The Maze Called Shidduchim
By M’nucha Bialik – shidduch coach
There’s a famous midrash about a wealthy Roman matron who enjoyed discussing religion and Jewish philosophy with Rabbi Yossi bar Chalafta. She once asked him the following question: “I understand that Hashem created the world, I get that. But nowthat that’s done and the world can basically run on autopilot, what’s Hashem busy doing now?” Rabbi Yossi answered: “He’s busy – mezaveg zivuggim (He’s “making matches”). “What? Are you joking?” she asked (well, not in those exact words). “I can do that!”
Well, this woman was a woman of action and she went straight to work on becoming the most prolific shadchan. She took 1000 of her male servants and 1000 of her female maidservants and matched them all up. The next day, all the servants and maidservantscame back bruised, with broken limbs, and with tons of complaints. To put it mildly, they were not happy with their spouses.
This matron conceded that it was not as easy as she thought. She then recognized the brilliance of Hashem.
As we can see from this midrash, we still need Hashem to run the show and set up shidduchim – we simply cannot just match people up arbitrarily by age, wealth, or status. Apparently, there is a concept of bashert and people cannot just randomly marry anyone and “make it work”. But if it’s not all random or a game of musical chairs, then what is it? Is there a proper method of searching for and discovering one’s bashert? And if so, what is it?
The Mesillas Yesharim compares our world to a garden-maze, a type of garden common among the ruling class, which is planted for their amusement. The plants in this garden are arranged into intricate walls so as to form many confusing and interlacing paths. The person who wants to see the owner, the nobleman, needs to figure out how to navigate the maze and find the correct path. The problem is that the person walking between the paths has no way of seeing or knowing whether he is on the true or the false path as they are all similar. There are no distinctive landmarks to show them the true path.
It seems impossible – how can the person not become hopelessly lost in the maze? One answer is obvious. If a person asks directions from someone who is extremely familiar with the maze, someone who knows which paths to avoid and which paths are the right ones, and listens to that person’s directions, he can then stroll confidently and calmly through the maze.
Shidduchim is similar to that maze discussed by the Ramchal in the Mesillas Yesharim. Choosing the person with whom to spend the rest of your life is absolutely a major decision, yet there is so much confusion. The many conflicting paths and ideas, and much fear cause many people in the shidduch maze to feel a bit stuck and overwhelmed. Having myself travelled in and endured the shidduch maze for years, desperately searching for a book or a GPS to guide me and help me survive and even thrive in the confusing and exciting journey of shidduchim, I decided to study the topic extensively. Through my own experiences, as well as observation of the challenges and experiences of others, I learned a number of “secrets” about the shidduch process in particular and about life in general. It was after discovering some of these “secrets” that I met my bashert and began the rewarding work of guiding others.
In these articles written for Partners in Shidduchim, I’d like to discuss and point out some laws of nature that we can derive from our Torah sources concerning how the world works. I’d also like to talk about relationships, communication, and all sorts of interesting shidduch related material. I’m here to support you and empower you as you navigate the shidduch maze.
And now, stay tuned till next time…
Since it’s impossible to see all sides of a diamond at once, people often focus on one facet of a diamond, while others may focus on a different side of the beautiful gem. Like a diamond, shidduchim and the shidduch process has so many different facets – it’s impossible to focus on each angle and to see it in every possible light in each article. Instead, each article will focus on different aspects of the shidduch journey. In some, we will discuss personal growth and the more spiritual aspects. In others, we will discuss more practical and down-to-earth advice and solutions. Some may even sound like I’m contradicting what I wrote in previous articles, yet each article will examine shidduchim from a different angle and in a different light. Depending on your age, stage, hashkafa, and personality, some things we discuss here may ‘speak’ to you and some may not apply to you at all. 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, letting me know your thoughts, feelings, fears, concerns, and ideas. I can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.