Tuesday, March 31, 2009


I hope you have all checked out the two website I have written about. Leave no stone unturned, as they say. Try every method available (according to Daas Torah), in order to find the match for your single. Even try the much reviled shadchonim :D .

Before continuing let me backtrack a moment. It is hard to initiate conversation with your son, daughter about the subject of shidduchim. It is difficult to find the right moment when there are no distraction and when your son or daughter is willing to sit and talk on the subject. In fact I was asked just that question, how do you tie down your chossen bocher or kallah maidel to talk about this very important subject? How about making an appointment with your son and daughter? Set a time and a place and state in clear terms that just like any other appointment, this one too should be honored and not dismissed because something more interesting has come up.

Here is an idea to make that conversation go more smoothly:

“Admits mistakes?” What am I looking for a malach or a husband?!
This is one of the comments I heard while playing a game called “Checkmate”.
I first heard of this game in an article forwarded to me by the ever-alert and multi-talented CHJCC receptionist Penina Metal. It purported to help in the choice of the right middos needed in a prospective mate. Naturally, the game caught my attention.

It is a fact that so many parents and future Chassanim and Kallos look for the externals such as money and looks; therefore, anything that would focus a person on the search for middos was welcome.
I read the article, but although intriguing, it did not give me as clear a picture as I had hoped, so I called the innovative author of the game herself, Rebbetzin Chaya Ginzberg, (“Road Signs for Success”), a lecturer, and a high school and seminary teacher.

During our conversation, I discovered that this game is much more than just a “shiduchim game”. It lends itself to almost any interpersonal relationship. Friends, single and married ladies, parents and children, or married couples can play the game and gain some insight.
What is more, the game has its origins right here in Crown Heights!

Rebbetzin Ginzberg explained that she is good friends with our own inimitable Mrs. Miryam Swerdlov. At a convention some time ago, Mrs Swerdlov played a game a lot of our Crown Heights residents are familiar with: it is called “The Game of Priorities”. Mrs. Swerdlov has played this game with girls in camp, with ladies at conventions and retreats, and at workshops. Everyone who played had a great time and came away with a better knowledge of what is really essential in their lives.

Is Yiras Shomayim more important than live-in-help? If you had to choose only one, what would it be? Is satisfaction at work less or more important than being a good example to your children?

This is a game that makes you think about what is truly important in your life and makes you more appreciative of what you do have. The enjoyment aspect of the game is just an added bonus.

Rebbetzin Ginzberg with Mrs.Swerlov’s permission adapted this game to focus more on middos alone, rather than general necessities such as owning a luxury car, paying dental bills, or having a well-paying job for your husband, and she marketed it for the public. She felt it was a way to give hashkafa in an easy and enjoyable way. I believe she succeeded. This particular version of the game is made to be marketed to the world at large, and therefore, it is relatively “parev”.

There are 56 cards in the deck. Most are middos. Some are personality traits, and some are inclinations. The object of the game is to hold on to 7 cards. Depending on the question asked at the beginning of the game, those cards could describe the qualities you are looking for in a future spouse, the qualities you wish to develop in your children, or the qualities you see in your husband, etc.

I am not familiar with card games as I never considered playing cards to be much of a Jewish activity, but I am certainly hooked on this game. Seven cards are distributed to the players. One desk is fine for 2 to 6 players. If you play with a large group, play with multiple decks.
The deck is put in the middle, face down, and each player takes a card and then discards one. When a player discards an unwanted card, it lays face up next to the deck. If the next player wants that card, they can take it, or they can take one from the deck. At the end of the game everyone is left with 7 cards.

In Mrs Swerdlov’s game one discards before one picks. Here the instructions say you pick before you discard. I have come to the conclusion that it is a more effective game if you are forced to choose what you discard before you pick the next card. After all, it is like life--you do not always know what is coming, but you know what you have on hand. Ultimately, it’s your choice. The rules are not written in stone. Play according to what in your opinion is the most effective way.

I played with my son who is now B:H engaged, and our goal was to see how close I was to his priority list of a future Kallah.
Many of the cards in the game may encompass others in their meaning, or they may be close enough to mean the same thing. For example, there are cards such as “Kind”, Giving”, or “Generous Spirit”. If one is giving, one will most probably be kind and will have a generous spirit; therefore, only one of these cards should be retained, and the others may be discarded. Some cards are definitely middos such as “Honest”, “Fair”, “Content”, and “Sincere”. Some are derivative, character traits like “Good Manners” or “Sense of Humor”, etc. Some are inclinations such as “Musically Inclined”. One card I am not sure what category to place in. (I am sure you will know which one I mean if you see the deck!). I am pleased to report that we were both on the same page; what he was looking for is what I thought he was looking for! :)

Play to discover your own strengths and good qualities--who you are and what do you have to offer to a future spouse. Then play again to see what you are looking in a spouse and compare the two results. Do they match? Is what you offer compatible with what you are looking for? Are the qualities you are looking for compatible one with the other? Are you choosing “Drives” and “Ambition” in a “Sensitive”, “Calm” person? If you are ambitious and have drive, you are not generally calm and sensitive.

What you discard is also important. As the play goes around, your discards may be the other person’s essential requirements. Examining the reasons behind your discards will make you verbalize your feelings and make you understand better your choices. It is even better to play with a mashpia or a parent or facilitator. (Maybe shadchonim should play with you at your interview!) Defending, or to use a less confrontational verb, discussing your choices is almost an integral part of the game. During the game and after the game, you can discuss your choices and do so in the calm and happy atmosphere engendered by the game.
In fact, it may be great as a starting point for a heart-to-heart discussion with your parents or friends (what I like and appreciate in my friends), with your siblings, (what I admire about you), or with your husband.
When playing, keep in mind that many words may be unfamiliar to your fellow players and maybe to yourself. Words such as “analytical” may have to be explained. Some words may have an unimportant meaning to the other players. A word such as “sensitive”, for example, would need to be explained. How important it is that a husband is sensitive to a wife’s needs or a wife to a husband’s?
Many mistake the word "Drive" to mean driving a car. That is not what the card reppresents rather it is more : to strive vigorously toward a goal or objective; to work, play, or try wholeheartedly and with determination.

Rebbetzin Ginzberg told me that the game was even played on a date. A couple went out numerous times, but he was not a great communicator, so she was not sure about saying yes. They played the game, and she found out so many positive points about the boy that they got engaged. Now, don’t all of you carry a game with you when you go out! The game was a final push or confirmation in this case, and this is how it should be. Do not rely on a game to tell you who to marry.

The game is available at most Seforim stores in Crown Heights, Flatbush or Boro Park.