1. A woman who knows of me through another woman tried fixing me up
a few times over the years, without success. She contacted me before
Rosh Hashana saying she wanted to try again. She also told me about
some tzedakas that she was raising money for. I offered to contribute
a sum of money and I met her and her husband after Rosh Hashana to
give them a check. She had never met me in person before, and her
husband knew me from a long time ago. They said they would get in
touch with me so we could meet again over Chol HaMoed, they could get
to know me a little better, and then try to introduce me to someone.
I never heard from them again. Then again, they didn't specify which
Chol HaMoed they meant. Maybe next year?
(As it turned out years later, they had serious personal issues during this time. After sharing this with me she again promised to be in touch shortly, and I never heard from her again. I wouldn't go so far as to suggest that stringing along a single like this was the cause of their problems, but making the effort to at least communicate would surely be a merit. In any case, I privately forgave them.)
2. A friend of a friend called me because he wanted to introduce me to his sister in Tel Aviv. From the way he described her I was not impressed, and I had the distinct feeling that she was a shallow person. (He made a big deal about sending a picture, which I refused to do.) The brother managed to find me in shul and introduced himself. We talked it over, he seemed like a decent enough guy, I appreciated his persistence, and I agreed to give his sister a call. The first words out of her mouth after I introduced myself were "How tall are you?". I told her that's extremely shallow, and asked if it's okay for me to ask how much she weighs. She insisted that it's completely different, because a tall girl is not comfortable going with a short guy. I argued that it is the same because a thin guy is not comfortable going with a fat woman. She was also very interested in what I do for a living, presumably to gauge my earnings. We went back and forth for a while until I finally told her that I think she's a shallow person, I was not interested in meeting her, and, by the way, I'm fairly tall, just so you know it's not a self-confidence issue.
3. Last year I went out on a blind date with a young woman who is surely a wonderful human being, but I did not find her remotely attractive, did not like her personality or the way she thinks, did not enjoy her company, and did not find her very nice. We met at an in-between hour in the early evening and I asked if she had a chance to eat. She said no and she was actually very hungry. I took her to what turned out to be a very expensive restaurant, she stuffed her face like she just got out of the camps, and she profusely thanked everyone involved with preparing the food, serving it, and receiving the payment for it, but neglected to thank the person who actually paid for it. That was the final nail in the coffin.
This year, some lady tried to fix me up with her again. I knew who it was just by the way she began her description of the girl, which was the same sales pitch no last name, because if I knew the last name I would presumably want to marry her just for that, and she didn't want that to influence me. This woman was surprised that I guessed who it was, and of course I turned down the opportunity.
4. Someone in my neighborhood who is intelligent and rational fixed me up with a relative of hers. Since I trusted the person, I didn't ask too many questions and agreed to give her a call despite the fact that the girl was only visiting Israel and would be leaving imminently. Normally this is a red line with me, but I agreed to give it a try. I met the girl 24 hours before she would be flying out. She showed up late, I was completely unattracted to her, and although she was a nice human being probably a better human being than I am we had absolutely nothing in common and there was no basis for fixing us up. When I told this to the friend who fixed us up, she actually agreed, and said the mother had pushed for it, so she went along with it, since you never know. I disagree. Sometimes you know.
5. I met the sister of a cousin, an older woman who supposedly knows many singles and wanted to meet me to see if she could fix me up. We had a nice conversation, she thought of someone and said she would check into it, and I didn't hear back from her. Some time later she finally did call me, and said she was flying that night, but would try to make the introduction, but I didn't hear back from her then either.
6. Several months later this woman DID call me back, and said the previous girl did not want to meet me (gee, thanks for letting me know after all this time). She did offer to introduce me to someone else who was visiting Israel and would be returning to America in a few days. This girl was also older than me (a double red line, considering I am at the age when you have to calculate her likelihood of having children, as unpleasant as that is), but the woman made a great sales pitch and I agreed to give it a try. I told the girl I thought it was a long-shot, but I would be happy to meet her and talk with no pressure or expectations. She agreed. We had a decent conversation, but there was no attraction and no basis for it, and even if she lived here I wouldn't have wanted to continue.
