Help! Toast Needs Meat, Wit

By Wendy Belzberg

Published February 06, 2004, issue of February 06, 2004.
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My son is getting married, and I will be called upon to deliver a toast at the wedding. I want to give my son, his bride and our guests some words to remember. Can you offer any hints or direction about how to compose my remarks in a clever fashion with a Jewish theme?

A mother’s mazel tov

Here are the ingredients that make for a good toast: Start with a joke. Add a good deal of compassion. Embarrass all parties equally. Pick up a book of Jewish quotations and discard it. Most quotes about marriage, if not all, are discouraging and disparaging. Whatever you do, don’t even think about quoting Sigmund Freud or Dorothy Parker. Speak off the cuff — or at least appear to. Don’t read from a piece of paper. Tell a specific anecdote that reveals exactly why the bride and groom are well-matched. If possible, draw on your own happy marriage to offer a few tips for success. Close with a minute of silent prayer — or perhaps a Shehecheyanu, if it’s a more traditional crowd. After all, with divorce rates what they are, we could use all the help God can offer.

* * *

I have a friend who is constitutionally incapable of admitting any wrongdoing. We recently had an argument where she was clearly in the wrong but would take no responsibility for what she had done. Should I take it on or let it go? Is this worth losing a friendship over?

— Out of order

Nobody’s perfect. Including you. Are you certain that you are as innocent as you make out? That said, you tell me: Do the pluses of the friendship outweigh the minuses? That may sound like a clinical basis on which to evaluate a relationship, but it isn’t the worst one. If you are unwilling to forgive your friend this flaw, I suggest you walk away. Taking it on will likely result in another conversation in which she is fully in the right and you are in the wrong. If, however, you can accept your friend and your friendship for all of the other good things that come with it, allow for her one idiosyncrasy. We all make allowances every day: Think of it as adjusting the cooking time for a higher altitude or the climate control for the cold. Next time you find yourself in this situation with your friend, just turn down the heat.

Write to “Ask Wendy” at 954 Lexington Avenue #189, New York, N.Y. 10021 or at

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