This past week we celebrated Tu B’Av, which is considered one of the happiest days of the year. (See Mishnah Ta’anit 4:8.) At least one of the reasons is that Tu B’Av was the day when marriage proposals were made and the women would go and dance in the fields to attract young men. Today Tu B’Av is thought of as a good day to get married and a day to speak about love and marriage.
If we look at the original Tu B’Av celebration it was for couples who found it a little difficult to find regular shidduchim and needed to resort to somewhat less conventional methods. We can assume that most young men and women were able to find their marriage partners without having to rely on this potentially flawed method. This seems to be reserved for those men and women who had no other choice.
This may be an explanation as to why this was such a happy day. After all, every wedding is a happy occasion, and why was this one day more significant and happier than any other day? If the people getting married through this ceremony were those who had trouble finding marriage partners—those who were older, or who came from poorer families—then this was an especially happy and auspicious occasion.
The message is that all marriages need to be encouraged and assisted but those that are a little more complicated need even more assistance and encouragement.
At Puah we noticed that many people and organizations do not deal with these complex shidduchim. They require a lot of time and effort and often a reasonable knowledge of the medical ramifications. Since no one else was doing so, we at Puah developed various programs to assist more complex shidduchim, and we will discuss some of these over the next few weeks.
The first initiative concerned young men and women who have a pre-existing condition that will impact their ability to get pregnant. This is much more common among women, since it is often obvious. A young woman who does not get her period will go to a doctor who may run certain tests and discover that there is a serious medical condition that is the cause of her amenorrhoea, or lack of menstruation. For young men, there may be no way of knowing that they have a fertility problem. But in cases of someone who underwent chemotherapy there may be a serious concern that fertility has been compromised. These young people find it hard to get married and that is where Puah can help.