By the way, regarding the age thing, when I bring it up, people lecture me that having children is in the hands of God, they know of some woman who had ten kids or something after getting married at 45, and I shouldn't worry about it at all. Their faith is wonderful. What's interesting is that when I tell people that I shouldn't try extreme or particularly uncomfortable measures to meet people, and that I am relying on God, they lecture me that I have to try harder and it's up to me. My faith in God is considered foolish and self-defeating but I should date women in their 40's with no regard for medical facts, and just rely on God to work a miracle. Suddenly they are big believers. Funny how that works.
7. A lady I am friendly with who tries to help singles had a girl in mind for me, but it turned out to be someone I was fixed up with previously and was unable to return a phone call to actually talk and arrange a date. She had several chances to do this.
8. Someone wanted to fix me up with a girl who is nearly 40, lives in London, her whole family is there, and her whole life is there, but maybe if we talked I would convince her to move to Israel and marry me. Or something like that.
9. Someone wanted to fix me up with a girl because I am cynical about shidduchim and shidduch resumes and so is she. The girl wears pants (a no-no for me, sorry) and it seems being cynical about the shidduch world and wearing pants were about the only things we had in common. I declined this opportunity.
10. Someone sent me a shidduch resume of a girl who is nearly 40. I have never seen a shidduch resume that made me actually want to meet a person, and this one was no exception. The girl managed, in the space of this short resume, to mention numerous times that she is looking for someone "professionally motivated". Needless to say, I was not impressed.
11. Several months later a different friend brought up the same girl's name. Some would suggest that this is a hint from God that I should disregard logic and reason and meet the person. That might be true, except for the fact that this sort of thing has happened numerous times with numerous people, each less of a match than the next. So the real message here is that, despite the fact that I am not part of the singles scene and go out very infrequently, there seems to actually be a much smaller pool of people I can potentially date than what one might think, as some of the same names keep getting recycled over and over again. More on this as we go on.
12. A certain young married rabbi never met me, but he admired some of my writing and asked to reprint it. I happily agreed. Several weeks later, out of the blue, he emailed me a shidduch resume, asking what I think. Just like that. I told him what I think of shidduch resumes in general and shared my concerns with the manner in which he was going about this. He asked me for a picture. I refused to send him one. He said that without a picture he can't help me. As if I asked for his help, or wanted it.
13. Some woman who doesn't know me emailed me a shidduch resume of a girl she does not know but is trying to help get married. The woman had zero interest in getting to know me any better than she knows the girl. I was not impressed with the resume or the woman.
14. A woman corresponded with me via email over an article about my work in the shidduch world that she had seen. She wanted to help me. She put me in touch with a friend of a friend who supposedly knows singles. This woman then called me, and I shared with her some of my story and the issues I often had with being fixed up in the usual way. Instead of appreciating my openness and seriousness, she made a haphazard attempt to fix me up with some girl in Bnei Brak, which made no sense on any level, and when I expressed reservations about the idea she wished me luck and ended the call.
15. An acquaintance that I met once said his wife, who never met or spoke with me, had some girl in mind, and never followed up.
16. Someone wanted to introduce me to a girl with a genetic issue who lives in Tel Aviv and has no interest in living in Jerusalem. A wonderful human being, for sure, and she deserves every opportunity to get married, but no thanks.
17. This same person wanted to introduce me to a girl who lives in New York, is extremely involved in her community, and has no intention to move to Israel. But hey, talk, see where it goes. Maybe I'll talk her into leaving it all and moving here for me. Great idea.
18. I gave a shiur about the shidduch world to a group of women. As would be expected, many of them expressed interest in my personal life, what I am looking for, etc. As might not be as expected (but which I have come to expect), not one of these women followed up with me.
19. The organizer of the shiur, who had not been present, later contacted me and asked me some personal questions, and also never followed up.
20. One of my films was screened in front of a large audience. Many people spoke with me and this very plausibly could have led somewhere. Several women gave me their phone numbers to see if they could be involved in some way with helping in my efforts to improve the shidduch world. They were all dead ends.
21. One woman proclaimed to me that because of my hard work she was sure I would be married within the next year. She was wrong. She also did nothing to help make her prediction come true.
