When the Phone Doesn’t Ring

There are times when the sound of silence is more painful than the loudest shriek.

At homes throughout our community, worried parents and their anguished children are waiting and hoping for their phone to ring with a suitable shidduch suggestion.

In far too many cases, they wait day after day for that elusive call.

“I know that all it takes is a single basherte suggestion, and the fact that we are hardly being redt any shidduchim doesn’t really matter in the long term,” one distressed father wrote in a recent letter to the editor. “But I must admit, there is something very painful when weeks, even months go by and no one contacts us with a suggestion. When a shadchan calls, at least one feels that something ‘is doing’; even if it isn’t the right one, I know we are one closer. Now we feel forgotten by the community.”

In the glorious era when the Beis Hamikdash stood in Yerushalayim, 15 Av was a great Yom Tov. It was on this day that bnos Yerushalayim would gather in the vineyards for the purpose of shidduchim. Each had borrowed a dress from another, so that the poor among them would not be embarrassed.

As we eagerly await the Geulah sheleimah and the rebuilding of the Beis Hamikdash, this is a most opportune time to contemplate the plight of the many in our community who are still waiting for their zivug — and do something concrete about it.

One certainly does not have to be a veteran shadchan to think of a good shidduch idea. The most successful shadchan was inexperienced when he made his first shidduch, and many wonderful marriages have been arranged by total novices to the field of matchmaking. In some situations, it may be advisable to pass on the idea to someone with more experience to try to bring the match to fruition.

The Chazon Ish, zt”l, taught that when an individual thinks of a shidduch idea that seems appropriate, he should suggest it immediately and not push it off.

At 11:00 p.m. one evening, the Chazon Ish woke up a bachur who had already gone to sleep for the night, in order to red him a shidduch that had occurred to him. The girl was still up, and the Chazon Ish arranged that they should still meet that very night!

Like many other aspects of living a Torah life, the role of those in the “parashah,” and that of their friends, neighbors, and acquaintances, are very different. While the task of those within is to fortify themselves with emunah and bitachon, those on the outside who have the ability to take concrete steps to help must not use terms like bitachon to shirk their own obligations.

Shlomo Hamelech says in Mishlei (27:2): “Let another praise you, not your own mouth; a stranger, not your own lips.” While calling shadchanim on behalf of one’s child or oneself is often a requisite hishtadlus, it is often a challenging, sometimes even humiliating, process. Calling shadchanim on behalf of another individual is a great chessed, and often allows the shadchan to get a far better picture of the praiseworthy traits of the individual in question.

While it is vital for parents — as well as their sons and daughters — to recognize that saying “no” to a shidduch requires the same sense of responsibility and yishuv hadaas as saying “yes,” it is very hurtful and extremely unfair when outsiders draw assumptions — which are most times highly erroneous — about why someone is still single. While there are doubtlessly some well-intentioned but misguided parents in our community who hold back their children from getting married because they are setting unrealistic expectations or refusing to realize that no suggested shidduch is absolutely perfect, most parents are doing all they can to marry off their children and are devastated when they are falsely accused of behaving otherwise. Only those with firsthand, inside knowledge can know what is really transpiring. All those who want to be of help should always use wisdom and tact and, above all, be as non-judgmental as possible.

When it comes to the world of giving information about shidduchim, we find two equally dangerous extremes. It is crucial that anyone in a position to be approached for information — which is almost everyone — is proficient in the practical application of relevant halachos.

On the one hand, 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 and had given crucial and truthful information. At the same time, in many other cases, individuals give erroneous and misleading negative descriptions of another person. Third-hand innuendo is transmitted as undeniable fact, or information that is true but irrelevant is shared. In the process, reputations are unfairly and irreversibly besmirched.

It isn’t only what is said, but how it is said. The tone of voice that is used when answering the questions of those seeking information, and the wrong choice of words used to convey the most pareve answers can often send a very inaccurate message.

Those who are asked information have also, on occasion, caused much harm by repeating the types of questions that were asked. While these people no doubt mean well, questions, like answers, can often be misinterpreted. A single, relatively minor misconception can destroy a potential shidduch.

In a process that is fraught with stress and anxiety, it is imperative that at every step of the way, everyone involved does everything possible to avoid causing hurt feelings.

When the answer from one of the parties is a negative, a shadchan must be very careful not to cause wholly unnecessary agmas nefesh. On many occasions, a shadchan mistakenly thinks he will make the rejected party feel better by revealing the reason behind the decision. In most cases he is sorely mistaken.

Finally, a most essential hishtadlus that all of us can do is daven on behalf of all those who are in this parashah, that they speedily merit meeting their basherte zivug and go on to build a bayis neeman b’Yisrael.

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