I’m a 20-year-old bochur with an older sister in shidduchim. Recently, one of my friends who learns in BMG shared the name of a bochur he thought might work for my family. Upon telling my father the suggestion, he told me that they had looked into it a while ago and for whatever reason they had nixed it. My question is: Should I be pushing, how should I be pushing, and when should I be pushing a shidduch?
On the one hand, many beautiful Jewish homes have indeed been built on the foundation of shidduchim that floundered the first time the proposal came around, only to be reinvigorated and restored later on down the road. The duration of the hiatus might only be mere months, or it may take many years before the two daters and their families see the true value contained within the opportunity at hand. For some, the impetus to revisit the prospect is self-propelled, and for others, it is only after friends, family, and shadchanim collectively advocate, cajole, beg, pressure, and plead for the shidduch to be greenlit.
On the other hand, many vetoed ideas are declined for good reason. At times, the explanation behind the dismissal can be lucidly articulated, and at other times, it is just a gut feeling that the pairing is not optimal. Furthermore, even if a shidduch seems plainly outstanding in every way, when the person who has to go out on the date does not see it that way, we must learn to respect their decisions. Hashem Yisborach empowers each of us with full bechirah, and allows us to determine exactly how we conduct ourselves and what courses of action we take throughout our myriad life journeys, even when our deeds do not meet with His infinite and objectively correct Will. All the more so, as inherently limited beings, with finite ability to comprehend anything at all, we really have no clue as to who is meant to marry whom. Thus, when a single man or woman vilipends a recommendation and is firm in their position of who they do or do not want to date, it is incumbent upon us to afford them that space and freedom of choice.
Consequently, a delicate balance must carefully and compassionately be struck when one feels inclined to push an erstwhile shelved shidduchsuggestion. It is an unassailable fact that daters and parents tend to get mired in minutiae and commonly end up with tunnel vision, propping up one particular data point at the expense of otherwise wonderful candidates. Accordingly, it is often necessary for someone with outside perspective to needle, persuade, and campaign so that a shidduch takes off. It may cause some discomfort in the interim, but the risk is often worth the reward. The proffer should neither be too hard nor too soft; it should be presented subjectively, as nothing more than one’s own opinion; and ideally, an opening, even a small one, should be created before one launches into a laundry list of why their idea is rock solid. For example, one might say, “I know we have discussed this already, but I really think it deserves some additional attention and consideration. Do you mind if we talk about Ploni/s for a moment, and maybe look into that option again?”
However, after the pitch has been made, one must know when to pull back and retreat. The signs may be overt, such as the force of the rejoinder and how quickly and unequivocally it is volleyed back, or they may be covert, such as a fleeting facial expression or a tear drop in the corner of the eye that tells of deep underlying emotion tenuously being restrained. Whatever the case may be, once an appropriate degree of pressure has been exerted (which will vary in strength based both on the emotional state and general nature of the recipient, and the specifics of the relationship between the “nudger” and “nudgee”), one’s job is to then let the dater take the lead. If they engage in the conversation and are willing to reevaluate, that is the indicator needed to keep going, and that is when one should begin gently enumerating the potential winning aspects of the shidduch. But, if there is a clear sense that now is not the most propitious of moments, one is then obliged to acknowledgeappreciation of the resolution that has been made, and let things simmer for a while – most likely months, not days or weeks – before making another attempt.
May the Seichel Hane’elam Mikol Raiyon grace and illuminate us with sparks from His boundless wisdom and understanding, and may we, in turn, astutely utilize that knowledge with derech eretz, dignity, and sensitivity.