Perhaps the panelists can give some chizuk to those with disabilities. Many in our community feel discouraged due to being different themselves or having a sibling who is “different.” Do you have any tips in navigating a world that can sometimes be judgmental to those who are not the same as most other people?
A few months ago I found myself speaking with a prominent rov regarding the klal ailment that is shidduch pictures, and he remarked to me that he believes this malady is simply symptomatic of the frum world’s greater current and acute penchant for mindlessly swimming in superficiality. Rather than looking inward, we regularly find ourselves looking outward.
Towering houses situated on sprawling estates, luxurious automobiles, decadent simchos, external appearances, myriad other hollow trappings, and, of course, fitting within the ever increasingly narrow definition of “normal.” These comparatively meaningless hallmarks have very much become our benchmarks, and all those deemed to be stationed outside the lines are left to pay the price of the outcast. And to be honest, I am not particularly convinced that those who are only able to derive joy from their material belongings and attributes are all that happy either when it comes to a true and lasting simchas hachaim. To be clear, there is nothing inherently wrong with being wealthy, owning fabulous possessions, or being physically picturesque. However, when satiating those frangible features becomes our raison d’être, supplanting our focus from much more profound and integral qualities – such as middos tovos, inner beauty, compatibility as husband and wife, and dedication to the precepts of yiddishkeit – that is when we have failed as Torah Jews.
That said, in terms of practical tips, I cannot say that I have anything unique or novel to offer other than reminding ourselves that HaKadosh Boruch Hu oversees and runs the world and everything that takes place in our lives. Indeed, the Chofetz Chaim writes in the Shem Olam (1:3) that Hashem alone ordains a person’s sustenance, and disburses it through various emissaries in our lower world. Thus, if one is refused a request from someone else, it is to be understood that the declining party had not been selected as G-d’s agent in that circumstance. Whether that person will held liable in Shamayim for their repudiation is not our concern. All we need to know is that whatever we are destined to have will be provided by our Creator when He deems it to be, and through the instrument He dispatches to meet that need. Furthermore, the Chofetz Chaim notes that insofar as Hashem’s ratzon is to bestow good, His kindness is exponentially directed towards the downtrodden and deprived, as doing so is representative of a remarkably considerable measure of goodness.
Accordingly, when it comes to shidduchim, irrespective of how shameful and exclusionary a portion of the collective public behaves towards those designated as “different,” ultimately, nothing can stand in the way of the shidduch which Hashem has set aside for each and every one of us. And this is especially the case for those who are underrepresented when it comes to receiving ample, or even adequate, attention and appreciation.
May the Norah Tehilos grant strength and salvation to all those who have been unfairly underserved, and lift them up to ever loftier and exultant heights.