| Magazine Feature |

No Further Questions

A monster of our making: Rabbi Efrem Goldberg calls for a new approach to shıdduchim

Photos: Coco Productions

It’s a time-honored part of the shidduch process to investigate a prospect’s personality, family background, and history before meeting in person.

But over the years, the “information gathering” has taken new, disturbing proportions. Attempts to clarify relevant information have morphed into efforts to hunt down the slightest flaw or blemish. And along the way, we’ve transformed the shidduch process from a journey of discovery to a skewed funhouse mirror that denies one side’s shortcomings or struggles while magnifying those of others to grotesque proportions.

The more difficult we make the shidduch system, the more unnecessary layers and demands we add, the more foreboding it becomes. Not only will potential shadchanim think twice before venturing in; our single children, relatives, and friends will remain waiting.

What is going on in the shidduch world? How did we get here? And more importantly, what can we do about it?

Rabbi Efrem Goldberg, senior rabbi of the Boca Raton Synagogue, issues a personal and pained call for change

 

When I was studying to get semichah, there was no class or mentorship on how to properly field shidduch reference calls. But the more I think about it, that class would have been worthless, because it would have been given in a different century, both literally and metaphorically.

When I first started taking these calls 20 or so years ago, I never would have believed the level of detail I needed to know about my neighbors, friends, and congregants, how intimately familiar I needed to become with their wardrobes, their medicine cabinets, their financial statements, their genetics, and their family trees.

I truly cherish the chance to contribute in any way possible to helping couples find one another, which is why I welcome any opportunity to engage anyone with appropriate questions and to provide information and insights that can be helpful. But many of these “reference calls” have gotten out of control, putting rabbis and references on the defensive, making us feel like we must be hiding something. At some point when I was fielding these calls, I recognized a familiar feeling. I realized it is the same feeling I have had when testifying in court and have been cross-examined.

What is going on in the shidduch world? How did we get here? And more importantly, what can we do about it?

From Paper Scrap to Photoshop

I still have the scrap of paper that happened to be sitting near the phone when I received a call asking me if I would be interested in going out with the girl who would become my wife, Yocheved. There are simply a few scribbles that include her name, where she went to school, what she had done that summer, and some of her qualities and personality features. I knew and trusted the person making the suggestion, the person knew Yocheved, and that was good enough for me to want to find out more by going out on a date. There was no résumé, no picture, no forensic investigation.

This is obviously a relic of the past. Gone are the simple days when someone would make a suggestion to you, you would get basic information, trust them, and find out more for yourself. Over time, things changed — it seemed nobody could be eligible to go on a date without a résumé. Maybe one could argue the résumé merely formalized my scrap of paper: an organized, streamlin ed way to keep track of all relevant information. I have my reservations (for one, I would call it a profile, not a résumé), but for argument’s sake, let’s consider this an appropriate development.

Over time, perhaps catering to the demand of parents, shadchanim, or even the boys or girls themselves, I came to realize many people wouldn’t entertain a résumé unless it included a picture. Of course, physical attraction is a critical component of a successful marriage. In fact, the Gemara (Kiddushin 41a) forbids a man from marrying a woman without seeing her first, lest he insult her and hurt her by a lack of attraction. Yet Chazal would never have endorsed the immodest practice of gazing at a still picture to determine attraction as a prerequisite to meeting someone in person.

When asked about this practice, Rav Chaim Kanievsky responded, “That is nonsense! He will not see anything from the picture. One must meet her in person.”

Rav Dovid Feinstein ztz”l responded similarly, “Why are we making things more difficult? There is a certain chein that young ladies have that often does not come across in a photograph, and can only be seen in person.”

From a scrap of paper and trust in the one redting the shidduch, we moved to a résumé, makeup artists, professional pictures, and the not infrequent use of photoshop. Perhaps we must accept this progression as an unfortunate but understandable consequence of dating during the information age. Where we went next, however, is less understandable, not appropriate, and not sustainable.

What Medicine Are They Taking?

We have gone from trying to collect as much information as possible to trying to both present and pursue something that doesn’t exist — perfection.

What’s my evidence? Almost every shidduch reference call I field these days includes the following question: Is he or she on any medications? This question is absurd for several reasons, including the implicit (maybe even explicit) suggestion that a rabbi, or anyone else, should violate the confidence of a congregant, neighbor, or friend and share such sensitive information without permission.

