As I eyed the delicious, calorie-rich dessert buffet at a singles event I recently attended, I surveyed the crowd surging around me, and contemplated what, in the scheme of things was harder to do – lose weight or set people up. Both are very challenging, require a lot of “will” power – combined with tons of resolve, patience – and most importantly, “pep” talking.
But the answer is a no-brainer. Matchmaking is in a league of its own when it comes to expending effort, time, determination, and at the end of the day, overwhelming stress – whatever the outcome.
The fact is if you put in the “hishtadlut” – if you do the “research” as to what is right or wrong for you in terms of what you eat, and make the obvious choices, you will lose weight. There will be “light” (as in less heavy) at the end of the tunnel. Not so when setting people up. In most of your attempts to do so, the only “light” you will experience – despite your best efforts, and all your preliminary research – is the kind that burns you.
I know that I sometimes have a “hunch” that two people may be a potential match, but when all is said and done, the hassle of actually getting them to even meet leaves me feeling stressed and very reluctant to try again.
But I still do – or at the very least I let both parties become aware of the other’s existence and then the rest is up to them, or if they are very young, their parents. I do so for the same reason I imagine homeowners shovel the snow in front of their sidewalks, because it is the right thing to do. Because it may save a life – or in the case of shidduchim, help create a life.
The Torah teaches that when a life is saved, it is as if a whole world was saved, for the Torah has in mind the children, grandchildren and untold future generations who will come into being because of that saved life. I think of my own parents, a”h Holocaust survivors, whose survival has translated into numerous grandchildren and great-grandchildren – the most recent one (my new grandson) just days old as I write this. Had they, like their parents and siblings and nieces and nephews succumbed, none of us would be here. Six million by now would likely have been 50 million – or more.
Not everyone has the z’chus to be in the right place at the right time – to save a life that is in danger. However EVERY Jew who is part of a kehilla, a community, IS in the position to enable future neshamas to come into existence. Every Jew has the ability – even the responsibility – to help ensure the continuity of the Jewish people. All it takes is a few minutes of thought, talking to friends and relatives – and a couple of phone calls or even e-mails. Simple, commonplace acts that can have such an amazing outcome – the creation of “worlds.”
In these days of intermarriage and zero population growth in the secular Jewish community, with Jewish continuity an issue, can we afford to be apathetic, too bothered or too jaded to help the singles in our community – whether never married, divorced or widowed – build a bayit ne’eman b’Yisroel?
While the process of introducing people to one another involves much trial and error – even some real whoppers, at least you know you made the effort – and who knows – the two mismatched individuals might even set each other up. Each new connection can open the door to a whole new set of possibilities.
If I make a suggestion and there is some reluctance to go out, I tell the “couple” that at the very least – even though on paper the other person might not be what they are looking for – e.g. the wrong hashkafa, she wants to make aliyah, or there is too much of an age gap – that it is still worth a few hours of their time to meet, because if nothing else – they might know someone from their own group of friends who might actually be their zivug. Increasing one’s circle of acquaintances, expanding your social network can only “frontfire” – as opposed to “backfire.” I know of a couple who realized early into their first date that they were not compatible but who suggested a friend instead – and two singles were transformed into a husband and wife.
It’s not easy to keep on dating – and it’s not easy making suggestions that very likely are long-shots – and could result in hurt or angry feelings – but who said it was easy to “create a world?” If it was as simple as not eating a piece of cake, there would be no “shidduch crisis” but since there is – let’s all make the effort to “gain” Jewish families.