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Parshat Va’eira

Shidduch Checklist

Focusing on the Fundamentals

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In the Torah portion of Va’eira, the Torah tells us about the lineage of Moshe and Aharon, the redeemers of the Jewish people (Exodus 6:14-28). Several reasons are given as to why this lineage is not given earlier, when the Torah speaks about Moshe’s birth (Exodus, chapter 2).
  • Not to Interrupt the Story
The Ramban (on Exodus 2:1) explains that the Torah leaves out the lineage of Moshe up until this point so as not to interrupt the flow of the story. Now that the Torah is about to begin the story of the plagues, it is an appropriate time to fill in that detail.
  • A Hush-Hush Wedding
The Zohar (vol. 2 page 19a quoted in Torah Shleima) says that the Torah does not tell us the identity of Moshe’s parents when it recounts his birth to indicate that at that time they kept their wedding a secret so as not to alert the Egyptians who might try to kill their baby boys.
  • The Choice of Moshe Was Not Because of His Family
The Ha’amek Davar explains (Exodus 6:14) that when Moshe was chosen there was no need to give his lineage as the reason G-d chose him was not his lineage. Rather, it was his unique character which was most appropriate for receiving and then teaching the Torah. This can be compared to a brilliant general who is appointed to head an army. His appointment has nothing to do with his family, it is purely because of his expertise in warfare.
This is why, up until this point, the Torah does not inform us about the lineage of Moshe. It is only after Aharon was assigned to the task of communicating with the Jewish people that the Torah gives their lineage. This is because Aharon was chosen to this position due to his being a descendant of other great righteous leaders such as Amram and Levi and due to his being a member of the tribe of Levi that was renowned for its adherence to the Torah. Additionally, he was a great tzadik in his own right.

Names of the Mothers 

The Ramban (on Exodus 6:23) explains that the Torah informs us of the names of the mothers of great leaders of the people just as the prophets often inform us of the names of the mothers of the kings (see Kings I, 15 and in many places). Specifically,
  • Yocheved is named as she is the mother of Moshe, (Miriam) and Aharon. Another reason she is mentioned is because she bore Moshe at the advanced age of 130.
  • Elisheva, the wife of Aharon, is mentioned since she was the matriarch of the Kohanim and the sister of the prince of the tribe of Yehudah, Nachson ben Aminadav.
  • The mother of Pinchas is mentioned (“And Elazar, the son of Aharon, took for himself a wife from the daughters of Putiel” – Ex. 6:25) since he was also a leader of the Jewish people and a Kohen Gadol.
The Lubavitcher Rebbe explains (Sicha of Va’eira 5731, quoted in HaMaor ShebaTorah, Shemot page 85) that these women are mentioned because they contributed significantly to the spiritual development of their children who became the teachers and leaders of the Jewish people.

The rest of this article will discuss what qualities a person should look for when seeking a future spouse. It is based on the writings of the Lubavitcher Rebbe (collected in Sha’arei Shiduchim, page 110 and in Nitei Gavriel, introduction to Shidduchim ViTna’im.)

