Matchmaker, Matchmaker Make Me a Match

This past summer, I had the fortune of attending eleven weddings and performing four of them. I love weddings and the entire process leading up to a wedding that I am personally involved in. I take that responsibility VERY seriously, and each couple is a unique couple who has entrusted this sacred moment to me to “consecrate.” It is a thrilling time to meet with the couple and discuss their future and how they met in the first place.

While this scenario plays out (BH) thousands of times during a year with many couples walking to their chuppa, sadly, there are many single men and women who wait for their “bashert” (the mate destined for them) and feel a sense of angst.

Let’s be clear: when one is saddened by not yet having found his/her bashert, there is true pain that must be recognized and dealt with. This feeling of angst on the part of some; the feeling that Hashem has “abandoned” them (chas v’shalom) are all too real and cause serious problems.

However, there are SO many factors that have, in some cases led to these feelings and this situation. In some cases they are legitimate and in others the problems could have been avoided with adjusting one’s priorities. Permit me to explain:

If we look at this week’s Parasha, Chaye Sarah, we find the following:

“Behold, I stand here by the well of water; and the daughters of the men of the city come out to draw water. And let it come to pass, that the girl to whom I shall say, Let down your water jar, I beg you, that I may drink; and she shall say, Drink, and I will give your camels drink also; let the same be she whom you have appointed for your servant Isaac; and thereby shall I know that you have shown kindness to my master.” (Genesis 24:13-14)”

Interestingly enough, Eliezer, Avraham’s trusted servant, doesn’t ask a single question that many people ask today. For example: When clearing the table did Rivka stack the dishes or take them away one at a time? Did her brother wear tie shoes or loafers?  (If you have no idea what I am talking about, that would be a GOOD thing! But let me explain.)

Of course it sounds ridiculous that Eliezer would ask such silly questions about Rivka. But this is precisely the insanity that we are faced with today! Allow me to list for you some questions I and others have been asked when someone has called to check on the suitability of person for a shidduch/match:
Was the girl/boy nursed and for how long?
Does the potential Chatan wear tie shoes or loafers
Does the family stack plates or remove them one at a time on Shabbat
Do they use disposables or china on Shabbat
Does the potential Kallah wear a seatbelt that crosses her chest

Does the potential Chattan have hair on his legs (!)

And the one that comes with a story: One person was asked if the grandparents of the prospective girl were buried next to each other. Upon hearing an answer in the affirmative, the caller hesitated. “Why, is it a problem that they were buried next to each other?” After a momentary pause, the reply came that indeed, it may be a problem. Well, said the other gentleman…yes, they are in fact buried next to each other along with 2000 other bodies in a mass grave in a Polish forest!

Notice what is missing? MIDDOT! (character traits) Not one question on that list above is about a person’s characteristics!  I can’t tell you how many times I have been called and Middot are the last item on the list! So many people are looking at ridiculous and childish measuring sticks that we have completely lost sight of what is and isn’t important!

Whether you have kids or grandchildren of marriageable age or not, whether you are single or married, every one of us has SOME connection to weddings in one way or another. So, it may be helpful to hear the very calm, cool and collected advice of a Gadol in Israel and what IS important when looking for or trying to make a match.

(By the way, whether people are set up in the traditional “shidduch” or choose to “date” the old-fashioned way, one thing is for certain: one needs to know about the prospective chattan/kalla and their family! Yes, there have been numerous cases where not having enough information in advance has been most detrimental to a marriage, and yes, due diligence is in order! BUT–what should be the criteria?)

Rav Avrohom Pam z”l has a magnificent book published by his Talmidim (students) that has Divrei Torah on every Parasha. On Parashat Chaye Sara (in the book “Atara L’Melech“) he has the following: [translated from the original Hebrew]

“The importance of good Middos is the fundamental building block to a good match for numerous reasons. It is a salient feature of Shalom Bayis because when there is an excessive amount of anger, or stringency in the home or any other inclination to negative Middos, the relationship between the husband and wife can be severely damaged. Certainly the Shechina (divine presence) will not reside in such a home. The Shechina will reside in a home imbued with love and respect for one another.”

No dishes, no seat belt, no shoes…coincidentally, he tells you to look for the very same things that Eliezer looked for: MIDDOT TOVOT!

We cannot let that which is “ikkar” (main) become “tafel” (secondary) and the “tafel” become “ikar”!

It is that mentality that lends itself to asking these demoralizing and denigrating questions I noted before. Because evidently it is not the middot many are interested in …IT IS THE CHITZONIUT.  It is the outward appearance of the person…. just like they (the ones asking the questions) are themselves.

This madness needs to stop! Ma’aseh Avot Siman L’Banim. Actions of our forefathers is the choosing of a mate based on the INSIDE and not the OUTSIDE! We see it from Eliezer, the servant of the first of our avot (Avraham) and we need to apply it to our own times.

About the Author
After living in Chicago for 50 years, the last 10 of which Zev Shandalov served as a shul Rav and teacher in local Orthodox schools, his family made Aliya to Maale Adumim in July 2009. Shandalov currently works as a teacher, mostly interacting with individual students.