Who Gets the Last Laugh?
What really matters in the end?
There is a tune which is popular among Hasidim of Breslov, Oz V’Hadar Levusha. Its words come from Proverbs 31:25, Her clothing is of strength and splendor, and she will laugh on the last day.
There is a story told among Breslovers as to how this moving tune came to be composed.
Meir Leib Blecher was a Breslover Chassid in the Ukraine in the mid nineteenth century. He was so poor that he couldn’t even afford a bridal gown for his daughter’s wedding.
On the morning of the wedding, Meir Leib told his family that he was going out to try to find a way to get a hold of a gown. But instead of going to borrow a gown or money or even to ask for a handout, Meir Leib went into a secluded forest and stayed there all day, praying for God’s help.
The day went on, and his family anxiously waited for him to come home with a gown. As the sun started to set, and the time for the wedding drew near, they saw Meir Leib approaching from the forest.
“I haven’t got a gown, my daughter,” Meir Leib said. “But I’ve brought you a song. Her clothing is of strength and splendor…”
I’ve always taken inspiration from this story.
I can't afford a wedding gown for my daughter. I can't even make the deadline and get it for her wedding day. But the essence of her gown is not just beautiful material - it's strength and splendor. And when her gown is made of that strength and splendor, she will be the one laughing and rejoicing on the last day.
We all have our wedding gown - we want to clothe ourselves in our goals, to dress ourselves in our accomplishments and to adorn ourselves in our achievements. Things which are more than just wants - to us they seem to be necessities, as a gown is for a bride. There are deadlines - wedding night is approaching.
But we're too poor to afford the necessary bridal gown, even as the deadline of the wedding ceremony approaches.
As dusk falls on the deadline, and we realize that we won't have our gown, we are left with a song.
The accomplishment, the achievement, the status, that we were hoping for wasn't what we really needed.
What we needed was a song. A song that reminds us that Her clothing is of strength and splendor.
On the last day, we will be laughing. When it's all over, and we look back on everything, we will laugh because then we'll know that the gown we really needed was one we always had. A gown of strength and splendor.
It's not exterior achievements and accomplishments that adorn us - it's our inner strength and splendor.
And when the last day comes, we will laugh with that.