The Ring Thing

I was sitting in class gazing at the whiteboard with glazed eyes when the student next to me, who was also a bit bored, whipped off her engagement ring and wedding band and slipped them on my fingers.


That looked weird.

And felt weird.

I’ve never been much of a ring person. Rings get in the way. They weight down your fingers. They bang and snag on things. Having that big rock sticking off my finger felt… weird.

I can kinda get why engagement people always seem distracted by their rings. It’s a weird feeling.

Hard to imagine wearing one of those things the rest of my life. Do you get used to it eventually?


Engagement Rings

I do not like mall dates.

I haven’t got a vast experience to draw from. Just one, in fact. But it did not go well.

Malls are noisy and crowded and littered with traps and pitfalls. And I’m not just talking about Victoria’s Secret, though that’s bad enough.

Actually, I think things went south around the jewelry display.

In general, a casual pass of the jewelry is, in my opinion, a strategic move. Let’s face it – if you marry the guy, he’s going to be buying you jewelry (probably), and you should know beforehand whether you can trust his taste. I’ve had dates I was reluctant to dump merely because of their saving grace of having better taste than mine. Meaning, not only could I trust him to pick out nice stuff, I’d actually want him to do my accessory shopping for me.

But it wasn’t the earrings that threw us into discord. It was the engagement rings.

Yes. There we were on a second date discussing engagement rings.

He said CZ ought to be fine.

I said absolutely not.

We then proceeded to not see eye to eye for about five solid minutes.

What exactly is an engagement ring? To him it was just an expense. Something you have to do when you decide to marry someone. A way of irretrievably consolidating a whole lot of handy green into a very small, shiny, and completely useless object.

I see his side of things. Diamonds are pricy. A young couple has enough expenses without throwing in a rather expensive rock.

I agree that frivolous expenses should be cut down. Skip the bracelet. Skip the necklace. Skip the atara for the tallis. Skip the gold watch. Skip the silver leichter tray (most are ostentatious and awkward anyway). You can skip every “required” gift on the planet and I wouldn’t object. But you can’t skip the engagement ring.

Because to me, the engagement ring symbolizes so much more than an expense.

This ring custom dates back hundreds of years before anyone thought to put an atara on their tallis or their leichter on a solid silver tray. It predates hot desserts at weddings and seven-man bands with singers.

The ring symbolizes a man’s intent to marry a woman, and also exactly how much he values that intent.

Chocolate, flowers, and love letters may also symbolize this, but they severely lack the value. Small gifts and sweet nothings are courtship rituals. A ring is an investment. Nothing says it like diamonds. Or any precious stone. Cubic zirconium, pretty as is it, completely misses the point. We don’t need something glittery to stick on our finger to dazzle passersby and make our friends jealous. Seriously – the very suggestion is insulting.

It’s a Torah concept that once you decide to do something you should perform a tangible action to solidify it for yourself. The ring symbolizes the engagement. There it is – yes – on her finger.

And don’t guys get some (any?) thrill at all from seeing their ring on their betrothed’s finger? Is the engagement not, somehow, more real?

After a bracelet engagement I can see to turning down the ring – might do it myself (those rings are a bit too bulky and flashy for my taste). But that’s the woman’s prerogative. And really, a bracelet doesn’t have the same solidity or cultural clout. No, really, there’s nothing quite like a ring.

So guys, don’t rock the boat.