This is inresponse to yesterday’s letter titled” We Are Ruining Our Children’s Shidduch Chances.”
Several months ago, Rav Yonason Rosenblum wrote an article here on Matzav about shidduchim. Right after Pesach, I wrote some elaboration on his main point which I sent to the “Readers Write” column of the Yated Neeman where it was printed. Rav Rosenblum’s main point and my elaboration on it are virtually identical with this piece “Reader Writes: We Are Ruining Our Children’s Shidduch Chances” and the many comments on it. Therefore, B’Ezras HaShem, I will paste here the elaboration that I wrote.
In “The Best is Not Always The Best,” Rav Yonason spoke about the tendency that many people have in looking for a Shidduch to keep looking for something better. He related that his Rosh Yeshiva remarked about this tendency that it is simply “Atzas HaYetzer Hara”!
Rav Yonason’s Rosh Yeshiva’s words are the exact same words of my Rosh Yeshiva, Rav Avroham Pam, ZT’L. Every week of the yeshiva z’man on either Thursday afternoon or on Erev Shabbos morning, Rav Pam would say a shiur on the Parsha HaShavua. The shiur for Parshas Chaiye Soro was considered a special one, for then he would discuss issues of Shidduchim.
I was privileged to attend one of those Chaiye Soro shiurim. In that shiur, he mentioned this phenomenon and related it this way. A bachur will go out with a girl. They will have a good time together. He will quickly see that she is a very nice person with very good midos. He will see that she is intelligent with constructive things to say. And the “outer aspects” of her – they are nice too! Then he will tell the shaddchan who had recommended her: “Excellent! Thank you very much! Now, let us see if you can find me someone who is even better!”
In just the tone of his voice in the way he related this story, you could already tell how Rav Pam viewed the actions of such a guy as totally ridiculous and quite wicked. In a voice full of anger, Rav Pam continued on with lamenting on how so many fine girls thus sit alone and are wrongly rejected.
There is a basic rule of life that bad actions have bad consequences; so here, this type of behavior ultimately hurts the boys who do it even more. There were many instances where an older bachur would go to see the Raban Shel Yisroel, the Steipler Gaon, ZT’L, to ask him where was his zivug. In many of these cases, the Steipler would retort to him “You already met her – five years ago!”
Now, the Steipler spoke in Yiddish, and as a Gadol B’Torah, he was able to express major concepts in a concise manner. So for us to fully understand and realize the full impact of his words, we will re relate the encounter with an explanatory expansion of the words of the Steipler, which will fully convey what he was saying.
Let us start again. Here is a now older bachur; he has gone out for many years and cannot even begin to remember all of the many girls he dumped. He comes to the Steipler and demands to know where is his zivug. So the Steipler says to him: “Five years ago you met a girl. The people who recommended her to you told you that she was a good girl. The people whom you inquired with for references about her told you that she was a good girl. You yourself saw that she was a good girl. And you liked her!”
” AND – YOU – DROPPED – HER ??? ”
“So now, you want to get a ‘second wife’? Ah ha! OK, we’ll have to see about that; of course, you well know that that is not so easy!”
[Regarding this rebuke of the Steipler that a man can, Chas V’Shalom, pass by his intended zivug, I mentioned it to Rav Pam. He very strongly exclaimed: “Only the Steipler can say that!” I then proposed to Rav Pam that the Steipler’s rebuke was referring to those guys, who like Rav Pam had mentioned in his shiur, had needlessly rejected many nice girls, and Rav Pam nodded in full agreement. (So that is the way I presented my “expanded version” of the meeting with the Steipler.) But again, Rav Pam empathetically repeated “Only the Steipler can say that!”]
Part of the explanation of this phenomenon is a point that was brought out a short while ago in these “readers write” letters. This is that we begin to forget that Shidduchim are people. We thus embark on our quest of getting a Shidduch with the same frame of mind as when we go, L’Havdil, to buy an automobile. Now if we have the money for it, we are going to want to get the best automobile; as the best cars are made by Rolls Royce and BMW, we will go to get the best BMW or the best Rolls Royce. When we are at the car dealer, we may let the salesman show us a few of the lower models, but no matter how good they are, we will not take any of them. For, again, if we have the money for it, we will ask the salesman to show us and sell us the model that is at the top of the line.
So for a Shidduch, we do the same thing. A boy wants to get “the best” girl, and a girl wants to get “the best” boy. “The best!” “The very best!” “The top of the line!” Anything else, just simply does not exist!
Another way in which the Shidduch process can get dehumanized is by our use of the term “passing inspection.” The phrase is used to convey whether or not everything is all right with a person who is looking for a Shidduch. “Does he ‘pass inspection’?” “Does she ‘pass inspection’?”
These words though, are generally thought of with regards to inanimate objects. A telephone, a radio, a camera, a bicycle, or an automobile, as it nears the end of its production line, it is carefully examined by inspectors to make sure it was made correctly. If everything about it is all right, a little sticker with the word “PASSED” is put on it. The process of inspection is also done on entire operations. For example, on the whole factory that makes the automobiles, there will be inspections. These will often be done by government officials to make sure that everything in the plant conforms to governmental standards of quality and safety. Of course, in the military services, there are inspections on the soldiers’ dress and barracks, to make sure that everything is neat and clean and in its proper place.
