Anyone taking public transportation these days has to be familiar with the public service announcements that read, “If you see something, then say something.” Even if you think you might be over-reacting or wrong, you are encouraged to bring your “hunch” (in this case a suspicious situation or activity) to the attention of the powers that be.
The necessity of speaking up when you “have a hunch” applies even more when it comes to shidduchim. One little girl did just that – she said something – and I was fortunate enough to be in town for the very joyful, lively wedding that resulted from her speaking up.
It began with an action I have recommended over and over again: young married couples inviting singles and married friends to their Shabbat meals.
A cordial environment where there is a mix of marrieds and singles is a “user-friendly” way for those sharing a festive meal to get to know one another and break the ice, so to speak. There is a lot of back and forth talk around the table, and thus there is no gnawing pressure on a quieter individual to carry on the conversation, as would be the case on a date. Each guest can enjoy the flow of ideas and information, and contribute when comfortable. This allows the hosts and guests to glean some insight into the personality and haskafas of those seated around them.
It is a great opportunity for everyone present to think about his or her single friends and acquaintances and do some setting up. Singles have single friends – as do married couples – so no matter what your status, you can brainstorm and get the shidduch ball rolling.
And coming up with a suggestion does not have an age limit. I have heard of nursing home residents who have set up the young ladies who visit them on Shabbat.
And there is this story with a “busybody” little niece!
To make a short story shorter – a young married couple invited a bochur from the community to share a Shabbat meal with them. I imagine that there were other guests, but perhaps there was something about this young man, maybe his beautiful singing voice (he serenaded his kallah at the wedding and we guests were quite impressed) that motivated a thoughtful nine-year-old to approach him and tell him that she had an aunt and he should take her out.
He listened. And now he is the little girl’s uncle!
As I write this article, a young friend of mine, who is in her late 20’s is going to be going out with the son of a friend. Honestly, I don’t think they are each other’s zivug; they come from very different backgrounds – she is an Israeli whose North American parents made aliyah as young adults, I would describe her as dati leumi machmir, while he was raised in Toronto and is modern Orthodox.
So if I think they aren’t a match, why bother setting them up?
For two reasons. I may think they aren’t a match, but I don’t know that.
I remember on more than one occasion a shadchan friend of mine – who had been in the “business” for years – shaking her head in wide-eyed disbelief when hearing that so and so got engaged to so and so. “His/her parents would have slammed the phone down and never spoken to me had I suggested this shidduch. He’s chassidish… she’s modern …. “ or “She has two masters’ degrees and was looking for a college educated boy and he’s a plumber”… or “He wanted only a blond and she is a dark haired Sefardi…”
There was no way she would ever have redt this, that no self-respecting shadchan would have dared make the suggestion.
Who am I to prevent two people from meeting just because I think they are too different to be right for each other? Chances are 50/50 that the date will end up being just a date, but I know the odds are 100% that there will be no marriage if they don’t go out at all.
The second reason for setting them up despite my doubts is because their meeting can be a valuable networking opportunity for both of them. And that’s how I presented it. I was upfront and told each one that while I don’t know him (or her) extremely well in terms of life goals etc, what I do know is that they are both decent people with good middos. I also said that they should see this not just as a shidduch date, but also as an opportunity to meet a nice person who could walk away thinking, “He or she is not for me, but I have a friend…” Whatever the outcome, there is great potential to turn the date into a win-win situation.
It is said that in the zechus of helping another person (often by prayer as well as action) to attain the goal he or she is hoping to reach, you will be rewarded with attaining yours.
If people can go on a date with the attitude that there is potential for a positive outcome, that something good could can come from spending a few hours with this person – hopefully for themselves, but if not than for a friend – then the effort will not feel like a burden and the pressure will be lessened.
Over the years, I have gone to many singles events and Shabbatonim and there were always disgruntled individuals who insisted that “this is a waste of my time and money – there is no one here for me.” The crowd was either too old or too frum or too divorced (from a Kohen’s or never married perspective.) They would just hang out with their friend (s) and not make an effort to mingle and get to know the other attendees.
Sadly when they scrutinized the crowd, they didn’t see the whole picture. It’s pretty safe to say that the men and women who had come to the event do not live in a social vacuum and thus have relatives, colleagues, friends, neighbors, employees, clients, etc. who are younger or more modern, or appropriate for a Kohen, and could have set their new acquaintances up.
There were numerous networking opportunities that the “there’s no one here for me” grumblers didn’t utilize, just because they were so focused on the here and now of who was in the room. It didn’t occur to them that getting to their marital destination might not, as they envisioned, be a straight forward route, but rather require someone pointing them in the right direction.
You never know where the suggestion for the “right one” will come from. Hashem is an equal opportunity “employer.”
As for the nine-year-old shadchan, retirement is out of the question – she still has one more aunt to marry off!
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