Congresswoman Grace Meng Responds To Jewish Community

This is a topic that I know a little bit about: dating someone who has just gotten out of a long relationship – or whatever is considered long in the shidduch world.

In last week’s edition, I published an email from Aharon, a 47-year-old man who thinks he has met his bashert in Sharon, a divorced mother of three still in her 30s. According to Aharon, he has been advised by a rav whom he is close with that he must have children of his own. Aharon feels very strongly about this, as well, mainly because his rav has ingrained this into him for years. Usually, Aharon does have the discussion of children with a woman he dates, and if the answer is a “no,” he moves on. Aharon mistakenly thought that because Sharon is still in her 30s, having a child would not be an issue, so he never brought up the subject. It was only recently that Sharon herself brought the issue up, telling Aharon that she knows that he wants to have a child of his own, but she doesn’t want to have any more children. She even went so far as to say that she did not want to adopt an infant either at this stage in her life. Aharon is now invested in this relationship. He loves Sharon and really likes her children. He is wondering what my thoughts are on the subject. Aharon said that he has spoken with his therapist all about this. He just wants my take on this. Below is my response:

I was recently asked what my management style at work is. I’ve been a director of two departments in the agency I work at, and someone asked how I “handle” staff with different personalities, what I do or say when someone “screws up” or when I have to admonish one of them. I answered that I take the straightforward approach and never beat around the bush. I am their boss first and friend second. I play to everyone’s strengths, and I encourage my staff to always come to me with questions. I try to model my style after the mashal of the rav who looked through several s’farim to answer a simple question from a woman. After the woman left, satisfied with her answer, the talmidim of the rav asked why he spent so much time looking up the answer when anyone could have answered that question in a moment without looking up the answer. The rav’s reply is where I take my lesson from: “If I answered right away and didn’t even think about it for one moment, the woman would feel foolish and embarrassed and may never come when she has another question that may in fact be an important one. I spent some time looking for an answer so she may come to me with another in the future.”

I have touched upon this topic a few times over the years, but this email broke my heart. This man has finally met the woman of his dreams, but she has just told him that she does not want any more children. Unfortunately, Aharon (the fellow who contacted me) was under a different impression from the start of their relationship. So, the conversation that he usually has with a woman on the first or second date regarding children never took place. But here he is, and he now must make a decision that will affect the rest of his life – no matter what he decides. In some cases, there are no “correct” decisions, because someone or something will be lost.

I can’t tell you how many times I have been approached and told, “I have a shidduch story just as bad as one of yours.” I am not trying to be the one with the all-time worst dating experiences. I will gladly hand that crown or scepter to another. Many have approached me, when I was a guest speaker at an event, to tell me some of the tales. I found several of their stories even more amusing than my own. As I have mentioned many times, I really enjoy getting to meet new people at events and also reading the letters that I receive by email.