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.
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.
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.
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.
I don’t know. She just is.
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?
I’m feeling frozen.
There’s a solid block of tears pressing on my heart, crushing it slowly.
And I’m scared to defrost.
No, I don’t want to just take something upon myself, or hear passionate eulogies, or work to accept His will, or praise our nation.
I don’t want to absorb, to digest, to try to understand.
Because if I don’t process, then I don’t have to move on.
I hate Moving On.
How does everyone else always seem to be able to react appropriately?
What’s wrong with me?
The cutest, peppiest, wriggliest little worm.
It just seemed so settled there, in my cashew.
There was a happy ending for both of us.
Just thought you should know.
(Note to self: I’m going to regret this post.)
I am mourning these days.
I am mourning summer.
the sweet scent of
freshly mown grass
juicy meat on charcoal.
the gentle caress of
warm sunlight on dark wet skin
campfire heat radiating onto soft cheeks on a cool night
a mild hair-tousling breeze.
the vision of
leaping, graceful deer
the vastness of the star-spangled sky
a never-ending stretch of green mountains
bright ashes rising upward before they flicker and descend.
the sound of
chirping crickets at night
the distant thwack of a baseball bat
voices soaring in harmony
noisy, happy splashing.
and earthy brown.
Summer is not Work, or Bills, or Burden.
Summer is not Same Old.
I guess we all need to grow up eventually.
I’m getting there, slowly.
But for now, I pray that my children have Summer too.
A mitzvah for me, at least.
I’ve come to this conclusion in a pretty roundabout manner.
I recently joined a Shmiras Halashon program as a zechus for someone I know, and it has really changed my life.
As a child, I was very careful about my speech.
Don’t get me wrong, I was really no tzaddeikes on my own.
I simply was not raised in a home where gossip was acceptable, so for the most part, watching what I said was a natural effect of being surrounded by people who were modelling this admirable behavior.
Until one day, when I was twelve or thirteen, and hanging out with a popular classmate of mine.
Let me just add that I was one of those somewhat socially awkward kids who did not have an easy time making friends. I was way too mature for my age, and I suffered for it. Once everyone else caught up, things got much better for me, and I found my place. Until high school, though, I really struggled socially.
Anyhow, this girl I really admired began discussing someone in a way that was clearly forbidden according to Hilchos Shmiras Halashon, so I gently suggested that maybe we should talk about something else.
She turned to me and said,”You know Lefty, you’ve always amazed me. You are the only girl I know who really doesn’t speak Lashon Harah. I don’t know how you do it.”
And poof! Like magic, I suddenly realized why I had no close friends. No one is interested in schmoozing with a girl who won’t discuss all the juicy stuff. So I stopped being so careful, and slowly lost almost all the sensitivity I had towards the avoidance of this prohibition. (I never did know how to take a compliment…)
Of course deep down I knew it was wrong, but I really felt like being less careful was the key to fitting in. (Awesome logic, I know. Give me a break here, I was twelve. And I’m a lefty, y’know.)
And in a sense, I was right.
Because now that I am fully grown, and care that much less about what people think, I can’t help but notice that keeping the laws of shmiras halashon is not the most popular thing to do, and makes for some mightily uncomfortable situations. But as an adult, I have a much easier time dealing with it.
Since I joined this program, I have become much more aware of what I’m saying, and the results are extremely satisfying. I am still far from perfect, but simply learning the halachos promotes a conscious awareness that stays with me all day.
It hit me recently that blogging has also been helping me out in my quest for self-control with regard to my speech.
You see, so far I am committed to remaining anonymous here. Yes, I am aware that there will be some snoopy inquisitive individuals who will put details together and figure out who I am, but to the general public I remain faceless.
I have noticed recently that when I am sharing a story or a thought in public, I have started thinking twice beforehand. If there is a chance that I might want to write about it on here, I refrain from sharing it with anyone aside from my husband beforehand. I don’t want any of my friends to say – “Hey Lefty, I just read something just like that on a frum blog by someone whose life sounds exactly like yours! :wink, wink:”
So you see, blogging leads to conscientious speech.
Boy, I am so holy.
Notice: The author of this essay did not receive any compensation, monetary or otherwise, from the Chafetz Chaim Heritage Foundation or any other organization or individual promoting gossip-free speech, with the possible exception of The Guy Up There In Charge.
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.
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?