22. I was speaking with someone about the shidduch world. An older lady overheard me, started talking to me, and said she knows many wonderful single women in Kiryat Moshe. She did not take my information or make any attempt to actually introduce me to any of them.
23. A couple I am friendly with attempted to introduce me to a girl they know, a convert. (This would bother many people, and I would be considered extremely open-minded, rightly or wrongly, for being open to the idea.) I called the girl on a Saturday night the week before Purim. I told her that the only days we could meet during the coming week would be Monday or Tuesday, since after that Purim would complicate things. She said she would check her schedule and get back to me. Normally this should not take long, but she didn't get back to me. I refrained from calling her back, since this is one of the few ways you can actually gauge a person before meeting them are they accessible, do they get back to you in a timely fashion, do they follow through on what they say they will do, do they demonstrate a reasonable level of seriousness and appreciate the opportunity to meet a potential spouse, etc. After a whole day went by I gave up on her. Monday night she texted me that she hadn't forgotten about me (!) but she was meeting a friend that night for dinner, and could we meet next week? I gave her a good bit of mussar, she defended herself by saying she is very busy, and that was that.
24. Someone who is not religious said she will light Shabbos candles in my merit, that I should meet my future wife in the coming year (there we go with a year again). I was actually very touched by this gesture, but unfortunately it did not bring salvation. I am a segula buster.
25. A lady who knows me wanted to fix me up with yet another girl I had gone out with years ago, who had turned me down after three dates because she wasn't "feeling sparks". I can't say I was shocked that she is still single (not that it gives me satisfaction), but I was not interested in revisiting it. I don't recycle. (And yes, I know all the stories about people who tried again and it worked. Spare me.)
26. Some girl sent me a shidduch resume of a friend of hers, asking if I know of anyone for her. I didn't. And while the girl wanted someone "out of the box", I was definitely way too out of the box for her. Some time later, a friend who knows a lot of singles mentioned the same girl to me. For all the singles supposedly out there, it really is a small world, with very few options.
27. A friend of a relative wanted to fix me up with a girl she knows from work. She urged me to check out the girl's Facebook profile. I warned her that I am not a fan of Facebook and have never seen a profile that made me want to meet someone. No, go ahead, take a look. So I looked. I did not find the girl attractive, but was even more disturbed by the fact that her profile consisted mostly of selfies, with people commenting on how beautiful she is. Even though she was modestly dressed in the pictures, I found the whole thing extremely distasteful.
28. I had a Shabbos meal by an old friend who is married. There were many single men at the meal, but zero single women. The wife apologized for this, and said she invited single women from the neighborhood, but none of the religious ones wanted to come (they all had a lot of questions about the guys who would be there, their hashkafa, etc.) and only women who were not so religious would be willing to share a Shabbos meal with single men. I'm sure the religious women who refused to partake of the opportunity like to whine and complain about how hard it is to meet guys, how there aren't any good guys out there, etc., and I'm just as sure that everyone feels sorry for them. Because it's really easy to be a single man, and there are so many amazing single women out there just dying to meet you.
29. A lady sent me an entirely uninteresting shidduch profile of a girl she does not know. No, this is not the same as above. It happened again. This is normal. This is presumably how I'm supposed to meet my future wife, if only I would play along. Clearly it's working for everyone else who willingly submits to the system, so if I, who openly abhor the system, would play along, surely it would work for me, too. Makes sense. I'm the idiot.
30. I daven at a sephardic shul during the week because it is close to me, and after two years there I think two people have learned my name. (The other shuls are no better, by the way.) One man decided I'm an impressive guy without having ever spoken to me, and decided to fix me up with his niece. I had a short conversation with him, and he said he would check with his sister, the mother of the girl, and get back to me. A whole week went by, nothing. He finally got back to me and said his niece is busy seeing someone. Whoever she was seeing must have married her, since that was many months ago, and she didn't suddenly become available and interested in meeting me. Let's face it, folks. She never was.
After being single for a while you pick up on all the little lies people tell, and the "she's busy" one is a classic. This is supposed to make you think she would LOVE to meet you, but unfortunately the timing just didn't work out, and she is already involved with someone, so don't take it personally. But they NEVER do become un-busy and want to meet you. So I think if a girl is busy when someone wants to introduce me to her it is an ironclad segula for her to marry whoever she is busy with.
