Thursday, April 22, 2004

So that's the word  

A couple of years ago I bought a book called They Have a Word for It. It is subtitled A Lighthearted Lexicon of Untranslatable Words & Phrases. That pretty much sums up the book. I was looking through it today and found a listing for the Yiddish word kolleh. It is a noun that means "a beautiful bride." Apparently, the word applies to all brides since all brides are beautiful to the groom, and since wedding guests are meant to see the bride through the groom's eyes. I once heard a preacher say that out of the hundreds of weddings he had performed in his life, he had seen a few grooms that needed work, but he had never once seen an ugly bride. The joy of the day seems to cause every ounce of of a bride's inner beauty to rise to the surface and transcend her appearance, however pleasing it might normally be. Though I'm not even sure how to pronounce the word, I understand the idea. After all, I married a kolleh.

I remember standing at the front of the chapel on my wedding day, watching the bridesmaids walk down the aisle, each one beautiful in her own way. But when my bride appeared, every attendee stood up and gaped in awe at her beauty. I honestly believe that even if standing for the bride weren't a cultural custom, everyone would have stood anyway. I have said before that Mrs. Happy grows more beautiful every day, and it's still true. The more I know her, the more I love her, and the more beautiful she becomes. I may be the only one who notices that, but on our wedding day she exuded a beauty that everyone could see. It transcended her physical features and elevated her grace, charm, loveliness, and force of personality to a level I wasn't sure I could survive. I did survive, though her kollehness so overwhelmed me that I cried through the entire ceremony. According to my book here, the Talmud states as a matter of doctrine that "Every bride is beautiful and graceful." As a Christian, I disagree with Jewish theology on many points. But this is one I would never argue.

And for the record, the fifth sentence on page 23 of They Have a Word for It is "Don't be surprised if future cultural historians find more significance in certain editions of Mad magazine than the events behind a political campaign."