Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Bitochon continued

In Parshas B'Shalach on the first posuk (Shemos 13:17): "When Pharaoh sent away the people, Hashem did not lead them by way of the land of the Plishtim, because it was near (Ki Korov Hu). For Hashem said, 'Perhaps the people will reconsider when they see a war and will return to Egypt.’"

Rashi translates the word 'hu' as a reference to the land of the Plishtim and the word 'karov' as a reference to geographical distance, telling us in essence that it would have been too easy to go back to Mitzrayim.

The Daas Zekeinim m'Baalei haTosfos translate the words Ki Karov Hu in a completely different way. The word 'hu' refers to the nation, and the word 'karov' means relative as in 'family member'. The Daas Zekeinim is saying that Hashem did not lead Klal Yisroel through the "Plishtim Highway", which was the preferred route, because of his closer and "familial" relationship with the Yidden.

Sometimes HKB"H treats his children in a manner that seems inexplicable to us. The reason for this is 'ki karov hu' because He has a special relationship with us. The Aibishter has a different plan for His children. Rav Simcha Ziesel Broide, head of the Chevron Yeshiva, expands on this: Many times we feel our life has taken a detour; we are traveling in a circuitous route.

This may be because "Ki Karov Hu" Hashem is leading us on a different path because He is close to us and has different plans for us. (Taken from a lecture by Rav Yissachar Frand.)

If the shidduch which we are so anxiously awaiting for does not materialize, and things are not working the way we think they should, it is because HKB"H has plans for us, which we cannot understand, but which ultimately are for our benefit. We must have bitochon and continue in our efforts both in gashmius and ruchnius, because certainly the way we are being led is the best way for us.

What we forget at times because of this age's emphasis on "are we having fun?" or "are you happy?" that our happiness is not always an important thing. Which means, that maybe we are not happy or having fun because we do not realize the good in what we have or what we go through.
We all know the story of Reb Zusha of Anipoli who was asked by the Maggid of Mezritch students, how one could bless the Aibishter sincerely for the bad as well as for the good. Although he himself lea a very poor and hard existence he answered them to go find someone for whom things were not good, because he himself could not answer that question. (see the Crown Heights Community Newspaper for 11/23/09 forthis and other stories with Reb Zusha of Anipoli)
Naturally, all this is true if we do not sabotage our own efforts by looking for impossible things or rejecting shiduchim out of hand.

Sunday, January 25, 2009


Shidduchim time where you really must have bitachon that you will have Siyata d'Shemaya, and your child will find their basherte.

In Eternal Joy* (vol1) the Rebbe says:
“I wish to reemphasize that which you yourself write - that the most important matter of all is finding a shidduch.
You write that your feeling is that you are not finding any fitting proposals regarding a shidduch.
My hope, however, is that when you will have the proper approach to the suggestions you receive, then G-d will provide you with the shidduch that is most appropriate for you both materially and spiritually.
One must always remember that there exists nothing in the world that is absolutely perfect. The same holds true with regard to human beings; there is no person who possesses all possible good qualities. Thus, it is pointless to wait [or expect] to find such a "dream" individual.
Since no person possesses all possible good qualities, it follows that the same is true regarding oneself - surely the person himself or herself is not perfect as well. However, [regardless of our own imperfections,] when it comes to looking at ourselves, we do so with a "good eye."
This should [also] be taken into consideration when looking upon another. [One should view the other person as well with a good eye, and] be ready to overlook and let pass [imperfect and deficient qualities]. Hopefully, with the passage of time, these imperfections - real or imagined - shall pass or straighten themselves out.
With this approach, it will be much easier to attain a shidduch - the choice becomes much greater and your entire attitude with regard to a shidduch will be a much happier and more positive.
I would also like to add that it is nigh impossible to truly assess and measure how these two individuals will be after they marry each other, inasmuch as marriage makes specific and marked changes in the two individuals who marry.
Thus, it is only up to a certain degree that we have free choice in the matter, while with regard to the rest we have to rely on G-d that He will lead the married couple in the path of joy, contentedness and goodness.
We verily observe that people do in fact act in this manner - [placing their ultimate fate in G-d's hands] and go on to live happy and successful lives until "120 years."
The same is true with regard to yourself - it is impossible to calculate with one hundred percent accuracy how each suggestion that is made to you will work out in the future, subsequent to getting married.
We must rely on G-d, [realizing] that if He is capable of properly conducting such a gigantic world, He surely is able to conduct the microcosmic world of each individual person that it be good for him or her materially as well as spiritually.
I hope that you will read this letter once and again and ponder the matters that I have written here.

My main purpose in this letter, however, is to try to see to it that from now on you change your approach to a shidduch - do not approach it with the disposition and bias that the shidduch is not for you; nonetheless, it is still necessary to make the requisite inquiries.

