When I was a kallah (bride), a friend of my husband-to-be asked me
to introduce him to one of my friends in Boston, where we all were at that time.
That is how Chaim and Esther met, subsequently married, and still continue to
live in Boston as proud parents, grandparents and great grand-parents. It was an
When my first child, Sterna Sarah, was born we received a beautiful highchair
as a gift from the new couple. Bringing them together was a very pleasant
experience. They both trusted me and relied on my information.
that time I have introduced many people to each other and suggested names to
many friends and acquaintances. However, I have successfully made only eight
shidduchim (match), which averages to about one in seven years. Making
a shidduch is very difficult but also incredibly rewarding. I always
enjoy meeting people and trying to help them whenever possible. The scene today,
however, has become increasingly difficult in regard to making
shidduchim and I am becoming far less interested in this particular
Of course, it is important to obtain information and
check references -- but this is becoming far too detailed in my opinion. Lately
one or two names is not enough -- six or eight names are required! References
should represent friends, teachers/Rabbis, family friends, and neighbors (past
and present). Often the checking period can be as long as three and four weeks.
Information often includes family history, including grandparents.
By the time all these calls have been made, surveyed and digested, I have
already lost interest. Is it really meaningful to know if the mother goes
shopping with a shopping cart? I use a cart by choice because I no longer drive
my car due to my husband's limitations. Since basically our household consists
of just us two, and I like to buy fresh products, I can easily fit my bags into
the cart. Walking is a good exercise, so I think a cart is great. Imagine that
this could be an obstacle to a shidduch? What about using a plastic
tablecloth? Or what about the debate on cloth versus paper napkins? The list
goes on and on -- often including issues quite insignificant in life.
I am very disappointed in the list of both young men and women as to the
priorities of a possible mate. The first question is generally related to size:
size two to four being in high demand among the boys. That comes before
personality, middos(character), intelligence, sincerity, compassion and
other basic traits.
I don't ever remember anyone asking about homemaking ability, cooking/baking,
managing a budget or keeping a home in order. How about love of children and
patience for them? How about basic nature the ability to deal with challenging
situations? Today the outward appearance has become most important factor. The
parents likewise focus on the physical aspects.
The girls are searching for someone smart, handsome, hopefully from a
well-to-do family or with good possibilities for providing them with a good
income. Often the demands are quite high and even unrealistic.
In the secular world beauty and wealth are admired. Unfortunately, with
superficial concepts of life's values marriages frequently fail. The divorce
rate today is 70 % with numerous marriages failing after only seven years.
In our world we sadly notice an increase in divorces and unhappy couples as
well. When two people enter into marriage with unrealistic expectations, when
"being happy" is uppermost in mind, we are entering a very difficult
There is often confusion as to the meaning of LOVE. The explanation or rather
discussion on this topic that I was blessed to have had with The Lubavitcher
Rebbe, Rabbi Menachem M. Schneerson, is as valid today as it was then. I
believed that the love presented in romantic novels was real love, a magical
flame of excitement and yearning. Smilingly, The Rebbe explained that this was
fictional love, quite unrelated to enduring and real love. When two people meet
and discuss values and goals in life, they build a relationship. When they
become chosson (groom) and kallah they feel a connection to
each other. With time this flicker of love grows into a deep involvement, a long
lasting REAL love as day by day they build a home, raise a family, grow and
mature together. In time these two people become as one and reach a point where
neither can view life apart from the other.
Real love can only grow when based on real values, not outward appearances
and insignificant details.
Our young people, and everyone who is looking for a shidduch, needs
to introspect and carefully and honestly evaluate themselves -- review strong
points and weaknesses -- rethink what the qualities should be in a life partner.
Realistic views and greater understanding will with G-d's help allow us to build
Years ago a man came to our street with a machine to
sharpen knives. In those days there were many repair shops for small appliances.
Irons and radios were brought in to be fixed. Everything was of value.
Today we are a throw away society -- with problems on how to dispose of our
waste. The motto is -- if it doesn't work, get rid of it.
Unfortunately, this idea has entered other aspects of life as well. Perfectly
good furniture, clothing and personal possessions -- cars, computers, phones
etc. are discarded, to be replaced by newer models. This has entered our lives
as well. If marriage is no longer "fun" get a divorce and try again. Patience
and hard work are no longer of great importance.
I have presented the following suggestions at
panel discussions on the topic of Shidduchim:
1. Imagine the Scene: After weeks of checking and investigating you finally
meet. You are very disappointed. Maybe he is shorter than described. Maybe the
thick glasses or thinning hairline were never brought to your attention. You
know immediately that this young man is of no interest to you. You have two
choices- actually in my opinion only ONE. You must be YOUR VERY BEST. You must
be attentive, pleasant, kind and display your good middos. This evening
must be a pleasant experience for the young man. Why? Because when you are your
very best, you feel good about yourself. There are possible benefits. Even
though you may never date him again, he will have a good opinion of you and one
never knows with whom this might be shared. Trust me, this is a Golden
Likewise this holds true for the disappointment of a young man. Perhaps
the girt is a size 8 instead of 4, or her hair is too straight or too curly,
perhaps she is too shy or too talkative- you must make the evening a very
pleasant and rewarding experience. A shidduch meeting is difficult and
both people involved must try their best to leave the best impression.
2. My second point is that UNLESS one is 100% certain that this is not "the
right one" a SECOND MEETING is ESSENTIAL. Both parties will be more relaxed, for
now they know what they will encounter. The behavior might be quite different.
The awkwardness and shyness may be gone. Hesitancy and discomfort will hopefully
have disappeared and there might be quite a change on both sides. Perhaps the
thick glasses will no longer be a concern as one encounters a kind smile. The
size 8 may no longer be an obstacle as one recognizes a good listener and a
sharp mind. The trivialities may become just that, as one can now focus on more
It is very important to always have a POSITIVE attitude in both thought and
action. A pleasant smile and an feeling of hopefulness increase our
attractiveness. While waiting for something wonderful to happen, let's use this
time to grow in all areas of life- emotionally, intellectually and socially- to
maximize our potential. In developing our inner beauty we in fact become more
attractive and beautiful. Attending to needs of others, increasing in
responsiveness to those around us are powerful ways in self development. There
is light at the end of the tunnel and hope EMUNAH lights the way.
Always remember to thank people involved with your introductions. If the
meeting was quite unrewarding, you still must remember to be appreciative of the
efforts of the Shadchen. Each step brings you closer to the "real one'
and their help should be noted. Personally when I feel that my efforts are
unappreciated I no longer am very interested in continuing helping that
It always amazes me how one day one can feel quite discouraged and then- the
magic moment happens and HE appears, the one that will make our life complete.
It is indeed a Living Miracle. Be ready and prepared, just "beautify" yourself
in the process.
We presently have a shidduch crisis. This does not just involve
people seeking shidduchim. As mature adults we need to be involved in
restoring wholesome values. This situation must be dealt with now so the next
generation will have hopefully good role-models as inspiration.