2023 What Helps and Doesn't Help Singles Part 3
Chananya Weissman

April 16, 2023


3) Don't assume that what worked for you will work for anyone else.

Married people tend to say things like "Try speed dating! That's how I met my wife." Or they will urge singles to use a particular dating website, or some app, or go to a certain matchmaker, or pray in a certain cemetery, or do any number of things with dubious chances of success, just because so-and-so did it and got married.

This is presumptuous and irritating. For one thing, it ignores the fact that many, many people tried that very thing – whether it's some type of event, or a particular dating site, or some shadchan, or a particular strategy – and came away empty handed. Many people have been trying all these things for years on end and have nothing to show for it, except frustration and pain.

Do these married people really believe that if they found themselves single again, they could just repeat whatever wound up being the catalyst the first time and expect to get married again pronto? Apparently they do, and they also believe everyone else can replicate the same results based on this sample size of one.

There is no scientific method for finding one's zivug; if there were, we would have discovered it by now, and everyone would gladly follow it. There is reasonable hishtadlus a person can do, which is obligatory, each according to his particular situation, and unreasonable hishtadlus, which is unhealthy, unproductive, and conflicts with bitachon. That's it.

There is nothing to be gained from trying to force the issue in the hishtadlus department, and in fact much to lose. Every method of hishtadlus has its pros and cons, but more is not better. Having faith in any particular method of hishtadlus just because it worked for you or someone you know is foolish, and quite possibly heretical thinking. Talismans aren't what get people married.

Unless you have a solid reason to believe a particular form of hishtadlus is suitable for a particular individual, and you can articulate it, think twice before suggesting it. Or, really, think even once.

On that note...

4) Don't suggest segulos.

It's one thing to try to increase one's spiritual standing with hopes of meriting a personal salvation – always recommended – and another thing entirely to believe some bizarre segula is the key to achieving this goal. If praying at the gravesite of a holy person is meaningful to you and helps you pray on a higher level, far be it from me to discourage it. If certain behaviors help keep your spiritual mindset in the right place, they may be right for you.

If, however, you believe there is actual power in any of these things to get you married, or otherwise provide a salvation, you're skirting dangerously close to heresy and idolatrous thinking. Do you believe that you are serving some angry, petty God, who will not help you get married no matter what unless you visit Amuka (multiple times), or go to the Kotel forty days in a row? Do you believe that Hashem would absolutely love to deliver your zivug, but He's waiting for you to take a special piece of challah from a wedding, or hold up the tallis at a chuppa, or some such thing?

That will make all the difference after all these years? That will finally remove whatever is blocking your salvation? Do you think of Hashem as some sort of pagan god that we need to manipulate and appease in this way, chas vesholom? Is that your relationship with Him?

Many singles really believe this, or at least they are desperate and misguided enough to behave this way – it can't hurt, why not? But it can certainly hurt. It can cut to the very core of how we understand the Torah and relate to Hashem. That's why not.

I don't know who gets to make up these segulos and on what basis, but they aren't the answer to our problems – not according to the Torah. By all means, increase your spiritual merits through teshuva, tefilla, tzedaka, and more mitzvos. But don't seek bizarre, occultic shortcuts – and don't suggest them to others.

(More on this here and here.)

5) Focus on a small number of singles.

For some reason that is beyond me, our society not only accepts, but fiercely defends the notion of introducing singles for purposes of marriage without knowing either of the people involved. It's plainly absurd, and it causes needless pain and frustration to just about everyone, like some cruel initiation rite. Unfortunately, the average person would sooner defend absurdities, accept pain, and inflict pain on others than challenge a social expectation.

Of course, that flies in the face of everything the Torah stands for.

In the early years of EndTheMadness, when I criticized the haphazard methods of shadchanim, one shadchan defended himself by saying he deals with many singles and doesn't have time to get to know them. I suggested a simple solution: work with fewer singles. It wasn't his job to help all singles – he isn't God – and by overextending himself in this way he was unlikely to be useful to any of them.

I doubt he listened to me, but this is sound advice for anyone who wants to make a difference. Having a database with hundreds of singles might make you feel important, and it gives you more names to shuffle around, but I pity the human beings behind the names who have been reduced to just another entry and will never receive personal attention, if any attention at all.

Helping singles find their zivug is Hashem's holy work. As we are supposed to emulate Hashem's ways to the best of our abilities, we should give singles personal care and attention just as Hashem gives them. Hashem can provide quality care for unlimited people; we cannot. It is better to focus on a small number of people (whatever you can reasonably handle, in a way that is positive for you and them), get to really know them, and try to look out for them as you would for your own child.

You cannot expect to find a soul mate for someone if you don't know anything about their soul, and don't even want to.

6) Don't give up; learn from your mistakes.

One of the perverse phenomena of the shidduch world is the way married people urge frustrated singles not to give up, yet discourage them if they remain optimistic. If you're feeling down, they will remind you that Hashem can save you in an instant. If you believe that might really happen, they will prophesy that you won't find what you're looking for. Stop wasting time – you're not much of a catch – and settle for whoever will settle for you. Otherwise you will be single forever.

To sweeten their venom, they might add that they are giving you tough love. Never mind that they probably don't even know you, don't want to, and certainly don't love you at all. There is far too much hope flickering inside you, and they need to stamp it out.

Someone really needs to study this and write a dissertation.

Whatever these people tell you is not based on reality or wisdom, but whatever you feel at any given time. Whatever you feel is wrong and must be recalibrated. After all, you're still single; obviously there's something wrong with you that needs to be fixed. So if you're feeling down, cheer up! And if you're feeling optimistic, start worrying!

Coaches and therapists don't make money saying "You're approaching things just fine, stay the course, you don't need me." The lazy armchair quarterbacks, who have plenty of time to lecture you but no time to listen, are no different.

To compound the hypocrisy, if these same people make an unsuccessful attempt to fix you up, they will give up and never try again. What they should do is learn from the experience and hopefully do better next time. They should get a better idea of what works and doesn't work for you, fine-tune their methods, and suggest better matches as time goes on.

But they don't. They throw up their hands with faux-piety and give up. I tried!

Did you? Did you really?

If you actually care about the single, and the single is amenable to your involvement in his personal life, why not learn from the experience and try again? Isn't that exactly what you tell singles to do?

So put your money where your mouth is and do the same. Learn from the experience, and don't give up – try again and do better.

To be continued.



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