Thursday, May 11, 2006

No Mention of Hishtadlut?
Some Comments on Shidduchim

A "older single," which could mean anyone over 22, has complied a list of 19 Segulot and presented them to the readership of the Yated. She has included an additional reminder that singles should continue to daven and have emunah and bitachon.

I was surprised (well, not really, this is the Yated) that after listing 19 segulot in a row (of which I question how many of these, if any, actually have a mesorah, but that is a subject for another time), there was not a single reminder about hishtadlut!!! Emunah, bitachon, and tefillah are important (I can't say the same for tefillot), but so is hishtadlut!

The list of segulot includes visiting holy places in Europe or the kotel, an endeavor that costs in terms of time and money, but there is no mention of picking up a phone or getting in your car to visit a city outside of your immediate metro area to make a connection.

And, let me tell you, there is no shortage of people who are line up for the next challah baked by a tehillim saying group of ladies, or singles ready to hold your jewelry during the chuppah (there is a shortage of jewelry though!), but there are a shortage of people who are willing to look beyond the resume/profile, be proactive, and make a phone call directly to the subject of interest. All of the segulot and tefillot in the world won't do much for you if you don't actually go on dates.

I have tried to arrange many a shidduch date and as of late, I can say that I have sadly lost a lot of drive and fire to work on shidduchim. I used to spend many hours on the phone, trying to help make connections and help arrange dates. But, as of late I have come to find the task frustrating.

Of course, there have been some easy going singles who are just a pleasure to set up. They hear about a potential date, trust my recommendation, and are more than eager and enthusiastic to make a phone call and take things from there. These friends make arranging dates pleasurable and satisfying.

But, then there are the rotten moments that can easily overshadowed the pleasurable moments. For example:
  • I presented a fantastic Ben Torah with a great professional career and the ability to support a family to a person looking for just that profile, but was told he was too short. There was no chance of these two people even talking on the phone, must less going on a date.
  • I gave a friend references for a young lady that might be appropriate for her sincere and kindhearted son who is learning at YU and has a Chareidi bent and would like to learn as long as possible, possibly in Lakewood. One of the Rabbis on the reference list actually yelled at my friend's husband for daring to suggest that their YU boy would be good enough for this girl who was looking to marry a learner. Never mind that the girl's yichus is flawed and nobody in the neighborhood is knocking down doors to land a date with this very sweet girl. Never mind that the boy is a real Ben Torah who is known for his middot, his devotion to learning, and his drive to learn Torah from all who teach it (that wasn't even discussed). Never mind being nice and polite and asking further questions. Just shoot the messenger and make the middleman (that would be me) feel terrible that the father received such abuse! There was no possibility that these two people would ever speak, even for a minute.
  • I suggested an idea of a shidduch and worked on most of the odds and ends for approximately three months, until both would be in the same country to meet. Both mothers were excited about the possibility, but the Rosh Yeshiva had to approve the match before the boy and girl went out on a date. Three months of work was halted after the Rosh Yeshiva said no. And, at that time, I didn't lack fire, so I called the Rosh Yeshiva and spoke to him (bold move for an unconnected woman). It was a rather painful experience as I was told that all I had were two names out of a phone book when both mothers were my friends and I'd put in hours and hours of work. In just minutes, the possibility of these two young people speaking was a lost possibility.
I wish that I could re-kindle the flame and get some of my enthusiasm and drive back, but I am a person who likes to complete tasks. I get a high from completing a professional project, and I get a high from completing a load of laundry. If I could manage to actually manage to get two people on the phone speaking to each other more often, I'd feel a sense of accomplishment and want to feel that sense of accomplishment again.

It is probably not fair that this letter struck such a bad chord with me. After all, the single lady only is seeking to provide a service to the readers of the Yated. But, providing a service is all that amateur shadchanim want to do too. Somehow a list of segulot touched a bad nerve with me, since I believe that more success could be met by actually making phone calls and going on dates than by eating the "zeroah from the ke'orah on Pesach" or by "opening the door by Shefoch Chamoscha at the Seder."

