Dei'ah veDibur - Information & Insight

A Window into the Chareidi World

2 Tammuz 5766 - June 28, 2006 | Mordecai Plaut, director Published Weekly










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Home and Family

Chessed — a Shidduch for Singles & Marrieds!
by Dena Newman

There have been many articles lately about the plight of singles — and truly, everyone does feel sorry for those whose shidduchim are delayed. Is there value in assigning blame? Yes, to an extent, because that is how we can problem-solve. There is a need for education, and counseling, so that singles can be realistic about what is out there, and can be goal-oriented. I once attended a lecture, where one of the women asked the speaker why older women become more qualified and older men deteriorate. You may agree or not, but interestingly, the speaker turned to the men and said, "Nu?"

Is this the case? If so, then perhaps we can get the men to improve themselves, but we need to work with reality. If that is what is out there, then that is what is available. If the goal is to get married and establish a Torah home, that has to be the focus, not the looks, clothing, bank account, or hobbies. The important factors, such as middos tovos and hashkofos must be the priority. Let's bear in mind that each of us will get our tailor-made challenges in one form or another, it cannot be avoided. And growth through the way we handle each and every situation is what life is all about.

I recently introduced a 36-year-old woman to a 48-year-old man, both single. In speaking with them after the date, I had my work cut out for me. The man said that he thought she was very nice, but really, they had nothing in common. "How could that be?" I asked him. "Don't you both want to build a Torah home? Aren't you looking for an eishes chayil to run your home and raise your children? That needs to be your priority. You need to see if you can enjoy her company and get along with her." I didn't want to risk hurting his feelings by saying the obvious — he should be jumping at the chance to marry a young (for him) girl.

When I spoke to her, I had more. She told me that she was very impressed with his manners, and that he was interesting, intelligent, etc, but she didn't really know if they would be able to get along, since they came from such different backgrounds. I couldn't help but think of a book I read, Deep in the Russian Night. It is an historical autobiography of an amazing man, Aaron Chazan, who kept his Yiddishkeit, beard and payos throughout the Russian revolution. His adherence to halochoh was unwavering. There was hardly another person like him in the entire Russia. His acquaintances told him he'd never find a wife. When he heard about a frum girl from a frum family, he became engaged to her, sight unseen. And they shared a committed life, worked together through many hardships and raised a Torah-true family of many children. Their focus was marriage, to build a Torah home.

Even with focus, it isn't always easy to find another focused person! Can marrieds work more on arranging shidduchim? They can and they should. When getting together at simchas, meeting in the store or park, the topic of shidduchim should be brought up. Everyone knows some singles, so each of us can participate, and as long as shmiras haloshon guidelines are followed, no one has to feel left out. The more it is in the forefront of conversation, the more ideas that can be generated, and maybe, just maybe, through such a discussion, two more people can be on their way to building another Jewish home.

Meanwhile, I have a suggestion for singles. How about taking some time for regular chessed with a family that is fortunate enough to be raising a family, but is really overwhelmed? Yes, children are a blessing, but they require loads of time and attention. So many marrieds (especially those with a bunch of little children) don't have time for exercise, to spend a few hours outside the home together, or have time to attend classes to get to know themselves better, or even to do any reading! They also cannot afford to go out, just like that!

I realize that singles may have a full schedule, doing many worthwhile things, but maybe it is time to rearrange a bit, so that you can call a family and do errands, go shopping, carpool, baby-sit, cook... Or — this is a wild idea — pay for a child's tuition! Another tremendous zechus. As with most mitzvos, you will not only earn merit, but can also gain right away; with new skills, experiences, and insights. Perhaps you will come to a higher level of understanding of what you really need in a spouse.

I realize that many singles are doing chessed and giving tzedokoh, just as many marrieds are working on shidduchim, but from what I observe at the sidelines, there is great need in large families for help of all kinds, and now is a great time to begin to help fill that need.

I was in the store the other day, shopping for my married daughter in addition to my own large family. As I explained to an acquaintance the reason for my overflowing cart, she said, "I wish I had my mother to shop for me. (I thought I wouldn't mind it myself!)" Does it take extra time to shop for two? Yes. But doing chessed is a very high priority. True, it may leave you with less time for yourself, but it can be a great educational and growing experience. And in the merit of that extra chessed, may Hashem send your bashert, speedily!


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