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Yated Shidduch Forum 3/2/18: Bechira, Hishtadlus, & Hashgacha – A Complementary Trio?


My daughter was recently redd a shidduch to a phenomenal Litvishe boy and we are ready to give a yes. The boy’s father, however, drives a Volkswagen, a well know German car. We have a strong sensitivity to that, since our grandparents’ family perished in the Holocaust. Is that enough of a reason to negate the shidduch? Does it make a difference if the father is of Israeli origin, as in Israel the practice is to be more lenient about driving such a vehicle? Does it matter if it is driven for business-related purposes?

Can’t wait to see this question published being that we are going through this quandary.)



In order to properly address this query, I would like to begin by broaching a broader concept, and one which I feel encompasses the underlying issue being presented.

When it comes to shidduchim, both Hashgacha and bechira play essential roles. While it is undeniably true that there is unbelievable Hashgacha in every shidduch, we can also employ our bechira to cast aside Hashgacha. Shidduchim are no different from any other area of life, and ultimately, we are given the keys to make our own decisions. Just as Hashem can surreptitiously drop a shidduch in anyone’s lap, one can just as easily push it right back off.

Over the years, I have heard a recurring story, shared equally by active shadchanim and those who dabble. After hours and hours of working on ideas, finally, there is a “yes”. A yes from a fine family with a fine son or daughter. With great excitement, a call is made to the parents to inform them of the good news, and to ask that they look into the idea. Soon after, the shadchan receives a call, and is given a plangent “no”, accompanied by a confidently tendered elucidation akin to the following.

“Thank you so much for thinking of us! We looked into the family and they seem delightful, and the young man/woman seems to really be what our daughter/son is looking for. However, … before we say yes, they need to agree to an extra slate of genetic testing… our children have to live in our home town, and if they will not agree to that up front, we will say no… we will not allow our daughter/son to date anyone from that Yeshiva/seminary! … But, please keep trying, we really need you to get a date for us already.”

Of course, we must exercise proper hishtadlus, and just as we certainly cannot give a blind yes to a potential shidduch, we mustn’t ignore the candidly objectionable. It is only natural for parents to do everything in their power to protect their children, and in the same way that we guide our young children away from a hot stove, we also do our utmost to guide our grown sons and daughters when it comes to shidduchim.

However, at times, this can lead to our becoming unnecessarily demanding or overly sensitive with our decision-making, as we try to select what is best for our children and protect them from potential harm. When we begin to treat the existence of the most critical of factors with near insouciance, whilst giving precedence and deference to a panoply of virtually insipid worries or hakpados, that is when our decision-making process fast becomes counterproductive.

It is necessary to ask ourselves, “What is the reason or motivation that is leading me to pass on this shidduch? By saying no to this shidduch, am I being reasonable, or am I going overboard and possibly using my bechira to supersede Hashgacha?”

If one says “no” because they feel there is a genuine basis for demurral related to the family, or the single man/woman; or, if based on their research, one simply feels it’s not shayach, even though the family and their son or daughter are by all accounts wonderful people, that is one thing. But, if the family is fine, the young man or woman is fine, and it appears that the opportunity has legitimate potential, we owe it to ourselves to consider the suggestion earnestly and seriously before rejecting the prospect for what can best be described as token misgivings.

Utilizing this framework, as deeply as I can appreciate the sensitivity that many have when it comes to the topic at hand, it remains purely a matter of personal comfort, and for those who do not experience uneasiness in owning German-produced goods, that is up to them. One’s own practices are not absolute indicators of any given sensitivity, and as such, are unreliable when it comes to gauging those sensitives. Accordingly, it would be quite presumptuous to assume another’s feelings or sympathies toward the Holocaust based simply on the location where their automobile was assembled. Furthermore, as this is not a matter of halachic import, I do not believe it applicable to be appraised in terms of lenience or stringency.

Consequently, though the practice of refraining from purchasing German-manufactured automobiles is both readily understandable, and quite commonplace, I believe this concern falls far short of providing a reasonable or sensible foundation to pass on a shidduch. So much so, in fact, that even if the father of this fine young man was of European decent, and even if he drove his Germanic car solely out of appreciation for it’s mechanical prowess, I would maintain the stance that it would be no reason to discard the shidduch.

Such a matter does not appear to me to have any bearing on shidduchim, nor would it signify cause for any pause or concern with respect to the family, and thus offers no reason, using equitable and responsible bechira, to rebuff the suggestion. Especially so, given how outstanding this young man has been stated to be with regard to higher order considerations.

May the Yoideiah Yitzurav see that we are capable of recognizing the consequential and the trivial as differentiable, and that we succeed in asserting our bechira in a manner which is harmoniously synchronous to His Hashgacha.

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