Yes, there are inspections on the items that people make, there are inspections on the operations that they operate, and there are inspections on the upkeep of their surroundings and attire.
But inspections on the people themselves???
Of course, all these attitudes are totally wrong. People are not automobiles; they are not bicycles; they are not cameras; they are not machines; they are not factories either. They are living human beings whom are created by HaShem B’Tzelem Elokim! As such, each person has Divinely implanted worth and talent and potential that is not only infinite, but is totally beyond our ability to even begin to comprehend. Therefore, it is not possible, in fact, it is totally ridiculous, to try to classify people as being “the best” or “second best” or “top of the line” or whatever artificial labels people make up.
What does have to be considered though, is the fact that the Divinely implanted talents and characteristics are different in each person. Furthermore, each person uses his or her Divinely given talents and abilities in different ways and accomplishes different degrees of achievement. So in looking for a Shidduch, there will be a need to determine if the characters and abilities and interests and goals and achievements of the two parties are compatible.
I will close with two stories that show that what is often called the best is sometimes quite the opposite. The first story was printed here in the Yated about a year ago in Reb Shaya Gottlieb’s Zaidy’s Mayselech column. He related there about a prominent g’vir who went to the yeshiva in his area and explained that he wanted to have the very best student in the school for his daughter. He was referred to a bachur who was reported to be a big masmid, lamdan, and upcoming Talmid Chacham. The young man was introduced and the Shidduch was made.
After the Chasuna though, he refused to spend any time with his wife. He would come home, quickly eat a meal she had made, and then exclaim “Enough Bittul Torah!” and return to the Beis HaMedrosh. Understandably, the girl wanted to talk with him about various things, but he had no interest in that. When she tried a few times to complain to him about his callous attitude, he got up but did not go to his yeshiva; instead, he left the town and completely disappeared.
The police and other investigators could not find him, and the woman was thus an Aguna for several years!
Near the end of these several years, a man whom we will call “Mr. Y,” passes through the place where the husband is staying. The two men meet and realize that they look like each other. As they are quite astounded at this bizarre fact, that they look like they are twin brothers but are not related at all, they spend some time talking. With wicked trickery, Mr. Y gets the husband to reveal to him the details of his home, his family, his wife, his wife’s family, the wedding, the food that was served at the wedding, etc. Of course, this is Mabul Al HaRaiyon! Before, this guy had claimed that it was Bittul Torah to talk to his wife, but now, he has no qualms about yakking away with this total stranger Mr. Y and telling him everything about his life!
Armed with this information, this M’nuval Um’shukatz – this filthy slime bag Mr. Y goes and presents himself to the wife’s family as the long disappeared husband! By how he looks and by what he says, the family feels compelled to accept that he is indeed the missing husband. At the same time though, they have some serious suspicions, so they consult with the Rav of their town, Maran Rav Chaim Meisels, ZT’L.
Boruch HaShem, with the Rav’s advice, they readily expose the wicked imposter. With this done, they were further able to find out about how this Mr. Y had met the husband, track down the husband himself, and get the husband to finally give his wife a Get. The woman remarried, to a man who treated her a thousand percent better.
The second incident is related by Rav Yissachar Frand, Shlita, in one of his books. It shows that what is at the top of the line is at times not what is even remotely appropriate for the situation. There were two law firms that did business together; one was formed of Bnei Torah Jews, and the other was formed of non-Jews. At one point, the non-Jewish firm needed to make a business lunch with the Jewish firm. As the non-Jewish firm was hosting the lunch, its people told the people of the Jewish firm that they would get the Kosher food. They explained that they knew that the big Kosher restaurant that the religious Jewish community uses is called “Lou Siegals,” so they would call them. They added that as their meeting would be on Pesach, they knew that they would have to specify “Kosher for Pesach.” The Jewish lawyers were certainly pleased at the great awareness of their needs and the efforts to accommodate them.
When they came to the meeting, they saw the non-Jewish lawyers standing over something in the room with puzzled looks on their faces. The non-Jewish lawyers told the Jewish ones: “We called ‘Lou Siegals’ and asked them to give us their very best top of the line Pesach product. They sent us this large box, but we have absolutely no idea what it is that is inside it!”
With a quick glance in the box, the Jewish lawyers immediately understood what had gone wrong. “The very best” “top of the line” Pesach product – what is that? What is the high part of the Yom Tov of Pesach? The Lail Sedorim! So the very best top of the line Pesach product is a Seder Plate! Yes, they sent them a Seder Plate!
Rabbi Frand stops the narrative here, for how they resolved the problem is their private business. Furthermore, Rabbi Frand uses this story to illustrate a completely different issue. What is relevant though for our subject is, that like most people, these lawyers wanted what was at the top of the line. The problem though was, that what was at top of the line here at Pesach, a Seder Plate, had absolutely nothing to do with what they wanted.