Friday, January 21, 2022

Bruce Schechter and Michal Aryeh were middle-aged singles who had not yet found their match. They were suggested to each other, but Bruce lived in Atlanta and Michal was in Queens. Not easy. In January 2015 they were both going to be in Florida, so they scheduled a date. One date turned into two. They had a nice time together, but Michal had concerns about a long-distance relationship, as their backgrounds were quite different. Michal’s flight back home was suddenly canceled due to an impending snowstorm in New York and was rescheduled for two days later. Bruce, meanwhile, had taken quite a liking to Michal and postponed his own flight to continue seeing her for two more days. Those extra two days allowed them to really get to know each other better and look past their differences. Six months later, they were married! Funny post-script: that major New York snowstorm never materialized! Now, whenever Bruce and Michal hear of a flight being canceled, they say that Hashem is working on another shidduch!

In Parshas Beshalach, Hashem split the sea for klal Yisrael. It was truly and obviously a miracle from Hashem. The Gemara equates the Divine providence of shidduchim to the splitting of the sea. In what sense is the matching of a Jewish couple for marriage like the awesome splitting of the sea?

David Hamelech says, “l’gozeir yam suf ligzarim ki l’olam chasdo”—give thanks to Hashem Who split the sea and whose kindness is forever. Simply understood, Hashem saved us from Pharaoh’s army and certain destruction in a showing of His kindness. However, based on the equating of the splitting of the sea to the making of a shidduch, we can say that the kindness of the splitting of the sea was not limited to a one-time occurrence. Rather, every shidduch made represents Hashem influencing the laws of nature to ensure that the shidduch will happen.

According to the Midrash, the sea split into 12 different passages—a passageway for each of the 12 tribes. Another interpretation in the Midrash is that the sea split into an individual path for each person; when it comes to shidduchim, each person needs his or her own splitting of the sea.

This concept is illustrated in the pasuk, “The Jewish nation walked on the dry land in the sea.” Rabbi Elimelech of Lizhensk paraphrases the pasuk to say, “The Jewish nation walked on dry land with the same level of emunah (faith) in Hashem as they had when they walked into the sea.”

The Slonimer Rebbe expounds further, saying that the emunah we gained by witnessing the splitting of the sea allowed us to be attuned to the Divine intervention of Hashem when it’s in a more hidden fashion—and on dry land. The Ramban tells us that the purpose of the great miracles performed during the exodus of Egypt was to make clear to us that Hashem is involved in all the details of our lives.

Sometimes Hashem’s involvement is overt and at other times subtle. The making of shidduchim is an opportunity for us to witness Hashem’s direct miraculous involvement, although it might appear to be “chance.”

The Slonimer Rebbe offers another interpretation of the pasuk: “The Jewish nation walked on the dry land in the sea.” Traveling across the ocean at that time was very dangerous, and one needed to have trust in Hashem that his journey would end safely. Just as sailors had strong faith in Hashem when traveling on the sea, similarly klal Yisrael realized that they needed Hashem’s watchful eye over them at their each step on dry land.

The language the Gemara uses when it equates the making of a shidduch to the splitting of the sea is “kashah zivugin k’krias yam suf’’—loosely translated as: “shidduchim are as difficult to make as the splitting of the sea.” But we know that nothing is difficult for Hashem! I heard Rabbi Zev Leff explain that the word kashah means hard—solid. In order to merit shidduchim, one needs to have solid faith in Hashem, as the Jews had after they saw the sea split for them.

Each and every shidduch has a story. Sometimes the shidduch needs to be researched a bit more than others. Let us use the Divine intervention shown in the events of Bruce and Michal Shechter’s shidduch to strengthen our emunah, and may their match be a merit for all those searching for their shidduch, to find their right match this year.

Rabbi Baruch Bodenheim is the associate rosh yeshiva of Passaic Torah Institute (PTI)/Yeshiva Ner Boruch, where he leads a multi-level Gemara-learning program. PTI has attracted adult Jews of all ages from all over northern New Jersey for its learning programs. Fees are not charged but any contributions are always welcome. Beyond PTI, Rabbi Bodenheim conducts a weekly beis midrash program with chavrusa learning in Livingston plus a monthly group in West Caldwell. Rabbi Bodenheim can be reached at [email protected] For more info about PTI and its Torah classes, visit www.pti.shulcloud.com.

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