Lo Bashamayim He

Lefty’s Law # 2:

Come prepared.

Intended Audience: Shadchanim

Though it is true that shidduchim are made in shamayim, a shadchan is the shaliach. As with any other heavenly matters that impact upon our daily lives – hishtadlus is required.

When a shidduch idea pops into your head, take a minute to think about why you thought of these two individuals as a possible couple. Write down your reasoning, and if you have time, explore further.

Is it because they have similar life-goals? Is it because they come from similar backgrounds? Is it because they share the same interests? Is it because you can’t stand either of them? (That was only partially in jest, BTW. I personally know of a success story attributed to this exact situation.)

Sometimes this exercise will make you realize that it wasn’t the best idea after all. Just because two people both like eating out and photography, doesn’t mean that you can bridge the gap between MO and Chassidus. Sometimes you’ll find even more of a reason to set these people up. (Oh, right! I forgot that he’s also a Master in Kung Fu…)

Once you have your reasoning straight, prepare it in a straightforward and appealing manner. “What made me think of this idea is the fact that both he and she are super-committed to a life of klei-kodesh. I also felt she would appreciate his sensitive side, since she has been married before and has seen the other side of some loud, charismatic personalities.”

Next, prepare a basic description of each party and some anecdotes, if relevant. Know which ideas/issues are important to each party, and make sure to explain how the other person jives with said ideas.

Use all this info to suggest the idea to each side.

You don’t have to read from your notes, but it does help to have what to work with if your mind goes blank as you dial the guy’s mother.

Happy shadchaning!

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Disclaimer: 

I’ll be the first to admit that I am an amateur shadchan.

Contrary to what many believe, it seems that matchmaking is a serious skill that needs to be honed and nurtured.

As I muddle through the earlier stages of “shadchaning,” I’ve been taking notes for myself on the mistakes I make and how to avoid them in the future. I figured that it can’t hurt to share them with my three or four millions of undying fans out there…

Feel free to disagree with me – I am very open to other opinions in this arena. 

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Ladies first? Well, sometimes…

I’ll be the first to admit that I am an amateur shadchan.

Contrary to what many believe, it seems that matchmaking is a serious skill that needs to be honed and nurtured.

As I muddle through the earlier stages of “shadchaning,” I’ve been taking notes for myself on the mistakes I make and how to avoid them in the future. I figured that it can’t hurt to share them with my three or four millions of undying fans out there…

So here is Tip # 1, below.

Feel free to disagree with me – I am very open to other opinions in this arena. More to come…

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Lefty’s Law # 1:

Always suggest your shidduch idea to the side which is more likely to say “no” first.

Intended Audience: Shadchanim

Convention dictates that the shidduch be suggested to the boy’s side first. This is because the boy is more likely to turn it down, due to his notorious “list.” (Excellent case in point here.) Although 95% of the time I adhere to this rule, I have learned to adapt it somewhat depending on whether or not there is reason to believe that the boy gets turned down more often than the average girl.

For example, a “perfect” (:gag:) 24 year old girl is being redt to a guy whose parents just went through a messy divorce (or any other medical/psychological/familial/social issue that is considered “baggage” for shidduch purposes). In such a case, I’d call the girl first to find out if this was something she’d consider. Chances are, this guy has a hard time getting a date, so why hurt him further unnecessarily?

If the aforementioned girl also has an “issue,” I’d stick with the original rule, because then they are “even,” and at the pre-dating stage, the boys always have the upper hand in normal situations.

Basically, the point is to be as sensitive as possible to all parties involved. Sometimes this takes extra thought and effort, but in my experience, people really appreciate it.

Happy shadchaning!


Shidduchim Are Basherte – A Case Study

I recently phoned Mrs. X, the mother of a guy who is about to start dating, to suggest a really special girl.

As procedure dictates, I began extolling her most positive qualities – beautiful, slim, and smart of course (in case you don’t know me well enough by now – I’m partially serious kidding…) and of course I described why I thought this was a great idea for her sought-after son.

She thanked me so much for my efforts and said that although she is not trying to put me off here, they are inundated with suggestions at this time. She said that she will get back to me if she wanted to pursue it at any point.

And then I found myself telling her a story about the girl that really impressed me. I realized mid-sentence that the story was coming out sounding really different than it was in my head, and I felt that at best I hadn’t done this girl justice, and at worst I sounded seriously desperate.

I got off the phone and collapsed onto my couch feeling like an idiot. I was sure that I had ruined any possibility of this match materializing. Then the mental over-analysis began.

Overkill.

Shoulda backed off, Lefty.

You sounded like a used car salesman.

Next time prepare any random anecdotes in advance.

What a stupid way to ruin a good shidduch possibility.

