Dei'ah veDibur - Information & Insight

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20 Tammuz 5761 - July 11, 2001 | Mordecai Plaut, director Published Weekly








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Opinion & Comment
Unblocking a Shidduch -- Proper Behavior With Other People

by HaRav Nosson Einfeld

A moving and important story from a veteran educator. The lesson is good for all times, and certainly for these three difficult weeks.

I heard this anecdote from the firsthand testimony of someone who went through it all and permitted me to publish it.

A boy went out on a shidduch and from the first moment he saw the girl, he decided she was not for him. He did not know what to say to her and so ended up remaining quiet the whole time, not uttering a word. The girl felt embarrassed and humiliated by the incident. The boy too was disturbed by the whole business, but time passed and he forgot about it altogether.

Over the next few years many girls were suggested to him as prospective brides. He met quite a few of them and sometimes he almost became a chosson, but at the last minute something always happened and things did not work out. This depressed him immensely but he could not find any solution to his problem of getting married.

Almost as a last resort he thought of going to see Maran HaRav Yaakov Yisroel Kanievsky ztvk'l, the Steipler Rov, from whom many brokenhearted people found comfort and good advice. He wrote a note on a piece of paper (the Steipler Rov was hard of hearing) explaining that he was suffering greatly and did not know what kitrug there was in Shomayim about him. He requested a brochoh to find a proper shidduch soon.

When he went in, Maran ztvk'l momentarily raised his head from his studies, read the note, and shouted: "I cannot give you a brochoh. Hashem yeracheim!" Then he continued studying as if no one was sitting before him.

Fear seized the young man. He stood there, not knowing what sins he had done. Why did such a middas hadin hover over him? He repeated his request for rachamim but the Rov again raised his voice: "I cannot give you a brochoh. Hashem yeracheim!"

The boy did not give up, and sent an eminent talmid chochom to entreat the Steipler Rov to "give a young man a brochoh," without telling the shaliach that he had already been once to the Steipler about the same matter. The Rav looked once at the name and immediately said: "I already told him that I cannot give him a brochoh. Hashem yeracheim."

Several months later a baal teshuvah requested that this young man accompany him to Maran ztvk'l to receive a brochoh. The baal teshuvah wrote a note for the Rov and the boy added in small letters his name and his mother's name for a brochoh. He was afraid to enter the Rov's room, so he remained outside. He heard the many brochos the Rov gave the baal teshuvah, but when the Steipler Rov saw his own name on the note he shouted out: "He is here again? I already told him I cannot give him a brochoh. Hashem yeracheim."

The young man heard all this while standing outside.

He saw that some sort of a keloloh was resting on him and this whole affair was not simple at all. He davened to HaKodosh Boruch Hu and cried out to Him to reveal why this was happening to him. His rosh yeshiva was frightened by his crying and asked: "What does Hashem want from you? Something is utterly strange."

Suddenly Hashem opened his eyes and he remembered how he had caused anguish to that girl he had once met. He did not have any doubt that this was the reason for the Divine disapproval. The same day he found out the girl's phone number, and with fear and trepidation he called her up. As soon as he told her his name she yelled at him: "What do you want from me? Do you want to embarrass me again?"

He answered, "Chas vesholom. I have an important matter to talk over with you and all I request is a few minutes."

They set a time and the boy arrived there and asked her forgiveness for how he had acted during their meeting. He cried bitterly and told her all the terrible sorrows he had experienced because of that. She also cried. Then she promised him that she was mochel and solei'ach with her whole heart.

Anyone could clearly feel the Divine intervention in all these acts -- that the world is not hefker. Although the young man did not intend to cause her any sorrow, the gemora (Chagigah 4a) writes on the posuk, "For Elokim shall bring every work into judgment, with every secret thing, whether it be good or whether it be evil" (Koheles 12:14), that even if someone harms another unintentionally he needs kaporoh and mechilah (also see the Beis HaLevi, parshas Vayishlach, which discusses this matter at length).

