A shadchan thinks of a shidduch and suggests the idea to both sides. The boy’s side calls the references and gets very good information. The girl’s parents contact the boy’s references and they are pleased with what they hear. After several phone calls, the boy discovers that one of his relatives knows the girl and her family. The boy asks that relative for information. The relative thinks for a moment and says, “I just don’t see it. I don’t see it happening.”
The shadchan may also know both sides, but this relative knows the boy better. Should they go out?
Before sharing any thoughts on the inquiry, and in order to prevent the matter from becoming overly complicated, I would like to note that while the scenario presented is one where both sides are already looking into this shidduch, nonetheless, what is to follow assumes that there has not yet been an official yes tendered by the young man’s side. In other words, it is not a question of reneging on a commitment one has already made, but merely whether or not to say yes to the suggested shidduch, given this unexpected turn of events. That said, it appears to me that there are two questions contained within the narrative provided.
A.) In a general sense, should one give more weight to the opinion of the shadchan, or that of a relative?
B.) In this specific case, how should one react to a relative who is apathetic towards a shidduch suggestion?
With respect to the former, I believe the matter lies squarely in the realm of the subjective, and ultimately, one must aggregate all the information and hadracha at their disposal, and then decide what feels right for them. The fact that the young man’s relative may know him better, overall, than the shadchan does, should not alone be the preeminent deciding factor. And similarly, the fact that the shadchan may be more familiar with both daters, specifically within the area of shidduchim, is not the be-all and end-all. Rather, these are both important factors to reflect upon, along with everything else that has been gathered from phone calls made to other references.
Whenever a shidduch is redd, there will inevitably be reasons to say yes and reasons to say no. It is rarely wholly cut-and-dry, and typically, there is no single and independent data point that makes it plainly obvious which path to follow. In the end, it is always a judgement call, and one must do their utmost to look at the expanse of the picture, and then determine what course of action appears apropos.
As far as the latter question, I do not think I can be emphatic enough in stating that I would consider the phrase “I just don’t see it” to be downright vapid, utterly useless, and even gravely dangerous. It is a declaration that is devoid of materiality and meaning, and I am hard pressed to conceive of a situation wherein I would not simply discard such feedback without even giving it a second thought. Indeed, whenever I am personally asked about a shidduch, and find myself on the verge of verbalizing such an expression, it is my practice to apologize, say that I am not able in this instance to offer a response worthy of attention one way or the other, and suggest that the person continue contacting others who may have greater insight.
To elaborate, although these words may be seemingly innocuous to the one who emits them, in the mind of someone who stands at the precipice of saying yes or no to a shidduch, hearing those words immediately plants a negative seed, and they have unfortunately left countless promising shidduchim dead in the water. Blurting out an unqualified statement of “I don’t see it,” even if one truly does not see the shidduch, is a hollow exclamation that commonly carries copious consequences.
Now, this is not to say that every time one is asked about a shidduch, the response must be, “Yes, fantastic idea! Get married right away!” Of course, if someone has an actual concern about a shidduch – one with structure, that can be lucidly articulated, and that is halachically acceptable to share – that is perfectly fine. However, just because any one person does not happen to see the idea does not mean that he or she must share that tidbit. It is exceedingly difficult in most cases to “see” a man and woman living together harmoniously as husband and wife, and conjecturing about which singles are truly best for each other is a capricious endeavor at best. We are all but emissaries for Hashem; He is the true mezaveig zivugim.
To wit, I would wager that we all surely know of many happily married couples about whom we would have seriously doubted their ability to coexist had we been asked for our thoughts before they started dating. Moreover, I am also quite certain that if we took a survey of many happily married couples and asked them if, looking back at themselves as dating individuals, they could honestly “see” a shidduch between them, the first thought of some might be, “No, I wouldn’t have seen it.” And yet, they maintain beautiful marriages. Seeing or not seeing a shidduch is essentially irrelevant.
And lastly, for those on the receiving end, whether it be an acquaintance at the grocery store, one’s tenth-grade sibling who only peripherally knows the person who was redd to their older brother or sister, or even one’s best friend in the world, when the nebulous words “I just don’t see it” arise, please do not let them be the guide to saying yes or no. Set them aside with the understanding that they are almost entirely empty in the scope of deciding whom one will marry. Instead, respectfully ask for an elaboration. And if a comprehensible explanation is not forthcoming, turn your focus back towards the research that produced particulars of import, and let that lead the way. Shidduch decisions are best made based on real information, real knowledge, and counsel that contains real substance.
May the Tomech Temimav grant strength and good sense to those who speak and those who listen, and may our collective communications serve always to unify and uplift.