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Chronicles Of Crises In Our Communities – 9/19/08

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Dear Rachel,

I enjoy your column very much. Your advice to your many readers has helped me tremendously in my daily striving to improve my relationships with my own family and other Yidden.

Regarding your column of 7-25 (Love our way), a Chassidish woman wrote about her own experience with meeting her bashert. I have always been impressed by the Chassidishe derech in setting up shidduchim. I feel that having the parents meet the chassan before the boy and girl meet is very necessary.

I am not Chassidish; I am a giyores (convert) and my husband is a ba’al teshuvah. B”H, we have two sons (12 and 11) and a daughter (9). I realize my children are very young for me to think about shidduchim – however, I worry about the whole shidduch scene. I want to avoid the frustrations that many go through in the non-Chassidic world.

When my children are ready, I also would like to meet the prospective kallah or chassan before they meet for the first time. Do you think this is possible in the non-chassidishe velt?
Thinking ahead

Dear Thinking,

You are actually quite astute in thinking ahead. It is said that parents need to begin praying for their child’s zivug to be timely and appropriate and for the match to be successful just as soon as the child is born. After all, parents naturally pray for their children’s welfare from the day the little ones come into the world. So does it not stand to reason that our concern would extend into their adulthood as well?

Though frustrations are fewer where Chassidic mode is employed, the right match does at times take his/her time to appear. Mazel plays a big part even when couples date. Many encounter their zivugim without much hassle, though we tend to hear more about the difficult cases.

Will you be able to arrange a meeting with a prospective match for your child beforehand? It certainly is feasible – a shadchan (matchmaker) can make your desire known to the other party, and if the shidduch is enticing enough to begin with and is meant to be, I can’t see why the interested party would object.

By the time your children are ready, who knows what will have evolved or what procedures will be in vogue… Keep the faith and keep praying that they meet up with their soul mates with ease.

Dear Rachel,

The young Chassidishe female writer amazed me. I am married more than 40 years and cannot talk so freely with my husband. I know my married children cannot either for different reasons, and my single daughter is looking for someone with whom she would be able to discuss anything and everything. I don’t know if another such person exists.

Ten years ago we went to reserve a hall for my other daughter’s wedding. The lobby was rather small, 20-25 feet. We were leaving the office on one side of the lobby to take a look at the yichud room next to the chuppah room across the way when we heard the music signaling that the chatan broke the glass. So we walked slowly across the lobby, prepared to wait awhile.

When we got there, the kallah was already leaving the yichud room! My children and I looked at each other in amazement. To this day I wonder whether this couple is still together.

Impressed but skeptical

Dear Impressed,

Why the surprise? Certainly all marriages are not created equal – what works for one couple may not work for another. People are complex in their differing natures. There are those who can easily confide and share, and others who have a most difficult time communicating their feelings. Some couples wouldn’t dream of keeping anything from one another, while others instinctively know when a secret kept will serve to keep the peace and avoid turbulence.

Is one way considered wrong and the other right? Emphatically, no! For instance, a man can be a model husband: caring, responsible, giving and generous. Yet given his background and the manner in which he was raised, he may be unable to understand or tolerate another’s quirks. His wife is smart enough to know that while this lack of perception does not make him any less of a man or worthy spouse, it can trigger senseless arguing and lead to lashon ha’ra. Silence, in this case, is the golden rule to follow.

Interestingly, our Sages advise men not to divulge gossip they are privy to in the course of their day to their wives who may thereby be negatively influenced toward their spouse.

For readers who may not be familiar with the “yichud room,” this is a private chamber set aside specifically for the bride and groom following the nuptials, for a private tete-a-tete – ostensibly a first for the new couple. The Torah alludes to a husband and wife as “k’ish echad” – like one person. In the Yichud room, each focuses exclusively on one another, thus symbolizing their oneness – a unity sanctified by the foregoing ceremony.

Today, this brief respite is cut even shorter. Time is of the essence when the photographers who have the arduous task of amassing dozens of photographs of him and her and his and her sides of the family impatiently wait at the door, not to mention the anxious crowd eager to fete the bride and groom. So “yichud” is mainly symbolic and is not to be taken as the harbinger of a thriving relationship. There remains plenty of time to bond and grow together after the festivities are over. Reality is more apt to set in when the new couple is finally relaxed and alone, following all the excitement of the week long celebration.

I would advise you not to waste precious time fretting about not being able to tell your spouse everything. Shalom bayis (household peace), harmony and shared mutual interests are much more telling of a well-functioning marriage.

About the Author: We encourage women and men of all ages to send in their personal stories via email to rachel@jewishpress.com or by mail to Rachel/Chronicles, c/o The Jewish Press, 4915 16th Ave., Brooklyn, N.Y. 11204. If you wish to make a contribution and help agunot, your tax-deductible donation should be sent to The Jewish Press Foundation. Please make sure to specify that it is to help agunot, as the foundation supports many worthwhile causes.


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