Let’s unpack this. What is intended when this is asked as a standard question off a checklist: “Is he/she on any medication?”

Am I supposed to share that they took growth shots as a teenager, that they need a Lactaid pill when they eat dairy? Should I mention that they occasionally take Advil when they have a headache? Should I share that they take allergy pills in the spring or rely on Tums over Pesach? Obviously, that isn’t what the questioner is looking for.

Perhaps the concern is that there is a significant psychiatric, psychological, or medical history that is intentionally being concealed. Purposely hiding significant issues through dating, courtship, or marriage is unconscionable, outrageous, and unacceptable.

The question of disclosing a significant “fault” when the party has concealed it has been addressed in halachah, most famously by the Chofetz Chaim, but also by countless poskim. Parents, rabbis, mentors, or those with influence over someone with a significant condition that should be disclosed should counsel the person on the issue even before beginning dating and should encourage when and how (not “if”) to disclose such information. A third party to the shidduch who becomes aware that a significant diagnosis or medical history is being hidden must ask a sh’eilah about how, when, and to whom it should be disclosed.

But let’s be honest: That specific situation, hopefully unusual, is not the intent or interest of the stranger I never met calling me because I’m identified as a reference. The question is never presented, “My son or daughter is dating someone seriously, or is seriously thinking of going out, we have reason to believe they may be concealing significant information, is that something to be concerned about?”

Rather, I fear that this question, a standard part of the new investigative script for “reference checks,” is trying to accomplish something else: weeding out even the slightest imperfection or “issue.” I can’t help but feel the questioner is expecting me to disclose ADD or mild anxiety, with the unsaid implication that this would be a reason not to pursue a shidduch. Is this fair, reasonable, healthy, or helpful?

There are people with these conditions and others like them who make exceptional spouses, devoted parents, and accomplished ovdei Hashem. Conversely, there are people who come from homes with no diagnoses and empty medicine cabinets who make horrific partners, who have terrible tempers, no ambition, and live selfish lives. And what about people who could benefit from some medications and support but don’t get it, possibly worried about what their references will be asked when the time comes. What kind of spouse will they make?

Are we doing a service to ourselves or our children by “weeding out” anyone with any medication at all when, if we are honest, we and our children are far from perfect ourselves, whether we are on medications or not? Is this unrealistic standard and that intrusive question something that will make shidduchim easier or harder? Will this make people more or less likely to set up friends, references more or less likely to help, men and women more or less likely to be open to directly learn about one another?

Shouldn’t a standard part of a relationship developing and growing be sharing, confiding, and trusting one another? (I am not referring to the chassidish system, which is radically different in many ways and on which I am not qualified to comment.) Instead of the self-confidence to participate in a journey of discovery, we have reached a point where too many people are relying on a shadchan to pre-screen and filter out even a hint of imperfection, often looking in a funhouse mirror that denies their own shortcomings or struggles and portrays them as blemish-free.

Hurting, Not Helping

This is not just an abstract commentary on today’s social mores. There are real negative consequences to this approach to shidduchim. The more difficult and complicated we make it by adding unnecessary layers and demands, the less likely the thousands of informal shadchanim, which is to say the average community members who get involved by trying to set people up or by willing to serve as references, will want to participate in the process. The result is that our single children and friends are the ones who will suffer.

These intense, comprehensive investigations are counterproductive for several reasons. First, they don’t seem to be working. Is there evidence that by asking these questions we have learned more in advance, placed better filters, and thereby have avoided later incompatibility or pain? While there are limited studies about divorce in the Orthodox community, it seems that broken engagements and divorce have been going up. Simply put, the increasingly comprehensive investigations don’t seem to be leading to any related increase in successful marriages.

Not only are these investigations not helping, it seems to me they are hurting. How many happily married people with beautiful, thriving families would have never even gone out in the first place if the type of invasive, intense investigations and unfair filters had existed when they were first suggested to each other?

Asking these types of questions demands a perfection that simply doesn’t exist. Shlomo Hamelech, the wisest of all men taught (Koheles 7:20): “Ki adam ein tzaddik ba’aretz asher yaaseh tov v’lo yechetei — For there is not one perfect person on earth who always does what is best and doesn’t ever make a mistake.”

