Despite my comments thus far, I feel that writing a column lamenting the situation does not really help. Those deficient in common sense will read this article and, due to their lack of self-awareness, miss the fact that it pertains to them. It is usually the one lacking a certain trait who is more oblivious than the one who possesses that trait. For example, after my engagement I complained to someone that it is hurtful to singles when people are pushy. Without any hesitation, this person responded, “Some people need to be pushed.” A seeming case of judge, jury and executioner!
So what is the solution? In all situations, people should always think before they speak. People should ask themselves: Will my words be hurtful to the listener? Will my actions be misinterpreted? Are my opinions helpful or harmful?
This is not an earth-shattering idea. Perhaps a simple “what not-to-do list” would be helpful for both singles and shadchanim. I hope it would help them determine whether their actions are making things easier or harder for others.
Here’s the list:
Don’t hesitate: People sometimes feel that they should not mention a shidduch because they are not a professional shadchan and thus will not be taken seriously. They may also fear that the person will look down at them if the shidduch is seemingly misguided. The reality is that the guys and girls are responsible to diligently research shidduch prospects and should be thankful that someone took the time to think of them. And there is no correlation between a professional shadchan or an amateur one in the success rate of shidduchim.
Don’t judge: Just because someone is single (for however long), do not draw conclusions as to the reason why. Hashem has many reasons for His actions, reasons unbeknownst to us. So if you have an idea for a single and want to mention it, please find it in your heart to remove your preconceived judgments. Then pick up the phone and make the call.
Don’t harass: If someone says “no” to your suggested shidduch, it’s okay to gently offer more clarification about your idea, but leave it at that. Trust the person’s judgment and accept his or her answer.
Don’t offer unsolicited advice: The single needs you to be a matchmaker, not a therapist. Unsought advice comes across as demeaning and condescending. Think of the mother of a single who, while trying to enjoy someone else’s simcha, is subjected to hurtful questions as to why her child is still single.
Don’t sit still: If you have an idea that may help someone, call or e-mail him or her. Do not approach singles when you happen to bump into them at a wedding or in shul.
Don’t ignore: If someone was kind enough to mention a name to a single, it is his or her obligation to get back to the person with an answer. This rule – a basic courtesy – also applies to shadchanim.
Don’t assume: Please listen to what a single desires in a mate. Do not assume that the single requires a certain type of partner based on your assessment of the single and/or the single’s family.
Don’t elaborate: If a match you’ve arranged is running it’s course and one party is uninterested, do not convey that fact to the other party if it was told to you in confidence.
I urge Jewish Press readers to take this list to heart. In the zechus of exhibiting greater sensitivity toward others, may Hashem reward us kindly and may the shidduch crisis be a thing of the past.