6 Tishrei 5781 / Thursday, September 24, 2020 | Torah Reading: Ha'azinu
 
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Wows and Woes    

Wows and Woes



Those who place emphasis on flashiness rarely possess positive character traits. The first-impression “wows” are nothing other than lust-associated infatuation…

 



The two families had so much in common: they had both come to Israel from the USA. Danny’s mother was an Orthodox convert and so was Racheli’s mother. Both families had children who were still living secular lifestyles in the States. Both Danny and Racheli were intelligent and attractive. Danny, after serving for three years in a top-notch IDF fighting unit, had now started learning in a yeshiva for Baalei Teshuva (newly observant Jews). Naturally, when the two respective families asked me about the prospects of a match between Danny and Racheli, I enthusiastically gave them my wholehearted blessing. It seemed to be a match made in Heaven.

Danny and Racheli went out on their first date, spending a pleasant evening talking and sipping coffee in a local café. The meeting lasted for three hours. Their conversation flowed so effortlessly that they didn’t realize how the time flied…


 
That same evening, Danny’s family called the shadchan, the matchmaker who so adeptly arranged what looked like a perfect match, and happily informed him that Danny is more than interested in meeting Racheli again. He had stars in his eyes, convinced that he had found his perfect soulmate. They asked the shadchan to arrange a second date.
 
One day passed without the shadchan hearing anything from Racheli’s family. The next day, the shadchan took the initiative and called Racheli’s parents. Racheli’s mother answered the phone. The shadchan asked how she liked Danny.
 
“Believe me,” Racheli’s mother told the shadchan, “if it were up to me, I’d seal the deal right now. Danny is just the type of boy I want for my daughter. I’m sorry for not getting back with you until now, but Racheli has her reservations…”
 
“What’s the matter?” probed the shadchan. “What could she possibly find wrong with Danny?”
 
“She admits that he’s intelligent, nice looking and very polite. She said that his manners were perfect and his middot seemed impeccable. He was a great listener and pleasant to be with…”
 
“So what’s the matter? Why not arrange a second date already?” asked the shadchan, with a tinge of impatience.
 

Racheli’s mother cleared her throat, hesitating and trying to swallow her embarrassment. “R-racheli said that he didn’t ignite a spark. He lacks the “WOW” factor…”
 
After thirty two years of making matches, the shadchan learned something new – the WOW factor. Let the guy be a lowlife, let him be full of laziness and arrogance, or let him be a criminal. But, if he’s Hollywoody or flashy enough to make a young lady say “Wow!” on the first date, then he’s OK to marry… Obviously, the young lady was still under the influence of the movies she saw as a pre-teen before her parents moved to Israel and made teshuva.
 
The shadchan shrewdly refrained from pressing the issue. He suggested that Racheli speak to Rav Shalom Arush. Racheli agreed.
 
Rav Shalom explained to Racheli how the flashy young men emphasize façade, yet are rarely Torah scholars or responsible, G-d fearing young men. “Racheli,” he said with gentle understanding, “don’t measure him by the flashiness of his appearance. Measure him by his loyalty and dedication to Hashem and to his wife-to-be…” Rav Shalom had thus hinted that Danny was Racheli’s true soul mate. “…many silver-spoon yeshiva boys haven’t been tested the way Danny has. Many religious people don’t serve in the army because they’re afraid that they’ll be negatively influenced. Not only was Danny strongly observant in the army, he strengthened his emuna and observance even more, and influenced others in his unit. Just imagine – instead of sleeping 4 hours a night when he was stationed on the Lebanon border, he’d sleep only 3 hours, using the 4th hour for tefillin and morning prayers.”
 
“I understand that, Rabbi,” Racheli said respectfully. “But I was hoping to find someone more learned.”
 
“Look, Racheli: the first thing Danny did when he got discharged from the army was to enroll in Yeshiva. He didn’t waste time relaxing and touring around the world like so many other young men do. He’s now in Yeshiva because he chooses to learn Torah, not because Mommy and Daddy sent him. With his wonderful middot (character traits), he’ll fly high in Torah and in yirat shamayim, the awe of Hashem. Don’t be swayed by a “wow” – a silly first impression. Danny will be just as loving and loyal when you have morning sickness and you’re not so attractive as he is when you are an attractive young bride. Go talk to Hashem for a few hours and think about this. Ask Hashem if Danny as your husband will take you to where Hashem wants you to go or not. That’s the question you must ask yourself.”
 
Racheli looked at Rabbi Arush with wide eyes; it’s not every day that she has the privilege of speaking with one of the generation’s great tzaddikim.
 
Rav Shalom added, “The girls who look for the ‘wows’ almost always end up with the ‘woes’. Don’t make that mistake.”
 
My beloved rabbi and spiritual guide, so instrumental in helping hundreds of thousands live happier lives, has the uncanny ability of jamming an entire ethics lesson into one simple yet profound quote. Rav Shalom with his wows and woes succeeded in conveying to Racheli that those who place emphasis on flashiness rarely possess positive character traits. True love only begins after betrothal; the wows are nothing other than lust-associated infatuation.
 
For success in shidduchim or in any other area, we should always ask ourselves what Hashem wants for us and not what we want for ourselves. Happy is he who wants what Hashem wants!
 





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