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Friday, December 13, 2019

(Permission granted to reprint from The Yated Magazine Shidduch Forum, August 2, 2019)

 Question:

A shadchan thinks of a shidduch and suggests the idea to both sides. The boy’s side calls the references and gets very good information. The girl’s parents contact the boy’s references and they are pleased with what they hear. After several phone calls, the boy discovers that one of his relatives knows the girl and her family. The boy asks that relative for information. The relative thinks for a moment and says, “I just don’t see it. I don’t see it happening.”

The shadchan may also know both sides, but this relative knows the boy better. Should they go out?

Chaval that the question did not continue with the reason/s why the relative “doesn’t see it.” This may be a clearer and briefer answer if more details were provided. Nevertheless, I will share a few thoughts based on the information given. Please note that I consulted with three rabbanim (also known as poskim) and six seasoned shadchanim and incorporated their ideas into this response.

To answer your question, we first need to ask ourselves: What does “I just don’t see it” really mean?

Scenario 1: The relative has valid reasons why he/she thinks that the shidduch is not suitable (such as incompatible values or the relative is privy to information that will be problematic for the dater or family) and a rav has been consulted to confirm that the reasons are, in fact, valid to prevent the couple from meeting. Further, the relative does not feel that it is leto’eles (for a constructive purpose) to divulge the reasons the shidduch is not suitable and was advised by the rav to be vague (and most sensitive to both sides) and not share the reason why this couple should not meet.

However, since the relative’s response in this question is posed using a casual tone, it is likely that we are dealing with aspects of Scenario 2. Please read on.

Scenario 2: The relative simply “doesn’t see it” or relays that “a shidduch is not shayach (appropriate)” without much thought or reason. If this is the case, then you should stop (a complete stop, like at a stop sign) and remind yourself that only Hashem, kevayachol (so to speak), can truly “see and know” who is destined to be matched up with whom.

Unfortunately, the “I don’t see it” phenomenon has become rampant, as venues of communication multiply at lightning speed and make it so easy to reach anyone anywhere to ask for information or of their opinion regarding a shidduch. Before I met my husband for the first time, I only knew two facts: the community he was raised in and the yeshiva he was learning at. The rest I learned as we dated. (I realize this would never happen today.) As a result of current trends, we are now guilty of swiping and swapping texts, WhatsApps, and email messages reading “not shayach” or “a no-go; I don’t see it.”

A shadchan sadly relayed an instance where she sensed that the “no-go” texts were subtly rooted in feelings of kinah (jealousy). Just today, I tried, still unsuccessfully, to save a shidduch where a friend doesn’t see the two daters meshing for reasons not even worthy of putting into print. When I called one of the poskim to help resolve this specific situation, the response was, “Who is taking achrayus (responsibility) for the loss of all these potential shidduchim, marriages and families?” A very frightening thought.

A few months ago, one of the YU roshei yeshiva, Rabbi Daniel Feldman, gave a sichas mussar shmuess in the beis medrash and coined this everyday occurrence as “rei’as chaveirim,” the new criteria for a shidduch of “Do your friends see it?” Listen to this 20-minute shiur on YUTorah: “Out of Egypt and Into the ‘Parsha’: Liberating Our Dating Habits from Exile.”

Furthermore, the nonchalant (sometimes flippant) “I don’t see it” not only withholds possible dates from occurring, but can also taint the enthusiasm of a budding shidduch. Many daters (or their parents) may second-guess themselves, thinking, “I am having a nice time, but why did that friend say they ‘don’t see it’? I must be missing something…”

Or, in a slightly similar instance, friends say that they don’t think a shidduch is shayach and offer their reasons, such as “personalities are not a match; I thought you would like someone more…” or, “He is the oldest in the family and you are the youngest; how will that work?” Fill in the silly blanks as you wish. Previously, the dater or parent never thought of that contrast or (insignificant) factor, but now that it has been said, “maybe this new piece of information should matter.”

The Chofetz Chaim, in Hilchos Rechilus (Klal 9:3, #4), writes in strong terms that one who volunteers his negative opinions about a proposed match in matters that are not established as important to the other side is in violation of lashon hara. To this nekudah (point), one posek warned that the damage done after planting negative impressions in the minds of the daters can resurface during the marriage. “Maybe I should have listened to so-and-so…” will be the immediate inner monologue instead of exercising the resiliency skills needed to resolve that minor yet normal hurdle. Again, we are referring here to the insignificant factors shared for no beneficial reason.

And further, if the couple becomes engaged and gets married, the chasan, the kallah or the parents—whoever heard the “I don’t see it”—always remembers the person who declared the incorrect prophecy. How many happily married couples (even relatives) do we know whom, if we would have incorrectly allowed our minds to wander at their chuppah, we may have thought to ourselves, “We didn’t see this shidduch”? Baruch Hashem, our Creator Himself and the couple “saw it” and felt differently.

And finally, if someone is suggesting a shidduch, and we are called upon to serve as a reference for a friend or a relative, we should share the actual information and hold back judgment as to whether we think it is a good idea or not (again, unless a rav has confirmed that we know something harmful to any side). Grant the caller and the person being called about the proper time and attention needed for their inquiry. It may be your phone conversation that brings about the “yes” to one or both sides. And if a parent, dater or fellow shadchan concludes with that pointed question of “do you see it?” it is best to answer, “Only Hashem knows. I am not a navi or neviah.”

Even in instances where I personally do not think the shidduch will materialize, I try real hard to withhold judgment, as none of us should want to own the achrayus (responsibility) of holding back a shidduch. The worst or best thing that will happen is that the couple will go out and decide compatibility for themselves. At a time when we are mobilizing more and more people to become involved in the non-stop work of shidduchim, we have much at stake if we are mevatel (undermine) the match ideas of others. With these Torah guidelines, may we be zoche to be more matzliach (successful) as Hashem’s shlichim (messengers) in His daily work of being mezaveig zivugim (pairing matches).

Rebbetzin Dr. Efrat Sobolofsky is director of YUConnects, a project of Yeshiva University’s Center for the Jewish Future.