Sunday, August 29, 2010

Ups and Downs

Lately, it feels like life is one big obstacle course. Everywhere I turn there is another obstacle in my way, and as soon as I gather the strength to approach with full force and I manage to conquer one challenge, it seems that within the blink of an eye another obstacle is in my way, and this time it is even bigger. The truth is that this feeling that life is a constant challenge isn’t something I’ve only felt recently, that’s just how life is, despite the fact that we seem to be born with the misconception that life should just be smooth sailing. Having said that, however, I can think of times when my life was just happy and good and didn’t feel like a constant struggle, and some of those times weren’t that long ago at all. This summer, though, has been filled with an unusual share of bad days and consequently, bad moods. I find it so appropriate and applicable to my life that we started adding Tehillim 27 in Elul, which mentions “Yom Ra’ah,” a bad day.

Do you want to know the best part of having bad mood? (Yup, I did just say the best part, there is actually something good about it.) It’s what comes after the bad mood- the super good mood. Maybe this is just me, but often when I’m in a really bad mood it seems like the world is going to end and there’s no way out, like being trapped in an elevator. Just for a second it feels like it’s never going to get better, no matter how much I remind myself that life moves on. But once the bad mood fades, (and even though sometimes it takes forever, it always does go away) it’s amazing! All the sudden things seem wonderful again. The feeling of working through a problem, over overcoming a difficulty, is one of the most uplifting feelings. When a difficult situation is turned around, whether because I worked hard to do that, or if it magically works out on its own, the result is an emotional high that is unbelievable.

The interesting thing is that the deeper the bad mood, the lower the low point, the more intense the good mood is and the higher the high point is. I think it’s because the spiritual world and the physical world are complete opposites. Picture a roller coaster, for example. It needs to go very high up in order to come crashing down. The higher the roller coaster goes, the more drastic the drop is. Or even just think about gravity. The higher you lift something up, the longer a fall it will be. Bad moods are just the opposite. The lower down you go, the larger the potential to be lifted up. It’s like a reverse roller coaster. Momentum builds up as you sink, and then you go shooting up. Good moods defy gravity. You sink lower and lower and lower until you reach the bottom and go soaring up.

What’s amazing is my inability to learn this. Each time I’m in a bad mood I forget that it will fade and will be replaced with joy. I forget that the thunder and lighting will stop, that the rain will stop, and that the sun will come sneaking out of the clouds. That as bad as things might seem, they can almost always be fixed and there is a way to make it all better. And even if there’s not, there is a way to accept it and move on. The main thing is to start by accepting the fact that life will always have obstacles and challenges, and that is just how it is so you better learn to deal with them. There will always be something that tries to break me, but I have to remember that I’m strong enough to deal with anything G-d sends my way. That’s why Tehillim 27 ends with “Kaveh El Hashem, Chazak V’Yaametz Libecha, V’Kaveh El Hashem.” You start by longing for Hashem, but inevitably *something* will bring you down, and so the posuk doesn’t say “hope to Hashem,” it tell us to hope for Hashem, and then strengthen ourselves. Because something is bound to try to break us down, but we have to hold on and be strong in our hearts, and then go at it again full force ahead.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

The "Im Yirtzeh Hashem By You" Debate

Let’s just set the scene for a minute. You’re at your friend’s engagement party or wedding, and you wait on line patiently for a bracha. Finally your turn arrives and they give you a bracha, to which they add at the end, “Im Yirtzeh Hashem by you!” What is your reaction to such a statement? Does it upset you and make you feel like a nebach, or do you think, “Wow, that was a nice bracha”? Bad4 had a negative reaction, and it seems SiBW had to learn that the hard way. I am on both sides of this debate, so let me explain why I think singles should not be quite so offended by “Im Yirtzeh Hashem By You” (henceforth to be abbreviated as IYHBY), and why engaged/married people should hesitate before generously heaping on this well-meaning bracha.