31. A woman who took the time to meet me and was actually very nice had some girl in mind and didn't get back to me about her. Then, many months later, the woman got back to me and said she knew a different girl who was not for me, but this girl has a lot of single friends, and we should all meet together. I was not especially comfortable, but I agreed to do this. The girl then decided she didn't want to meet me and the meeting was canceled.
32. This same woman, after a long saga, tracked down the first girl that she wanted to fix me up with, but this girl was seeing someone. However, she too had lots of single friends and would be happy to speak with me on the phone. Again, a little weird, but I called the girl, she quickly said she doesn't know anyone for me, but she would speak to another friend and get back to me, which of course she never did.
33. This same woman called and said she was looking into yet another girl who she never met and didn't know anything about, and she said she would get back to me. That was the last I heard from her.
34. A single guy I know sent me yet another uninspiring shidduch resume.
35. A woman who knows me said she knows a girl in her early 30's but I'm too old for her (!), suggested someone else who was not a match, and had in mind a 38 year old, which also never materialized.
36. A guy from the sephardic shul encountered me on the bus, started shmoozing with me, learned that I was single and having a hard time. He indicated that I shouldn't worry, he will take care of it. That was the last I ever heard from him.
37. I went away for Shabbos and after shul a man who was friends with my host spoke a bit with me. He asked me if I am single. Yes. Do you want to get married? Yes. That's the last I ever heard from him. Thanks for checking.
38. I went to Tzfat for a weekend to run an event. I was looking for a shul to catch an earlier minyan than the one where I was staying, and asked someone on the street if he knew of a place. Turns out he was just visiting also. We started shmoozing. He lives in Jerusalem and said he and his wife would be happy to meet me sometime. He gave me his email, which I made an effort to remember, and contacted him. We met for lunch, had a nice conversation. The wife had a girl in mind, mentioned her name, said she would follow up with me. I never heard from them again.
39. While I was in Tzfat someone gave me a very unpleasant lecture with advice on how to get married, and of course I stood my ground. I was also placed with a meal at a certain family because, as I later found out, the wife was a shadchan, but due to a misunderstanding I went elsewhere for the meal. A pity. I love meeting shadchanim.
40. Several people helpfully suggested I go for therapy. More on this later.
41. I met a family, they took a strong liking to me, and they expressed interest in introducing me to a divorced cousin of theirs, said they would look into it and get back to me. They never did.
42. Months later I met them again, they expressed interest in introducing me to a divorced cousin of theirs, and possibly someone else, said they would look into it and get back to me. They never did. Then several weeks after THAT the wife told me she met an Ethiopian girl on the bus, and would I like to go out with her? No. Some time later she emailed me an advertisement for cemetery prayers. That's the last I ever heard from her.
43. Several people in the course of all this time asked me, after I expressed frustration, if I've given up. No, not yet. There is still a tiny spark of hope that is flickering in spite of everything. Want to try to stamp it out? (I also wonder what practical difference it would make if I said I HAVE given up. People would surely be mortified, and tell me I should never give up, and insist that giving up will make it impossible for me to find the right person. But, again, what is the practical difference in real life?)
44. A woman with a shidduch group that I am entirely unimpressed with said she was looking into two girls whose profiles had attracted her attention. One girl I had actually gone out with a couple of years ago and she was so rude and made it so obvious that she didn't like me (because I am less enthusiastic about Yom Ha'atzma'ut than she is) that I basically short-circuited the date and apologized that she had to suffer so much agony by being in my company. So, no, that wasn't a good idea. The other girl was selected because she is a pediatrician and I like kids. No follow up there, either. Too bad. I do like kids.
45. A good friend who has been looking out for me without success heard about a single girl and said he would try to meet her. Knowing me well and actually appreciating where I come from, he doesn't try to introduce me to anyone without meeting her first and making sure it makes good sense. He mentioned the name of this girl to me. Turns out someone who knows both me and the girl had suggested I contact her because she is involved with running events and might be interested in some of my work. This mutual contact told her that I would be contacting her, so she would expect the email and give it attention. I contacted her and she never responded. I related this to my friend and told him this makes a very poor impression, and I would not be interested in her. My friend did try to meet with her anyway, but she never got back to him, either. Must be too busy complaining about how hard it is to meet guys and how badly she wants to get married.
