Dating

Snowball

My brother Yossi was a good student in his yeshivah, outgoing, well-liked and always surrounded by friends. It was obvious that he would need a girl who was on the same wavelength, upbeat and with the same goals in life. When the time came for shidduchim, my parents did many hours of research looking into a lovely girl from out of town named Leah. Everything sounded fine, but they weren’t entirely sure because they didn’t know any of the people they had spoken to personally. My parents urged Yossi to give it a try. It turned out to be a disaster. The shadchan had been completely off the mark. Yossi and Leah had nothing in common. Nonetheless, Yossi was upbeat, insisting that everything comes from Hashem. He went back to yeshivah and was ready to move on with the next shidduch prospect. A few weeks later Leah’s father called our father on the telephone. “My daughter Leah had an idea,” he said. “She thinks your son Yossi would be a perfect match for her friend Yaffa, one of her coworkers. She’s very excited about it.” But Yossi was uninterested. What did Leah know about him? All she had was one awkward date by which to judge. Yossi had no desire to travel all the way back to the Midwest based on the opinion of a virtual stranger. At that point I offered to do a little more detective work. “You never know, Yossi,” I said. “I’ll let you know what I dig up.” He shrugged his shoulders. “All right,” he agreed, “but I wouldn’t hold my breath. That girl has no idea what I’m looking for.” I spent the next several days making phone calls, giving my brother time to reflect on his stubbornness.

Everything I heard about Yaffa sounded great. Then I called him back and said, “Yossi, if this girl isn’t for you, then I don’t know who is.” He agreed to go out at least once, with the proviso that if things were going well she’d also have to make a few trips to New York. After the idea was given the green light, Leah’s father offered to be the shadchan. “Yaffa’s parents know me, and they’d like me to be the go-between,” he explained to my father. Yossi thought it was strange. “How can he be my shadchan?” he asked, scandalized. “I just rejected his daughter, for goodness’ sake.” My father, however, saw it differently. He couldn’t get over the fact that this man’s daughter, whom his son had just announced he was uninterested in marrying, had been so kind as to think of someone else for him. “To me, that’s real self-sacrifice to put his own feelings aside and step up to the plate for someone else,” he said. “I can’t just tell him to stay out of it.” By that time Yossi was rapidly losing patience—and interest—in this latest prospect. In the end it was decided that the shadchan who suggested Leah would serve as the go-between for Leah’s father and our own father. It wasn’t ideal, but it would work. Yaffa and Yossi hit it off immediately. They enjoyed each other’s company and had lots of things in common. The shidduch was definitely going in the right direction.

In the meantime, though, Yaffa began to wonder why Leah’s father was involved. Since when did her friend’s father do shidduchim? How did he know Yossi anyway? She finally approached him and asked him point blank if Leah had ever dated him. A wave of queasiness washed over the newly-minted shadchan. What was the right thing to do? If Yaffa knew that Leah had dated him, would it ruin the shidduch? He was completely out of his depth. Not knowing how to respond, he made a split-second decision to cover his tracks. “Well,” he said slowly, making it up as he went along, “the name came up for Leah, but she felt that it was a much better suggestion for you.” However, one lie brings another in its wake. Frantically he called the go-between and asked him to contact our father and warn Yossi that if it ever came up in conversation, he was to stick to the story he had just concocted. As it turned out, my father was unreachable. After calling him five times, the go-between was growing desperate. Finally, he called Yossi directly, who dismissed the whole thing as a tempest in a teapot. Why would she ask me such a crazy question? he thought, immediately dismissing it from his mind.

On their next date Yaffa popped “the” question. “Did you ever date Leah?” she asked. Taken aback, Yossi automatically spit out the response that had been fed to him that very afternoon. As soon as the words were out he realized he had made a huge mistake. How could he have lied to the girl he one day wanted to marry? And how could he ever repair the damage? By now there were several people—including her best friend—who were aware that the two were dating. Would she ever trust him again? What had he done? The next morning he called Yaffa and told her how uncomfortable it had made him when she asked about his dating history. She agreed, and apologized. The incident was hopefully forgotten. A short time later he was ready to propose, confident that Yaffa would accept. The only damper on his happiness was his guilt over having been dishonest to her. Nonetheless, he tried to tamp it down and concentrate on their happy future. As expected, Yaffa accepted his proposal. It was a joyous time as they announced it to the world. A grand event was planned to celebrate their engagement. A mob of people from both sides came to the vort to wish the new couple well—including Leah and her mother.

By then my entire family was in on the secret and knew not to mention a word, lest Yaffa find out the truth. Everyone was walking on eggshells. It was quite stressful. Several of my siblings were very upset about the situation. Why had Yossi been encouraged to tell a blatant lie? It was a terrible mistake that should have never happened. On top of all this, there were several subtle hints that the other side knew what was going on. When would Yaffa find out? And how would she react? It is now several weeks later. Right after the vort Yossi went to an out-of-town yeshivah to immerse himself in Torah study before his wedding. He doesn’t know what to do. Should he tell her now or only after they’re married? Or maybe he should wait until she brings it up again, which will hopefully never happen? He can’t believe he’s about to get married with this secret hovering between him and his kallah. He recently told Yaffa that he has something important to discuss with her when he gets back. I wish them well.

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