It was seventeen years ago that my friend, Yisroel “Yummy” Schachter, spent some time together with his father, Rabbi Herschel Schachter, in Israel. The night before their scheduled flight back to America, they hopped in the first taxi they could find and headed over to their hotel in Jerusalem. It was unusual, though, since they generally drove around with a specific driver while in Israel. But, as it happened, they flagged down one random taxi and made it back to where they were staying.
No sooner than being halfway up the stairs, they realized that they were missing a suitcase. There was no question of where it was left though. It was certainly in the taxi driver’s trunk. “It’s Israel,” Yummy commented to his father, “I’m sure the driver will come back.”
Two hours later, Yummy received a call from his brother-in-law, who was serving in the Miluim reserve division of the Israeli army. “Yummy, did you leave your luggage in the back of a taxi in Jerusalem?” “Yes I did,” Yummy replied, “how did you know?” “Well, somebody in my unit just got a call from his family member who is a taxi driver in Jerusalem. The driver relayed that he was driving an American passenger from Jerusalem to Ben Gurion airport, and discovered upon opening the trunk that a suitcase had been left. The American passenger looked at the name tag and immediately registered the name – Rabbi Hershel Schachter.
“Do you know the owner?” the Israeli taxi driver inquired. “Sure I do,” replied the American fellow. The taxi driver, though, could not recall all the passengers he had driven around earlier that night and where he had dropped each of them off. “I do have a family relative in the army,” the taxi driver remembered. “Maybe I can call him and see if he can help.”
“And so,” continued Yummy’s brother-in-law, “the cabbie told his relative what had happened, and asked how he could find this American rabbi. His family member, who is in my unit and a friend of mine, then came over to me and asked if I could help. Sure enough, he had come to the right address. So Yummy, if you really left a bag in the taxi driver’s truck, I can arrange for it to be brought to you.” Getting hold of the hotel’s address, the information was passed onto the cabbie, who quickly headed over there.
The taxi driver and Yummy connected and down he headed to pick up the suitcase, after being handed $100 from his father to give to the cabbie as a token of appreciation. “Thank you so much for bringing back the suitcase!” Yummy appreciatively exclaimed. “Please take this…” But the cabbie had something else in mind. “I appreciate the offer, but I don’t want your money. I would just like one minute with the rabbi.” Yummy, surprised but happy to fulfill the cabbie’s request, headed back upstairs and asked his father if he would be able to see the driver for a minute.
Now downstairs, Rabbi Schachter approached the cabbie and thanked him for going out of his way to help. “What can I do for you?” Rabbi Schachter asked. Tears started streaming down the cabbie’s eyes. “Rabbi, my wife and I have been married for fourteen years and we have not yet been blessed with a child. Can you please give us a blessing?”
Rabbi Schachter leaned over and softly grasped the taxi driver’s hands in his own. With tears coming down his face, Rabbi Schachter said, “You are going to be blessed with a child within the next year.” And with that, he thanked the taxi driver once again and headed back upstairs.
Now back in the room, Yummy was taken aback. “He is really going to have a child within a year?” “Yummy,” Rabbi Schachter calmly responded, “we are going to pray for him.”
Close to a year later, Yummy and his father were celebrating Simchas Torah at Ner Yisroel in Baltimore. Amidst the dancing circles around the Torah, Yummy noticed a young man walking towards his father and then away from him. It appeared as if he was trying to get Rabbi Schachter’s attention. “Would you like to speak to my father?” Yummy asked the young man. “Yes, I would,” came the reply. “If you can please relay the message that I was just in Israel on a trip and my taxi driver, realizing that I was speaking English, asked if I knew Rabbi Herschel Schachter from America. After confirming that I did, the driver became quite emotional and asked me for a favor. “Could you please let the rabbi know that my wife and I just had a baby boy?” Yummy was stunned.
Heading over to his father and relaying the news, Yummy asked, “Did you pray for that taxi driver we met while we were in Israel? Do you actually remember him?” Rabbi Schachter, with tears in his eyes, replied, “Yes, I prayed for him. Every day, three times a day.”
Prayer is so truly powerful. And prayers for others are even more powerful. When we treat each other like brothers and sisters and unite together as a family unit, Hashem rests together with us as our Father. It is a concept we are all familiar with, and yet it is so true and so powerful.
Mrs. Lisa Twersky Are You Really Compatible?
It has always been curious to me when thinking about the world of dating and relationships, why our Sages draw an analogy to the Splitting of the Red Sea. “The bringing together of two people in marriage is as difficult as Splitting the Sea” (Sotah 2a). Why is a comparison made between something which involves splitting to something which involves joining?
The answer is that as important and relevant as it is talking about healthy relationships and finding the right spouse, talking about unhealthy relationships and staying away from the wrong person is just as crucial, if not more. You will know you have been brought together with your right spouse when you can identify what it is that you need to separate and split yourself from.
In general, when we begin searching for the right person, undue emphasis is placed on our personal list of who we believe we are compatible with. Many categories go into this composite list, which makes up our envisioned person with whom we can build a home. Most often, the list consists of concrete, tangible areas of compatibility – similar hashkafos (outlooks on life), same religious levels, comfortability with the other’s family and background, agreement on where to live, careers to pursue, children to raise and home environment to create. All these categories are rightfully so explored and discussed between the boy and girl meeting each other.
In truth, those areas of life are more or less straightforward and tangible and thus discussed. But, in my experience, a more underevaluated area of similarity is that of emotional compatibility. And it is no less crucial to a real, long-lasting relationship than any of the above-mentioned areas, if not more. It is something which affects multiple facets of a relationship and steeply impacts the day-to-day living with another person.