Looking forward to hearing comments from the readership. And, of course, lots of mazal to those who are "in the parsha."

Here is the text of the Letter to the Editor Below:


Dear Editor,
Thank you so much for your stimulating and insightful newspaper. As an older single, I am writing this letter to share with those in the same matzav some ideas that people have suggested to me as a segulah for finding oneƂ’s zivug.
1. Say Shir Hashirim for 40 days.
2. Say Perek Shirah.
3. Daven at the Kosel for 40 consecutive days.
4. Daven at Amuka (the kever of Yonason ben Uziel).
5. Visit mekomos hakedoshim in Europe.
6. Eat the zeroah from the ke'orah on Pesach.
7. Open the door by Shefoch Chamoscha at the Seder.
8. Drink from the kos shel bracha at a sheva brachos.
9. Organize 40 women to bake challahs and say specific kapitlach of Tehillim.
10. Daven at the kever of the Baal Shem of Michelshtodt.
11. Daven at the kever of Rav Aryeh Leib - the Plotzke Gaon, the Maharal Tzintz - and give money toward the publishing of his seforim.
12. Hold a kallah's jewelry at her chasunah during the chupah.
13. Say korbanos every morning during Shacharis.
14. Say the special tefillah every day from the Shela Hakadosh.
15. Daven early and say Tehillim Purim morning.
16. Learn Sefer Shemiras Halashon every day.
17. Have a 24-hour mishmeres on shemiras halashon.
18. Perform the mitzvah de'oraisa of Shiluach Hakan.
19. Give matanos la'evyonim to aniyim in Eretz Yisroel.
The list could go on and on.…
Yes, I am sure that all these things help and the right one will come at the right time iy'H. I would like to share one additional point: I strongly believe and I am sure that the best segulah is to have a lot of bitachon and emunah and to keep on davening to Hashem. And remember, kol hamispallel b'ad chaveiro onin lo techilah.

Name Withheld On Request
Monsey, N.Y


Ezzie said...

Ugh. These things make me shudder. I'm sure she's well-meaning, but I have to agree with you.

I've also noticed that we're less willing to try and set up some people as opposed to others. They're not worth the effort, and it makes me wonder how to tell the person we want to set them up with about them: "Oh, he/she is really difficult, but we convinced him/her!"

Anonymous said...

Good post SL. Way to go.

P.S. Amuka is a scam (see

Anonymous said...

"Visit mekomos hakedoshim in Europe."

What about 'mekomos hakedoshim' in Asia, Africa or elsewhere ?

kasamba said...

To all singles;
I have the best segulah of all.
Let me set you up.
You will not marry whoever I set you with . Oh no.
You will marry the next person who you go out with from another shadchan.

I am segulah woman.

Anonymous said...

I can't stand all of these setgulas!

All of a sudden, when someone says this or that is a segula, people seem to run to do it.

If Hashem really wanted us to keep the mitzvos perfectly, He should have given us 613 segulas :)

Orthonomics said...

I place most of these Segulot in the category of Black Magic Judaism. Some segulot have a mesorah that can be traced through the sources and is legit, and some segulot must have been dreamed up in someone's wild dream.

I'd like to be able to say that segulot are "harmless," but when they replace the appropriate balance between hishtadlut and relating to Hashem, I'd say that the segulot leave the realm of "harmless" and enter the realm of seriously "problematic."

Anyone know if there is a segulah that will put dinner on the table for Shabbat with no effort. I'm feeling pretty sick this morning and could use a list!!! :) :)

Anonymous said...

As an "older single" (25), i happen to think these segulos are stupid and find it frustrating that people are quicker to recommend segulos to try, then to recommend a shidduch.

Anonymous said...

Or how about the old school method of a guy meets a girl who he likes and asks her out? Thank G-d I travel in circles where that is still a possibility. My friends and I often joke about introducing that strange aspect into a dating relationship, where the two parties involved actually like each other. What a novel idea!

Anonymous said...

SL --

You are intelligent enough to ignore all the narishkeit that is printed in various publications, and to focus on what really matters.

