Baltimore, MD – Rabbi Shraga Neuberger was the featured speaker at the Shidduch Center of Baltimore’s recent evening of shidduch hadracha for young men. Rabbi Neuberger discussed some of the most fundamental challenges that singles encounter in shidduchim and shared a wealth of information and advice with the many young men in attendance, some of which has been summarized below.
In quoting the Ramban, Rabbi Neuberger pointed out that that until a person is married and settled they lack the ability to achieve true yishuv hada’as, clarity of mind. It would seem that out of all of life’s decisions, choosing a spouse should require the ultimate clarity of mind. And yet, as single people, we are tasked with making the decision to choose who we will marry in a state that is inherently lacking.
Rabbi Neuberger went on to explain that this is one of the greatest challenges for those in shidduchim. “Clearly this is the way Hashem wants it to be, and it is one of the reasons why tefilah is such an enormous element when it comes to shidduchim and in ultimately having a happy and healthy marriage. No matter how smart or talented we are, we cannot possibly succeed without syata dishmaya.
There are many components that go into finding a shidduch; hashgacha, bechira, hergesh and sechel – the hand of G-d, human choice, gut feeling and common sense – and when there is conflict, it is sechel that takes some precedence.” Rabbi Neuberger expounded, based on a quote from the Chazon Ish, that every person has imperfections, but as introspective people we must use our sechel to make distinctions. One must be able to decide which flaws that they perceive in another person are incompatible for their needs, and which flaws should not stop them from moving forward.
Rabbi Neuberger continued to say that he often counsels young couples who begin to doubt their choice in a spouse. They wonder if they made a mistake somewhere along the way when they find themselves encountering difficulties in their relationship. However, he assures them that this is how it is supposed to be. This is the challenge and avodah that Hashem wants from us! A marriage is meant to have toil, “the happy hard work,” and in every marriage there will be some level of disagreement, even on matters that are fundamental. It then becomes our job to put in the hard work needed to know how to have respectful disagreements. We must endeavor to grow and uplift ourselves with our spouses through our differences, not in spite of them. Marriage is meant to be eternal, happy, fulfilling, difficult and challenging all in one, and accomplishing that takes extraordinary effort. Since it is inevitable that as one continues with dating and marriage they will run up against this, preparedness for this reality is essential.
In returning to more dating specific related topics, Rabbi Neuberger focused on some common pitfalls that singles fall into, and advised on how to handle them properly.
One major issue that Rabbi Neuberger spoke very strongly about was the importance of single friends not speaking to one another about the specifics of their dating or looking to friends for advice. This is simply not their place. People’s feelings are at stake and lives are at stake. When friends, whether it be young men or young women, begin to discuss details with one another, the smallest negative word or seed of doubt planted by an askance look, can often tear apart a shidduch that is 100% fine.
Whatever reasons one’s friends give for why it did not work out for them or why they did not/would not date the person you are dating/considering dating, it is their reasons based on their needs and circumstances. It cannot be stressed enough how dangerous it is for friends to discuss any particulars of their dating life with one another, including even mentioning the name of the person they are dating. When singles have a concern about someone they are dating and are in need of guidance, it is a Rav/Rebbi, parent or teacher/mentor they must turn to, not their friends.
Another matter that Rabbi Neuberger touched on was how different people have different experiences in dating. Some singles find that by the second date they know that this is “the one”! This does not mean that everyone should expect this to happen, nor should they be concerned if it doesn’t happen.
Some people have an easier time in dating and it goes much quicker, while others have a harder time and find that things go slower before they really feel that they have found the person who is right for them. However, both are perfectly fine paths and neither one will be indicative of a happier marriage to follow. As stated earlier, the key to a successful relationship is the “happy hard work” afterwards, not how smooth and fast the dating went beforehand.
One final point Rabbi Neuberger stressed was that there is no rule book on how dating must go, how exactly one should approach each date, or what topics should be discussed and when. Some people are naturally serious in nature and others are more laid back. Some people can talk on a date for hours on end and others prefer shorter conversations. The most important thing is to be yourself and to be able to decide if the person you are dating – by evaluating their personality, their middos, their qualities and flaws – is right for you; and if so, to be able to trust yourself enough to make a decision.
If you would like to hear a full recording of this class, please email firstname.lastname@example.org with your request and you will receive an email with a link to the recording.
Donations to help the continuation of our programming are always appreciated, and can be made on our website, www.shidduchcenter.org, or sent to:
The Shidduch Center of Baltimore
6210 Park Heights Ave, Suite 101
Baltimore, Maryland 21215
The Shidduch Center of Baltimore will continue to host similar events in the upcoming months for singles, parents, and the community at large. The next class, tentatively scheduled for this summer, will be for young women ages 24-29. Further information will be publicized as soon as the details of this class are finalized.
Reprinted from Baltimore Jewish Life 6/9/2016