Posted on | January 1, 2008 | By Guest Contributor | 136 Comments
Let me make something clear from the outset. The crisis I’m addressing is not “out there.” It’s very alive within ME. There’s a very definite, if not controlled panic that is building up within my kishkes. The kind that slowly but surely weighs down the whole system til it becomes effectively dysfunctional.
Oh, I still eat decently (though inconsistently) and socially interact with aplomb. But a growing sub-experience is smoldering anger, bitter disappointment and at times just plain mental cracking, which naturally gets in the way of my learning seder and employment searches, responses to “how’s life?” and ability to pray seriously without breaking down in a sob. And let’s not even speak of my sleep!
But please don’t misunderstand me. This is not a classic religious crisis. I have no doubts as to the Alm-ghty’s existence. Rather I feel as clear about His reality as Avraham probably would have after ACTUALLY doing the Akeida! It’s a sense of betrayal, on the highest level.
You see, I’ve come so far. Left so much for His sake. Worked so hard to clarify the theological and moral imperatives for serving Him. I invested valiantly in raising an exemplary family; in encouraging the kids to go all out for r-e-a-l-l-y living the truth of Torah. And they came through. They’ve truly made us proud, in the best way. The problem is that the older ones are now reaching the age of independence…
And G-d said: “Thou shalt find them Shidduchim!”
Well not exactly. In fact I didn’t hear Him say that at all. Actually I heard him whisper the opposite. Way back when I found my beshert without any third party. And G-d seemed so very, very pleased. So what in the world is this very spoken about unspoken rule about me having to find my son’s Shidduch??
Oy, the irony. The worst part of my crisis is that the kids are all such fine “catches.” The Rebbe and their teachers and our community members all tell us that. And I don’t doubt it. Bla”h, they excel in school, exude diligence, interpersonal sensitivity, humor and faith. Most importantly they each, in their own way, strive to be as Jewishly pure as possible. So, you see, I can’t just pair them up with the child of the BT next door.
They need “real” shidduchim!
Do I sound cynical? I’m trying hard to. Because while I could easily speak of all the wonders and grace in this holy system, I’m literally getting sick and tired of it. Just last month, after having seen tremendous signs of Hashgacha (Providence) in how the father of the same girl that my 17 yr. old daughter recently noted seemed like a perfect match for her older brother (and we quickly confirmed upon a little investigation), just “happened” to ride a bus with him and was so impressed by “speaking in learning” with him that he insisted in speaking with friends of ours about considering him for a chassan. But now the word is that his hands are tied since his wife insists on marrying her daughter to a miyuchas (nobly descended) family!
Believe me, that’s just the last straw. It’s been building up since we began to settle in to established Yiddishkeit. So that’s why I chose to write this. It’s a pressure release. Call it airing out my dark side…
Doesn’t G-d realize this “religious” ethic of parents-must-find-their-children’s-soulmate is torture for idealists? It was one thing to want the best of the best in search for my wife and Rebbe. But now also for these so precious, young Yidden about whom I most definitely am handicapped in taking the bull by the horn? People say “you must compromise.” Very nice when you’re speaking for yourself. But what if I steer my boy wrong? Maybe the couple needs to experience the wonder of stumbling upon one another. Maybe he needs to exercise that manly sense of hunting, stalking and catching his prey. Maybe they need to cry a little together in uncertainty over when exactly to tie the knot.
But of course all these thoughts are totally against the rules.
Did I say rules? Hmm. I guess that’s what I mean by crisis. It’s starting a dominoe effect. I’m now beginning to critically review so many other rules in this holy society that just don’t seem to be, dare I say, so holy.
Please help me, dear friends, if you have any insights / words of encouragement.