Keep on doing whatever you can to help people in practical ways, and don't be discouraged by those who don't see straight or think for themselves, and instead insist on shooting themselves in the foot. You're doing a tremendous mitzva, and the frustration just makes the reward greater.

As far as those segulos ... unfortunately some people feel desperate and will grasp at anything to feel better. When we encounter people who are entranced by such stuff, we try to encourage them to keep things in perspective, and to keep focused on what they need to do (effort and prayer), and have faith that HaShem will help.

Anonymous said...

I hate segulas! This is becoming an overwhelming theme in Orthodoxy, I believe. Why try to do actual hishtadlut or mitzvot when I can do a segula or a chumra? Keeping chalav yisrael is a common one. It is definitely harder (depending on where you live and how bad your addiction to Ben & Jerry's is) and is a very nice thing to take on, but if you're making everyone crazy to accomodate your chumra and you're not working on your middot, what are you accomplishing? It is WAAAAY easier to say Shir Hashirim for 40 days and then complain that you are single, rather than accepting dates with people who may not seem so perfect on paper, but who could turn out to be your bashert. I think that a new movement should be started for the segulas to correlate with what you are trying to accomplish. For example, a segula to get married is to GO ON A DATE! And go on a second date (gasp!) even if you don't necessarily "feel a connection" or "just don't see it" after one date. Tefila and hishtadlut go together, but let's not start the mass exodus to visit random kevarot in Europe. Spend the time and money on dating--what a novel idea. Hashem answers prayers from your living room, too.

Shabbat Shalom.

Anonymous said...

Oy vey, that letter-writer really messed-up - they left out the chai-rotel mashkeh stupidity, especially now, right before lag baomer, with out being hawked so much.

They could pay for alcohol to get Hassidim drunk at Meron !

What is wrong with the Yated editor, that he didn't notice such a glaring and terrible omission ?

Oy vey, what is the world coming to, when someone can leave that off such a list.

FrumGirl said...

I think that it doesnt hurt to try.

Anonymous said...

What has happened to our faith if someone can have such a short list of segulos ? What about visiting the tomb of the false-messiah of our generation in Queens, NY ? Maybe we should compile a list of all the 'segulas' that were left out and SL can send it to the Yated. ;-)

Anonymous said...

Correction - "they left out the chai-rotel mashkeh stupidity, especially now, right before lag baomer, with out being hawked so much."

I meant to write "with it being hawked so much."

Anonymous said...

I once heard Rav Yaakov Moshe Hillel, shlit"a, who is quite a chacham, and a Sepharadi too (SL - are you familiar with him ? He has an excellent sefer, which was translated into English as 'Faith and folly', which warns against phony 'kabbalah' scams and stuff like that) say to someone (seems the fellow asked him for a 'segula') - why do you need a segula ? We are the am segula !
By the way he is a Kabbalist himself, but fights against misuse
of and phony 'Kabbalah'.

Hey, I just got an idea for another 'segula' for the writer - get a bracha from Madonna. ;-)

Anonymous said...

I would hestitate to knock anyone who believes in sgulos,regardless of whether there is a Mkor or Mesorah for a particular sgulah or the same is of recent vintage-which the Yated mentioned re Amukah a few years ago.

OTOH, one can make a very good case that a person has to work on the basics of Torah,Avodah and Gmilus Chasadim before he or she can enter a domain where their belief in sgulos even takes on any importance-even those sgulos that have documented benefits.

I also saw a sicha from R A Nevenzal in which he pointed out that one cannot and should not rely on the midah of bitachon when he or she should be using the midah of hishtadlus. In this regard, would not networking for shidduchim be one aspect of hishtadlus?One piece of very practical advice-if you are set up and go out on a few dates and the potential is there, but you "don't feel the connection", remember that the purpose of dating is to find a life partner with whom you are attracted to and conceive of yourself building a family with, not to "fall in love" ala Hollywood. Relationships have to be nurtured with lots of talking and discovering common values and realizing that sometimes you have to take a risk, even if you are not 100% certain of every issue.

