Hi. I look forward to read your column in the Yated each week. It’s very interesting and has been helpful to me with my dating difficulties.
I’m an older single girl in my low thirties facing the hardship of being single for a number of years. Plus, I was previously engaged just about five years ago, which makes it even more difficult.
As it comes to this time of the year – Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur – it’s even more painful knowing that another year went by and here I am still single, leaving me to wonder when my basherte will come around. When will that right time come?
Is there anything I can do to hasten the arrival of my basherte? Am I not doing enough hishdatlus?
I would appreciate some kind words of chizuk and advice from the panelists, not only for myself, but for all other singles who are in the same shoes as I am.
First and foremost, thank you for your kind words of gratitude towards this column and its panelists. It is always heartwarming to hear that value and substance is found in the reflections and locutions proffered in this space.
As far as when your basherte will come, unfortunately, I cannot in good faith answer that question, and as far as whether or not there is more for you to do, I cannot confidently say one way or the other without knowing what it is that you are doing. What I can perhaps offer, however, is an appreciation for the feelings of loneliness that are often intensified for some at this time of year; an extension of my concern for you and the difficulty of the circumstance with which you and so many others have been faced; and an attempt at sharing some thoughts on the topic of chizuk.
When it comes to chizuk, if there is one universality I have learned over the time I have been privileged to converse with and work alongside single men and women of all ages, it is that there is no guaranteed presupposition which fosters true chizuk, and that there is no solitary sentiment, or collection of concepts, which I have observed to be accepted as universally inspiring. That which resonates for some is considered trite by others, and that which is uplifting to some is perceived as pie-in-the-sky to yet others.
And so, before commencing with any personal thoughts on the topic of chizuk, I would like to make it clear that I do not assume any kind of comprehensive solace or enrichment will be derived from that which I may choose to submit. Incidentally, and by my estimation, what is perhaps most significant about gathering such a vast array of personalities in this forum is that as opposed to rolling out a repetition of hollow platitudes, it provides and presents plentiful positions and opinions on each point worth pondering, thus supplying an opportunity for each reader to discover something which has the potential to meaningfully move their heart, soul, and mind.
That said, what I would like to do is touch upon a few different ideas – most of which have been culled from an address given a couple of years ago by Rabbi Moshe Hauer – with designs of advancing a theme of balance in state-of-mind, purpose, and direction, and with a tefilah that they offer some level of comfort to at least a portion of those inclined to sift through them.
To begin with, and as is stated explicitly by the Ramban in his pirush on the maaseh of bas-Yiftach, the value of any and every person in Klal Yisroel far exceeds that of their capacity for marriage and building a family. It is certainly an immeasurably important aspiration, and an unquestionably crucial goal – and even a mitzvas aseh for men – but it is not the be-all or end-all of life. There is much to be done outside the scope of matrimony.
The ultimate ambition of each Jewish person must be to serve HaKadosh Boruch Hu and bring honor to His Name, and as there are infinite means for each individual to do so, it would be impossible to render the state of being single as an objective failure or unmitigated tragedy of any sort. Similarly, no one should be led to regard being married as the culmination of their toil on earth, or as an allowance to deem all that which is to follow an entirely secondary pursuit. It is but one of many arenas within which we can serve our Creator. There is no one item which reigns above all else in avodas Hashem.
This reality notwithstanding, I believe it equally integral for each person to ensure that their justifiably momentous feats in life, those which lie outside the realm of marriage, do not temper their desire, hishtadlus, or emunah with respect to marrying and building a family. One must continue to apply appropriate effort, and preserve a steadfast bitachon that their shidduch will arrive, regardless of the magnitude of any other achievements which have been reached.
And if we were to seek a paradigm which exemplifies this equilibrium, we need not look any further than Avraham Aveinu.
Though his accomplishments in service of the Borei Olam are infinitely beyond what any of us could possibly even begin to grasp, and despite the many havtochos that Hashem bestowed upon him, until the birth of Yitzchok, the constant refrain of Avraham Aveinu’s bakashos revolved around his longing and mission for progeny who could, and would, perpetuate both his legacy and that of the Jewish nation. What we then see in Avraham Aveinu, amidst the illimitable lessons that are to be gleaned from him, is his complete mastery in the area of remaining positive and hopeful, and growing boundlessly in avodas Hashem, all while never losing sight of that which he yearned for most.
Accordingly, and what then emanates as the resultant focal point, is an understanding that continually being aware of and acknowledging our many triumphs in this world, and striving to attain whatever hopes and dreams that we lack in life, can, and must, coexist side-by-side – rather than detracting from each other. And when properly proportioned with sechel hayashar, not only can these elements occur concurrently, one can indeed augment and enhance the other.
Lastly, and as a corollary to the overall matter of balance, I would like direct a bit of a written peroration towards those of us who are not yet, or no longer, residing in the parsha of shidduchim, and one which I believe to be inestimably vital. Namely, that we exert a superior degree of care when speaking to single men and women, as our words often carry far more weight than we realize, and go far deeper than they may appear to on the surface.
Well intentioned as we may be, phrases such “Soon by you,” and “Have you tried davening harder/for someone else/with more kavana?” – along with many others in the cannon of seemingly innocuous utterances – tend to land rather discordantly, and sometimes even imply a measure of unintended condescension. This is not to say that we must always be walking on eggshells in our conversations with those in shidduchim, but that we should be acutely cognizant of that which is tacitly conveyed, and that we should measure our words before they exit our mouths – a practice which really ought to be employed in all areas of our dialogue.
Furthermore, as fundamentally essential as I feel it is for those who are single to remain conscious of their accomplishments, I would posit that it is even more imperative for us all to do the same. We must applaud the immense talents that the single men and women of Klal Yisroel have cultivated within themselves, and give them their proper and deserved recognition. Instead of asking a single man or woman to babysit, or to simply volunteer for a chessed organization, we can ask them to head a committee, or take on an administrative role, for that very same chessed organization. Being unmarried is no mark of general ineptitude whatsoever.
Our yet-to-be-married should be treated neither as a shadow population, nor as one upon which we heap unwanted and patronizing attention. On the contrary, when interacting with our single men and women, we should endeavor to successfully strike that delicate balance of earnestly conferring consideration and compassion, while also retaining the exact same conduct, comportment, and composition of normalcy that we afford those who are not confronted with the challenges that accompany a sustained duration of singlehood. It is both the least and the most that we can do.
May the Shomeya Tefilos Yisroel answer us all with ahava and rachamim during these Yimei Ratzon, and may He be yimaleh kol mishaalos lebeinu l’tova, b’shana zu, ub’chol shana v’shana, ad biyas goel tzedek, bimihayrah biyamenu.