I’m going to start with the negative side. Why do we hate IYHBY so much? Mostly, as Bad4 pointed out, it’s because it is said with a tone of great pity as though being single was the most sorry state of being, one that we should hope to escape from as soon as possible. Even if being single isn’t the greatest, no one wants to be treated like a nebach case. Additionally, often whey IYHBY is said, it comes across as though marriage is the most important thing in the entire world more important than anything else. Yes, I want to get married, and I think marriage is important. But it is definitely not the most important thing in the entire world, at least not to me personally. Happiness, for example, is far more important. If I had to pick between happiness and marriage, I would pick happiness. There are a few other things that are also more important than marriage. Saying IYHBY as though being single is the worst fate in the world, doesn't come across to well to singles.

Another personal aspect of IYHBY that bothers me is the literal translation- “If Hashem wants it to happen, then it should happen for you.” Well, I personally believe that Hashem wants all singles to get married! That’s why He commanded us Peru U’Revu. If someone doesn’t find the right person, then it is because there is something more important that Hashem wants from the person than marriage, that they need in order to fulfill their mission in this world. Maybe it is a test of Bitachon, we can never know why. But I still believe Hashem wants everyone to find their soulmate. It should probably be “B’Ezras Hashem,” with the help of Hashem, instead, (I never quite understood the difference between the two in practical usage) although that would not solve the issue that the phrase makes singles feel like pity cases. So why do engaged/married people use this phrase so much?

Baruch Hashem, after watching many friends get engaged and married, and studying them as they wish me a heartfelt IYHBY, I believe it is because they are so so so so so happy, and when you are that happy, you want to share your happiness with the world. At that moment, since you are a good friend, or even if you’re not a good friend, all they want for you is to be as happy as they are. Additionally, for a number of people, being engaged/married, especially if you are one of the first of your friends, comes with a tiny bit of guilt. Chana at The Curious Jew expressed it most beautifully in this unbelievable post, and I know I could see it when I looked into my friends’ eyes as they whispered their bracha to me, but part of them thinks, “Why am I engaged/married, while my friends are unable to find their basherts?” So IYHBY is the first thing that comes to mind.

So why does part of me love it when my friends wish me IYHBY? A few reasons. Firstly, despite the possible nebach implication, I in fact do want to get married, and I do hope IYHBY, so I’m glad to receive the bracha. Secondly, because I love to see my friends so happy that all they want is everyone to be as happy as them. And the fact that they want me to be as happy shows that they care about me. I find it touching that they want me to be happy.

So, engaged people, try to be sensitive to those who find IYHBY to be insulting or hurtful. Try instead, “I hope that one day very very very soon you will be just as happy as I am right now!” Try not to look down at us as nebachs. And singles, the next time we hear another IYHBY, in your heads, just do what I do, and translate it into, “I am happy, and I want to share that happiness, and it pains me that you, someone I care about so much, are not as happy as I am right now.” Even if it’s not what you want to hear, remember that it’s the thought that counts.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Watching the pot: To hope or not to hope

There is a famous saying, “A watched pot never boils.” Having spent much time in the kitchen, I can tell you that a watched pot does indeed boil, though obviously the point is true that seems to take much longer when you’re standing there watching the pot than it does when you leave the kitchen and keep yourself occupied with other things. Some have suggested that the same is true with shidduchim. If you take your mind off it and stop waiting around for it, then life will surprise you when you least expect it.

I would love to take this advice to heart, but it seems to be impossible as I seem to become the expert on imagining how any scenario whatsoever can lead to one’s finding their bashert. In my mind, all roads can lead to finding a spouse. This is coming from a good place, since I have focused on the message that Yeshuat Hashem K’Heref Ayin, that Hashem can save you in the blink of an eye, but unfortunately has been taken to an extreme. Let me explain.