Looking for a Spouse

Here are the most important qualities one should look for when seeking a future spouse: (Although most of the Rabbinic literature focuses on the qualities one should seek when looking for a wife, it would seem that the many of these qualities apply also to one looking for a husband.)
  • Fear of Heaven
The most important quality to search for in terms of a future spouse is Yirat Shamayim,fear of Heaven (Sha’arei shidduchim, page 112).
  • Kind Heart
One can learn from Eliezer’s search for a wife for Yitzchak that the most important quality when looking for a wife is that of kindness (see Gen. Chapter 24). This is why Eliezer’s only test to find the future wife for Yitzchak was if she would be kind enough to pour water for him and his camels. Eliezer was not at all concerned as to whether or not her family had money.
  • A Torah Scholar or the Daughter of a Torah Scholar
The Talmud (Pesachim 49a) says that a person should sell everything he has in order to marry the daughter of a Torah scholar and to marry his daughter off to a Torah scholar. The reason one should marry the daughter of a Torah scholar is that it is then more likely that his children will be Torah scholars.
The reason one should marry his daughter off to a Torah scholar is that this will ensure that his daughter will be treated with respect as an ignorant person is more likely to mistreat his wife. In addition, by marrying one’s daughter off to a Torah scholar, one will be assisting in the mitzvah of supporting a Torah scholar.
It is noteworthy that while usually one need not spend more than 20% of one’s wealth to do a positive mitzvah (Rama, O.C. 656), this limitation does not apply in this case because it involves Torah learning. The Shitah Mekubetzet on Ketubot 50a proves from a story with Rabbi Akiva and Rabbi Tarfon in Vayikra Rabbah 34:16 that one may give more than 20% to support the learning of Torah. See also Ahavat Chessed 20:5.
According to the Zohar (Parshat Lech Lecha 91b, as understood by the Agra DePirka 87), one who marries the daughter of a Torah scholar can be assured that he is marrying his intended mate (“bashert”).
  • Ben Torah
The Lubavitcher Rebbe wrote, “One will achieve true satisfaction in life by marrying a Torah scholar (ben Torah) who studied Torah with Yirat Shamayim (fear of Heaven) in a yeshiva (Sha’arei Shidduchin, pg. 115).”
  • It’s Not About the Money
A shidduch was once proposed to Reb Yekusiel Yehudah Teitelbaum of Sighet, known as the Yitav Lev (1908 – 1883), for one of his children. The father of the (prospective) bride was a wealthy and prominent individual who had promised a tidy sum of money to support the young couple.
The Sigheter Rebbetzin (Ruchel, daughter of Rabbi Moshe Dovid Ashkenazi of Tolcsva, Hungary) said, “Whenever a shidduch is proposed that involves money, one has to consider if the family and individual in question are worthy of this match in the merit of their qualities or not. If they are worthy, one may proceed with the match. But if not, one should not go ahead with the Shidduch as the quality of the individual and family should outweigh financial considerations.
  • In the Words of the Meiri
The Meiri writes (on Mishlei 14:1) “Do not marry a woman for her wealth or beauty because all of that will (eventually) depart ,and all that will be left will be her shortcomings. Choose a woman whose behavior is exemplary, and do not choose a woman for her money lest you become a slave to her (i.e., having to maintain her lifestyle). A wise woman will build a home with her good work whereas a foolish one will destroy it single-handedly.”
  • External Beauty
Just as the most important aspect of a house is its foundation and its functionality while its external beauty is secondary, so too when choosing a spouse. The external beauty should be secondary to the person’s “foundations” and true character (Sha’arei Shidduchin, pg. 119).
  • Three Considerations when Deciding
Rabbi Eliezer David Greenwald of Tzehlim and Satmar (1867 – 1928) writes in Keren LeDavid, (Parshat Shoftim pg. 170) that someone once asked the Gaon of Razla (Rabbi Yehudah Tzvi Eichenstien 1792 – 1847) for advice regarding a particular Shidduch.
The Gaon explained that one should weigh three considerations before deciding on a shidduch. He based these on the consultations that the Jewish people would have before going to war in the time of King David (see Brachot 3b). They are:
1) Common Sense
One must first decide, using one’s own logic, if the shidduch is a good one.
2) Torah Perspective
One should then consult with a Torah scholar if there are any Halachic considerations that must be considered and see if the shidduch is appropriate.
3) Ask the Tzadik
One should then ask a Tzadik for his opinion (and blessing) on the match.
  • No Extra Conditions
One should not add extra (trivial) conditions to what they are looking for in a spouse as this will only make it more difficult to find a Shidduch. Rather, one should focus on the important qualities and disregard the others (Sha’arei Shidduchim, pg. 113)

 Sefardim and Ashkenazim

The Lubavitcher Rebbe was asked many times about shidduchim between Ashkenazi and Sefardi families. Here are several excerpts from his responses in which he strongly emphasized that this should not be a barrier to a Shidduch at all (Sha’arei Shidduchim, pages 133 – 135).
  • G-d Forbid
As to the tone of your letter which indicates that you believe that marrying a girl from a Sefardic family is a compromise of some sort,  G-d forbid and Heaven forfend (Chas Veshalom veChas Veshalom) to say such a thing. On the contrary, you should pursue the shidduch.”
  • Not the Same Sefardim and Ashkenazim
Lately many shidduchim have taken place between Sefardim and Ashkenazim, and both sides are happy. These Ashkenazim and Sefardim are not the same as those from earlier eras (when the differences between the cultures was more pronounced). Nowadays, the two groups are much closer to each other than in the past.”
  • Hundred and Thousands
If this is the only issue, certainly one should disregard it as lately hundreds and thousands of such shidduchim have taken place, and their marriages are strong.”

May all those who need a Shidduch find the right one, speedily!

Wishing you a Shabbat Shalom UMevorach!

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