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.