Yeshuat Hashem K’Heref Ayin means that every single second of every single day no matter where you are or who you are with, every single second is the possible second of initiation of the series of events to lead you to find your bashert. Some situations are obvious, as they are clearly conducive to finding one’s bashert. For example, if someone is in a place where there are lots of single guys and lots of single girls, be it a wedding or shul or a singles Shabbaton or a situation like that, it is not so far fetched to imagine how one might meet their soulmate. Other situations it becomes slightly less plausible, yet I can still figure out how all roads lead to finding your bashert.

For example, walking down the street or taking the train. Your bashert could just show up randomly. Maybe you will accidentally drop something and they will rush to help you pick it up, maybe the only empty seat left on the bus will be next to you and they will sit there and you’ll end up talking. Maybe you’ll both be in the supermarket and there’s an item without a price tag and one of you will turn to the other and shyly ask if the other happens to know the price. The possibilities are endless.

Those aren’t even very far fetched. Here’s a challenging one: For a girl, walking into the ladies room. “Ha!” you think, “I’ll bet there’s no way she could come up with a way to meet a guy in a place where there are no guys!” Wrong. His mother or sister or cousin or aunt or grandmother could be in the bathroom and you could end up in a conversation with her, and she thinks you are so nice, that she decides to set you up. There is no situation that can’t lead to finding your bashert. Even if you are stuck stranded on a dessert island, you never know who could be on the boat that comes to rescue you.

This kind of thinking is hopeful, yet destructive. Because in case you haven’t noticed, 99 percent of the people you know did not meet through some outrageous barely conceivable series of events. If you spend every second hoping that this will be the second, that maybe a huge hurricane will sweep you off your feet and you’ll magically land right next to the right person, you’re in for a big disappointment. It could happen, but what are the chances? All roads have the potential to lead to finding your bashert, but most roads don’t. In fact, there is only going to be one road that does. We can’t spend every second watching the pot otherwise it will seem like it’s never going to boil.

I just wish I knew how to stop watching. Even when I decide firmly that I will not watch, I still glance over my shoulder. And if I manage to really stop glancing, there is always someone who will point out that this situation could lead to my bashert, and all of a sudden the power of suggestion has me watching again.

Someone was recently telling me about a girl who had barely started dating and already had thoughts wondering whether she would ever find the right person. I was surprised because she barely even started looking. How could she be ready to give up so soon? In addition, a few friends who have been “in the parsha” for a while have recently expressed to me that they think that they might never get married. I found this depressing, but they found it easier to live with that so that they can accept their life and move on without trying to fight reality. I admit that sometimes I worry about that too, but I still hold on strongly to the belief that I will fin the right person one day, even if takes longer than I expected.

So which approach is better? To believe that all roads can lead to finding your soulmate, and hoping in every situation that it could happen this second, and then being sourly disappointed when that is not the case, or believing that no roads lead to finding your soulmate and it’s never going to happen? At least then you can only be happily surprised. I’ve written before that my #1 rule of shidduchim is don’t get your hopes up. But that means don’t get your hopes up in individual situations, not in the long term ending of your story. Each situation may end up going nowhere, but don’t give up hope that it will end up OK.

Food for thought: Is it better to not watch the pot and wait for life to surprise you, or to watch the pot to make sure you don’t miss anything? Is it bettter to hope constantly and be disappointed, or to give up hope completely, accept it and move on with your life?

Thursday, August 19, 2010


A while ago I purchased a small book of Tefillot that deeply affected me called "The Gentle Weapon," which has beautiful prayers complied from the teachings of Rebbe Nachman of Breslov. I wanted to share two of the amazing prayers with you that are in this book, one is about life, and the other is for others to find their a soul mate.

Learning Life's Lessons

Dear G-d,
Let my heart grasp
the profound wisdom
with which you created the world.
Help me understand
that life's difficulties
are in fact her opportunities;
life's endings
are also her beginnings;
life's disappointments
are her finest teachers.

