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The Value of Flaws
A missing letter in a wedding document reminds Daniel Kohn of the value of flaws.

By Daniel Kohn

A while back a friend noticed that our wedding Ketubah hanging in our dining room had a flaw.

A Ketubah is a traditional Jewish wedding document and I had composed a creative, original version in Hebrew for my wife years ago for our wedding.

Despite having seen and read it countless times, my Israeli friend pointed out a single missing letter that I had never noticed before. While it in no way invalidated the meaning or importance of the Ketubah, I was crest-fallen nonetheless for having failed to spot the scribal flaw years ago.

But I recalled that medieval Islamic rug and tapestry weavers would intentionally insert a flaw into their seemingly perfect complex geometric patterns as a conscious act of humility. It was a gesture expressing humanity's limitations in the fabric of God's true, ultimate perfection.

My marriage is not perfect and neither is my wife -- and my wife would be the first to tell you that I am far from an ideal husband or father. But it is our flaws and minor imperfections that make our marriage endearing and precious.

Our Ketubah is framed behind glass and it isn't worth the effort or expense to try and insert the missing letter. My wife and I have been married for more than 20 years and the time and effort required to insert the missing letters in our marriage, however, is definitely worth it.

Unlike the medieval Muslim rug weavers, we do not need to intentionally insert flaws into our lives and relationships -- they are a natural part of who we are already.

When we first began dating, my future wife's quirks and idiosyncratic behavior were what distinguished her and made her attractive to me. Such as the way she would pause, steeped in thought, a beat longer than I expected before answering a question. By the time we had been married for five years or so, I found some of these habits irritating. But at 20 years, I have come to realize that these foibles are not only unique to her but cherished and beloved to me.

With a Perspective, I'm Daniel Kohn.

Daniel Kohn is a rabbi and teaches at the Contra Costa Jewish Day School in Lafayette.

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