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September 25, 2016 / 22 Elul, 5776
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A Non-Shidduch Tale: The Path Not Taken

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The following story is based on an actual “non-shidduch.”  I have changed the names and some of the details because they really aren’t relevant and I am hoping that parents of young people in the parsha and those who rightly or wrongly are invited to express an opinion – roshei yeshiva, rabbanim, principals or whoever they turn to for direction – will think that the story applies to them and perhaps rethink their assessments.

A young lady in her early 20’s, “Sarah” was redt to “Shlomie” a boy from her home town who learned in an out-of-town yeshiva.  The families know each other well, which in today’s shidduch scene is a big plus – since it was therefore unlikely the kids would “fall in” due to misinformation and misinterpretations.

Initially, Sarah was not interested because while she did indeed want to marry a yeshivish guy, she wanted a learned husband who would have a consistent paycheck that could sustain his future family.

Sarah’s mother had been a stay-at-home mom until her youngest was in elementary school. Sarah’s father – a “black hatter” who had graduated decades earlier from a well-respected yeshiva – had gone on to college and into a profession that adequately paid the bills. The family was “middle” class in that there was money to pay for the necessities like tuition, food, clothing as well as for pleasant extras, like camp/a summer cottage and flights to out-of-town simchas.

Sarah planned on working the first year or two of her marriage until, Hashem willing, her first child would be born.  She would stay at home and nurture her family while her husband would pay the bills.

She was the beneficiary of her best friend’s experience.  “Miriam” had come home from seminary determined to marry a boy who’d learn forever – which she did three months later. She envisioned herself as a true eishes chayil, working and raising a family while her husband submerged himself in Torah.

On paper that had sounded quite lovely and noble indeed. And Miriam did work, and when her kids came, they were in day care.  However, when she was pregnant with her third child and completely exhausted, she frequently asked her husband to forgo his night seder and help her with their 2 and 1 year old.

Miriam felt torn and guilty about that request since she remembered years earlier going to a shiur given by a visiting rosh yeshiva who admonished and exhorted the wives and mothers to not bother their husbands with domestic tasks that would take them away from their learning or prevent them from davening with a minyan.

At 22, Miriam was exhausted, stressed and beset with feelings of inadequacy – but quitting her job was not an option – her salary paid the rent and provided the crucial medical insurance.

Sarah knew that her father, now in his mid-sixties, wanted to retire sooner rather than later, and was looking forward to relaxing and not rushing out of shul to get to work. He and a friend were going to catch up in the learning that had taken a back seat to the necessity of having to have a steady income for the last 35 years.

She would not burden him by marrying a boy who planned on being supported for more than two years. Yet her parents urged her to go out since the boy was highly recommended and the family renowned for their middos.

The couple did indeed go out and there was an instant rapport between the two. On the third date, Shlomie felt comfortable enough to tell Sarah that he had a mild medical issue. For privacy sake, let’s say Shlomie had elevated cholesterol but with medication it was in the normal range; or Shlomie had the occasional migraine headaches; or had some hearing loss in one ear due to a long-ago undiagnosed ear infection. The point is that he was a healthy young man but with a chisaron, a slight “blemish.”

Cheryl Kupfer

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