Imagine if Yitzchak Avinu’s reference was asked if anyone in his family is “off the derech”? What if Yaakov’s reference was asked if he had ever told a lie? What if Yosef’s references were asked if he got along with his brothers? What if Mashiach’s reference was asked about his yichus?

Could our greatest personalities in Tanach and beyond have passed the shidduch tests of today?

What We Can Do About It

Baruch Hashem, I have two married children and fully appreciate what it means to be a parent “in shidduchim.” I am familiar with the urge to want to know absolutely everything about the person to whom you will entrust your child, the individual who will, b’ezras Hashem, contribute half of the genetics of your grandchildren, the one who will join your family and you will love, trust, and treat as one of your own. I now know the feeling of wanting to hire a private detective and to interview every teacher, chavrusa, camp and school friend the prospective mate ever had.

But I recognize that feeling as a foolish urge, and so should others. Let’s go from a culture of suspicion to one of trust, from an expectation of perfection to an acceptance of reality, from a sense of entitlement to know everything in advance to an eagerness and excitement to learn and discover.

Parents must stop asking unfair and bad questions, and rabbis and references must make clear they won’t entertain them if asked. Instead of asking a question that is unlikely to be answered either because the reference doesn’t know or feel comfortable disclosing to a stranger, rewrite the script to include questions that will actually be meaningful in predicting what type of spouse a person will make.

Ask more productive questions I have not been asked nearly enough, such as: Does he or she display a simchas hachayim, and generally happy and positive? Has he or she displayed the capacity to be mevater, to be willing to compromise and sacrifice? Is he or she a meticulous planner or more of a go-with-the-flow type? Is he or she introverted and shy, or able to freely communicate and share?

More important than asking specific questions, engage references in a way that demonstrates that you are interested in learning about the person and not in uncovering flaws or weeding out weaknesses.

Rav Chaim Vital (quoted in Rav Shlomo Wolbe’s Kuntrus Hadrachah L’chassanim) said: “A person’s character traits are primarily measured based upon how he is to his spouse.” In other words: Wardrobes, medicine cabinets, and financial statements matter much less than character, values, and virtues. If we learn to ask the right questions and emphasize the most important things, perhaps we can improve the process of finding a mate, as well as the health and longevity of marriages themselves.

 

Rabbi Efrem Goldberg is the senior rabbi of the Boca Raton Synagogue, a rapidly growing community of over 850 families in Boca Raton, Florida.

(Originally featured in Mishpacha, Issue 843)

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  1. Avatar
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    I enjoyed reading Rav Efrem Goldberg’s article on shidduchim. As a divorced older single, the issue becomes even more applicable because of my past experience. I feel that sometimes people have this expectation of getting a perfect spouse, and as the Rav so eloquently expressed, no one is perfect! So the question becomes, can what I have been through collide or gel with what the potential shidduch has been through — and not automatically turning down a shidduch just because they have been through something.
    I would also like to bring up another topic that I encounter as an older single. I put myself out there, send my résumé to countless shadchanim, met with many shadchanim, and speak on the phone with many shadchanim in numerous states and even in different countries. Some are nice enough to respond that they don’t deal with older singles, but some don’t return phone calls, emails, or texts even just to let me know they don’t deal with older singles. Most single events are for the younger crowd. Where are the shadchanim that do deal with older singles? Maybe you can run an article about remembering your older singles in your community and find out who is brave enough to redt shidduchim to older singles who’ve experienced either divorce or the death of a spouse, which are both very painful to go through.


