the challah bread and a simple dish of salt and places the salt dish in front of Mr. b-A.
Mr. b-A: To covenant! (Mr. b-A dips the challah in the salt and eats the bread.)
Narrator: Mr. ben-David, Joshua, Mr. and Mrs. Ben-Abraham and Dinah all eat challah bread and salt and then drink wine. They talk about the prospects of good crops and good weather and enjoy a fine meal. It is decided that they will meet again the day after the sighting of the new moon. On the evening of the day after the sighting of the new moon, Mr. ben-David and Joshua are accompanied to the house of the ben-Abraham family by a scribe and 2 well known and reputable witnesses. Upon arriving at the ben-Abraham household ben-David looks at his son and simply nods. The very loud, single knock sounds within the house and Dinah rushes to the door.
Mr. b-D: (Nudging his son in the ribs he points out) The lamp is still lit in the window boy, that is good news.
Joshua: Papa, it is just a lamp.
Mr. b-D: It lit your path to the door, son. It is your guide to your bride.
Dinah: (Opening the door she greets the visitors.) Good evening gentlemen. Welcome to the house of Yehudah ben-Abraham. Shalom.
The group: Shalom Geveret ben-Abraham. Thank you for your invitation.
Dinah: Shalom, Gentlemen, please follow me this way.
Narrator: ben-Abraham extends his hand to each and every person as they enter the dining room. He encourages them to take a seat and to think of themselves as his family and not his guests.
Mr. b-A: What is the honor that has brought you to my house this fine evening?
Mr. b-D: Sir, we have come so that we may discuss a Ketubah between your beautiful daughter and my son, Joshua. Mr. ben-Shimon is an excellent scribe, as I am sure that you are aware. Mr. ben-Yitsaq is a witness who has even witnessed the transcription of the kohanim in the temple. And Mr. ben-Sha’ul is a witness whose reputation is beyond reproach in both the civil and ecclesiastical circles.
Mr. b-A: (He stands and bows to each one in recognition of their reputation.) Gentlemen, we are most humbled by your presence in our meager cottage. I pray that you will be blessed by the things that you hear and attest to this evening. But a fortnight ago, Mr. ben-David and his son Joshua came to us and presented us with a preliminary proposition for us to consider. It was, with all humility, a great honor upon this house. Mr. ben-Shimon, Mr. ben-Yitsaq and Mr. ben-Sha’ul, your reputation proceeds you and so doing brings honor unto our house. As I am sure that you are aware at this time, young Yehoshua ben-David has favored us with his proposal of marriage to our daughter, Dinah. Young Yehoshua, as in the footsteps of his father, has a sterling reputation in the community, is skilled in the Torah, and is a young man spoken highly of in the gates of our community. The house of ben-Abraham will consider, with great favor, any petition brought before us this day. (Mr. b-A bows once again and takes his seat.)
Narrator: Mr. ben-Shimon reaches into a pouch slung across his right shoulder and takes from it an inkhorn, a plume, a blank scroll, a blotter and a roll of ribbon. The scroll is vellum, sheepskin, and will record the particulars of the agreement. There is a hushed silence that accompanies this ritual.
Mr. b-Shimon: Mr. ben-David and Joshua. Do you enter into this agreement voluntarily?
Mr. b-D and Joshua: Yes we do.
Mr. b-Shimon: Mr. ben-Abraham and Dinah. Do you enter into this agreement voluntarily?
Mr. b-A and Dinah: Yes, we do.
Mr. ben-Shimon: Who puts forth the bride price?
Joshua: I do. Thirty pieces of silver for the bride.
Mr. ben-Shimon: Mar ben-Abraham?
Mr. b-A: I accept.
Narrator: The scribe begins recording every word that has been spoken up to this point on the blank scroll in front of him. Occasionally, the two witnesses, one on either side of the scribe look over the scribe’s shoulder to insure that everything has been recorded.
Mr. b-Shimon: Mr. ben-Abraham, have you any questions?
Mr. b-A: Yes, I do. Thank you. Who will provide lodging for my daughter and her children?
Mr. b-D: I will. I have a fine home and my son will prepare a place for your daughter there. I will provide her with the comforts to which she is accustomed and the elegance due the future mother of my grandchildren.
Mr. b-Shimon: Mar ben-Abraham?
Mr. b-A: So be it.
Narrator: It takes almost 2 hours for the 2 parties to reach an agreement. All the while the witnesses and the scribe, who has recorded every word, have nodded in approval of the agreement being struck between the two houses. After an agreement has been reached, the scribe pulls out a roll of ribbon. From it he cuts 7 individual lengths. He hands the first piece of ribbon to the father of the groom, who quickly signs it. The scribe then rolls up the scroll and ties it shut with the first piece of ribbon. The second piece of ribbon is then handed to Mr. ben-Abraham, who signs it slowly and deliberately. This is then used to tie the scroll in the center beside the ribbon of the groom’s father. Next, is the Groom, who signs his name. The Scribe then ties this ribbon on the right hand, outside edge of the scroll. Next, the potential bride signs her name on the ribbon and it is placed beside that of her father. Next, the two witnesses sign their names on their pieces of ribbon and they are then tied onto the scroll. Finally, the scribe himself, signs his name on a piece of ribbon and places it between the ribbons of the two fathers. Next, each of the 7 parties to the Ketubah share a glass of wine, challah bread and salt to seal the covenant.