Rather, you should approach it in an entirely opposite manner - that G-d will surely provide you with a shidduch that is good for you, and quite possibly this may be the shidduch suggestion that is currently being presented to you. Consequently, it is very important to inquire and know the various details regarding the shidduch suggestion.
I wish for you that in the near future you will find a shidduch that is appropriate for you both in a material as well as a spiritual sense, and that you erect an edifice in Israel on the foundations of Torah and mitzvos. " (Igros Kodesh, Vol. V, p. 103)

*Eternal Joy is printed by Sichos in English and is available online at

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Ask a Friend. Ask your Family. Ask Everyone!

When you are ready to begin your search, it is important to tell everyone you know that you are looking for a shidduch for your Son/Daughter. Many shidduchim come about from friends' or family recommendations.
In fact the majority of successful shidduchim are made by family.
It is not always the professional shadchan who is matzliach or who is your shliach. If you have friends or family who are not Lubavitch, ask them anyway. Just point out that you are looking for a Lubavitcher boy.
It is not enough to tell people once that you are looking for a shidduch for your child. Sometimes, it is necessary to remind them that you still have not found someone.
The reverse is true as well. Once you have found a match, make sure to inform the shadchonim and friends who have looked for you that your child is engaged. Do not assume that they will hear on their own. Your relatives and close friends will probably hear, but others may not, and they will be expending time and effort on your behalf for no reason.
Mazal does play an important part in the search. You and your child can help it along doing your hishtadlus, which can be davening, helping someone else with a shidduch, giving tzedoka etc. It is appropriate to discuss with your mashpia what is considered suitable Hishtadlus.
Look at the article on the Chicago conference for some examples of hishtadlus mothers are presently doing.
As we said at the very beginning, it is important to realize, especially in shidduchim, that HKB"H is the one who "fiert der veldt", rules the world. He is your partner in this endeavor, and therefore, do not despair if everything does not fall into place right away. Sometimes because the future spouse is still learning, not ready, or for any number of reasons, unavailable at this time, one has to wait for the other.
We do not know how long this process can take. A mother once told me she was despairing of finding a match for her daughter as nothing seemed to come of all the names that had been offered. Two years later a name came up, and the shidduch was accomplished in a very short time. The future Chosson had just returned home from yeshiva and was now ready to get married. She told me if she had only known that she had to wait two years, she would have gladly waited instead of worried.
We cannot know if we have to wait 2 years or 2 months. What we do know is if we are diligent, if we ask everyone we know and make ourselves into worthy Keylim to receive the brocha, when the time is right, everything will fall into place.
Marrying our children is like having them. By the time the 9th month comes around we are more than ready to have this baby, but we do not know exactly when it will happen. It could be right away or it could be late. The labor could pass in a blink or be protracted. That we accept as a matter of course, although we all daven for a fast and easy labor. So why should we not accept the same for the parsha of shidduchim? Some will happen in a blink and others we will have to work hard for. Some will come shortly after we started looking and others will be long delayed.
Let us accept that the only thing we control in this instance is how much we daven and how much effort we put in it.

The Chicago Shidduchim Conference

The Chicago Shidduch Group is by far Lubavitch's most active shidduch group around.
Not only are they busy learning and networking and shaking the heavens with their peulos and halchlotos but they are determined to carry the rest of the Lubavitcher world with them.
If every city would have such dedicated ladies working on shidduchim there would not be such a thing as the much bandied "Shidduch Crisis".

This Sunday Chicago hosted the first Lubavitch Shidduch Conference. Mrs Fay Miller was the gracious hostess, who lent her house to this endeavor and had over 50 ladies Kn"h traipsing though to learn old/new ways and means to bring about more shidduchim.
After all once at a farbrengen (5711) 1951 the Rebbe poured mashke for some Tmimim and blessed them that they should find proper shidduchim. Then the Rebbe said: We speak all the time about making preparations for Moshiach. A proper shidduch and establishing a Jewish home is connected to one’s preparations for the coming of Moshiach, as the Sages say, “Ben Dovid will not come until all the souls in Guf [the supernal storehouse of souls] are finished.”
We all want Moshiach to come Now and therefore we wish to accomplish this endeavor with as much speed as possible.

A group of ladies from Detroit braved the bad weather and snow and drove into Chicago. Mrs. Tzirel Frankel came all the way from sunny California to grace us with her expertise and maybe add some more leads to her already bulging book.
Michigan, New Jersey, Ottawa, and of course, New York were represented.
Mrs. Elana Bergovoy of the Chicago group welcomed the guests and gave a short wort on the parsha.

I was honored to be able to address the audience with our Rebbe's words about shidduchim. I took the podium again in the afternoon to give some practical advice on the subject and answer questions.

