Wednesday, December 07, 2005

CHASSIDIC STORY: The Iron Necklace


Kislev 6, 5766 * December 7, 2005


The Iron Necklace
By: Yrachmiel Tilles

Many years ago, at a time when Jews had full control of the Cave of Machpelah in Hebron, the one in charge of the keys to the gate was a man by the name of Yitzchak. Yitzchak was a poor widower. He had an only daughter named Dina, a kind-hearted and beautiful girl. The time came when Dina reached marriageable age and was betrothed to a fine young man.

Yitzhak worked hard to save money for his daughter's wedding needs. He bought her a trousseau and an assortment of finery for her wedding day. But then, Yitzhak remembered that the traditions of their community demanded he provide Dina with a gold necklace to wear at her wedding. However, he did not have enough money left to buy one. Yitzhak became very sad. This adornment was a great matter of pride among the women of the community, and poor girls lacking the proper attire had been known to weep for shame on their wedding days and some even ran away so as to avoid the embarassment. Yitzhak was beside himself about what to do. He didn't tell Dina anything, for he did not want her to feel sadness earlier than she had to.

As the wedding day approached, one night Dina had a dream that she was standing at the gate of the Cave of Machpelah. There she was, holding the keys to the gate. A woman dressed in white came up to her. The woman had a face filled with light like the sun. The woman raised her hand and touched Dina's hair. She said to Dina, "This big chain with these keys to this holy place should be your necklace at your wedding. This necklace holds a hundred times more merit than any necklace of gold and jewels."

Then the woman disappeared. Dina awoke and remembering her dream, decided not to tell anyone about it.

The wedding day finally came and Yitzhak's face was gray with dread about what would be. Dina's friends came to help her get ready for the wedding. After Dina dressed in her wedding clothes, she called he father over, asking him if she could have a word with him alone. With a broad smile on her face, she said, "Father, please give me the keys to the Cave of Machpelah. They will be my wedding necklace. They have much more merit than any gold or jewels."

Yitzhak was surprised and relieved. He ran to fetch the keys and gave them to his daughter. Wearing the iron chain with the keys of the Cave of Machpelah, Dina was radiant. People exclaimed the she was more beautiful with the necklace of iron than brides of the past with gold and jewels.

From that day, Hebron's brides wore this special "Necklace of Iron" instead of gold and jewels at their wedding.

- Adapted from, by Yrachmiel Tilles. Rabbi Tilles is co-founder of ASCENT OF SAFED, and editor of Ascent Quarterly and the Ascent and KabbalaOnLine websites.


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