  2. Avatar
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    I was thrilled when I saw the cover of Mishpacha this week, and even more thrilled when I read Rabbi Goldberg’s article. I’m a 21-year-old single girl, and I get many calls from parents asking for shidduch information about my friends. I’m more than happy to give of my time, and the majority of my calls have been positive experiences. Recently though, I’ve had phone calls that weren’t just “not positive,” but also downright disturbing.
    I honestly feel that these types of phone calls are hurtful to the shidduch. Don’t believe me? Have you ever been asked to compare girls? Has anyone called you about one person, didn’t like what they heard, then asked you about someone else in the same sentence — and then asked you to compare their middos?
    I have been asked to list off girls who I think meet specific requirements. I have been kept on the phone for an hour — in my opinion, the call should last max 20 minutes, unless maybe you’re good friends or relatives and are schmoozing with them. During one hour-long phone call that I will never forget, every time I answered a question, the parent would go on to explain how things are done in their home, how they don’t agree with the way the frum community does things, and how their son is such a masmid that he knew the answer to a sh’eilah that learned rabbanim in their community didn’t know. (And this was necessary to tell me because…?)
    I have had callers start to ask about me and my life, which becomes super awkward. You’re calling about my friend, I want to give information about my friend, and now I’m somehow supposed to paint myself in a positive light since I’m also in shidduchim, without turning the spotlight completely on me — because you called about my friend.
    If you’re calling me for information, please introduce yourself (I know this is controversial, and I’m curious to hear others’ thoughts). One mother called and when I asked who was calling, was not willing to say. I said I would prefer to know with whom I’m speaking, and without a word she hung up on me. I was taught to only give information to people who identify themselves so that my information is given l’toeles. (Again, I’d like to know what others think.) Please ask relevant, specific, “friend of the girl” appropriate questions about this girl, and hang up.
    There are so many classes for single girls about how to give shidduch information, it’s about time there are classes for parents for how to get it. Maybe Rabbi Goldberg will give the first one.


  3. Avatar
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    Having married off several children and currently in the parshah with another, I take very strong exception to Rabbi Efrem Goldberg’s article, which alleged that too many inquiries are being made before allowing couples to date.
    While I agree wholeheartedly that references should not be asked about medical issues, it is perfectly fair to pose those questions to the parents. Of course, I understand the need to give those with medical issues a fair shot in the dating pool, but I am going to venture a guess that Rabbi Goldberg has never been on the other side of the equation — having his child become emotionally involved in a promising relationship only to have it blow up when they find out about a previously undisclosed issue.
    I have. More than once.
    It is devastating to see your child heartbroken when they realize that they have to end a relationship with someone they thought was “the one” when a significant health issue was finally disclosed. (And yes, we did ask about health issues before agreeing to the shidduch and were reassured that there weren’t any.) Adding insult to injury, my son had to take the fall for the shidduch’s sudden and unexpected end on both occasions in order to protect the other side’s confidentiality, making him look bad in front of the shadchan who will likely never redt him another shidduch again. Support from friends, relatives, and others to get them through what is most certainly a trying time? That can’t happen when the real reason for the relationship’s abrupt end has to be kept secret to protect the other side’s privacy.
    May Rabbi Goldberg never go through this painful and heart-wrenching experience with his children and may all of our singles find their basherts smoothly, easily, and painlessly. Meanwhile, I am going to keep asking my questions, not because I want to, but because I have learned that I have to.


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    Rabbi Goldberg is correct that shidduch reference checking has gotten out of hand, with questions about tablecloth colors and bank statements. Any sign of imperfection can get a great boy or girl thrown from the pile of résumés. But that doesn’t mean all questions are unnecessary.
    As a teacher, I am often asked by my students to be their shidduch “agent” and help with their phone calls. Some of them don’t have parents who are on the same page as them or in the same country to help them. I have the zechus of working with individuals who are not looking for perfection, because they are well aware of what is out there, and they just want a person of fine character with whom they can build a Torah home. But, when they voice a concern about a particular issue — especially one of emotional instability, history of psychological illness, or addiction — I take it seriously. Medication need not be indicative of a future divorce situation, but the question usually needs to be asked. References often conceal information if not asked directly, and a serious psychological issue can destroy a marriage, especially in a case where they are trying to hide it.
    When I call a reference and one of the first questions I ask is about psychological issues, it’s usually because I have already spoken to several other close friends of the “candidate” who have given me lots of great information, making this worth pursuing. Yet many of those wonderful references readily admit that they cannot vouch for the emotional stability of this person and that it would be best to check with someone who knows them more intimately or for a longer period of time. And that’s where these goal-oriented phone calls come in. (I tell my students that it is important for them to have someone on their list of references who can answer about their emotional stability and give a confident, true answer when asked.)
    I can’t speak for those who just have a checklist in front of them and are looking for the slightest imperfection to nix the shidduch. I go into it with an open mind, an innocent-until-proven-guilty approach. But there are cases where I wouldn’t call the candidate “guilty” rather “not shayach” for this girl or boy who does not feel ready to handle that issue in a marriage.
    I think that rather than not ask the question, we need to educate better about what medication means and does not mean. First of all, someone on medication is aware of their issues, as opposed to those who are completely ignoring them. Second, not all meds are created equal. A mild antidepressant (quite common today for teens) is not the same as meds that treat bipolar disorder. And while medication for ADHD may not be a reason to break a shidduch, it could certainly help someone better understand their partner if they know that this is a challenge for them. A student once asked me if she should say no to a shidduch because the boy has severe ADHD. I described to her the possible mailos and challenges of such an individual so she could decide whether that was a personality potentially compatible with hers.
    It is an unfortunate reality that certain issues that can make one unsuitable for marriage are not unusual. (Rabbi Goldberg writes that they are hopefully not so common, but that is not my experience.) Therefore, the questions do need to be asked, but how we then understand and filter that information will be the true test of our intentions.
    I have made a few shidduchim with knowledge of problems in the family background. When the boy or girl first came to me entering the parshah, they voiced concern about their “flaws” and I would tell them what I tell all my students: If it matters to them so much, then they are not for you. You are going to find someone for whom this is a maileh. And they did!


