Note: The names and locations in this story have been changed. My 10th date was not bringing me any closer to the chuppah. Nor was my 20th or 50th. It didn’t help that not too many responsible people were looking out for me. Lacking any family whatsoever in Israel, and having been out of the seminary for ba’alei teshuvah for some time, left me sorely devoid of natural shadchanim. Those were the external factors. Internally, I was trying to assimilate new perspectives and standards into my character and lifestyle, and it wasn’t always so easy. I had to admit that though there were many suggestions, I just wasn’t ready yet.
I was pretty open [and naïve] about accepting dating suggestions. There was the Israeli that spoke little English with whom I could barely communicate, the brilliant scholar who I discovered was manic depressive, the frum hippie that was still more hippie than frum, and a slew of others – all interesting, but not for me.
Years passed and though I felt fulfilled in my work and general social life, the gaping hole that could only be filled by meeting the right one remained. My most recent date, a boy from Tucson, seemed promising. His name was Todd in English but was now Tuvia. We shared a penchant for the philosophical, had many things in common (including background), and I liked that he was musical (he played the trumpet). So why was my intuition telling me, “No”? I was beset by recalled warnings of well-meaning advisers. “Maybe you’re being too particular” was the constant refrain I heard from my tired brain. In the end, intuition won out and we were both left disappointed.
I turned 27. That was it. I knew I had to take some more action. I had heard of the idea of going to Dayan Rav Fisher, zt”l, for a berachah and decided to immediately make the visit. The rav was known for helping to determine which names were suitable for someone adding a name or choosing one for the first time. A friend accompanied me, a recent ba’alas teshuvah who was choosing a Jewish name for the first time.
When our turns arrived, his answers were caring, short, and to the point. I was adding a name that he agreed with and he chose for my friend one of the two names she was considering. Both names we agreed to carried a softer-than-usual connotation, and we were pleased with the hopeful shift in mazel that a name could bring. Next, the rav instructed me to go to the Kosel for 40 days in a row, not an unusual directive being that it is a well-known segulah. It was late in the night when we stepped out of his modest apartment into the darkness of the Jerusalem streets, but we were filled with the brightness of renewed optimism.
Day 23 of my 40 days of davening at the Kosel, as per Rav Fisher’s instructions, went like this: When I came home from work the silence pressed down on me. A stillness gripped me. The inanimate presence of the furniture seemed to taunt me with its lifelessness. For the first time since I stepped into this journey, I broke down in tears, feeling at a loss as to how to change this unbearable reality. It was really the first time I faced the emptiness and called out to my Creator with broken heart. When I recovered enough to sound intelligible, I reached for the phone.
“Isn’t there anyone up there for me?” I asked my friend who lived next to a small men’s yeshiva for ba’alei teshuvah. “You know, the guy I thought of last year who wasn’t ready yet? I think he may be ready now. I’ll look into it.” I was taken aback when she told me he was from Tuscon. How many frum Jews were there from Tuscon anyway?As Told To D. B. Estrin
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