| Musings |

If You Could Say No  

A Plea for Single People to Reclaim Their Agency

OMG! Mazel tov!

Today is the day!

Your friend got engaged

And will wed in L.A.!


Get a dress on, and makeup,

And your highest-heeled shoes.

You must go to the vort.

You do not get to choose.

“Single” means no good excuses, and so

To vort, Shabbos Kallah, and wedding you go.


You may think, “I have college! I’ve got stuff to do!

And I can’t buy plane tickets and pay my rent, too!

And emotionally I can’t do this. No way.”

But you gird up your loins, and you enter the fray.


You pay for the tickets

And dresses and shtick.

Can you call up the boss

And pretend to be sick?


It doesn’t feel fair,

But you’ve got to be there.

You know they are watching —

Your family, your friends —

The ubiquitous shadchan

On whom all depends.


You’ll show them! You’re fine.

Don’t worry. Don’t stew.

If you pretend hard enough,

You’ll persuade yourself, too.


You’ll be at every simchah!

Get a good reputation!

They’ll give you gold stars

For participation!


“Such a trouper,” they’ll say. “That girl is a gem.”

And you’ll know what they’re thinking. But never mind them!

If they pity you, fine. That’s not the worst,

Considering you did it better — and first.


You’ll put up your chin; you’ll put down your pride.

You’ll push it away, shove it deep down inside.


This plan may seem easy

But it doesn’t last.

Pain finds a way

And comes in hard and fast.


And you’ll cry on the plane,

And you’ll cry in the hall,

And you’ll cry in the Rent-A-Car’s

Gross bathroom stall.


You’ll dehydrate yourself.

When you finally do,

You’ll see your worst nightmare

Come horribly true.


You’re an Older Single.

Well, not Older, per se.

But some hopes have been shattered

On the way to today.


You thought you’d be first. It’d be shiny and new.

Your friends would freak out and then idolize you.

Nineteen and engaged on your very first try,

You’d be over the moon with the perfectest guy:

A Brisk billionaire who stands seven feet high.

You had such pretty dreams! But they’ve gone down the drain.

In their place there is loneliness, anger, and pain.

What did you do wrong? You just don’t understand —

When you davened so hard and had it all planned,

From the color of gowns to the size of the band.


But your friends got there first.

They have finished the race.

You haven’t begun, and they’re all in first place.

They’re married, and mothers, and the time’s come to face

The fact that there’s not much to do in this place.

The Waiting Place…


…for people just waiting.

Waiting for a shadchan to call

Or a date to start, or a date at all,

Or for life to make sense, or to cry at the Wall,

For a segulah that does what it says on the tin,

Your existence to matter, your life to begin,

Or just someone who gets who you are and have been.

Everyone is just waiting.


For the best boy in Lakewood, mamash a king,

A guy who’ll give you everything:

A beautiful wedding and a sparkly ring,

A sheitel so you’ll finally get some respect,

A baby so the story’s completely correct.

Waiting for the chance to catch up and fit in

In a society where singlehood feels like a sin.

Everyone is just waiting.



That’s not for you!

You’ve got to escape!

Please show these thoughts the door.

You’re a child of G-d.

You deserve so much more.


You’re the same exact wonderful

You were when you started.

You are precious and lovely and wise and truehearted.

You don’t belong here, with the dearly departed.


OMG! Just say no! This place is so dead.

Get into a place where a life can be led.

You have talents and values and yes, other dreams.

You’re so full of promise you burst at the seams.

Go travel somewhere! Get a job that you love!

Don’t wait for the bas kol to speak from above.


(This isn’t the same thing as quitting, you know.

There’s a difference between “give up” and “let go.”)


I know you thought life would be different somehow.

But this is your life. It is happening now.

And though it’s hard to discern what course it will take,

You have no guarantees but the choices you make.


It’s not easy!

That’s true. I can’t deny it.

Life will get lonely

And awfully quiet.


And people will come, and they’ll say stupid stuff.

They’ll tell you it’s your fault; you’re not doing enough.

The system’s not broken! The problem is you!

And you’ll never get married till you get a clue.


But on you will go.

You will not be disgraced.

On you will go.

Truth has got to be faced.

On you will go.

Life’s too precious to waste.

Onward and upward.

You must make yourself proud.

(It’s sad that some people

Think that isn’t allowed.)


This choice takes bitachon.

I know that sounds strange.

You might think, “I lack faith.

That’s why I have to change.”


But that’s not the reason

To step up to the plate.

This isn’t your fault. Your bitachon is great.

In fact, it’s so great you can maybe take in

That Hashem’s got it covered. He’s the real Shadchan.

And He’s got someone in store for you — and they’re fine

With your respecting yourself and drawing a line.


So have faith! Ditch a simchah if that’s what you need!

And don’t call the shadchan who makes your ears bleed!

Please do the things that will help you succeed.


I promise it’s worth it!



Be your name Kleinberg or Goldman or Green

Or Fruma Henchy Yedida Volkenbergstein—

OMG! Mazel tov!

Today is your day!

Your future is waiting.

So… get on your way!


(Originally featured in Family First, Issue 868)

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