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    We were the model parents that Rabbi Efrem Goldberg said we should all aspire to be. Our eldest child entered the world of shidduchim and we naively said yes without doing too much research. On two occasions, this approach hit us very hard.
    After developing a relationship, a potential spouse revealed that they had suffered from severe anxiety issues. As a result, our child walked away heartbroken. On another occasion, as we sat down with potential mechutanim, they revealed that they could not assist the soon-to-be kollel couple with support or with the cost of the wedding. Not only were we unable to take on full support, we felt like this exhibited a lack of yashrus on their behalf. Once again our child walked away heartbroken.
    We very quickly learned that it was our responsibility as parents to ask many questions and conduct thorough research prior to saying yes to a shidduch. Please do not make the same mistake we did. You owe it to your precious children!


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    When our children entered shidduchim, I was “educated” about how résumés work by being told to focus on gaps and read between the lines for potential problems. When I asked simple questions such as, “What if they just needed more time or something came up (like real life) that changed their plans?” I was countered with: “What do you want to do, change the system?”
    As parents, haven’t we been taught to focus on the unique greatness and potential for every person? Having grit and being positive are character traits that are much more useful in marriage than being “impeccable,” as a candidate was once described to me by a reference, with a sniff. Nothing shut down my interest more.


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    A shadchan recently told me a story. He approached a bochur and suggested a certain girl as a shidduch. The bochur scrolled through pictures on his phone and, pointing to a picture of a girl, asked “you mean her?” She had never been redt to this bochur before. A friend of his shared her picture with him. This shadchan assures me that this is not an isolated incident among our yeshivah bochurim. Even someone who would claim that circulating girls’ photographs for the purpose of shidduchim is proper hishtadlus, should certainly agree that this is inappropriate.
    Rabbi Efrem Goldberg quoted Rav Dovid Feinstein ztz”l and ybdchl”t Rav Chaim Kanievsky as stating that the practice of shidduch pictures makes no sense; one must meet a girl in person in order to see if he is attracted to her. A shadchan shared with me a story about a boy who admitted that if he had seen a picture he would never have gone out with this girl, but after just one date he sees that it was truly worthwhile to meet her.
    At the 2019 Agudah Convention the issue of shidduch photos came up at two different sessions. Rav Aharon Lopiansky described a picture as “the klipah chitzonius. It’s just the body.” Rav Moshe Tuvia Lieff said about pictures that they’re “not three-dimensional. Panim means face which means that there’s an inside, there’s a whole dimension that you don’t see. It’s very superficial, it’s more like Hollywood than our reality.”
    A relationship that is built on such superficial values has very little staying power. In an era where early divorces are becoming alarmingly common, we need to take a good look at how our young couples are building those relationships. What messages are we imparting to our daughters and sons? Do they understand the inner workings of a relationship and the values that really matter in a marriage? Or are they being told, outright and subliminally, that the outer appearance is of utmost importance?
    At the same Agudah Convention, Rabbi Yechiel Rhine said the following: “It’s not fair to make a girl stand up against the world by herself. We need to stand up as a klal and say pictures have to stop.”
    I think that we all need to step up and present a unified front stating that we will no longer stand for this degradation of the people and concepts that we hold so dear. We have the power to stand up together and say “we will no longer look at or share shidduch pictures.” Let’s join together and show that as a community we know what is truly valuable.
    I am working on creating a way to unite those who are interested in putting an end to the practice of shidduch photos. I have spoken to multiple people who are in influential positions and have the ability to assist in creating true change. The next step is in your hands. We need to show that there are many who feel passionate about this issue. A strong reaction from the collective readers will be the catalyst that can propel us towards this goal.
    Please email and affirm that you disagree with this practice that has become the norm. Please let us know your role in shidduchim (girl, mother of a girl, mother of a boy, shadchan, etc). Email addresses or names will not be shared with anyone without your permission. We are not asking for any commitments at this time, just your support in writing.
    Let’s show our communities how many people are interested in joining together with the klal to bring about this desperately needed paradigm shift.


