The Mummy Market, Shidduchim, and Elu
By M’nucha Bialik – shidduch coach
There is a charming out-of-print book, written before I was born (so it’s definitely ancient ), called The Mummy Market. (You can buy it now on Amazon for $499.58 – seriously!) It’s a story about three children who live with an efficient and orderly, but unloving, housekeeper. One day they decided that they had had enough and wished to find a mother of their own. A neighbor recommended that they go to the Mummy Market, a place where children can find new mothers.
The children take her advice and find their way to the Mummy Market. They are surprised to see booths upon booths of mothers to choose from. They are enamored by all the exciting possibilities and quickly choose their first one. That mother turned out to be overly sweet and unable to cope with adventurous and slightly rambunctious children. The children quickly got rid of her and chose a new mother. They found someone who was seemingly the exact opposite – the outdoorsy type who loved camping, creativity, and adventure. But the children soon realized that she had no feelings and in essence was similar to the first mother, in that she didn’t really care about them. The children saw and tried out all kinds of mothers, trying to find one that had the qualities and personality traits that they really liked and could have fun with but who also actually cared for them.
Terribly depressed after unsuccessfully trying out so many different mothers, they returned to their neighbor telling her about their difficulties. Finally, one of the children blurted out, “I hate them all. I wish we could find our own mother.”
“My dear,” said Mrs. Cavour, the neighbor. “What did you expect to find at the Mummy Market? Surely not someone else’s mother?”
The children were shocked and surprised.
Mrs. Cavour explained to them that there was an enchantment here. They actually had a real mother who was not exactly lost but rather, mislaid. Their job is to find her and recognize her as being their mother.
Once the children heard that, they returned to the Mummy Market and found a slightly shy woman sitting quietly in a booth by herself, feeling a bit discouraged because no children had ever selected her. The children decided to choose this potential mother. Slowly but surely, they started to get to know each other. Soon the enchantment wore off and they all remembered that they were each other’s real mother and children.
Interesting story. But what does this have to do with shidduchim and the month of Elul?
Actually, shidduchim is very similar to the Mummy Market. Many people start out shidduchim saying that they are looking for someone a certain height, a certain family background, living in a certain location, having a certain amount of money, with a certain look etc., but they are not looking for a real person. They want someone who is fascinating to them, who is the exact picture of all that they are looking for, who has all the things that they imagine they need so they will live happily ever after.
But that’s the mistake. You should not look for the person who will most likely make you live the perfect life. (Nor, obviously, should you look for the person who will give you the most miserable life.)
You need to look for your missing piece. He may be shorter than you, she may be older than you, they may have a different family background, not have so much money, not have the “look” that you always imagined, and may not have yet perfected all of their character traits.
In searching for your true zivug, know that you are looking for someone who already exists. That person may or may not have the external trappings that you desire. He, himself, may be disillusioned and so only wants to date people who live in New York, are a certain age, etc. She may be discouraged and only date people who are making a certain income or have a specific image that she always imagined for herself. When you do go on a date, you will try to understand who the person sitting next to you really is. As you get to know them, it will become clear – this person is someone whose company you enjoy and with whom you share compatible values and hashkafos or this person is a good person, but just not for you. If you let go of the externals, know yourself, look for the essence of what you really need, truly believe that your zivug is out there, are persistent in looking for them – and daven deeply – you will eventually find them. (I know, I know,
this is not easy – but you just have to try; it’s not your job to finish the task, but you need to start and just keep trying. Perfection is not the goal; learning, growing, and not giving up is what life is all about.)
And now, for the month of Elul….
In Elul, we do teshuva and choose one small area that we want to work on. Doing teshuva means that we are saying that we want to change; we do not want to do the same aveiros that we did the year before. So we pick one small thing to change. But what do we pick?
Again, you have to be real. You need to choose something that fits into your life, as you are right now. You have to be real and honest with yourself. And then, you need to find something small that is doable, that is real, and that will change you in some subtle way.
Life is all about a journey – but it’s not anyone else’s journey, it’s uniquely yours. So you need to be real and genuine with yourself. You need to find one small thing that you want to change, that is doable but will still make a difference in your life. And you need to daven to Hashem to help you do teshuva and help you change.
May this be the year that Hashem removes the enchantment from you and your zivug and may you both find each other and recognize each other. May this be the year you build a bayis ne’eman b’yisroel!
And may this be the year that Hashem removes the enchantment of concealment from upon the world. May we all recognize Hashem as the King of the Universe with the coming of the ultimate geulah. May this year be a truly terrific year for you and for all of Klal Yisroel!
Please think about the ideas presented on these pages, adapt them to your own situation and to your own personal journey. Please be in touch. I’d love to hear your questions, thoughts, feelings, fears, concerns, and ideas. I can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.