The day of the wedding rolls around and I have my shoes retied about three times (tight enough to hold them on with out them being so tight as to cut off circulation is a delicate balance) before leaving the bridal room to walk around the temple to prepare to go down the aisle. As I'm walking through the courtyard I feel a *pop* and one shoe suddenly seems much looser. Sure enough, one of the straps I'd stitched on had popped off. I took a couple steps just to check, but I couldn't keep the shoe on in any reasonable manner. Briefly, the idea of trying to fix it flashed through my head - it could probably be done, but it would take a few minutes, we were already running late, and there was still no guarantee that it would make it down the aisle. So in about the second it took to consider the idea I discarded it. And, in keeping with my decision to not freak out about anything and implement Plan C* whenever necessary, it only took another second for me to come to my decision. I saw the Rabbi at the end of the courtyard and I shouted down to him,
"Hey Rabbi, can I go down the aisle barefoot?"
"What?" he replied, clearly a bit startled by my shouting at him.
"My shoe broke," I explained. "Can I go down the aisle barefoot."
"Well, there's no Jewish law against it ..." he answered tentatively.
"Is there a temple law against it?" I asked.
"Will you tell anyone?"
"I guess not," he answered, clearly a bit amused. And then he started muttering. I didn't catch all of it, but there was clearly something about "... standing up there before G-d ..." clearly under the impression that my going barefoot would somehow be disrespectful.
"But Rabbi, aren't we supposed to take our shoes off when we go before G-d?" He looked up, caught a bit off guard. "Isn't there a whole story about Moses and a burning bush where he's told to take off his shoes because he's about to step onto sacred ground? Wouldn't it therefore be more appropriate for me to go barefoot?"
My mother, amazing as always, completely had my back. "Isn't that why the Cohanim take their shoes off before they give the blessing over the congregation?" she asked. At that point I think my Rabbi really wanted to mention us being reform and not buying into the whole system of a hereditary priesthood, but that wasn't the point she was making and I think he quickly realized it.
I don't remember exactly what his response was. I don't think he officially ceded the point, but he did decide not to debate it further (after all, who wants to be on the opposing side of a shoe conversation against a bride AND her mother). Besides, I think he was pleased by my theological justifications. He made some sort of remark implying that it was time to proceed and we turned and walked into the atrium for the beddekken. And that is the story of the 30 second theological debate on my wedding day aka How I Convinced the Rabbi to Let Me Go Down the Aisle Barefoot.
*Plan C was the code phrase I'd created in a discussion with my mother when we were talking about where we'd take pictures. "I guess now we just have to hope it doesn't rain. I don't know what we'll do then." I told her that we'd implement Plan C. She looked at me hopefully and asked what Plan C was. "Winging it," I responded.
photo credit to Jody Burnett