Why do I bother, anyway?

Fast forward a week.

I’m in middle of folding some laundry, when the phone rings.

“Hey Lefty?

This is Mrs. X, getting back to you. I know I told you that there are just so many names on the table, but I think we’d like to try your idea first anyhow.

It was that story you told me about when you were in the car with this girl. I don’t know why, but it just resonated with me. It immediately reminded me of similar things my son would do. So thanks for sharing that.”

I drop the pile of neatly folded t-shirts, and rush to get a pen to collect his information.

They are set to go out this week.

Coincidence? Siyata Dishmaya? Basherte?

It’s shidduchim – I’m learning that anything can happen.


And I Don’t Even Wear Black!

Everyone knows that married people are boring.

For some inexplicable reason, the minute the sheva brachos are over, an individual’s perceived personal intrigue level takes a nosedive.

And I’m OK with that.

Who wants to hear about diapers and Shalom Bayis, anyway?

As you may well know, there are quite a few shidduch related blogs out there.

Many of them are insightful, some are humorous, and most are pretty interesting.

I have learned a lot about the do’s and don’ts of matchmaking, and I like to think I learned a lot about the sensitivity, professionalism, and tact that matchmaking requires.

I have just one honest question.

Why is the shadchan the enemy?

Yes, I said enemy.

You know, the woman we don’t want to see, the one with the creepy stare and malicious intent.

The one who thinks she knows us when she really doesn’t, the one who makes our lives miserable, the one who makes us dress up when we want to dress down, the one who makes us conform when we want to fly free, the one who is deceptive, and judgmental, and greedy.

Even I am horrified to read about Her – let alone meet her! – the Woman in Black.

Until I realized that she might be me. I might be her. (I sure hope she is always middle-aged. I need some time to figure this out!)

Is she, perhaps, a metaphor for all that is wrong with society? Does she represent an idea?

Or is it the fact that her existence makes us all feel vulnerable? You know, singles, parents of singles, parents of potential singles – we’re all victims…

(You’d better toilet train him already! What if the shadchanim find out? He absolutely cannot take Ritalin! What if the shadchanim find out?)

Oh, the things she might find out. The way she always judges. The unsolicited advice. Who does she think she is anyway?

She’s the devil, you know.

Why?

I don’t know. She just is.

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So I’m asking – why DO we hate her so much?

She’s concerned, she’s sharp, she’s thinking of others and actually doing something about it!

There are good ones and bad ones everywhere – doctors, rabbanim, social workers, eitzah gebbers, chessed volunteers – in any field, at any location, and in any society.

How is she different from any other person who is in a helping profession?


Shidduch Blues

You know how they (oh, and in this case, “they” does not include our resident expert) always say that there are more good girls than good boys?

For the first time, I’m starting to believe them.

Lately, there have been a slew of engagements where I knew both the guy and the girl pretty well before they met.

I never would have even thought of setting any of these people up – in my mind they just don’t seem compatible.

And in majority of these cases, I really feel like the guys are getting the better end of the deal.

Case in point:

My sister’s close friend recently married a guy who has spent quite a few Shabbasos in our home. The girl is, according to the “system,” a top-notch girl. She went to all the right schools and is getting all the right degrees, and her family is doing all the right things. (Most of this is being said tongue-in-cheek, BTW.) The guy is nice enough, but shall we say, somewhat less committed to the ideals that she is killing herself for. I know for a fact that her mother is quite obsessed with the whole “shidduch crisis,” and I was not surprised to hear that this was her first guy, and that they met just a couple of months post-seminary.

It’s my lifetime’s work to try not to be cynical, but lately I’ve been really disenchanted with the whole shidduch scene.

Another case:

My husband and I have been debating setting my sister up with a guy we know pretty well, probably too well, and we just can’t decide what to do. All subjectivity aside – my sister is an incredibly fantastic person, f’real people. She is beautiful, smart, put together, sincere, educated, warm, responsible, and kind. And I’m not just saying this because she is my sister – it happens that anyone who meets her agrees with these impressions. This is a girl who will be caught quietly doing the most undesirable kinds of chassadim – the kind where the recipients are ungrateful, demanding, and hard to deal with, and there’s no plaque or honorable mention for her at the end of all of it – my own mother doesn’t even know about most of it. This is a girl who befriends every wallflower, and has everyone thinking these are her true best friends. This is a girl who spends literally hours tutoring high-school kids for no pay, when she is qualified enough to charge a LOT of money for these sessions. I am still working my way up to where she is now. Honestly – I have never really met anyone quite like her before, except maybe my own parents, who have had many more years of practice.