Too many bachurim and post-sem young women seem to approach these issues from notes and tapes of their shiurim on these issues which they view as a SA of sorts, and which IMO can present stereotypes and generalities that don't tell them an awful lot about a person's midos. IMO, we need mentors for our young men and women on these issues before and during the dating process and to help them realize their full goals after the Sheva Brachos so that Shanah Rishonah isn't just a nice idea-but rather a lifetime emotional committment. A mentor can be a rav,educator, mental health professional or even a parent/spouse who has some insight into these issues.

Anonymous said...

I have set up a number of people, some of them successfully. Fortunately, in my velt, people don't go to the rabbi or rosh yeshiva to ask if a particular match is k'dai or not. If they trust the shadchan, they'll meet, at least.

My favorite story is of my first shidduch that I made. He was my roommate in Israel, she was my ex-girlfriend's best friend. He asks "what does she look like?" She says "what are his middot like?"

To both I responded: "You'll like him/her. It's a good match. Trust me."

They've been married for 15 years and have 4 kids, thank God.

Segulas? Feh.

Anonymous said...

One other issue. Chazal tell us that the making of a successful shidduch is "kashe kkriyas Yam Suf." That is not an exaggeration.

Anyone with children "in the parsha" will tell you that it is much easier for boys than girls. Bachurim have lists of eligible young women. Bachurim, via the shadchan, inititiate the process and can terminate if they do desire. Even after the shadchan is out of the picture, the young woman always waits for the guy to call them. ( I have heard that this is a Tzbnius based notion. I suspect that Chazal's notion that "ish darcho lkovesh vaino darcha shel isha lkovesh" may also be at play here too.)

The other issue is whether professional shadchanim or those who serve in that capacity are as helpful to both parties as a good friend who knows the parties and their parents.

Anonymous said...

Steve Brizel said: IMO, we need mentors for our young men and women on these issues before and during the dating process ... A mentor can be a rav,educator, mental health professional or even a parent/spouse who has some insight into these issues. (emphasis added)

Parents?? What do parents know? What kind of apikorsus is this? Is it still permitted to actually seek the advice of parents, when we are blessed with Daas Torah, in the form of roshei yeshiva etc. who determine the proper approach to dating and marriage and all the rest of life's challenges?

Steve, you're getting pretty risque with this one.

Anonymous said...

tzvinoach -

Steve is a guy who likes to push the envelope sometimes. Maybe the free-wheeling atmosphere online has gotten to him, leading to such radical suggestions on his part. It was not for naught that gedoilim banned the internet. ;-)

Anonymous said...

I assume that hishtadlus and going on many dates (especially those that may not have been fully vetted by all parties and their respective rosh yeshiva/rav/rebbe) would be discouraged since there may be a certain stigma to a younger boy and especially girl if he/she has gone out too much. If no one else wanted him/her then there must be something wrong. But then again these problems are not the issues of my more MO world, so I could be wrong in my sociological analysis.

Orthonomics said...

Wow! The comments really rolled in on this post.

Great comments from many. Steve Brizel makes some very good points about consulting your parents and about not treated your notes like a mini shulchan aruch.

Maybe we need yet another shidduchim post about good signs and bad signs to watch for! I would hope I have something to add, since I believe I hit the jackpot with my husband, who was passed over by oh so many girls within minutes of meeting.

We definitely need to be teaching young people about how to crack the tough outer shell and get to the center where the real character traits lie.

And, as far as I am concerned, parents should be the first point of reference (risky, I know!).

Orthonomics said...

I once heard Rav Yaakov Moshe Hillel, shlit"a, who is quite a chacham, and a Sepharadi too (SL - are you familiar with him ? . . .

Anon-I am not personally connected to Rav Yaakov Moshe Hillel, but he is my friend's husband's Rav and he is the real deal apparantely. He is extremely sensitive to the realities of the "real world" and gives extremely pointed and wise advice for the here and now. I have definitely been impressed by what is his psak.

Anonymous said...

In all seriousness, I don't think that I said anything of a radical or of a nature that could be remotely considered "pushing the envelope". Look at it this way-Agudah has a program of lay mentors for teens at risk-you need not be a rav or rebbe-just a person who can show some empathy for someone. We also have a nice number of frum mental health professionals of both genders who can be of enormous assistance to those in the parsha and or their parents.Any Posek who deals with these issues should be able to realize that some of the issues and cases that we have been discussing may be beyond his scope even after discussing the details and may require consulting a mental health professional.