46. A rabbi who likes the way I layn but doesn't really know me wanted to fix me up with a girl...the same girl from #3, who has been suggested to me no fewer than four times since I had a horrible date with her last year. It's just not gonna happen. I've begun to think of her as Frankenstein, because she is like a monster who keeps coming back. I don't like thinking of people in that way. She is probably a very nice person, and she surely deserves better than that. And you know what? So do I.
47. A lady who knows me wanted to introduce me to a girl who I had actually met years ago and was definitely not a match. The lady knows the girl's mother. Supposedly the girl is very beautiful and has a very hard time with guys who only want her for her looks. At the same time, the girl's mother wanted to make sure I was sufficiently tall and good looking to deserve her. I did mention I'd met this girl before, and while I thought she was a quality human being, I did not find her attractive. Just saying.
48. This lady took me to meet her neighbor, who is the principal of a seminary and supposedly knows many single women, so that she might make an introduction. The neighbor said she would be in touch and I never heard from her. Months later the same scene repeated itself with the same characters. It's funny the way people often tell me I should change my strategy because it hasn't brought success, yet continue drawing water from their own empty wells of choice.
49. A friend who himself was single for a long time and is now married had a shmooze with me. I insisted, as I did above in this piece, that it was not a matter of effort, but that I needed a miracle to get married. After hearing me out he actually agreed with me! Then he said he knows a single guy and he advised this guy that every night before he goes to sleep he should try to think of one thing he can do to help himself get married. I found this very inspiring, because obviously I never thought of thinking about what I can do to get married, and obviously there is so much more I can do that I would think of if only I would think about it.
50. Someone wanted to fix me up with a girl in New York when I have no intention of going there and she has no intention of coming here. But she seems like a great girl, so maybe we should talk.
51. A woman in America read an article about me and emailed me. She wanted to fix me up with a friend of hers that was recently divorced and lives in Israel. I was naturally skeptical of the idea, but the description sounded reasonable. I said that I'm not into resumes, references, and investigations; I would be willing to talk to her friend and possibly meet for coffee with no pressure or expectations. The woman said her friend had met her ex-husband that way and been "burned by the system", and she was unsure what her friend's orientation toward the system was now. As it turned out, her friend still believed in doing "as much research as possible" before meeting someone. Since there is no limit to the amount of research one can possibly do (and because I find the whole thing nauseating) I will never meet her.
52. A lady who knows me has a friend who knows a Yemenite girl and wanted to fix me up. After some time with no one following up, the lady who knows me called me and announced she has the girl's number, and would I like to call her? I said hold on, I don't know anything about her. The lady didn't know anything about her, either, and said I should speak to her friend. Fine. I only did this because I actually like this person. So I spoke with the friend, and the conversation went something like this:
"The girl is 39, Yemenite, but she speaks English. She's a very good girl."
"Can you tell me a little more about her?"
"What would you like to know?"
"Whatever you can tell me."
"That's all I can tell you."
"That doesn't help me, it seems entirely random."
"So I guess you're not interested. I tried."
"Yes, you tried very hard."
End of conversation. I would almost call it a heroic effort.
53. I was at a bus stop and saw a hand-written sign in Hebrew stating "Shidduchim in a unique and personal way" with a phone number and no name. I saved the number, and as a lark, purely out of curiosity, I later called. A guy answered, we shmoozed a little, and I agreed to meet him. We met in the center of Jerusalem, sat on a bench, and talked. I asked him if he wanted something to drink, and he asked for a beer, so I bought him a beer. He actually seemed like a decent and interesting person. He started scrolling through his phone, where he had reams of profiles of women. Most of them he had never met; generally he had met a relative in the course of his travels (going around selling inspirational books and CD's), and tried making shidduchim on the side. He said he would look into a couple of people and get back to me. He didn't. I actually followed up with him, because he did seem cool, and he apologized and said he would get back to me, and again he didn't. I hope he enjoyed the beer.