Over the next several months preparations are made for the impending wedding. The bride selects her bridesmaids and the groom his groomsmen. All day long the groom works at his father’s shop and all night long, with the help of his groomsmen he builds a room onto the side of his father’s house that will accommodate him and his future wife. Occasionally, the groom completes tasks for one of his uncles or local businessmen in exchange for money or goods that will be needed in the new home.
After months of preparation the groom’s father announces to him that all the preparations are complete and that tomorrow night is the time selected for the groom to go and bring his bride home.
The word is passed along to the groomsmen who immediately get busy and wash their white cloaks. In doing so, one of the bridesmaids sees the activity and runs to the house of ben-Abraham to inform Dinah.
Rachel: Dinah, Yehoshua’s groomsmen are washing their white robes.
Dinah: What? Now?
Rachel: Yes, I saw it with my own eyes.
Dinah: Oh, my. Does everyone have a lamp and lots of oil?
Rachel: Yes, and extra wicks. All of us have our best white robes ready. Where do you want us to wait for the procession?
Dinah: You and Sarah go to the ben-David store and wait there. When you hear the shofar join the others at the end of town and stay ahead of the procession all the way here.
Rachel: (teasing Dinah.) And, what of you? Will you light your lamp?
Dinah: (playfully) You will just have to wait and see won’t you?
Narrator: All day is spent in preparation the coming event. As the sun sets and a new day begins all the preparations have been completed. The groomsmen gather outside the groom’s house waiting for the groom and the father to emerge. Inside the house, the father is once again reminding the son of his duties and responsibilities of a good husband. Finally, after the father is sure that his son is ready he stands at the door and beckons his son to his side.
Mr. b-D: Son, it is time. Go and bring my new daughter home. We have the chuppah ready and the priest will be here in an hour. It will take that long for you to get to her house.
Joshua: Thanks, Papa. (Joshua kneels and kisses His father’s hand.)
Narrator: As Joshua steps out of the house the groomsmen grab their shofars and begin to blow. They form a long line in front of the groom blowing their shofars. By the time the procession reaches town Rachel and Sarah have already run to the end of town to inform the others that the bridegroom is approaching. Upon reaching town, there are many people who have come to their doors to see the festivities of the night. First come the groomsmen, blowing their shofars. Immediately, realizing the significance of the noise they begin giving gifts to the groomsmen for the bride and groom. At the end of the procession is the groom leading a white donkey colt to bring his bride home. Now, it is time for the bridesmaids to light their lamps and to lead the procession to the home of the bride. Going off into the night the bridesmaids walk two abreast lighting the way for the groomsmen still blowing the shofars.
At the house of ben-Abraham all is in readiness for the approaching procession. On the table are 2 glasses of wine, the same 2 glasses the bride and groom used to drink wine to seal the Ketubah. Suddenly, the lead bridesmaid opens the door holding the lamp to light the threshold for the groom. The groom enters and walks over to Mr. ben-Abraham.
Joshua: Father of the house, I have come for your daughter.
Mr. b-A (Mr. b-A indicates the table with the two glasses of wine upon.) There, drink and claim your bride.
Narrator: At this point Joshua and Dinah move to the table and each drink their glass of wine. It is upon finishing the wine that Mr. b-A grabs Dinah glass and breaks it, leaving only one glass.
Mr. b-A: Now the two have become on. (He kisses his daughters cheek.)
Narrator: Joshua leads Dinah to the colt and places her sidesaddle upon it and then turns to return to his house. The whole procession starts out again, amid cheers and clapping of bystanders who have followed the procession so that they could witness the wedding. Upon returning to the ben-David house the crowd of onlookers see that the preparations have all been completed. Joshua leads Dinah to the edge of the inner court where the guest are seating themselves. The townspeople will remain in the outer court as observers. The father and mother of the bride who have followed their daughter to the site of the wedding will now move through the crowd and join the father and mother of the groom next to the scribe, who is also the priest.
Mr. ben-Shimon: (Holds up his arms for silence.) We have here a solemn occasion. I have with me a Ketubah. Who is worthy to open the seals?
Wedding crowd: Only the bridegroom! (They shout)
Wedding crowd: Only the bridegroom!
Mr. ben-Shimon: Who is worthy to open the seals?
Wedding crowd: Only the bridegroom!
Narrator: Mr. ben-Shimon hands the scroll to the bridegroom who then opens and begins reading the conditions of the betrothal. Upon completion of the reading the 2 witnesses shout Amain three times.
Mr. ben-Shimon pours a glass of wine into the remaining one glass. From it the bride and groom both drink. When the wine is finished, the final glass is placed underfoot and broken by the bride and groom signifying that they will never enter into another marriage covenant with anyone else.
Mr. ben-Shimon: So shall it be forever.
Read it closely and carefully. It really is that simple. We can discuss the differences.