Dear Mrs. Bluth,
I have been sitting and crying my eyes out since before Yom Tov, and I’m not even sure that you can help me because the world has turned upside down and everyone has gone mad. I simply have to find a way to get through this so that my life does not implode. What should have been the happiest time in my life has been ripped away from me by my parents and my older brother and I am afraid I will lose everything if logic and reason do not soon prevail.
Five months ago, my older brother by two years got engaged, he is twenty-four years old, so everyone in the family was overjoyed that he finally found his bashert. As I too had been dating, it was hoped that I would soon follow with my own engagement and make way for the sister right behind me to follow suit, as their are eight more kids in line after that. With the coronavirus, my brother’s wedding was planned for two weeks after the yomim tovim, a small, intimate wedding do to all the restrictions of the pandemic. I was busy with my own search for a life partner and didn’t see what was happening with his wedding plans during that time because I did indeed meet a wonderful young man two months ago and we were about to announce our own engagement when my future sister-in-law decided, erev Rosh Hashanah, that she wanted to break off the engagement to my brother. It came to light that there had been plenty of bickering between the parents about wedding finances and such, that when the break-up came about there was so much anger on both sides, my parents didn’t even want to hear about my impending good news. So I decided to wait until Rosh Hashanah passed to tell them.
Yom Tov was a horror, my mother and father were distraught and furious and so I thought that my good news would erase most of their sadness and misery because they liked my soon to be chosson. You can imagine my shock when the shadchan told them that ‘Avi’ and I had decided that we were getting engaged, they flatly refused, as it was customary for the older to marry before the younger and now that my brother’s engagement and wedding were over, I would have to wait until he, again, found his soulmate. No matter how much the shadchan tried to reason with them or how much I begged them to understand my plight, they would not budge. The shadchan suggested we wait until the yomim tovim were over, that there may be some change in their decision.
I was a nervous wreck all yom tov, not knowing what the outcome would be, but on Chol HaMoed, my brother’s ex returned the engagement ring so that their relationship was truly terminated. I, again, pleaded with them to approve my engagement to Avi, as I didn’t want to lose him over my brother’s situation, but they were firm and wouldn’t budge. I cried, I screamed, I threatened, to no avail. I spoke to Avi and asked him if he would be willing to wait a while, but he sounded upset about the whole thing, saying what if my brother took months to find someone else, he didn’t think his parents would be good with that. He thought I should keep trying to wear my parents down and if it didn’t work, we would worry about it then.
Mrs. Bluth, I am terrified that this will not end well and that Avi will get fed up with waiting. He doesn’t understand this oldest first business and will have to deal with his parents as to why he is dragging his feet with our engagement. Can you think of any way for me to implore upon my parents and make them see that they’re being unreasonable and unfair to put my future in jeopardy over my brother’s misfortune?
I truly feel your angst and pain over the outcome of what should have been a double simcha, but feelings are raw in your house, everyone is suffering and the after-shock of your brother’s broken engagement may be too fresh, raising fear in your parents’ mind that this may happen to you as well. This may be a stretch, but since your announcement would come on the heels of your brother’s broken engagement, it’s not too far-fetched. They may also be sensitive to your brother’s raw and painful emotional state, were you to announce your own engagement on top of his broken one.
The ‘older before the younger’ concept comes from the Torah where we see Yitzchok, the bechor, expecting the foremost blessings from Avraham, while Yaakov, would receive second best. Had it not been for Eisav’s great hunger, whereby he exchanged his bechora for a bowl of food Yaakov had prepared, thus giving Yaakov the rights of the first-born. What many of us take away from this is that the younger must respect the chain of station and wait their turn, unless……..upon being asked, the older gives up their right. Did it ever occur to you to ask your older brother if he would be offended if you were to get engaged before him? I am of the opinion that if there is love between you and your brother, that he would be happy for you over his own sadness and would gladly give you his permission to move forward with your bashert. Why not have one simcha over none? And maybe this great kind and selfless act on his part will bring him his own mazal tov?
I can understand your parents’ blind-sightedness in the matter. Their agony over one broken engagement has made them over-cautious and over-protective, wanting to shield you from possibly the same fate. Enlist the help of a close relative to speak to them for you, an uncle or aunt perhaps, whom they will hear. I think they need to understand that your brother’s matzav was predestined, because you were meant to go first. Hopefully, with a little more time and the presentation of sound logic, they will see that happiness is yet possible for both their children. Hatzlocha.