A Soul Mate

O loving G-d,
so many in Your world
live without
true love,
so many
cannot find
their soul mate.
Have mercy on them.
O Source of all love,
let every lonely and incomplete soul
know the wholeness of being
that comes
when one finds
one's true love.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Poem: Moving on

This is a poem that I wrote a long time ago (over a year ago). It is actually not about shidduchim at all, (believe it or not) but with a number of shidduch bloggers recently announcing their engagement (Mazel Tov!! Baruch Hashem!), I read Bad4's post about "Not Catching the Wave" and it reminded me of how I was feeling at the time that I wrote this poem. Before I post this, I would like to say that I am so happy to hear of bloggers getting engaged! Sometimes I get jealous when I hear of people getting engaged, and that's natural, but usually it is a fleeting thought and then all I can think is "Baruch Hashem! Thank G-d that Hashem answered someone's Tefillot, thank G-d that everything is how it should be." They say that misery loves company, but I would much rather prefer that no one else is miserable! If something is difficult for me, then I will deal with it, but watching others go through the same difficulties just makes it worse. *Phew,* at least someone is engaged. So it wasn't me? Big deal! Better than none of us getting engaged. It will happen at the right time, and since Hashem runs the world, obviously now is not the right time, so it's a good thing I'm not engaged yet. Good thing Hashem's got it all covered.

Anyway, even though this poem is not at all about shidduchim, I am posting the poem because it is related a bit- it is about feeling left behind and the struggle to figure out how I fit in the world. Have you ever felt like the world is rushing rushing rushing and you are stuck like a statue watching it all happen around you helplessly? That's what this is about. There have been times, and I'm sure there will be times in the future, because that is life, when I have felt alone or left out. I used to think that some people never, ever feel that way because their life is perfect and they probably never felt this, but I have come to the conclusion that if those people who have never felt lonely or alone exist, they are very hard to find.

In any case, we can't help feeling the way we feel, so we might as well express it, and then post it on our blogs :) With that nice introduction, here is the poem:

Everyone’s moving, forward,
While I am here,
Everyone’s shining, brighter,
While I disappear,

The world is spinning, soaring,
While I am still,
The world has reached the top,
While I am stuck,
At the bottom of the hill.

Everyone’s talking, loudly,
While my voice is low,
Everyone’s confident, certain,
While I don’t know.

The world is going, coming,
While I am left behind,
The world is content at peace,
While I’m confused,
Cannot make up my mind.

Everyone’s trying, suceeding,
While I seem to fail,
Everyone’s leading, proudly,
While my ship won’t sail.

The world is laughing gladly,
While I start to cry,
The world receives its welcome,
While my door’s closed,
And access is denied.

Everyone’s busy, active,
While my accomplishments are few,
Everyone’s changing, transforming,
While I’m not someone new.

The world is ending, closing,
While I just sigh,
The world is driving away,
While I stand scared,
Afraid to say goodbye.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

A Tefillah

Dear Hashem,

I know that I’ve been having a difficult time davening to you lately. Trying to have proper kavana while saying the same Hebrew words every day is often challenging, but this time my struggle is more philosophical. As you know, I’ve been asking you to help me find a spouse, my bashert, someone to spend the rest of my life with. Yet as I make this request, I can’t help but thinking of all of the people who are older than me who have been dating for so much longer than I have. They have been pouring out their hearts to you and davening to you for much longer than I have. Their prayers are greater than mine, both in quantity and quality; they are intense and numerous.

Why haven’t you answered their Tefillot and given them what they have asked for time and time again, day after day, for years? So why should I expect you to answer me? Or more like how can I have the audacity to approach you and make the same request as them and expect you to answer me, but not them? I’m not special, I don’t deserve special treatment. Why should you to answer me, but not them? What have I done to make me better or to make my Tefillot better? Nothing! Even if I dug deep to pull my deepest emotions and cried and poured out my soul, it will never match years of tears and Tefillot. So why should I ask for this if I don’t think it’s fair for you to answer me first?

