Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Sefardi Gal, Sefardi Gal, find me a find, catch me a...

Whenever you try to set people up and give advice, you take a risk. A risk of hurting them. And that's a big risk.

Several months after getting married, I tried to set up a close friend of mine. Let's call her Dana.
When she heard details about the suggestion, she got annoyed at me.
"But Dana, he has the qualities that really matter! Why don't you just give him a chance?"
Dana told me that I'm "becoming one of the married friends who forgets what it was like to be single."
I sympathized because I remembered such people and how much they would annoy me, but was I really becoming one of them?
I apologized to her and let it go.

BH that friend got married. And whatdya know? It was to a guy who was completely opposite of whom she pictured herself with.
I find that with most couples I know, the gal got married to someone completely different than what "everyone" pictured her with. Be it lookwise, hashkafahwise, personalitywise, etc.

FFWD to a few months ago.
A single friend came over for Shabbat. She lamented about how there are no guys to date, and how strongly she'd like to get married already.
I suggested a great guy who I know, and she seemed interested in all of the qualities that I mentioned. After hearing me out, she asked "did he go to college?"
To be honest, I wasn't sure. So I said so.
"well, in that case, no. I think I need a guy who has a masters."
I tried to convince this friend that a masters or college degree is not what makes someone a  good spouse. In fact, far from it.
What matters is a person's middot, Yirat Shamayim, and mutual chemistry/attraction.
This friend reiterated the same line that my other friend did over a year ago:
"being married made you forget what it's like to be single!"

Silly Sefardi Gal tried to set up a guy. Now, this guy looks around 10 years younger than he really is and is looking for veeeeeerrrryy specific qualities in his wife to be.
He sincerely poured his heart out, hoping for my husband and I to have sympathy. We had sympathy. Well, perhaps my husband had more than I did, since he is also a man and has better middot than I do. :D
I told the guy "listen, if you want to get married. Cut down your list and stop looking for the shtuyot. Find a woman who has Yirat Shamayim, good middot, and is fine looking, and just GET MARRIED BEFORE YOU TURN 40 and have very few women available to date."
Once you turn into an older single, you lose the liberty to be so particular.

I should just tape my mouth shut.
I apologized profusely, hoping I didn't offend him.

Sometimes being married for 2 years makes me feel like a know it all. I know. Pathetic. I have a lot to learn.
But I so often hear singles demanding qualities in a spouse that just DON'T MATTER in a successful marriage, and the obsession of those qualities is what is holding them back from finding a proper mate.
I wish my single friends would just take the time to LISTEN to people who have experience, as opposed to solely listening to their single friends who are trapped in the same boat of uncertainty.

So please, all of the singles, stop looking for the shtuyot. Look for the real deal because your husband's master degree is not what will make your marriage fulfilling, and your wife's hair color is not what's going to bring the Shechina into the home.
May HaShem grant us all with what's good for us and what we need.

Monday, August 19, 2013

Who's Really Rich?

Would you rather be happy or rich? Most people will respond, "Happy!" However, do we work more to be happy or rich? Most people work at being rich far more than they work at being happy. Perhaps deep down we think -- even though we know better -- that happiness comes through being rich. There are enough unhappy rich people to disprove the notion. There is more to happiness than wealth!
And how do many people pursue happiness? They strive for physical acquisitions and indulgences -- and then wonder why a nicer car, a nicer house doesn't make them happy.
The Secret to being happy. It is simple. It just isn't always easy. All one has to do is to focus on what he has. The secret for misery is focusing on what one lacks or thinks he lacks.
However, a person can know how to be happy and do nothing to increase his or her happiness. It takes effort and that can be uncomfortable. So, we often avoid the effort it takes to be happy.
There is at least one exception to focusing on what you have in order to be happy. If you pursue something meaningful and important, as a bi-product you will likely have happiness. Perhaps by doing something altruistic and accomplishing, the pleasure comes more easily. It doesn't take the effort required to focus on what we take for granted.
Rabbi Noah Weinberg, of blessed memory, the founder of Aish HaTorah, loved using the following scenario to drive home the secret to happiness:
Imagine standing on the 70th floor of the Empire State building. Suddenly, a man opens a window and says, "I'm going to jump!" You call out, "Stop! Don't do it!" And he replies, "If you try to stop me, I'll take you with me!"
The guy is 6'5" and weighs 260 pounds, so you say, "OK... but any last messages? Perhaps there's someone I should notify?" He says, "You seem like an intelligent, friendly person. I'll give you 15 minutes to try to dissuade me, but first let me tell you my troubles so you'll understand why I want to jump."
For hours you listen to him tell you about the most horrific misfortunes and tragedies. You've never heard stories like this. By the end, you're crying your eyes out. Finally, he turns to you and says, "I'm miserable. Why should I go on living?"
What can you possibly say? Suddenly, you get a flash of inspiration! "Sir, if on top of all your troubles you also happened to be blind, would you be more or less miserable? He replies, "Certainly, more miserable!" You then continue, "So you would then definitely jump?" "Of course!" he replies.
Now, imagine that you're leaning out the window about to jump and suddenly there's a miracle. You can see! You see people, the sun, clouds, birds flying in the sky! Would you jump ... or would you wait a week to look around?"
The man answers, "I suppose I'd stick around for a week." "What about all of your troubles and miseries?" you ask. "So, what? Now I can see!"
If a person really appreciates that he can see then all of his miseries are nothing. On the other hand, if you take everything you have for granted, nothing you'll ever receive in life will bring you lasting happiness. The secret of happiness is to really appreciate what you have.
Appreciating the pleasures we have is a simple and effective means to happiness. Every evening when you sit down with your family or a friend, discuss five pleasures each of you experienced that day. Incorporate this into your daily ritual -- especially if you have children. Eventually, those around you will be focused throughout the day on what pleasures they had so that they can share them with you.
(This post is copied from Rabbi Kalman Packouz's Shabbat Shalom Weekly Newsletter)