By Rabbi Moshe Meir Weiss
One aspect of the “shidduch crisis” is the money issue. In Yeshivishe circles, when a boy wants to continue learning, it has become customary to expect a substantial dowry to allow the young man to proceed in his studies without pressing financial worries. This poses a serious problem for thousands of middle-income families that barely have enough money to get by. It is especially daunting for families with many girls that cannot possibly manage to bankroll a fleet of kollel yungerleit. The focus of this article is not to try to solve this highly problematic issue. Rather, I came across a Medrash that I believe can be a source of chizuk, encouragement, to the many families that face the financial challenges in the shidduch arena.
The Medrash relates that when Yaakov left the academy of Sheim v’Eiver after fourteen years of diligent study and went out to Charan to find a wife, he was in a pensive state of mind. As he was travelling, he started saying the Psalm, “Shir lama’alos, es ha’einai el heharim – A Song of Ascents, as I lift my eyes toward the mountains.” The Medrash continues, “Al tikrei heharim, ela hahorim – Do not read it ‘the mountains’ but rather ‘to the ancestors.’ Yaakov somberly reflected how, when it was time for his father to get married, his grandfather Avraham gave his servant Eliezer ten camels, all kinds of jewelry, and kol tuv adonov b’yodo, all the wealth of his master in his hand. Yaakov, on the other hand, was going to procure a wife as an absolute pauper since he was stripped of all his wealth when he was attacked by Eliphaz, son of Eisav.
He continued the Psalm, “Meiayin yavo ezri, From where will my helpmate come?” for we know the Torah refers to a wife as an eizer knegdo. (As an aside, Rav Finkelman reported at the recent Aguda convention that his Rebbe, Rav Moshe Wolfson, Shlit”a, instructed him to say this particular psalm he himself when he was dating.) Yaakov then continued with the next stanza, “Ezri mei’im Hashem, Osei shamayim v’aretz – My ‘helper’ will come from Hashem, the Maker of heaven and earth.” Yaakov comforted himself, “What am I worrying about? The Gemora teaches us that after Hashem created the world in six days, He spends his time being m’zaveg zivugim, being the world’s Matchmaker, so I’m in good hands.” This is comforting chizuk. When Yaakov was pondering his sorry financial straits, he strengthened himself with the knowledge that it is Hashem Who orchestrates everyone’s basherta.
To drive this point home, that all matches are made in Heaven, the Medrash then tells an incredible story. The Medrash informs us that Shlomo HaMelech had a wondrous daughter. She was blessed with beauty, charm, grace, kindness and wisdom. In his employ, Shlomo HaMelech had a battery of stargazers. They reported to him that this daughter was destined to marry a young man who was homeless and penniless. Rather than react with alarm, as most of us would, with the approval of his daughter, Shlomo decided to use this as a case study to exhibit the ways of Hashem. He transported his daughter to island that could only be reached by the royal fleet. He placed her in a tower and had the tower guarded by seventy of his finest men. He then sat back and said, “Let’s watch how Hashem makes the shidduch.”
A little while later, a young Torah scholar with fine character traits left the study hall. It was a cold night and he was without a home and didn’t even own a coat. As his teeth were chattering from the cold, he set out to look for some refuge from the freezing wind. As he was walking, he chanced upon an ox that obviously had been attacked by a leopard. The body of the ox had its interior gutted out but the exterior was still intact. Since he was desperate for some warm shelter, he crept inside the skeleton whose exterior fur provided warmth from the harsh elements and promptly fell into a deep slumber.
In the middle of the night, a large bird searching for dinner, chanced upon the carcass. It swooped down, took the carcass in its beak and flew on-high, taking it for his dinner. The bird landed on the porch of the princess’s tower and ate. When it was finished, the bird took its leave. When morning came, our young man awoke, climbed out from the carcass and to his consternation found himself high up in the sky. As he walked to the edge of the balcony, he saw that he was on an island surrounded by many soldiers. Since it was sunrise, he started praying Shacharis. In the meantime, the princess came out to the porch to say her daily prayers as well. To her great astonishment, she saw a pious young man praying fervently on her well-guarded porch. When he finished praying, she asked him how he got there and he told her the amazing chain of events that caused him to be standing before her. They talked for hours and the princess explained why she was there and asked him if he would agree to marry her. They both descended from the tower to the great shock of all the guards. They were transported back to Shlomo HaMelech who happily gave his blessings to their nuptials and used this as an illustration of how shidduchin are made in Heaven.
Of course, we must make our hishtadus as in anything else. But when we do so, we can be fully confident that Hashem has our backs and will guide all of us, money or not, to our true basherta. May it be the will of Hashem that all those who are seeking their shidduch should find it quickly and easily and may He bless us all with long life, good health, and everything wonderful.
Sheldon Zeitlin takes dictation of, and edits, Rabbi Weiss’ articles.
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