Yes, I can daven for them, and I do that. On the one hand I hope that you answer their Tefillot first, yet on the other hand I do not want to wait around for each and every older (or not so much older) single to get married before I find the right person to marry. And in terms of the effectiveness of my Tefillot, yes, every person is different, so maybe something is right for me and not them, and I should do my part and daven and let you decide what is right for each person. But I can’t help thinking- how could you answer me and not them? So how can I ask you to help me find a husband?

Yet on the other hand, how can I not turn to you, Hashem, the source of all blessing in this world, who is all-powerful? How can I not turn to you for something that I want so badly and long for so much? Hashem, I always learned that I should share everything that is in my heart with you. That I should ask you for everything, no matter how small. Two ways of building a relationship with someone are communication and opening up to them, and these are both goals of Tefillah. So I will continue to struggle, even though I don't understand why you haven't answered them, and I don't know why you should answer me over them. I will continue to daven to you, and ask you for one of the things that I want the most in life.

Thank you for listening, even when the answer is “not yet.”

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Looking Over Your Shoulder

In every group of friends there is the person who is the listener. That person is me. Perhaps because I enjoy listening, and perhaps because I like helping people think things through, I often find myself on the listening end of dating quandaries. It’s not that I’m an expert at giving advice, I’m definitely not, but apparently I’m a good bouncing board for ideas. Right now I’d like to talk about one problem in particular that seems to come up with a bunch of my friends, with slightly different manifestations depending on the situation. Let me paint one sample scenario.

A girl is dating this guy. (Great beginning, I know.) At some point in the relationship the girl is unsure how she feels about this guy. She kinda likes him, but she kinda doesn’t. She notices that she find other guys attractive. At which point she’ll say something to me like, “Isn’t it a problem that I find other guys attractive? If I’m spending my whole date looking at the guy on the date next to me, doesn’t that mean I’m not so into my guy? Isn’t that a sign that this isn’t the right person for me?”

It isn’t always about attraction and looks. Sometimes it’s emotional instead of physical. If the girl is close friends with another guy (part of the reason that on principle I don’t have guy friends) she might ask, “Why is it that I really enjoy spending time with this guy friend and why do I have no problem making conversation with him, while things aren’t as great with the guy that I’m dating?” Or sometimes this question takes the form of, “While I was on my date, I kept thinking of other friends of mine who would get along with this guy who I’d like to set him up with. If I’m thinking about setting him up with someone else, doesn’t that mean that I don’t like him enough? If I really liked him, wouldn’t I not want to set him up with my friends?!”

Now that I’m thinking about it, this kind of situation actually happened to me once. I was on a date with this guy in a restaurant and seated right next to us was another shidduch date. They were situated so that the girl was next to me and the guy was across from her, so it was easy for me to just look over and glance at that other guy, who happened to be much better looking than my date, in my opinion. So I understand where people are coming from. And that is the point when the thought enters, “Why am I more interested in someone else’s date? This is a bad sign! It must mean I don’t really like my date, despite the fact then when it’s just us everything is great!”

I’m not a dating expert, and I definitely don’t claim to be. Usually my friends just come to me to vent, and I don’t give advice. I don’t tell people what to do for many reasons, firstly because it is their life and their decision, secondly, because I might not know enough to be able to give the best advice, and thirdly because if I tell them to dump a guy and they end up marrying him, they’ll always remember that I didn’t think it was a good idea, and who wants to have that hanging over them?

