Thursday, December 26, 2013

Your Story Is Not My Story

It is sometimes hard to remember that Jews do not pasken from maaselach

One example of how we erroneously do so is this little tale from the old country, about how a man's daughter (probably all of 15) was still unmarried, and he tearfully ran to his Rov who asked if he ever made her a kiddush. Kiddush made, gal gets engaged. Woo. 

Nowadays that story seems to percolate under the surface of every kiddush for a baby girl. Despite the fact that the sins of the parent are not visited upon the child, an infant's chances of marriage is already based if her folks gave their neighbors some dried-out sponge cake and grape juice.
We take one story, meant for one person, and arbitrarily apply it to the world at large. Perhaps it was the Rov's incentive to calm down this man, to give him something to do. Maybe this man was known for being unfriendly and aloof, so a round of brofen warmed up his reputation. Who knows? But I doubt it had to do with the kiddush itself. 

In terms of dating and marriage, Melanie Notkin expresses it well in "The One Sure Way to Get Married." Every couple out there has a story. But it is their story, no one else's.

Same to here. I am happy for her, I really am. But again, despite her claims that her long-time datehood has left her sensitive, she is falling into the same trap. After all, since she knew her husband from work she had years to get to know him, and even then the first date didn't go so well. So how would her story be a how-to for singles? Are we going to give a "meh" shidduch date months to become something more? Of course not.

It is a lovely story. It is a romantic story. But her story is her story.

Hashem set it up that her bashert would be her coworker! Bishvili nivra haolam: "The world was created for me."  

She is also assuming that every single girl has, like her, an endless list that must now be torn up into teeny tiny bits. I have like three items on mine, and even then I often go out with just one criteria: Male.

And then she only scolds the girls! What about the guys and their supposed "lists"?
I'm sure they had a great story too.
I love a good story. I always ask a couple how they met. But it's not because I am taking notes on where I have been going wrong. I use it as proof that everyone is a world onto oneself, and that Hashem plots a story for us all.    


FrumGeek said...

Most guys I know usually don't have lists. Not because there are things they don't want or want in a wife, just usually they're clueless. For the longest time, when someone asked me what I was looking for, I just said "a girl". It was only after countless dates did I come up with 'a list', what kind of person I'd rather go out with.

Anonymous said...

I think it's important to be clear about what you're looking for in a date/potential spouse, because otherwise dating can be very frustrating. You're just going to go out with every girl/guy that someone sets you up with? Much of the time the way people think is -- girl...guy...shidduch. Or, you're going to date every person of the opposite gender you meet who relatively fits into your religiousness/values profile? You'd get way burnt out.

Princess Lea said...

FG: Most guys I know do have lists. "Pretty, outgoing, ambitious, between 5'2 and 5'7, and did I mention pretty?"

I don't think one can actually realize what one is looking for until one dates a little and realizes what one DOESN'T want.

Anon: Most definitely. There should be a balance; having a general idea of what one thinks one will click with, yet still willing to be relatively amenable.

Anonymous said...

Spot-on analysis Princess Lea!

I was left confused by Goldie's article as to what is the difference between changing priorities and "settling." Personal values are very subjective and likely to change over time.

And that's ok,

But I also feel that there are certain things that's its also ok to still hold on to and really like how you seem to stick to general principles as opposed to a 45-page list.

Which qualities, if I may ask, do you look for? If I were to try to narrow it down, I guess I would look for responsibility, even temperament, and a love for Torah and Yiddishkeit but I sometimes wonder that could be interpreted very generally and perhaps I need to create more specifics, hence why I feel creating detailed lists are more helpful.

Princess Lea said...

My criteria echo yours, which could only be discovered on an actual date. Responsible, even-tempered, and a love of Yiddishkeit. A mind of his own, not focusing on trends or "but that's how it is done," instead reliant on his own beliefs.

So in order to go on an actual date, I have "working" or "planning to work" and "doesn't have childish photos of himself on FB playing poker"; then for it to go beyond a first date, those qualities that makes him for me—sigh—a manly man.