54. I had a couple of long conversations with a man who expressed great interest in trying to help me with my endeavors and to help me find a wife. He said he knows several single women, but the only one he recommended was the oldest one he knows 40 years old when I had told him that was beyond what I could consider. Nothing concrete came from those long conversations.
55. A friend married off her daughter, and for the wedding meal I was seated at a round table with a married couple on either side. I was already friendly with one couple, and the mother wanted me to meet the other couple. Across from me was a single woman in her mid to late 30s, and I rightly assumed her placement was deliberate as well, so we could chat a bit without it seeming like we were being forced together. We didn't get a chance to talk much, but she seemed like a quality person and I told my friend I wouldn't mind seeing her again if she was interested. She wasn't. Somehow she had managed to do a psychoanalysis based on our very limited snatches of conversation and determined that our personalities would not match. I admire her ability to do this, and no doubt these skills have succeeded in fending off countless possible suitors. I hope she sticks to this method and does not waste precious extra minutes getting to know someone when her ability to still bear children will soon be in question.
56. A friend of a relative, a woman who supposedly knows singles, wanted to meet me to get to know me for the purpose of setting me up. I met her for over an hour. She said I made an extremely good impression. In the course of our conversation she mentioned that she knows many amazing single women. Did she offer to fix me up with any of them? No. She concluded the meeting by saying I am very frustrated and should go to a dating coach. I told her I haven't gone out on more than a blind date in nearly two years; I don't need a dating coach, I need a date. The only people who need a dating coach are those who keep reaching a certain point in a relationship and then get cold feet or otherwise sabotage it. That was that, and I wrote her off.
A few weeks after that she emailed me out of the blue suggesting I read a certain book. I suggested she read one of my own, and took the opportunity to mention how disappointed I was with her. She insisted that I need to see a dating coach because I am frustrated, and need to be more positive. I told her that being frustrated with a frustrating situation is a natural, normal, healthy human reaction, and not a reason for coaching or therapy. I told her that I found my interaction with her to be extremely frustrating, and that being told she knows great girls but won't introduce me to any of them is also frustrating, so maybe now I need even more coaching because of that. My advice for her was to stay away from singles, because if I am wrong about everything I would pretty much be hurting only myself, but someone like her could easily hurt many vulnerable singles who wouldn't stand up for themselves like I did.
57. Someone I know who is in his 50's recently got married for the second time, after a long and difficult road. Apparently he instantly became an expert, because he offered to meet me and give me advice on how to get married.
At his sheva brachos I also exchanged information with several of his friends, mostly single men and one married woman, who were all very interested in my work with the shidduch world and wanted to be in touch. I contacted all of them, and not one of them responded. Is there any cure for this mysterious plague?
Several weeks later he emailed me asking if I had "any progress in finding a girl yet". No.
"As I told you before, I quoted the quote attributed to Einstein that says that the definition of insanity is doing the same thing that doesn't work and expecting different results. As a friend I will consult with you personally and give you free advice that you can take or leave to change what doesn't work for you."
Mind you, we had never actually had a conversation about my personal life, and he therefore had no idea what I'd been through or what I may have tried or not tried to be in a position to judge me or my sanity. I let him know how presumptuous, arrogant, and condescending his "offer" was, of course he became deeply offended and acted like he was the victim here, doubling down on his approach to me by virtue of my marital status, and wished me a nice life. I returned the sentiment.
By the way, the one bit of advice he managed to share with me at his simcha was not to date people who live really far away, because face time is important. Priceless. After a free teaser like that, who wouldn't want to pay handsomely for the full version?
58. I met a woman who is extremely nice and also happens to be a shadchan. I shared my story with her not for the sake of being fixed up, because I don't rely on anyone for that but of course knowing that she might try. She went to some shidduch group and sent me a girl's profile. It was bland but benign. I was also not very excited about the picture, but said I would be willing to give it a try. She agreed that the picture was not very flattering and was impressed that I would be willing to try anyway. I expected the next communication to contain the girl's phone number. Instead, it was a request for a picture. I had already made it clear that I do not like to send or receive pictures even though physical attraction is of course very important I found the request very distasteful, and I was no longer interested. The woman was very upset and said I had already agreed to go out. I said that was before, now the situation had changed and so had my level of interest, which was never strong to begin with. She said I can't do that, how would the girl feel? If she is willing to go back on her request, would I be willing to go back as well? I told her this is like some unpleasant negotiation, and my feelings should be taken into account as well after all, if she didn't like my picture and said no to a date, how would a guy feel? and that it wasn't happening. The woman was very upset with me. I gave her some mussar about how I felt she had handled the situation and my feelings completely wrong, and to my great surprise she actually accepted my mussar and we moved on from this unpleasant situation as friends who understand each other better. Sometimes, in spite of it all, there are positive outcomes.