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    As a rebbetzin who is not an official shadchan but tries to help set people up, I often comment on how these days I will have the same excited reaction when a couple agrees to go on a first date as I used to when a couple got engaged! With the extensive research and the amount of steps it takes these days to simply go out on a date, it’s a miracle anyone is getting married.
    Unfortunately, as a result, it is becoming increasingly disheartening to put the time and effort into making shidduchim when the result is often a dead end. What a shame if people like myself will stop trying to set up singles because of all this unnecessary frustration!
    I also wonder at which point did we start taking these decisions out of our single boys’ and girls’ hands and began to micromanage their entire dating parshah. Aren’t they the ones who will be getting married? Shouldn’t they be making these determinations, without all the adults in their lives — be it their parents, shadchanim, rebbeim, or dating coaches strongly weighing in and influencing them in different directions?
    What are we doing to our youngsters when we don’t allow them to choose who they want to even go out with on a date?
    I hope we can come up with the necessary solutions to help our children find their voices, empower them to make their own good decisions, and to be able to set up more first dates.


  9. Avatar
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    Rabbi Efrem Goldberg brought up some very good points, but I found myself thinking, “But still! What are we supposed to do when we are being set up with random people?” After much thought I came to the conclusion that we are lacking trust. Trust in the system, trust in the people who set us up, and trust in the people we date.
    If we take a deep breath, trust that Hashem will bring everyone‘s proper zivugim, and not panic to get married ASAP, we will hopefully be less inclined to sugarcoat everything.
    I was in shidduchim for a while and was accustomed to the classic phone calls where you dig as deep as possible, because you truly have no idea who the other person is. When my husband was redt to me, however, the shadchan (a non-professional) told me straight up: “I am going to tell you everything I know about him because there is no sense in faking things. If you think this is a good idea, then go out with him. If not, then it’s not worth his time or your time to date.”
    I had so much more menuchas hanefesh when I looked into and dated my husband because I knew he was not hiding anything, and I knew that the shadchan wanted us to end up happy and not just married for the sake of marriage. I implore everyone to be a little more open and honest. Then we can rebuild trust in the system and have more menuchas hanefesh and happiness.


  10. Avatar
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    I appreciate Rabbi Efrem Goldberg’s revealing, authentic, heartwarming recently featured article.
    I authored the book You Are Not Alone — a Three-Dimensional Approach to Overcoming Anxiety many years ago. My aim was to share some insight, as well as professional advice and the Torah‘s perspective on coping with anxiety, panic and depression.
    Once the manuscript was completed, I offered it to a reputable publisher and they responded, “Who suffers from anxiety? No, please don’t send us a copy! Not interested!”
    Since my mission is my commission I called another publisher: Feldheim Publishers, founded in 1939. They welcomed my manuscript enthusiastically and published and printed it several times. Thank Hashem, it has sold thousands of copies and it is also available in Yiddish.
    To all the shadchanim and those who are going through the shiduchim process — stop the denial. No one is immune. Anxiety, depression, and panic disorder can visit us all uninvited, especially since COVID-19.
    Taking “medication” or being in therapy is not a problem. Not taking responsibility and not doing what is required of us to heal ourselves and deal with our personal challenges and issues — that is the problem!
    If one merits to meet a lovely person who is refined, kind, caring, giving, willing to go the extra mile for others, coping with life, and serving as a role model — and also taking meds or in therapy — call your rav, discuss your options, get a brachah… Mazel Tov!
    Ultimately what is required of us is to build a mini personal sanctuary and to serve Hashem with joy.