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Saturday, November 18, 2017

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Yes, me. I’m your neighbor down the block. I sat next to you or across from you in shul over the Yamim Noraim. I pass you in the narrow aisles of the grocery store.

I’m your friend’s daughter. I’m an accountant, lawyer, doctor, interior designer. I’m a teacher, freelancer, occupational therapist, architect, social worker. I’m a sister, niece, granddaughter, daughter. I’m a person in your community. I’m your neighbor and I need your help.

Because (in the circles in which I belong, what is termed colloquially as “Modern Orthodox Machmir”), today, being single, much like someone who is looking for a job, is a funny stage in life that consists of networking with people both in person and online, often demands stepping out of one’s comfort zone, and blends both independence and dependence.

On the one hand, at this stage I choose what I’m passionate about, with whom I associate, what I do in my spare time and much more. Singlehood contains within it many opportunities to strengthen the assertion that I am now an adult and I am an individual who can make a contribution, outside of my family unit, to the broader Jewish community and to the world.

Yet, this stage of singlehood simultaneously fosters dependence. Unless someone is blessed and meets their husband naturally (which does happen, but with fewer venues, it’s a lot harder), meeting my bashert in today’s day and age depends heavily on others. Whether it’s the others who invite singles to their Shabbos table, the others who work tirelessly on creating singles’ events, or the others who work on “traditional” set-ups. Whether it’s the others who spend countless hours on the various online dating websites searching for “matches” or whether it’s that one other who picks up the phone (or sends a text or email) to inquire whether their friend/neighbor/nephew/colleague/brother-in-law/colleague’s son/husband’s old friend/cousin etc. is available to date. To all of these “others,” I, as a single person, am eternally grateful.

Obviously, the ultimate Other is God. At the end of the day, it is He Who makes shidduchim. I remind myself of this at least once a day, if not more. As David HaMelech says so eloquently, “From where comes my helpmate? My helpmate is from Hashem” (Psalms 121:2). But our Sages (Bereishit Raba 60) have already pointed out that the Torah devotes a whopping 67 pesukim in this week’s parsha delineating the entire process of how Yitzchak found his shidduch—eight pesukim (Bereishit 24:2-9) dedicated to Avraham’s insistence on Eliezer promising to find the most shayach girl, 23 pesukim appropriated to the way in which Eliezer went about fulfilling Avraham’s command (ibid. 10-32), 28 pesukim dedicated to the repetition of the entire episode in his conversation with Betu’el and Lavan (ibid. 33-61), and six pesukim dedicated to the initial meeting of Rivkah and Yitzchak (ibid. 62-67).

Bereishit Raba contrast this with the fact that many halachot in the Torah are only hinted to or learned because one letter is added or one letter is missing! Clearly, the process behind the making of the shidduch between Rivkah and Yitzchak is something the Torah values immensely and views as of extreme importance. Does God’s name appear throughout the process, 13 times, in phrases such as “Hashem, Who took me from my father’s house...will send His angel before you” (ibid 24:9), “Hashem, make me successful today” (ibid. 24:12), “And I blessed Hashem...that He has led me on the right path” (ibid. 24:48), “From Hashem, this has come” (ibid. 24:50)? Of course. But that does not negate the need for Eliezer to have traveled 1,200 miles, round trip, by camel!

Please. You don’t need to travel 1,200 miles to be like Eliezer and facilitate a shidduch.
I can almost guarantee that in your shul, there is at least one single person. I have heard some people say that they feel that the responsibility to set up people is best left to the outgoing personalities of the community, the leaders of the shuls, the people with the widest social networks. From my personal experience, shidduchim is not top-down, but rather, at its core, a bottom-up system. And the grassroots level of the system starts with one short text or one quick email or one phone call made by... you.

This upcoming week, the week of Parshat Chayei Sarah, pick up the phone or send a quick text or shoot a fast email. Please do it for me. Your neighbor’s sister-in-law, your fellow shul-goer, someone-in-your-larger-circle-of-friends’ daughter. Someone who is independent, blessed with a loving family and supportive friends. Someone who is happy, hard-working and looking for her bashert. It takes just one person to affirmatively choose to be like Eliezer, God’s shaliach in this holy process of building the Jewish homes of the future. Please be that person.

Please, put it on your to-do list. Please, do it for me.

Name withheld upon request