59. But usually not. I saved the best (or worst) for last. Remember the "chance meeting" in Tzfat in #38, that led to a meeting in Jerusalem, that led to an introduction that never happened? That's just one of many things that, had it worked out, would have been a great story of Hashgacha Pratis...except it didn't work out. (I have many of these, and some of them would have been incredible stories, if only.) Well, several weeks after that a lady who had become familiar with my work contacted me. She was involved in some shidduch group. We had a nice phone conversation, she was very impressed with me, and she tried three times to fix me up.
The first was with a girl that had been suggested to me a couple of years ago by another girl who I had gone out with and didn't want to see me again after two dates. I never went out with this friend, because the girl who knew her told me that she was divorced, didn't plan to change her name, and in general was a feminist. Definitely not for me. So this lady came up with the same girl, I actually spoke to the girl this time, we had a pleasant conversation, and we agreed not to meet because of this issue.
The lady sent me a profile of a second girl, I looked her up on Facebook (yes, I think you can tell a lot from the things people show of themselves) and found that she likes to hang out at bars. Probably an awesome human being, but not a good match for me.
The lady later mentioned another girl, and I recognized the name as being the same one the wife of the guy I had met in Tzfat had mentioned and never followed up on. The sales pitch had sounded reasonable at the time, and here another woman was trying the same girl, so I didn't give her a hard time. I agreed to give the girl a call. A few days went by, and the woman did not call me back with the girl's number. But I did get a call from a close friend who said he received a bizarre phone call from the sister-in-law of this girl asking questions about me. He said that is not my way of doing things, did not answer the questions, and ended the conversation. I was proud and appreciative of the way he handled it.
I told the woman that I was very disturbed by this checking up, and I was no longer interested in meeting the girl. The woman was horrified and totally turned on me. She said the girl had bad experiences, and wanted to make sure I was a "nice guy". I told her I've had bad experiences too, and I didn't feel the need to go snooping around and bothering people with questions about her especially after TWO people who knew both of us thought it was a good idea for us to meet. We had quite an argument about this, which was very unpleasant, and the woman had gone from thinking highly of me to thinking poorly of me very quickly, which was extremely unfair and certainly changed my opinion of her as well.
I thought I would never hear from her again, but to my great surprise, several weeks later she invited me for Shabbos so she could get to know me better. We had never met in person, and I was impressed that she would want to do this after the rocky experience we had. I showed up with a very positive attitude, and was in for quite an experience. She and her husband were hosting another couple that they had known for decades, as well as a married daughter and family. Everyone had known everyone else forever, except for me, who was meeting them all for the first time.
At the Friday night meal my hostess seated me at the other end of a long table, as far away from her and her husband as possible, and made almost no effort to include me in the conversation, which went on for over three hours and consisted almost entirely of reminiscing that I could obviously not be part of.
Shabbos morning before I went to shul I encountered my hostess in the kitchen. Struggling mightily to make a bit of conversation with her, I asked her if she had a chance to look at the book I had given her. She said yes, and that I should follow my own advice about dating. She then dredged up the time she wanted to fix me up with a girl and I lost interest in meeting her because she checked up on me, and said I had acted like a jerk. She added that she is a social worker, and is therefore qualified to judge people in this way. I was flabbergasted and defended myself strongly, telling her it was inappropriate for her to even bring this up, then turned my back on her and left for shul.
Shabbos lunch there were the same people as Friday night, plus an additional married daughter and family. Once again I was seated at the far end of the table, which was even longer this time, and I was completely excluded from the conversation. One of the daughters made a feeble attempt to talk to me, and most of the attention they gave me focused on the fact that I was a fussy eater who didn't like enough foods.