I will cite the end of the story as the person himself told it:

"I returned home immaculately clean of sin, purified from the terrible accusation of embarrassing a Jew. I felt a closeness to HaKodosh Boruch Hu that I had not felt for a long time. I felt as if I was returning home after a long hospitalization, from an extended imprisonment. Another world greeted me.

"Amazingly, I quickly became my old self. With renewed strength I studied Torah and had tremendous siyata deShmaya. At that time a kiruv organization contacted me and asked me to help them conduct a seminar for baalei teshuvah. I engrossed myself entirely in this organization, and boruch Hashem the seminar was successful. While working on that seminar a fellow worker suggested a shidduch for me.

"The meetings progressed well, but before making the final step I wanted the brochoh of the Steipler Rov. Although I was frightened that the Rov would again refuse to give me a brochoh, I decided to try anyway. I was looking for a sign from Shomayim that my sin had been atoned. I contacted a household member of Maran ztvk'l and he urged me to come immediately. When I arrived I told him that I was in mortal dread to enter the Rov's room and asked him to mention my name and that of my mother to the Rov and I would wait outside. He refused and actually forced me into the room. `He wants a brochoh for a shidduch,' he called out loudly, and did not add any other details. I trembled terribly and feared the Rov would again rebuke me.

"When he heard my name his eyes lit up. His face beamed with pleasure and he said, `Hashem will help you. The zivug will be successful. May it be a binyan adei ad.' He continued looking at me with special kindliness and cheerfulness.

"That same week HaKodosh Boruch Hu removed my chains. I was zocheh to become engaged to the woman with whom I later built a bayis ne'eman beYisroel.

"Much time has passed since then, and in those years many people have come to me with broken hearts to ask for advice and encouragement. In recent years I have talked extensively with dozens of people. A thought entered my mind: Who knows if I did not undergo what I did so that I would better understand the sorrows of others?

"Today I serve as an advisor for those who have social difficulties and are in dire need of help. Daily I come in contact with difficult problems, with those who are suffering from middas hadin, with people who are sinking in their troubles with no obvious solution.

"HaKodosh Boruch Hu brought many tragic cases to me where, strangely, the person could not find a shidduch. On certain occasions I told my story to these people. I told them: `Perhaps you have a neighbor or brother, an acquaintance or old friend, who feels you have treated him improperly?' Usually these people initially do not think they have anyone who has anything against them. When, however, they think about it HaKodosh Boruch Hu helps them remember a certain instance.

"Many others have gone through the same thing that I did. When they find the person they hurt and ask forgiveness from him they immediately see a change in their situation. It is as if the bitter gezeiroh has been removed. Actually a person should realize by himself that he must humble himself and ask forgiveness, but if he does not, Heaven forces him to ask forgiveness either in writing or orally.

"This is the reason why I decided to tell my story publicly. Jews visit graves of tzaddikim and try to change their lot with segulos. Some accept on themselves acts that will increase their zechuyos. One should know -- and from my own bitter experience I am saying this -- that perhaps the reason why he is not being saved is that once he insulted or harmed another person. He should at least beseech Hashem to open his eyes so he will know whom he should appease.

"We of course cannot know the exact reason for our predicament. Other faults are also liable to cause a delay in the coming of our salvation, but relations between people are the first matter to make a kitrug, and who can be sure he has always acted properly?

"I therefore want to tell everyone: Be careful. Act wisely, before you make a mistake and hurt another person and then suffer because of it. Hurting someone is like playing with fire! The injured honor of another person: a brother, a friend, and surely a parent or educator, demands to be restored. It does not help that you have long ago forgotten about it. The tears of another person are never forgotten. Within the yeshivos boys are liable to insult each other slightly. I myself know of more than one pillowcase that was wet at night because a boy was put to shame.

"Let us prepare for ourselves a happy future. Let us be careful with regard to how we treat others. When we are angry let us restrain ourselves with all our might. Let the other person think he is right. We will not humble him, not embarrass him, and not argue with him. We will insure that our lives are pure, without sin, and in this way we will, with Hashem's help, have good and sweet lives."

May it be Hashem's will that we correct our middos. By the zechus of improving our character traits the Merciful Father will save us from difficult times and fulfill our requests for yeshu'oh and rachamim, measure for measure.

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