A Mazal tov to Chaim Meir Hagar
A Mazal tov to Chaim Meir HagarIsrael news photo: "Moshe Goldstein" Hareidim

Even longtime Hassidim are raising their eyebrows: A 16-year-old young man is engaged to his 15-year-old second cousin, both great grandchildren from ‘Hassidei Vizhnitz.” Thousands of members of the Vizhnitz Hassidic sect, one of the largest and wealthiest in the world, are expected to attend the festive wedding ceremony, which will take place in approximately another year.

The engagement ceremony in Bnei Brak attracted more attention than usual. Both sides are great-grandchildren of the same “Admor,” the title of the leader of a Hassidic group. But their ages also were a center of interest. The groom-to-be is Chaim Meir Hagar, who learns in a Vizhnitz yeshiva, and his future wife is 10th grader Hinda Rosenbaum, who learns in a hareidi-religious school in Rehovot.

Although the young man and woman will be a year older next year, the engagement ceremony was held Wednesday night, an unusually long period before a hareidi religious wedding, due to the importance of the families.

“We have a tradition of marrying at a young age, but we usually mean 19-22, although there have been occasions of marriages before the age of 18," one Vizhnitz member told the Hebrew-language daily Yisrael HaYom. “However, marrying at the age of 15 is definitely exceptional.”

In the “Ethics of the Fathers" (Pirkei Avot), part of the Talmud, the rabbis teach that people should be mature and ready for marriage at the age of 18, but the rabbis also teach that this is a generalization and does not necessarily apply to every individual.