In order to better understand this, you must first define what type of emotional person you are. To get started, ask yourself a few questions:
Am I more high-strung or laid back? Am I quicker to get upset about something and then forgive it easily or slower to get upset and then take longer to forgive? Am I more expressive or reserved?
Life attitudes and personalities like these are essential to define in oneself and then separately define in terms of who you believe you are compatible with. And that is because ultimately, in a relationship, emotional compatibility is what it boils down to. It is granted that it is important to marry someone in the same range as you religiously and spiritually and shares common goals and interests. But, after all said and done, you and your spouse are never going to be exact carbon copies of each other or on the same page to every last detail. Yet, when emotional compatibility exists, it helps relieve issues and differences that arise in all these areas of marriage. When you really fit with someone emotionally, you can negotiate conflict with them and weather any tumultuous challenge that your marriage will face.
The next question to address is how do you know who you are compatible with? You may not have any experience in relationships, so how can you know with comfortable certainty who you fit with? The reality is that a relationship is a relationship which is a relationship. It is not so important to have had experience in boy-girl relationships to know who you are compatible with as much as examining who your past healthy friendships in life have been with. Growing up, in school, in camp and everything in between, with whom have you developed healthy, emotionally satisfying relationships? When something comes up, is it very easy to negotiate your differences? Do you feel comfortable discussing personal matters with them? Are they someone you can express yourself to and easily listen to?
Think what type of friendships you have formed until now and consider what kind of people they have been. When you look at your innermost circle of a few friends, what are they like on an emotional level, and why do they fit with you as a friend? It is very helpful to look at your past healthy friendships and learn from them what type of future relationship will fit for you.
Let me give you an example.
Some time ago, a young woman came to see me. She and her sister, eight years apart, were both single and living at home. You might have assumed that it would be natural for them to be very good buddies. But they had a lot of conflict. There were times when they got along and had a good time together, but, more often than not, they just could not negotiate their differences and would give each other the silent treatment for weeks.
The young woman who had come to me began believing that there was truth to her sister’s words. Maybe she really was a difficult, unsympathetic and uncompassionate person. But, before I let her reach that conclusion, I asked her, “What are your other friendships like? Do you have that same struggle with your other friends? Do they also think you are insensitive and uncaring?” “No,” she said, “I have a bunch of friends and I have no problem with them.” “Oh,” I said, “and what are they like?” “Well, they are like me.” Right. That was exactly it. “And your sister?” “It’s the same thing. She also has friends.” “And what are they like?” I asked again. “They are like her.” You should be able to pick up something here.
These two sisters are trying to make each other into best friends because they are sisters and living under the same roof, but they are not on the same wavelength and not compatible. These sisters may want to have a good relationship, but they are plain and simply not compatible as friends. In marriage, the same applies. You can get married to someone who you are emotionally compatible with and can easily and naturally get along with or you can end up married to someone who is not really your type. A couple, in similar straits as the sisters, could go to couples counseling to help them through their differences, but ultimately it would be much more satisfying when you fit each other in the first place. And that comes down to emotional compatibility. This doesn’t mean that you cannot have differences, but just the opposite. Yes, you can have different views and opinions, but precisely when you fit emotionally, those differences will become much easier to work though.
Now, what happens if you do not have good friendships to draw upon as paradigm examples and models for what a healthy future relationship would be? The answer is that you can still draw from your bad friendships. In the case of the sister, she should think, what was the struggle I had with her? What is she like that I know doesn’t fit me? In another case, maybe you feel your friend wasn’t sensitive enough or as refined as you prefer. You can still draw from the negative experiences and encounters and discover why it was a less satisfying and more difficult friendship. Use that as a tool to figure out what would be better for you.
And so, now it should be clear what wisdom underlies the words of Chazal which compare finding a shidduch to the Splitting of the Red Sea. Putting two people together who are right for each other is also about keeping two people who aren’t quite right apart. Allow your past, whether it be positive or negative, to inform your perspective in the present and for the future. It is one of your greatest tools.
Dr. Jack Cohen Shidduchim Tips and Tidbits
When beginning to consider who your future partner in life will be, there are some essential questions that are incredibly helpful to ask as you go along. Here are a few to reflect upon:
How do you feel around the person you are going out with? They may be special, but do you feel special around them? Are you in their shadow or are you able to be yourself? You may like them, but do you like yourself while you are with them? Maybe they are cute, but do you feel cute when you are with them?
Before you get married, you must think about your needs in life. That is what will enable you to achieve your potential and goals in life. Once you are married, you will dedicate yourself to meeting your spouse’s needs, but in the process of dating, you should think about yourself and your best interests.
Remember, don’t look at the mezuzah cover. Don’t look at the silver outside cover of the person; determine if their inner character is sterling.
When on a date, be aware that not only are you assessing the other person, but they are assessing you. You will make a good impression by speaking intelligently and by being a good, thoughtful listener. Show the other person that you care about what they are saying, and stay focused on them by looking at their face instead of allowing your eyes to wander.
Rav Elya Lopian zt”l once remarked that your zivug (marriage partner) will be the person who is right for you now. They will not be someone who fits what you were like four years ago, and not what you will be like two years from now. Your spouse will be someone who complements where you are now spiritually, emotionally and intellectually. As you continue growing spiritually, resultantly, your potential spouse will continue growing with you as well. Do not choose a husband or wife saying, “I or he/she will get there…” Choose wisely now.
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