Mrs Devorah Shulman from Ann Arbor, MI gave us a unique perspective on how her daughter shidduch evolved. From the first bewildering injunction from the shliach that it was time to find her daughter a shidduch until the breaking of the glass under the Chuppa. How interesting to hear that what for some almost commonplace is actually a confusing maze for others.

All present had the chance to read out profiles of young men and women. A profile is a short description of the person, age, height, personality and what it is they are looking for. No names are mentioned or other obviously identifiable characteristics. Mrs Chaya Rochel Zimmerman ably moderated and kept the ball rolling.

Rabbi Levi Bukiet, Rabbi Moshe Raitman, Mrs. Tzirel Frankel, Mrs. Chaya Sara Gurevitch and myself aired our annoyances with the shidduch process. Things like unrealistic expectations, pictures, lack of honesty in shidduch research responses and other such concerns.

The evening ended with one more session in Mrs. Leah Miller's house on the topic of Shadchonim. Mrs Tzirel Frankel led the conversation on how can shadchonim be more effective and what are the real challenges of a shadchan. It has been mentioned that unfortunately basic hakoras hatov is severely lacking on the part of the parents in this field especially as there is a lack of understanding about the amount of time involved for a good shadchan in giving a suggestion (and not just blurting a list of names).

The Halchlatos adopted by the Chicago Group were printed up for all participants to take home and remember.
These are:
* Give 18 cents a day to a Hachnossas Kallah Pushka. (one was included in the entrance package.)
* Learn what the Rebbe said about Shidduchim (Eternal Joy)
* Daven for others needing shidduchim in your city.
* Do your Hishtadlus:
*# Make a phone call regualrly for your child.
*# Help someone else with their child's shidduch
*# Help someone else prepare for a simcha.

Mrs. Frankel mentioned she suggested the following kapitlach in tehilim, specifically for shidduchim: 32, 38, 70, 71, 121, 123.

On Monday morning, before leaving, the shidduch group invited Mrs Frankel and myself for breakfast at Mrs. Bergovoy's for a review of the conference.
B"H the general consensus was that it had been a great success and hopefully many shidduchim will emerge from this event. The ladies put together a list of potential ideas to facilitate the making of shidduchim.

I will publish these ideas in a future column, at the moment I would like to discuss one idea which might be implemented shortly if Yagdil Torah can raise the funds:
It was suggested that it is difficult for parents especially when they are out of town to properly prepare their boys for the shidduch date. There are matters of Halacha and hashgofo that they should know, such as yichud or opening doors, or what subjects are appropriate on first or second dates. Also social matters such as how to apologize for tardiness and how to dress for a shidduch date etc.

Hopefully such monitoring will be made available to boys who are in the parsha of shidduchim so they should have the guidance necessary to succeed.

I hope other cities will be inspired by what Chicago has accomplished and will arrange their own groups and conferences.

And now acharon acharon choviv, let me thank the Chicago Group for a superb job, for inviting me to share in their work and a special thank you to my hostess Sarah Miller for outstanding hachnassat orchim.

Download Audio Link1
Download Audio Link2 -

Friday, January 16, 2009

Preoccupation with appearance

Every Friday night we all say Shlomo Hamelech's words, "Sheker Ha'Chen V'Helvel Hayofy, Isha Yirat Hashem Hi Titshalul." – ‘Grace is deceitful and beauty is vain, a woman who fears G-d, she is praiseworthy.’

Now is the time to apply these words to our life. For both girls and boys, appearance should not be primary. Middos should be the main emphasis. If we do put emphasis on these external things, we are really saying that Shlomo Hamelech's words are not true.

Chazal has a very inspiring interpretation on this verse: It is true that "Sheker Ha'Chen V'Helvel Hayofy," 'Chen' (charm) is false and 'Yofi' (beauty) is vain, but when "Isha Yirat Hashem" when a woman has Yirat Shamayim, then even chein and yofi even her charm and beauty are worthy of praise.

We are letting the perception of the world around us influence us to a major degree. Why do we let the goyishe world influence our choices especially when these choices are so far reaching and important? Even the goyishe world recognizes that only 5% of the population resembles the idealized version of beauty that the models peddle.

With the preoccupation with appearance, we are also driving our girls to Chas V'shalom ruin their health for such a transient mania. And what do these boys gain? After one or two children, no woman looks the same as she did as a girl, even if she manages to retain a figure.

Externals are helpful for first impressions; beyond that, if the qualities are there, externals are less relevant. One should not be put off by the other's appearance, that is a given, but to overemphasize looks is basing a lasting commitment on a temporary foundation.

