I’ve been married for ten years. My friend at work, who was single for a long time, recently got married. We are always trying to set up our friends and we noticed that people very often say no to the ideas we mention to them, giving very superficial reasons for doing so. Do you, as shadchanim and people in the world of shidduchim, find that people today are more materialistic and shallow (focusing on looks, where the family stands in the community, etc.) and not focusing on middos, or are people smarter and more cautious (focusing on mental health issues, frumkeit, etc.)?
As casting a wide and unqualified net would seem unfair to me in this regard, I would prefer to say that both realities exist in healthy doses. Whether or not this represents a significant increase on either side of the equation, as compared to previous generations, is beyond the scope of my knowledge; and while many bemoan how we are progressing steadily in the wrong direction in this realm, I have certainly read stories from centuries ago that would indicate a lack of proper focus in shidduchim is far from a new malady. It is simply another avenue for the yeitzer hara to ensnare us, and as human beings, it is inevitable that some will sadly fall prey.
Consequently, to those who are rightly circumspect and have limited their primary considerations to matters of substance, yaasher kochachem. To those who have veered from the derech hayashar, let this column be a reminder and a tool of chizuk to implement in order to reprioritize. Indeed, doing so will not only most likely enhance the dating experience, it will also go a long way towards establishing a healthy, happy, and enduring marriage and home. And to those who have redd a great many shidduchim to family and friends, only to be rebuffed with refusals based on the thinnest of explanations, I would like to offer four brief points to ponder.
First, it is our duty to be involved in shidduchim to the capacity we are able, and while indignation and frustration might appear to be excellent reasons to excuse oneself and bow out of the arena, that too, is merely the atzas hayeitzer. We must continue our efforts, either by making the suggestions ourselves, or by way of dispatching them to professional shadchanim to manage and oversee, irrespective of how past suggestions have been received. If one finds that they have an opening to provide constructive critique, or can nudge someone in the direction of a mentor who can convey the message, that opportunity should also be taken advantage of. And if one is unable to do so in a manner that will be well received, they can simply keep on making the suggestions and hope for the best.
Second, it must also be noted that when a single man or woman reports back with a “no,” it is not entirely uncommon for the principal cause for taking a pass to remain unspoken. After looking into a shidduch, one may find information which they feel is not their business to share, and thus offer an alternative explanation to the shadchan, despite the awareness that this secondary rationalization lacks teeth. True, there are means to communicate indifference without casting oneself in a potentially negative light, but we still must refrain from making definitive assumptions about another’s priorities without knowing the full scope of their motivations.
Third, there are some for whom that which would otherwise be typically deemed a shallow apprehension, is not superficial at all. Whatever the reason may be, after talking through the issue with a rav or mentor, it might be determined that their particular needs in fact justify this preference, and they may not feel terribly inclined to go into the detailing of that need with each and every person who redds them a shidduch. And fourth, that which seems like an exemplary idea in the mind of the one who conceived it, may not be all that exceptional. None of us are infallible, and all of us are biased when it comes to our own notions; and that being the case, any rebuttal may sound flimsy as a result of one’s own predispositions.
All said, it will always remain the responsibility of daters to date from a place of solid ground and reason, and it will always remain the responsibility of the klal to proffer shidduchim whenever we are able. Mah rabu maasecha Hashem, kulam b’chochmah asisa. May we all be zocheh to latch onto that wisdom in all areas of our lives.