When I embarked on shidduchim with my daughter two years ago, I sought to understand the correct “mehalech.” My husband spoke to gedolim such as Rav Chaim Kanievsky, Rav Mordechai Brim, Rav Michel Stern and others, and each one told us the same thing, namely, that bas ploni l’ploni, meaning that her zivug is already prepared and the ultimate hishtadlus is to daven and daven to find him easily and to meet just a few shadchanim. I’ve read seforim and emunah books until it seeped into my bones that I’m merely a puppet and Hashem orchestrates it all from A to Z at the right time.
For the most part, when someone throws a boy’s name my way,I tell them to go to the other side first. Sometimes, when the person suggesting it knows me and the boy well, and it’s easy for me to do a little initial info with a couple of phone calls, I will gladly do so.I understand that it’s overwhelming for the mothers of boys.
My dilemma: I have a sister-in-law who has made around 45 shidduchim (only 2 or 3 in the last several years; she claims no one listens to her anymore). She is constantly telling my husband and me that our approach is totally wrong.She is always rebuking us for not giving a yes first, and she feels that I should get a hold of a list of good boys and seek them out first. She went as far as to say that it’s “the only method.”
I try telling her that:
a) I do sometimes do that (but it never helps).
b) It’s not the way of the world. It’s the girls’ privilege to get a yes first and be spared the rejections.
c) It’s above my level of hishtadlus according to the emunah I try to maintain.
My question is: Who is correct? My dear sister-in-law (who really means well and will be reading this) or my husband and me?
On the one hand, Chazal teach us that Yosef Hatzadik was held liable for placing a modicum of confidence in the hands of Pharaoh’s cupbearer, and as a consequence, an act which would appear to land squarely within the realm of viable hishtadlus cost Yosef Hatzadik two additional years in prison (Rashi to Beraishis, 40:23). And yet, on the other hand, in thwarting Adoniya’s attempt to usurp the future throne from Shlomo Hamelech, Nosson HaNavi instructed Batsheva to speak with her husband and call to the fore Dovid Hamelech’s own prior assurance of succession, making no mention of the infinitely more powerful oath that HaKadosh Boruch Hu had already made to that identical effect. In understanding that which may seem, on the surface, to be a glaring strategic misstep and lack of emunah by giving precedence to the pledge of a mortal being over the word of G-d Himself, the Abarbanel explains that even in the presence of a Divine promise, human involvement remains firmly requisite. The Creator’s guarantee would provide them poise in the achievement of their shared intended outcome, but it in no way absolved them from exerting every possible effort to bring into reality that desired and predestined conclusion (see Artscroll commentary to Melachim I, 1:13).
All told, striking the exact balance between bitachon in the Hashgacha of the Daas Elyon, and exercising normative and responsible hishtadlus, is perhaps one of the greatest challenges which confronts the human experience. Hashem expects us to place the entirety of our conviction in Him alone, and at the same time, despite the fact that it is always and only His ratzon, and never our own actions, which produce results, He charges us with the task of being active participants in His predetermined plan. Moreover, the precisely prescribed synthesis of these two mediums varies from person to person, very much based on their individual measure of spiritual achievement and kirvas haBorei. And far be it from me to assert any degree of knowledge, definitive or otherwise, with respect to unlocking these eternal mysteries.
What I can say, however, merely as an anecdotal observation, is that when it comes to shidduchim, there is no one surefire route to unearthing one’s zivug. Some rely heavily on shadchanim, and others focus primarily on the ideas of friends and family. Some register with many online databases, and others attend all manner of events across the country. Some compile comprehensive lists of names and doggedly seek out their targets, and others lie in wait for names to be presented. Some vacillate from one vehicle to another when prospects seem gloomy, and others remain steadfast to their avenue of choice. And of course, everyone pours their heart out to Hashem Yisborach. Having had the opportunity to witness northwards of a thousand single men and women traverse the roads of shidduchim, if there is any unassailable and consistent truth which I have found, it is that nothing works for everyone. Whatever instrument is leveraged, there are some who walk to the chupah in the blink of an eye, and others for whom the journey is profoundly arduous.
Accordingly, I would be hard pressed to adjudicate in any difference of opinion within the arena of “right” and “wrong” attitudes towards any one person’s hishtadlus. The only thought I feel I could express, and even this is with great trepidation, is as follows. Provided one is genuinely and earnestly putting what they believe to be their best foot forward in terms of hishtadlus, and provided that one’s means of hishtadlus are normative and responsible, each and every Yid has the right to hope and trust that their path of preference will seamlessly dovetail with the designs of the One Above.
May the Manhig Olamo B’chochmah Niflah accept all of our efforts, all of our tefilos, and all of our devotion to Him, and may He bring each of us the yeshuous we so dearly yearn for.