So when it comes to this topic I look at couples who have been happily married for many years. I remember when I was a kid, I heard this woman tell her husband that she thought a particular actor was “such a hunk.” At the time, I was horrified. Even though the husband didn’t mind and the woman could list all the actresses her husband thought were beautiful. I was still horrified. It’s one thing if she wants to think in her head such a thing, but to voice it to her husband? Isn’t she supposed to tell her husband that he is the best looking man in the world to her? This is an extreme example, and we can debate whether what she said was right or wrong a different time, but the point is, we’re all human. We’re all going to find other people in the world attractive other than our spouse. If you think you get married and then suddenly every member of the opposite sex who is not your spouse is suddenly completely unappealing to you, then you have seriously underestimated the Yetzer Harah.

The husband and wife in my story each knew that the other one would naturally find other people in the world attractive (especially actors/actresses/models!) and instead of pretending that they didn’t feel that way they chose to share it with each other. For them it was completely healthy. Many girls would be extremely offended if their husbands told them that another woman is beautiful (unless their husband is closely related to that person, i.e. sister, mother etc.), but this couple is so comfortable with their relationship, they are so open with each other, and they are so committed to each other, that by each of them sharing their personal preference in looks in other people, the other person did not feel threatened. They each had the attitude: Yes, I’m attracted to other people, and you should know that, but you are my spouse, and you are #1 in my life, so that thought of “that person is cute” means absolutely nothing to me. In case you couldn’t tell, after I got over being horrified, I realized it was only their deep love for each other that allowed them to share these thoughts, and I thought it was refreshingly honest and down-to-earth.

I’m not saying that having an interest of some sort in another person other than your date means absolutely nothing. What I am saying is that I think if you’re interested in another person- be it physically or emotionally- it doesn’t necessarily mean that your date isn’t the right person for you. Just because you think your date would get along with a good friend of yours, doesn’t mean that they are not for you. If it’s later on in the relationship, and the girl still gets along much more with her guy friend, then it might be a bigger problem then if say, it’s the first couple of dates, and she’s glancing over at the guy at the next table. If you’re at the stage before you’re really invested in the relationship, then of course your conversation isn’t going to be as good as it is with someone you know very well, and of course you’re still going to be attracted to other people.

I’m all for questioning, I’m all for thinking about why you feel a certain way and why you react to someone a certain way. But don’t assume that just because you’re looking over your shoulder, that the person right in front of you automatically isn’t good enough.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Question: What did you expect?

Expectations play a big role in how we react to the world around us. For example, if you are waiting for a bus that is supposed to come once every 10 minutes, then you might expect to be waiting for that bus for around 10 minutes, because when you show up to the stop there is a chance you might have just missed it. So if you are waiting at the bus stop for 20 minutes, then you will be disappointed, because you weren't expecting to have to wait that long. But if the bus comes right after you show up, then you are thrilled, because you were expecting that you might have to wait at least 5 minutes or so. If you were waiting for a bus that only comes every 20 minutes, however, then waiting for 20 minutes will not upset you, because you expected that as a possibility.

In some ways the key to being happy is to lower your expectations. An example I heard in a shiur once is let's say it's your birthday, and you and your group of friends have a minhag that for everyone's birthday you go out for pizza. If for your birthday, they just show up with a card, you'll be upset- where's the pizza? But if your minhag is that you don't really do anything for anyone's birthday, then if they surprise you with pizza, then you're really happy. Basically, if you don't expect anything out of life, then any good thing that does happen to you will make you happy because you weren't expecting it. If you expect life to be perfect, then whenever it's not going your way, you'll get upset.

Where am I going with this? Here is my question that I'm putting out there to everyone- single/married/dating/not dating etc.: How long do you/did you expect to be dating before you found the right person? Let me explain what I mean by dating. Presumably there was a point in your life when you decided "OK, I'm ready to get married, I'm ready to start dating to find a spouse." There was some time when you announced, "Ok I'm in the parsha!" When you started actively trying to find a spouse, whatever measures that entailed for you personally, when you took started letting people know that they should set you up if they knew someone. Maybe you had just graduated high school or just got back from seminary/yeshiva in Israel, or perhaps it was a number of years later. Whether you were 18 or 25 or anything in between, from that general point in time, how long did you think it would take you to find your bashert?

