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August 29, 2014 / 3 Elul, 5774
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Making A Difference

        Just days ago, the question, “How is this night different from all others?” was asked at Pesach tables around the world. Of course the answer is written in the Haggadah, with its description of the different foods that are being eaten, the manner in which they are being eaten, etc.

 

         However, looking beyond the traditional “answer” and the reality of one’s life, the answer to that time-honored question is – unfortunately for many people – “Nothing is different, nothing has changed.”

 

         For many singles, especially “older” ones who never married, this night is the same as every night – shadowed with an overwhelming sense of aloneness – even when sharing a meal with family or friends. In fact, it is often at festive holiday gatherings with married siblings or friends when singles feel their aloneness most intensely, as husbands, wives and children reach out and interact with one another and celebrate.

 

         No matter how welcome they are – how beloved they are by their brothers, sisters, nieces, nephews, friends and guests – for many singles, Yom Tov is often a bittersweet experience. Pesach in particular is emotionally draining because while one can wing it alone on Shabbat and Yom Tov like Shavuot and even Sukkot, celebrating the Seder alone is not really an option.

 

         In the weeks leading up to Pesach, when married people curiously ask one another, “What are you doing for Pesach?” singles often ask each other the same question out of anxiety, hoping to get an eitzah (idea) of where to go. Perhaps there is a new hotel or an exotic location they can escape to. Thus they can tell their relatives they “have plans” for Pesach, thereby avoiding spending yet another painful Pesach with family - and the feelings of inadequacy this often brings.

 

         Or they anxiously ask, hoping for an invitation. Older singles may not have living parents to visit, or their married siblings with whom they are not close or with whom they have a strained relationship live out of town. Some hope their friend will say, “I am going to my brother’s. Do you want to join me?” or include them in their other Pesach plans.

 

         At the conclusion of the Seder, we say, “Next year in Yerushalayim.” We express our hope that there will be a difference in the status quo, and that we will leave galut behindand bask in Yerushalayim’s radiance. So too the status quo can change for singles, whether they are older, younger, never married, divorced or widowed. They can go from their personal “galut” of aloneness and bask in married life.

 

         They can achieve this with your help. All it may take to help a friend, relative or even a stranger find their bashert is a few minutes of your time – whether you are married or single. Take time out from your busy schedule to call a friend and say, “I know a single person who is… Do you know anyone who might be compatible?” Do this even if it’s a long shot. Even if a suggestion sounds unlikely to work, let the two singles judge that. There are many happily married couples that no one in their right mind would have ever thought of putting together.

 

         There is an old saying that you can bring the horse to the trough, but you can’t make it drink. True, but at least bring it to the trough. Redd the shidduch. At least he and she have the choice whether to go out. And if they decide to go out, the outcome may pleasantly surprise you – and even them.

 

         Make a habit of trying to set people up. I know there are some singles that cannot move forward, and any shidduch you propose will go nowhere. But at least you know you did your hishtadlus.

 

         Then again, you never know. Next year, when asking, “Mah nishtanah?”,a former single will truthfully be able to say, “Everything!”

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