Over and over I hear that it is the mothers that influence the boys in wanting girls in mannequin sizes. While the mothers cry that it is the sons who will not go out with anyone other than a "size 2". Incidentally, someone made the very valid comment that if you ask a boy who is a "size 2" most of the time he will point out an 8 or a 10. They really B"H do not know what "size 2" are, and are only parroting others.

I am sure there are some mothers who insist on a particular size or look and there are some boys who specify externals, but even more so, we as mothers must start early enough to inculcate in our children that it is middos that are important, that it is the pnimius that we are looking for. We must show by example that we believe what Rabbi Meir says in Pirkei Avos: “Al tistakel b'kankan ela b'ma, sh'yesh bo” or as we say in English: ‘Do not judge a book by its cover.’ If we have done our job well, then our children, both boys and girls, will not tell us they will not go out with anything more than a size 6. They will ask first what are the qualities this person has.

Therefore let us start changing the way WE see things and start influencing our children to look for the right things.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

BT and FFB's an addendum

What I wrote previously is valid for a couple that is in the early shidduch parsha (early 20's) but I would like to point out that once the parties involved are older (28 and up) then the picture may vary.
The FFB, in the intervening years has certainly had more contact with the world at large, and has assimilated a lot more of a veltishe point of view than when they were in their 20's and closer to the years in Yeshivah and Seminary.
In that respect you might say that a BT and an FFB might find more things they agree on than before. It is true though, that even at this stage, each case should be considered individually on its merits. We are all different and what goes for one does not apply to the other.

So I still think that it is easier to match two BT than a BT and an FFB but it is a lot more likely to succeed if the couple is older rather than younger.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder

There is a cute true story about “beauty in the eye of the beholder” or “Al taam vareach, ein lehitvakeach.”

A shadchente was trying to fulfill the wishes of a boy who wanted to go out only with the most beautiful girl. So she set him up with a number of very pretty girls and he refused all of them. At the end of her rope she looked through her files again and saw the only possibility left was a girl that even euphemistically you could not call beautiful. She suggested it anyway, nothing else was available.

Well, he went out with the girl and called the shadchente as soon as he came home. “Why did you take so long to suggest this girl, she’s perfect, she’s the most beautiful girl in the world!”

Please realize a picture means absolutely nothing. Someone who is average looking may appear truly beautiful by virtue of their character after further acquaintance. It is a cliché because it is true.
Some people are very photogenic and although in person they may just be pretty, the camera may make them appear beautiful. Then you have the reverse--a really beautiful girl who may look only passable. The same is true in the case of boys. Boys change so much especially at the age of shidduchim. Some may be growing a beard; some may have bad skin, or the picture was taken at an inopportune moment.

A picture has another chisaron: When one meets a person one gets a certain impression at first sight but then the person starts talking and one gets drawn into the character of the person, how interesting they are or how warm, or funny etc. so even if the first look was only homely and not handsome, once one is drawn into the character of the person physical impressions lessen. When one sees only a picture the only thing that remains is the physical impression.

A picture cannot talk; it cannot show the true essence of the person. One could chv"sh reject a shidduch because a picture is less than half the person.

Another compelling reason not to pay attention only to physical beauty is that through life we all change. The years shape us in many different ways. If the main attraction was physical beauty, what will the marriage hinge on once this aspect is not what it was in the past? Therefore, although we all agree that "attraction" is necessary, this does not always depend on the physical attributes of a person.

Monday, January 5, 2009

A Word About Pictures:

A practice that has become almost inescapable of late is the request for a picture.

When my oldest daughter got married, it was not so common. In fact, unless the shidduch was out of town and one could not meet the prospective chosson or kallah, one did not ask for a picture. The shadchan might but not the parents. Today, it is almost the first question. Some parents and young people will not begin research without a picture of the prospective Chosson or Kallah.

Please realize that pictures unfortunately are not a true representation of the person depicted therein.

Forget about “photoshop-ing” a picture. There are so many programs to tweak pictures that any neophyte can make a mediocre picture look great. But that is not the main problem. A very pretty girl was going out, and on the second date the bochur told her she looked nothing like her picture. A picture is representative of a person, and it can be a true likeness as it was in this case. Even though he thought he was meeting a certain person based on the picture, in reality she was so much more and yet different in other ways. If you must request a picture and the other party refuses, do not throw out an otherwise promising shidduch because of it. And if you usually refuse to give pictures but your counterpart must have one, bend your rules and send one. There is a situation when we ask a bochur to travel to another city, or our child goes for a week somewhere just for the purpose of shiduchim and must prioritize who they go out with because of time concerns, in such a case a picture could have a place. Why invest time and money into a visit that will surely be non-productive. But, when you or your child sees the picture unless it is totally not a face you can live with, (beauty is in the eye of the beholder) please, please think beyond the first impression.