I never expected to marry the first person I dated. How many people marry the first person they date? I have a few friends who did, but that is not the majority. So when I went out with the first guy who I dated, and he wasn't my bashert, I wasn't disappointed, since I didn't expect to find my bashert right away. I also never expected to find my a spouse in the first year I started dating. I figured a year or two was normal to be dating. I guess it was after I hit the two year mark that I started to be like, "hmmm, this is taking a bit longer than I expected." And it hasn't been that much more than 2 years. I think if you had asked me for the longest number of years I thought I would be dating back when I first started, I would have said 5 at most, and I'm still under that number. But I know people who have been dating for 5, 6, 7, years, or even more than that.

This also relates to my post about pressure, but I feel like it would be better if I didn't have this perception that dating for longer than 2 years is a long time. It's not really that long, when I think about it and compare it to people dating so much longer. Why did I have this expectation that I would just find my bashert and there would be challenge involved? In other areas of life I have learned to always expect challenges- that's how life is, and I love growing from challenges. I wish I could go back in time to before I started dating and change my expectations, so that I wouldn't expect to be married by a certain age, by a certain point in my life, or after a certain period of time. I had certain expectations about those three. I still haven't turned the age that I expected to be married by, but I have passed the certain point in my life that I thought I'd by married by, and the certain period of time that I thought I'd be dating.

And it's not that I'm unhappy, I don't want you do get that impression. It's hard to read my posts from an objective standpoint, but my feelings towards dating aren't completely negative. Dating is frustrating and not what I expected, but overall I am lucky to have mostly a positive overall experience. There are definitely others who have much more of a right to complain than I do. But there are times when I find the stage of shidduchim frustrating, and I think a lot of people do. I just wonder if I apply my formula for happiness of "lower your expectations" if it would be less frustrating.

So, now that I went on a tangent on my thoughts, let me get back to my original question, since I'm wondering if I'm the only one with unrealistic expectations: If you're not engaged/married yet: How long do expect to date? If you're engaged/married- how long did you expect to date and how did real life compare to your expectations?

Friday, August 6, 2010


One of my favorite Psukim is from Tehillim 30:6, "...weeping may endure for a night, but joy comes in the morning." (Translation from Tehilim Hotline) No matter how hard the previous day was, every day is a new day, every morning is a new chance. It's amazing how you can go to sleep so upset, but when you wake up things just magically don't seem as bad.

It's been a long week for me, hope it was better for all of you.

Made it through this week. Happy Erev Shabbos everyone! Have a great shabbos.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Shidduch Dating: General life lessons

"Ayzehu Chacham HaLomed Mikol Adam." Who is wise? He who learns from every person. That's what Pirkei Avos says. I think it follows from here that we should try to learn from every situation as well. Shidduch dating has its ups and downs, just like everything else in the world, but one thing we can do is reflect a little and come out with important life lessons. On that note, here are life lessons/skills/talents I've learned from shidduch dating. Please feel free to share your own!

1. How to make conversation with anyone. Meeting up with someone who you've never met before gives you great experience at talking to strangers. Though some people are born with this skill, and others of us acquired it in Seminary/Yeshiva while going to random people for shabbos, dating is a great chance to practice. Coming up with creative and insightful questions is a fun challenge. Now wherever you go and whoever you meet you’ll have the skills to talk for as long as necessary. Bored on long bus ride/plane ride and stuck sitting next to someone random? Have no fear. Dating will assist you to master the art of racking your brain for possible conversation starters and ways to keep the conversation flowing! Some claim it’s the guy’s responsibility to do this, but unless the girl wants to be sitting there with tons of awkward pauses, she better work on this skill too.

2. How to be subtle when hinting that you'd like to leave. It's just plain rude to say straight out "I would like to leave now," in any situation, not just a date, unless you are with close friends or family. Dating gives you the opportunity to work on mastering the art of glancing at your watch in a way that your date can clearly see that you are glancing at your watch, while at the same time you must be pretending to try to hide the fact that you're glancing so your date knows you were attempting to be tactful.

