I ’ve been to a number of shadchanim, and I feel that I’ve done my hishtadlus, and that Hashem will take care of the rest. Yet, it’s been a number of months since I met the first shadchan, and I have not yet seen any results.

I understand that Hashem is the ultimate Shadchan, yet those around me are pushing me to meet more shadchanim, and my father reminds me, “l’fum tza’ara agra — according to the effort is the reward.” This leaves me with two questions:

1) Is that true? That quote goes against everything I learned in school. Aren’t we supposed to do hishtadlus (which I did!) but allow Hashem to take care of the rest? Since I live out-of-town, it’s not easy to just “meet shadchanim” — although I have flown in a few times to do so.

2) How can I keep my emunah strong when I’m not seeing any results?

Thank you,

Confused



Dear Confused,

Your question is one that each of us grapples with in some way.

From the time Adam and Chavah ate from the Eitz Hadaas and Adam was cursed “b’zeyas apecha tochal lechem,” Man was thrust into the paradox of both the power and the futility of human effort. Powerful because without it, there’s no place for brachah to rest, and futile, because without Heavenly ordainment, no amount of effort yields results.

How can you apply that reality to your situation? As you state, Hashem is the ultimate Shadchan. He is also the ultimate Provider. Would you say that a person can get a degree, go for a job interview, land a job — and then never go to work? “But I did my hishtadlus! Four years of college, professional rיsumי, I even heavily starched my shirt for the interview. Now it’s Hashem’s turn to provide.” Of course not.

Hishtadlus doesn’t mean we’re off the hook. It means we understand that that’s what Hashem wants us to do. That’s our part of the relationship with Him. It has nothing to do with what will actually occur. Our lives and all that gets played out in them is determined by Hashem. It’s as though two parallel forces are operating at once, but each is necessary to keep the system flowing.

Now, if you want to ask, how much hishtadlus? that’s a separate question. In my mind, I draw an analogy from the medical world of “heroic measures.” A patient (or family) can request that medical staff perform standard procedures to keep them alive, but not resort to heroic measures. The concept of reasonable effort is fluid and not strictly defined. Flying in from out-of-town every few months certainly requires more tangible effort than meeting a shadchan who lives in the same city. Each person must decide, hopefully with hadrachah, what the line is between reasonable effort and heroic measures.

I don’t profess to know what anything in This World means, but when your request is not fulfilled, it seems Hashem is sending a message: “Your work here is not yet done.” What more does He want from you? I don’t know. You need to ask yourself that question.

What other forms of hishtadlus can you exercise? Meeting shadchanim is only one form. Networking, in-town and with friends and family all over the world, is another. What about tefillah, for both yourself and others? Use this opportunity for introspection: Am I using this nisayon to grow closer to Hashem, to stretch myself, to become humble, to develop a capacity for delaying gratification, to internalize the belief that everything Hashem does is for the good? You know yourself better than anyone else, and you’re in the best position to know what growth opportunities this nisayon provides.

We’re all here on this Earth to learn certain things and Hashem will always provide us with opportunities to learn them. Perhaps this is a possible meaning for l’fum tza’ara agra — as you grapple and grow, you reap the reward of meeting the purpose of this nisayon.

I believe when you approach this difficult time with this worldview, your second question will also be answered. Emunah is the belief that Hashem can do anything, any time, without any help from us. Your lack of results is not due to Hashem not loving you or not taking care of you. It means that everything that has to happen because of this nisayon has not yet occurred. If you haven’t received the answer you want, it’s because it isn’t what’s best for you at this moment.

Because Hashem is omnipotent, the situation can change in the blink of an eye. The role of the hishtadlus is to propel you closer to the real purpose of this formidable challenge. While that doesn’t erase the pain you’re experiencing, assigning meaning to the pain reduces the suffering.

Wishing you a yeshuah “k’heref ayin,”

Sara



Originally featured in Family First, Issue 546. Sara Eisemann, LMSW, ACSW, is a licensed social worker and a columnist for inshidduchim.com. She also lectures on topics related to relationships, personal development, and growth. She welcomes questions, comments, feedback, and interaction at inshidduchim@mishpacha.com.