The Unexpected Way Forward

Only a week earlier, the “impossible” had occurred: More than two centuries since their arrival — two centuries that included over eight decades of slavery, captivity and relentless persecution — Bnei Yisrael finally left Egypt with exalted and openly displayed might. Now, as they stood before the Yam Suf, their situation seemed desperate. Behind them was the massive Egyptian army; before them, the deep waters of the sea. Quite literally, there seemed to be no way out.

And then the sea split, along with all the waters in the world!

Thousands of years later, each morning we recite the praise uttered by Moshe Rabbeinu and Bnei Yisrael at the time, and during Shacharis and Maariv we thank Hashem anew for this great miracle.

At a time when so many individuals in our community are struggling as they seek to find their preordained mates, the maamar Chazal (Sanhedrin 22a) that compares the difficulty in arranging shidduchim to the difficulty of splitting the sea often comes to mind.

While commentators give varied explanations for the precise connection between this specific challenge and krias Yam Suf, one thing is certain: As is true with all the challenges we face, our fundamental approach must be the same as that of our ancestors. Moshe Rabbeinu cried out to Hakadosh Baruch Hu with tefillah, and Hashem told him that the merit of their forefathers and the emunah they had in Hashem when they left Egypt sufficed to merit the miracle of the splitting of the sea.

On a daily basis, unsung heroes exhibit lofty levels of emunah as they navigate the daunting sea of shidduchim. Older singles attend the weddings of younger siblings, graciously greeting guests with a broad smile and continuing to smile even after hearing a series of insensitive remarks and tactless wishes. Their parents attend the simchos of family friends, bravely putting their own worries aside and joining in the happiness of others.

These individuals deserve the admiration and respect of the entire community, and as they seek to fortify themselves with emunah, the rest of us must do our part as well.

First and foremost is tefillah. Every kapitel Tehillim that is recited, every extra moment spent during Shemoneh Esrei davening for a good zivug for another, makes a real difference. Another powerful tool is accepting a kabbalah as a zechus for a zivug — for yourself or for someone else.

In far too many homes, anxious mothers sit in vain by the phone waiting for it to ring with a realistic shidduch suggestion. They take the initiative and call shadchan after shadchan, a process they often find demeaning.

One does not need a degree to think of a shidduch, and even the most successful shadchante started her career with a first shidduch. Granted, in some instances it is worthwhile to hand over the shidduch in process to more experienced hands, but spending time brainstorming and coming up with ideas is a concrete and meaningful way we all can be of help.

When it comes to the world of information about shidduchim, we find two equally dangerous extremes. Individuals, sometimes blinded by self-interest or subconscious jealousy, give erroneous and misleading negative information. Third-hand innuendo is transmitted as undeniable fact, and reputations are unfairly and irreversibly besmirched. Details that have absolutely no relevance are often repeated and exaggerated, and a very flawed portrait is drawn. Yet, in many other cases, information that, according to halachah, one is obligated to divulge, is too often not told. So many divorces could have been avoided, so much devastation and heartache prevented, if only the individuals involved had been proficient in the relevant halachos and had given crucial and truthful information.

This also applies to repeating the types of inquiries that were made about them to one of the parties. While the person who had been asked for information seeks only to illustrate how loyal s/he was and how s/he gave an excellent report, the wording of the questions can easily be misinterpreted and repeating them can have very damaging consequences.

Another important point to bear in mind is the following, one that is ascribed to various tzaddikim.

When Bnei Yisrael arrived at the edge of the Yam Suf, they envisioned various scenarios: Perhaps Hashem would help them and they would somehow continue on their way over land into the desert. Perhaps they would successfully defeat the Egyptians in battle. Perhaps they would be forced to return to Egypt. What they could not possibly think of was the unimaginable — that the mighty sea would actually split, and they would cross over on dry land.

The same applies to shidduchim. One often thinks that this shadchan or that hishtadlus is the key to the right shidduch. In the end, the shidduch comes via a totally unexpected route, illustrating the fact that it is Hakadosh Baruch Hu who is the True Mezaveg Zivugim.

This fact is the greatest source of chizuk and a reminder that all those who merit bringing a shidduch a little closer to fruition are messengers of Hashem on a great and noble mission.