The guy we have in mind is very kind, very sincere, very smart, and very likeable…but somehow he also seems confused, a bit immature, and somewhat insecure. It’s not his fault that my husband is somewhat of a mentor to him, but we are still privy to his struggles. It seems as if he is still “finding himself.”

Somehow, I feel like my sister deserves better.

On the other hand, this guy has tremendous potential, and maybe he’ll settle down with marriage, and they might be really good for each other.

And they both really want to be married.

In general – and I’ve always wondered about this – how much achrayus do you think a shadchan should personally take over a shidduch?

I’m not talking about a more chilled out version of shidduchim, where the couple doesn’t mind being casually set up with random ideas. I’m talking about a situation where both sides will trust our opinion and this couple may very well end up married.

Am I being too bigheaded here?

Can’t I just say that if it works out, Hashem meant it to be this way?

Should I just say that if they’re old enough to date for marriage, they’re old enough to decide who to marry?

Can I say that I am just the shaliach, and any future issues they may have together are basherte for them?

And is the point of the shidduch system to marry people off, or to marry them off well?


Perspectives on Prospectives

I’ve had shidduchim on my mind for the past while.

Wait, let’s back up a second.

I always have shidduchim on my mind.

Call me whatever you want – a romantic, an idealist or just an old-fashioned yenta, I don’t care. (Well, at least anonymously I don’t.)

I’ve always loved people, and psychology, and I guess this is how I get my fill of both.

Maybe it’s just my selfish need to feel like a good person. Either way, shidduchim is just the form of do-goodery that is right up my alley.

So sue me.

Anyway, I am currently in the middle of a couple of shidduchim, and things occasionally get sticky.

Without getting into too much detail lest someone involved puts things together, let’s just say that things like future plans, finances, hasty decisions etc. make this whole matchmaking thing a complicated affair on many fronts.

When I need advice, a second opinion, or just want to “talk shop,” I call the person I trust the most in the field. She’s an experienced shadchan(te) with all the qualities such a person (and any person) should have. She is kind, she is patient, and she is extremely professional. Oh, and she is also my mother.

Lately I’ve been noticing that although we both come up with similar shidduch suggestions and ideas, we have a very different method.

When I come up with a prospective shidduch, it all starts with the actual guy and the actual girl in question. She is a close friend, he is a frequent Shabbos guest, they have similar goals, they are hashkafically on-par, and it just seems like a good shot. I can see them together already…

Similar backgrounds are a really really nice plus, and it is something I definitely consider, but to me the main thing is where each person stands now. When I hear of a great shidduch of the “why didn’t I think of that” variety, it is because the couple themselves is such a fantastic match.

When my mother thinks of an idea, it usually starts off like this:

“You know my slightly-heimish friend Malky Pfeffermeister? The one who owns the uppity kitchen-wares store? Yes, she is the one that went to the bungalow colony with us 10 years ago, but now they are in one of the fancier summer home kinds of places…Anyway, I ran into her at the Mushkevitz vort the other night, and it seems she has a daughter in the parsha. So I was thinking, maybe it’s for Shevy Heimowitz’s son? The families would go so well together! Her husband also wears a gartel on Shabbos, and I think her sister sells those hundred-dollar cakes in Flatbush. The girl is supposed to be very geshikt – she would fit right in!”

My mother can already see the two mothers-in-law hitting it off, swapping pictures of the adorable einekel.

And if someone else makes the shidduch first, she’d be smacking her head saying “Malky and Shevy! How did I miss that one? What a perfect shidduch!”

I’ve been on and off about whose way was the right one. Mine still makes more sense to me, but my mother is way, way more successful than I am.

But my grandmother solved it for us both.

When she recently heard of a friend’s granddaughter’s engagement, her instinctive reaction was “Who would’ve dreamed that Zeldy would take a Poylisher for a grandson. The grandmothers won’t have anything to talk about! Who thought of that one, anyway?! ”

It’s all about perspective, I guess.


Just a Blip

Five years ago today, I was a total wreck.

It’s not even that I liked him (I didn’t), it was more the injustice of the whole situation.

One comment that his father didn’t like settled the whole thing. Either way, it was over.

All those roiling emotions kept me busy for quite some time. The despair (“I will never ever get married with this stupid system in place!”), the frustration (“I can’t even go back and clarify what I meant!”), and the anger (“How dare he, after all the idiosyncrasies I overlooked!). It was all I could think about for days.

Five years later, I struggle to remember all the details. My new navy wool coat, pointy black heels, a quiet Manhattan hotel lounge. The weirdness of an Erev Bedikas Chametz date. His hand shaking violently as he poured water into my glass, and my suppressed giggle (Boy, am I intimidating!)…

It was everything then; it is nothing now.

I guess it pays to remember these things once in a while.

Hodu Lashem.