Parents have to realize that one of their main responsibilities for children from their first days on earth to beyond the chupah and even shepping nachas from "eineklach" is to maintain a relationship where a kid will free discussing any issue with you and respect you both as a parent and a Torah role model-even if a parent has less Torah knowledge than a rav, rebbe, or moreh.

A rebbe can see how a talmid participates in a shiur-whether he takes it seriously, how he interacts with other talmidim BUT unless the rebbe sees how the talmid behaves during Bein Hazmanim,the rebbe may not see how the talmid interacts with his family. Take a look at R Nevenazal in this regard-he suggests that Bein Hazmanim is a time to excell in chesed,especially pre Pesach-as opposed to loafing around the house.

Anonymous said...

While we are discussing sgulos, it is important to remember a comment that RAL quoted from R Y Hutner ZTL-someone who doesn't believe in the emes of any Chasidishe stories is an apikores. However, someone who believes that they are all true is an am haaretz. Perhaps, the same observation applies to sgulos .

Anonymous said...


I believe that quote was originally used regarding midrashim, and was later co-opted to Chasidic tales.

Anonymous said...

Jdub-I heard the quote re Chasidic tales but it would certainly be a Kal vachomer uben kal vachomer-from Midrashim/Aggados to Sippurei Chasidim. The argument is equally applicable.

Anonymous said...

So sad...makes me happy that I found my wife without a shadchan (met her at my friend's pesach seder in Har Nof) and she was the first and only girl I dated. THAT my friends is a miracle.

Anonymous said...

Believe it or not, my wife and I met on Manhattan's UWS back in the late 70s( I know that I dating myself!) without a shadchan. When we tell our kids and friend the story about how we met, they look at us as if we came from another world.

Anonymous said...

I was very lucky. I found my wife shortly after becoming a BT. Funny, we dated in much like the normal American style-- no shadchan, etc.

In the ten years since, I became religious, I have gotten to know many long term singles. It seems to me that many of them have their image of who they want to marry, and will not accept a real mate who does not live up to the image of their fictional mate they have come up with. You know the people with the lists of requirements as long as your arm, etc.

I'm not saying that all or even most singles are like that, but there are certainly some.

Orthonomics said...

Interesting to hear the conversation about how different posters met their spouses.

We met through a non-professional shadchanit and friend. But, both of us had pursued nearly ever route to find a spouse, including the internet, events, meeting "naturally," etc.

I highly encourage singles who are not meeting success in their chosen method of dating to pursue other methods.

One friend of mine was having no luck getting dates (not by her own pickiness) and her parents really didn't want her to try the internet, but she thought it would be a good idea. They agreed to let the family Rav/Rosh Yeshiva "decide," and she met her husband soon after on Frumster.

Esther said...

SephardiLady, I have always admired how much effort you put into actually helping singles in a practical way. It is so frustrating when the people in the middle are preventing the boy and girl from actually meeting when it could be their beshert. And it's especially frustrating when, as you said, it's someone who is not having an easy time and you may really know the right match. I knew a girl who had a "difficult" personality and was dating a guy who atcually wanted to marry her, but her parents intervened so much to break them up that the guy finally gave up. Yet they will probably now complain that their daughter isn't married! I hope you will be able to continue your efforts and have success as you are particularly sensitive to singles and have a good sense of what is really important in making a match.

cool yiddishe mama said...

As I said in my intro on my blog, cool yiddishe mama, I was lucky to meet my husband before I even was thinking about becoming frum. However, we were set up by one of girlfriends, who is also cool yiddish papa's cousin.

I have a (brief!) antedote that illustrates this type of thinking that segulot can bring us to if we take them too seriously. At our bridal shower, someone noticed that we have not broken any ribbons on the packages. Apparently, you are to have one child for every ribbon that breaks on the gifts from the shower. Immediately, I picked up a ribbon, broke it in half and said, "Well, if I knew that was all it takes, then I won't have to worry about sex." (We weren't planning on kids right away.)

