Shidduch Saga: The inadvertent shadchan
“You know me, you can always count on me to make trouble! “Mazal tov!”
Mrs. Hinda Lindner had been a popular and successful teacher for many years, mostly on the high-school level. She loved meeting the new students each September and getting to know them individually. Some of these close mentoring relationships continued well beyond high school. She attended many of her former students’ weddings and they would often visit her with little ones in tow. She even once visited a former student overseas. Mrs. Lindner understood from her years in the field that each student came with her own “user’s manual.” Every girl had her own personality, ideas, way of learning and perhaps some teenage issues to work through. Mrs. Lindner may have been a teacher of English but she recognized that her true capacity was as a listener and role model.
Then one year Mrs. Lindner had a girl named Malkie Grossberg in her tenth-grade class. Mrs. L., as she was known, couldn’t quite figure her out. She knew that Malkie’s family was very high achieving and that they held high expectations for her. Both parents were educators, and all of her siblings had attended the best yeshivos and seminaries. Malkie, by contrast, seemed like an average girl, but maybe she was only searching for her own identity and had some inner conflicts to settle. As the school year progressed, Mrs. L. and Malkie developed a nice rapport. Malkie liked Mrs. Lindner and Mrs. Lindner liked Malkie. Then one day Malkie’s mother called Mrs. L. and asked her to tutor Malkie in English. “But she doesn’t really need any tutoring!” Mrs. Lindner protested. “I think it would be good for her to spend some quality time with you,” the mother explained. Mrs. Lindner agreed to tutor her once a week. These sessions only served to deepen the relationship. Mrs. Lindner came to realize that Malkie had an artistic side to her and that she was a creative thinker.
The two of them would discuss ideas and Malkie would share her thoughts. A year later Mrs. Lindner moved to another city. Teacher and student stayed in touch sporadically. At around the same time, Avi, Mrs. Lindner’s son, entered shidduchim. You may be wondering what Malkie’s somewhat tumultuous coming of age has to do with Avi’s shidduchim. This is what happened: Due to a number of factors, after graduating from high school Malkie found herself without a seminary to attend. Her father, Rabbi Grossberg, called Mrs. Lindner in a panic, asking for help in procuring a spot for Malkie in an out-of-town seminary. Mrs. Lindner had some good connections with the Orah V’Simchah Teachers’ Seminary. After hearing the desperation in Rabbi Grossberg’s voice, she promised to see what she could do. It took several phone calls and a bit of arm-twisting before the dean of the seminary relented and granted Malkie an interview. Mrs. Lindner assured the school that if they admitted her she would assume responsibility and take care of any problems that arose. In fact, Mrs. Lindner was worried that the seminary might not understand her former student and inadvertently turn her off. She hoped, of course, that things would work out “happily ever after.” Unfortunately, though, “happily ever after” rarely happens in real life.
The seminary accepted Malkie based on Mrs. Lindner’s recommendation and agreed to call her should any issues come up. As she called Rabbi Grossberg to tell him the good news, she davened that Malkie would adjust nicely and that the school would be pleased with her. After all, her reputation was at stake. Mrs. Lindner also had a heart-to-heart talk with Malkie to let her know how much she was counting on her not to let her down. Meanwhile, Mrs. Lindner’s 23-year-old son Avi began dating. Things seemed to be going well, but after a number of dates with the same girl Mrs. Lindner began to worry. Why didn’t she see a spark in her son’s beautiful blue eyes? Why didn’t he seem like a young man on the threshold of becoming a chasan? Something was missing. Then the shadchan called Mrs. Lindner. “It seems we have a problem,” she said. “Oh?” Mrs. Lindner responded, not at all surprised. The shadchan went on to explain that the young lady was having some doubts about Avi’s sensitivity to her feelings. This was surprising news to Mrs. Lindner, as Avi had always been a compassionate and empathetic boy who was unusually tuned in to people’s emotions. After much consideration, Avi’s mother, in consultation with daas Torah, called the shidduch off.
Inwardly, though, she was rather relieved, even though it meant going back to the drawing board and again sifting through dozens of résumés. She was already exhausted—and her son had only been out with one girl! Then one day the phone rang. It was Mrs. Eisen, a teacher in Orah V’Simchah. The two women were old friends who were on a first-name basis. But Mrs. Lindner immediately knew why she was calling. “Hi,Hindy,” Mrs. Eisen began. “Sorry to bother you but I wanted to speak to you about Malkie Grossberg…” Mrs. Lindner’s heart dropped as Mrs. Eisen described a problem they were having with her. Mrs. Lindner promised to talk to the girl and begged her friend not to come down too hard on her in the meantime. The same scenario repeated itself a number of times, with Mrs. Lindner successfully smoothing things over until the next episode. Of course, the two women would chat and catch up a bit on their personal lives in between discussing Malkie and how to help her. On one such occasion Mrs. Eisen casually asked, “So, Hindy, are all of your children married yet?” “Nope,” Mrs. Lindner replied with a sigh. “There’s one more to go, im yirtzeh Hashem.” “A boy or a girl?” Mrs. Eisen wanted to know. “My youngest son, Avi.” A conversation ensued as Mrs. Lindner proceeded to describe Avi’s character and personality. Then Mrs. Eisen dropped a bombshell. “Maybe he’d be good for my granddaughter Breindy...” Mrs. Lindner was momentarily flustered by this unexpectedly straightforward approach and quickly steered the conversation back to Malkie.Then the two old friends said goodbye and hung up. But the next day Mrs. Lindner couldn’t get the conversation out of her mind. Mrs. Eisen’s granddaughter? She knew Mrs. Eisen’s son and daughter-in-law from years back.
Nice people. Hmm. Maybe...just maybe... What did she have to lose? She called Mrs. Eisen back. “Were you serious about Breindy?” she inquired. Mrs. Eisen answered in the affirmative. “Send me your son’s information and I’ll pass it along to my son.” A few days later Mrs. Eisen reported that they were indeed interested. Mrs. Lindner said she would allow Avi to go out with Breindy on the condition that they would remain friends even if it didn’t work out. Mrs. Eisen readily agreed. The shidduch between Breindy and Avi was smooth sailing from the get-go. Breindy proved to be a perfect match to Avi in temperament, aspirations and outlook. There wasn’t even a single bump in the road on the way to the chuppah. Unfortunately, however, the catalyst for the joyous event, Malkie Grossberg, did not end her year in seminary on a happy note. Nonetheless, Mrs. Lindner felt a sense of tremendous gratitude toward her and called her up to express it. “Malkie? Guess what? I owe you shadchanus gelt!” “Huh? Me? Why?” “Well, if you hadn’t gone to Orah V’Simchah, I don’t know how I would have found Breindy! It’s thanks to you that I reconnected with Mrs. Eisen, an old friend of mine whose granddaughter just became my daughter-in-law. Hashem certainly works in interesting ways!” Malkie was quiet for a minute and then said, “You know me, Mrs. Lindner. You can always count on me to make trouble! “Mazal tov!”