I completely withdrew from them after that and basically hid in my room for the entire afternoon. I was stuck in the middle of a Shabbos from hell, with no place to go and no way out, and wanted only to bide my time until it was over and avoid blowing up at them.
Shalosh Seudos was more of the same. By this point I made no effort at all to participate in the conversation and just wanted to be left alone until Shabbos was over. But that was not to be. The hostess's friend and one of her daughters accosted me out of the blue and started lecturing me about being a picky eater, and that it sets a bad example for children. I told the lady (who had instigated this and was the more heated of the two) that I didn't know why she was obsessed with this and that I found it very irritating. Instead of taking the clue, she replied that it's GOOD that I was irritated, because plants grow by being irritated, and so do people. (In that case, I should be a titan by now.)
Shabbos couldn't end quickly enough, and I was forced to endure a ride back to Jerusalem with the friend of the hostess and her family, trying mightily to keep my mouth shut, until it was finally, blessedly, all over.
I took the high road and decided to say nothing to my hostess about all this, just move on. But then she emailed me: "Please forgive me for calling you a jerk. I should have just said that you made a rash decision."
Well now, I finally let her have it. I told her she shouldn't have said anything at all, she shouldn't have brought it up altogether, and then I shared my feelings about how I was treated over the course of Shabbos.
She wrote back as follows: "You wrote me that it will take a miracle for you to be married. It wont take a miracle; it will take a lot of hard, inner work. You need to build up your self-esteem. You will have to discuss whatever events in your life contributed to your present level of self-esteem." She then suggested I see a certain psychologist.
I said whatever I said, and she responded with yet another nasty email: "Every adult at our Shabbat table was shocked by your behavior. You didnt ask anyone anything about them. It was all you and you. I was told to stay far away from you, but it is difficult for me to see you sabotaging your own happiness. When you left, a dark cloud lifted. You have all the signs of a person with low self-esteem, but you choose to ignore it. That is your prerogative."
Needless to say, she will not be the shaliach to find me my wife. I hate hearing the story about God sending a person a turtle, etc. If God sent me this turtle, He can have her back. May it be a kappara for all my sins with something left over.
By and large, that is the sum total of the "opportunities", background noise, and other such experiences I had over the past year. This represents nearly about six percent of my dating career, which is very significant. I am fully confident that I could not have made a marriage out of the hand that I was dealt this year, and I can tell you that the other years haven't been much better. This prat is a fair representation of the klal.
It is easy to judge a person from a distance, but we are taught never to judge someone until you are in his shoes. I have given you a very personal glimpse into the shoes I have worn. I suspect that you will still be tempted to judge me, to argue that I could have done this, and I should have done that, and maybe something that seemed bleak on the surface would have miraculously morphed into the opportunity of a lifetime.
I hope you will resist that temptation. I hope that instead you will try to arrive at a better understanding of what many people go through, and that we really don't have control over this. We can try really hard to get married, we can go about it in an entirely reasonable and appropriate way, we can make some mistakes along the way too, but overall we can be just fine in our approach and still wind up unsuccessful. It does not mean we need therapy, it does not mean we are all wrong in our thinking, and it doesn't mean we need to make major changes.
Whatever people suggest might work for me has already been tried by numerous other people without success as well. There is no formula. The best we can do is avoid obviously self-defeating behaviors, be honest with ourselves and others, give good opportunities every chance of succeeding, and hope that God delivers our salvation. We cannot make something out of nothing. We cannot create good opportunities where there are none. We cannot destroy the person we are with the hopes that by recreating ourselves as someone else we will find contentment and a happy marriage.
All we can do is be the best version of ourselves that we can be, and hope God helps us find someone who likes us just as we are and wants to be partners with us in that journey.
There are very few things I claim to understand, but this I know to be true, and all the naysayers and critics will not convince me otherwise. Yes, I am stubborn, and sometimes stubbornness is an important virtue.
Sometimes a person will be stubborn to work on a marriage even though running away would be easier. Sometimes a person will be stubborn to do the right thing even when he is pressured otherwise. And sometimes a person will be stubborn to be true to himself and stay the course even when he has been unsuccessful and almost everyone who wants him to succeed has also abandoned him. This is one such time.
May my words reach those who need to hear them and bring positive results.