3. How to be flexible. This can be learned from many situations in life, but inevitably it seems something is bound to go wrong in your dating career, whether it's your date being stuck in traffic for an hour or whether the place you had intended to go happens to be closed when you arrive. For those of us who like to have every second planned in my head, and dating is just another opportunity to learn how do deal when things don't go quite as planned.

4. Who you are. Life is a constant path of self discovery, and meeting new people gives you the chance to learn what you like and what you don’t like, what interests you and what does not. Unless you date someone who agrees with you on every issue out there and has had exactly the same types of life experience as you, which is rarely the case, you’re bound to come out of the date thinking about something you never thought about before or realizing there are certain habits that drive you crazy that you never thought would be an issue. There are so many things that I didn’t know about myself until I started dating. Maybe there thought there were certain characteristics that you thought you would never be able to deal with in a spouse, and then when you meet someone in person with those characteristics you might discover that it’s not that bad.

Those are just a few. What life lessons have you learned from shidduch dating?

Tuesday, August 3, 2010


Do you ever wish that you could go back in time to when you made an important decision and make a different decision? Do you wonder what your life would be like had you chosen to go the other path at that point in time? Usually this is just a theoretical question that one can just dream about and imagine the different possibilities. But there I was. I was face to face with…me. The old me. The “me” who I used to be exactly one year ago. Only, it wasn’t me, it was someone in the exact same position that I was in. So exact that it was scary. So many times I have wondered if I made the right choice, but I never asked myself, “If I could do it over, would I pick this again?” Knowing what I know now, would I still choose what I chose then, or would I have picked something else? Apparently this happens to me a lot.

I looked at this girl, and I felt responsible for her decision. I could tell her exactly where her choice would lead. If I could do it over, would I do it the same way? Suddenly, I needed to know, and not just wonder, because I needed to tell her. Part of me wanted to whisper, “Be stronger than I was, be better than I was, don’t let go of your dreams.” But part of me wanted to tell her, “Don’t take the risk, it’s not worth it, you’ll end up regretting it.” I can’t go back in time, and I will never know what things could have been like. I feel like it’s Hashem sending me a message (if you’ve read this blog enough then by now you know that I think everything is Hashem sending me a message :D). The message is, “You aren’t happy with your choice? Would you really have chosen the other option? Probably not. Therefore, stop blaming yourself, maybe you should just be happy.”

The bottom line is that although this girl’s situation was remarkably similar to mine, so much that it was uncanny, it will never be exactly mine, and I’ll never know how things could have been. And once you’ve made a decision that can’t be made, you can’t look back and waste energy on wondering “what if.” You gotta deal with it and learn for the future. Even though this happened before, and I said “that was me,” this time, it was even closer to me. I didn’t tell her what to do, because I don’t know what I would do if I had to make the decision again. I probably would have made the same choice that I made, even though it might not have been the right choice. I hope that whatever choice she makes, it works out for her for the best and that she doesn’t regret it.

I started this post a while ago, and it’s a good thing I never got around to posting it, because now I can share with you the end of the story. The girl did not make the decision that I made, and when I found out, I was filled with happiness. “Yes!” I thought smiling, “She made the choice that I was too scared to make.” But at the same time, I was also filled with a sense that I made the right choice for me at the time, and she’s not me. I realized that if I could do it over, I would do it the exact same way. And knowing that is a really great feeling. Despite the fact that my decision came with a ton of negative aspects, and that making the same choice involved some of the most difficult times for me, I would suffer those things again if I had to, because you know what? That’s life. No matter what I chose there would be some pain involved. Life is not painless, and as much as we want it to be, we wouldn’t grow without that pain.

Food for thought: Are there any choices that you would decide differently if you could do them over?