Last week I shared a letter from a mother who was grappling with the challenge of finding the proper shidduch for her daughter. This was the first shidduch in her family and she sought guidance as to how she might best go about it. The following is my response.
The difficulty of finding the right shidduch is all too acute in our Jewish world. I have traveled in every continent, and parents and young people all over share this concern.
Time and again I have said and written that when in a quandary we must always turn to our holy books and search for answers.
Our father Abraham was the first Jewish parent who was overcome with this challenge. In his old age he called Eliezer, the executor of his estate, and instructed him regarding his last will and testament. Abraham was the wealthiest man of his generation, so it was only natural that he would take great caution in arranging his will.
Amazingly, it was not his money, his real estate, or his livestock that concerned him. The one concern he had was that a shidduch be found for his son Yitzchak. He instructed Eliezer in precise terms, leaving no room for misunderstanding. He charged him with the awesome responsibility of finding Isaac’s wife. Nothing else mattered to Abraham – a lesson our money-obsessed generation would do well to learn.
This priority of finding the right shidduch is one of the pillars on which our people stand. Abraham’s teaching is so deeply engraved on our hearts that to this day when a child is born we pray that G-d will grant that he or she will one day go under the chuppah, the marriage canopy.
While finding the right shidduch for your child is the most critical responsibility parents are charged with, you are far from the only one who is worried.
You are treading on familiar ground; our parents and grandparents throughout the generations shared your concern.
In your letter you wrote that you have been told by shadchanim and other so-called knowing people that the fact your parents are not observant may be a major problem for your daughter in her search for a shidduch.
Sometimes I think to myself that if Rivkah Imeini were alive today she would have a tough time finding a shidduch – after all, she was the daughter of Besuel, a degenerate, corrupt man, and the sister of Laban, an immoral scoundrel in every way. Who would ever think of marrying such a girl? And this holds true not only for Rivkah but for Rochel and Leah as well. In fact, I could write a megillah about the giants of our people who came from difficult and dysfunctional families and yet became leaders of Am Yisrael.
Additionally, we’ve had sages and great women who were descendants of converts and they too became Torah leaders. Surely it would be impossible, given our contemporary standards, for any of them to find a shidduch today. Who would accept them? Who would even look at them?
In our fractious, money-grubbing society, a man is measured by standards our forefathers were not familiar with. They valued the souls, the hearts, the middos of potential shidduch candidates, not their outward appearance or their wealth or popularity.
Do not worry about your parents’ lack of observance. Your children are standing on solid ground. Their exemplary character traits, devotion to Torah, and commitment to our people all speak loudly and clearly for them. No, your parents’ lack of observance will not hold them back from finding their spouses. The young man Hashem has chosen for your daughter is waiting in the wings. He’s there. Just daven and ask Hashem to send him soon, without grief or aggravation.
I would, however, like to clarify why it is that some sincere, observant families object to making a shidduch with someone whose grandparents are not shomer mitzvot. It’s not because of snobbish elitism or delusions of grandeur. It’s simply based on their fear that when the grandchildren will visit Grandma and Grandpa and witness the violation of kashrus, Shabbos, etc., it will have a damaging effect on them.
In your case, though, that does not apply. Baruch Hashem, it is you and your husband who will be the loving Grandma and Grandpa. While your daughter’s future children may visit Great-Grandma and Great-Grandpa, it is unlikely they would stay over on Shabbos or be invited for non-kosher dinners.