For the past few weeks I have been focusing on the difficulties of finding an appropriate shidduch. Despite the many efforts made by individuals and the Jewish community, the problem does not go away – if anything, it continues to escalate. I have received numerous e-mails in response to this painful challenge.
In last week’s column I shared with you just two of them, and B’ezrat Hashem, in the future, I hope to publish more. I invite our readers to share their views on how to best resolve this dilemma or at the very least, ameliorate it. In the interim, however, I will discuss the letter of the young lady who felt so hurt by the insensitive words of the shadchan whom she consulted.
My dear friend: I totally understand your feelings. It’s very difficult to call someone for help with a personal problem as sensitive as finding a shidduch, only to be put down and suffer embarrassment. Having said this, I would like you to try to bear in mind the teaching of our sages: “Al tadin…Do not judge your friend until you stand in his place.”
I know this is a tall order because it requires that we consider the actions or the words of the person who hurt us from his or her perspective. So let us consider what this shadchan may have meant to say when she uttered those abrasive words.
Could it be she wished to tell you that nowadays many men can be superficial in their search for a life partner, looking for a “glamour girl” rather than an aishes chayil? Could it be she tried to tell you it would be wise for you to be more flexible, more open-minded, and not lock yourself into limiting your options to just a certain “type”?
I do not know if this was her true intent, but let’s react the Torah way and give her the benefit of the doubt. Try to look away rather than allow her to injure you emotionally and diminish your confidence and self-esteem. When we feel hurt, it’s much better to let go and move on. To nurse our pain may just leave deep scars. So, once again, I advise you to give that shadchan the benefit if the doubt and move on.
The very first shidduch I made was at the age of sixteen. I discovered then, and I have seen it again and again, that while everyone dreams of that “ideal” future spouse, very often people end up marrying a totally different type. Yet, amazingly, they are convinced they have found the “person of their dreams.”
I can cite dozens of examples where singles seeking a shidduch come to me and describe their requirements. I would be hesitant to introduce them to someone who did not meet those expectations – only to later discover they had married a person whom I had never considered recommending for they were the exact opposite of what they described.
So, yes, I advise you to be more open and not lock yourself into a preconceived image.
And now I will share with you what is perhaps even more incredible when it comes to shidduchim. It can happen that the qualities you admired during the dating process can be the very qualities you find objectionable after marriage. For example, you always wanted someone who was strong and capable of “taking charge” – someone you could respect. And, happily, you found him. After marriage, however, these very same traits you admired will now seem oppressive.
Or you might meet someone during the dating process who is very kind, very considerate and ever ready to do whatever you desire. After marriage, however, these very qualities can become irritants as you now view them as a weakness – an inability to give direction or assume leadership.
There is much more to finding the right shidduch than meets the eye. It’s one thing to get married but it is something else again to live in harmony afterward, and at the end of the day that is what counts. Unfortunately, going under the chuppah does not guarantee a bayit ne’eman b’Yisrael where shalom bayis prevails. For this we need a lot of “siyato d’shamayoh” – help from G-d.
In my next column, I hope to outline exactly what that means. I will also cite those situations where you must stand firm, where you cannot have an open mind, where you cannot negotiate or compromise.