Concentric| January 31, 2023
Hashem has chosen the right semi-circle and is guiding us at the right pace
“Then Bnei Yisrael came into the sea, in the dry land, and the waters were for them a wall from their right and from their left.” (Shemos 14:22)
here’s a widespread misconception that Bnei Yisrael linearly crossed the divided Yam Suf to reach Eretz Yisrael on the other side.
However, Rav Yisroel Reisman points out that before the digging of the Suez Canal, the journey from Egypt to Israel was a simple overland trip that didn’t involve any water crossings. After leaving Goshen, they were already on the Israel side of the Yam Suf, where Pharaoh cornered them. Explains Tosafos (Arachin 15a), Bnei Yisrael walked through the Yam Suf in a semi-circular path, emerging on the same side as they entered, albeit further upstream.
Rav Reisman expands this idea to the Gemara (Sotah 2a): Shidduchim are as difficult as splitting the Yam Suf. What’s the comparison between dating and traversing a semi-circular path? Wouldn’t climbing a mountain be more appropriate? (Rabbi Ozer Alport, Parshah Potpourri)
Sunday, February 7, 2021, 4:00 a.m.: Hi All! Baruch Hashem this week we were zocheh to three chassanim and two kallahs!!
Sunday, February 7, 2021, 7:12 a.m.: BH for good news! Can u add the name Chaya bas Leah? Tx!
Sunday, February 7, 2021, 2:27 p.m.: Mazel Tov!!! Rivka bas Chana’s a kallah!!! Please add her sister Gila bas Chana instead.
Sending out the weekly update to our group of 2,000-plus global members all saying Tehillim for shidduchim is the highlight of my week. The excitement of a new engagement is thrilling; the person may be a stranger, but the name — the name’s no stranger to me. Elated, I crossed off Rivka bas Chana and added her sister.
Pirkei D’Rabi Eliezer 42 explains that each of the 12 tribes had its own path through the Yam Suf. When viewing 12 concentric semi-circles, the length of the innermost path is significantly shorter than that of the outermost one. Accordingly, some of the tribes had much shorter, easier paths through the Yam Suf than others.
Similarly, the process of shidduchim is different for everybody. Some people are blessed with very short circles and marry the first person, while others have a much longer, more frustrating journey.
Sometimes I know a bit of the background, sometimes it’s just a list of names. But it’s never just about the names. It’s about the families waiting with bated breath to see if perhaps there’ll be another date. It’s the parents who held this baby 20, 30, sometimes 40 years ago, who named her Shira bas Sora, never knowing how many people would be davening for her years later.
When starting shidduchim, we have no way of discerning which path Hashem has selected for us or how long our trip will take. However, despite this ambiguous time frame, we must view the experience as our own personal Kri’as Yam Suf, trusting that Hashem has chosen the right semi-circle and is guiding us at the right pace.
Our challenge is to remain strong, so that when we do eventually find our bashert, we’re able to exit the semi-circle on the same side that we entered, only further upstream — with even more accumulated wisdom and experience. Then we can sing our personal song of praise and gratitude to Hashem for our own Kri’as Yam Suf.
Some names have stayed on our list since its inception two years ago. Four siblings in one family. The son of a Holocaust survivor. Sister of a terrorist victim.
Yet the good news infuses us with hope. We’ve celebrated over 600 engagements in two years. There was the name that was submitted on a Tuesday and was engaged by Motzaei Shabbos of that week. And the girl who dated on Zoom in Israel during Covid and got engaged to her American chassan as soon as the skies opened again.
Then there was the divorcée who called, choking back tears, to tell me that she was zocheh to a new chance. Two yesomos, both engaged within the year; the kallah who was 35; and the 24-year-old elterer chassidishe bochur whose engagement at that age was nissim v’niflaos.
Of course, there was the email from an anonymous Leah, informing me she was a kallah, but I knew that already. Her chassan was my nephew, and I’d already taken him off the list!
Ideally, I wish we’d go out of business. But Hashem has His ways to run the world, and secure in that knowledge, we’ll continue trying to shorten the journey, one perek at a time.
(Originally featured in Family First, Issue 829)
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