The point to my story...I totally agree with sephardi lady. Belief in a segula can only get you so far; the rest of the job is up to the work you are willing to do.

queeniesmom said...

Shavoah Tov!

Great post! The sad part is that this person is for real and is being encouraged in this craziness.

Maybe if we went back to "normalization" of interaction between the sexes we wouldn't have this craziness. There is no interaction between the groups, virtually no interaction betweeen the two and then everyone wonders why we have this crisis.

If we educate our children with the correct midot and the scools also reinforce these midot, what is everyone so afraid of. Surely, the parents and schools should trust that they have done a good job and have set the right tone. Contrary to what the press says - not all teenagers in public HS are jumping in bed with each other. The home values tell in public school, so why should our yeshivot and homes be any different?!

Once again, it is easier to hand over all control than to think for yourself. If so and so says you can't go out then you don't have to think for yourself and maybe take a risk. We are raising a generation of sheep that can't think for themselves and are showing blind obedience to ....(fill in the blank). Suddenly, questioning is forbidden and fundementalism is great.

At this rate I'll never be able to admit how we met (an ad), lest I mess up queenie's chances to marry. What a sad world we're creating.

Happy Mother's Day to all.

Anonymous said...

Hi, Sephardi Lady, that is a great post. Would I have your permission to extract some of it to give the Shadchan's point of view in Kallah Magazine? Please get back to me soon because as previous post said, I am running behind my ideal deadline for the Shavuous/summer issue.

Orthonomics said...

Of course we already emailed each other, but it is my pleasure to give you a hand and I look forward to seeing the finished product.

Charlie Hall said...

'they look at us as if we came from another world. '

I've met frum Jews whose frum parents met at mixed dances that used to be held in the basement in Orthodox shuls. I've also met frum couples who met in their co-ed Modern Orthodox high school classes -- one couple told me that their high school class produced five marriages!

I met my wife on She contacted me. It took us five weeks to meet in person (we lived in different cities, and a bunch of yomim tovim intervened timewise), during which time we talked or emailed just about every day. We were engaged less than three weeks after our first face to face meeting, and have been married for over a year. now claimes over 300 matches; I recommend them without reservation.

Anonymous said...

All is not lost...

My daughter actually met her Choson without being fixed up! It was Yom Yerushalayim last year. She had been fixed up on dates for almost a year and none went past one or two dates.

A friend of her's at school had suggested her brother, but thought he wasn't quite ready for marriage.

My daughter was hanging out in the Old City with some friends. One of the friends walked up to this total stranger who was playing Frisbee with a friend and said to him, "would you like to meet your zevug". He said that he's not looking right now, but would like to meet her for future reference.

So, being somewhat of a character, this guy says to my daughter, "so you want to marry me?". She asks, "when?". He says, "I don't know, 2 weeks". She says, "how about 6?".

Then they start talking and after a few minutes they realize that he's the brother of her friend from school!

They got married 8 months later.

Orthonomics said...

Menachem-What a nice story your daughter has. Mazal tov.

Sarah Likes Green said...

great post.

i agree with you, all the segulos in the world aren't going to help if you don't agree to meet people! (but if it's a simple one and isn't going to cost you anything, like a sip of wine or a bit of challah at a wedding, then there's no reason why not!)

It's really hard though, both setting up and dating can be stressful and be disenchanting. it's hard to stay positive. but, as a single person, i try my best and give appropriate suggestions a chance and keep hoping for the best.

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Orthonomics said...

Anon 4:40PM. I am deleting your comment because it is not at all in the spirit of this blog. Marriage is a sacred institution.

Anonymous said...

Check it out...

NafNaf said...

as a single person who's pretty much ancient by frum standards (25) I'm getting a little scared about the fact that I'm not married... but I'm not panicking. I've gotten brachos from more Rebbies that you could count on your hands and toes that I would find my zivug, but I'd trade all of them for a frum world that didn't make getting married so difficult by putting all sorts of stumbling blocks in our paths