When I was single, I did my fair share of s’gulos in order to marry. If someone suggested, “Jump up on your right foot, but land on your left foot,” I did it. I would joke that I was doing the exact same thing that every single married person has ever done and it still wasn’t working for me. What was I doing? Breathing. All people who are married or have ever been married breathe, do they not? I didn’t know what else to answer, because I didn’t know if eating challah at a wedding or breaking a fast on wine or doing anything else that was suggested to me would work. All I knew was that I was waiting until Hashem sent me my bashert. I know of some who have moved to Eretz Yisrael in the hopes of finding their zivug. Did it work? For some yes, and for others not. Moving to Israel isn’t a guarantee that you will stand under the chupah within a year or even two. But if you do choose to move, you must be the one wanting it. You must make that decision for yourself. You shouldn’t be pushed into it. Below is a letter from a man who is trying to be persuaded to move to Israel to find a shidduch.
I’m 35 and have dated so many women that I feel like there isn’t anyone new in the age bracket of 25-35 whom I haven’t heard of. I live on Long Island but have traveled to Florida, New Jersey, Lakewood, and Chicago, in order to date. I am not like the men whom you write about who want to date girls who are geographically desirable. I will travel to date, even if it’s a one-time date. I go to singles events, parties, Shabbos lunches, Friday Night onegs, Shabbatons. I also meet with shadchanim on my own – not like that article you wrote where men have their mothers arrange things for them. I try not to take a vacation from dating, but sometimes it gets too hard and I burn out. So I take a few weeks off to relax and clear my mind so I can start fresh again.
I’m a regular guy. I daven three times a day with a minyan. I work. I try to attend a shiur and have a chavrusa on Shabbos. I’m not the type to ask rebbeim or m’kubalim to look into my future and tell me what I need to do in order to meet my bashert. But one rav came right out and told me what to do. This isn’t a rav I am close with. I know him and daven in his minyan once every couple of weeks. The last few times he has seen me, he has told me to move to Israel, because I have a better chance of meeting my bashert there than here. I was shocked. I didn’t ask this rav and he didn’t suggest that I should move. He told me that if I wanted to get married, I need to go to Israel. It’s not as if I live in a small Jewish town in the Midwest. I live in New York with plenty of Jews, food, and shopping.
I am more than willing to do what I have to do in order to get married, but I don’t want to move to Israel. It’s not like moving to the next state. It’s moving to a country where I don’t know anyone. I joke that my family is the only Jewish family without relatives in Israel. My Hebrew needs a lot of work. It’s not that I don’t want to do what I can, but I wasn’t thinking it would involve uprooting my entire life: my home, my job, my friends. And then moving where there is no guarantee that I will meet my wife there. I know of a few people (not really friends) who made aliyah for this reason, and it worked for some, but one friend is still looking and still single. I told the rav I would consider it, but I only said that so he would stop talking about it. But he was insistent that it should be done ASAP.
Do you think I am wrong for not wanting to move? There are no guarantees that I will meet a girl in Israel or even here in America. I’m not embarrassed to say that I like my life here. I’m willing to travel to Israel for a couple of weeks, but that’s about it.
Well, Mr. G., thank you for your email.
I always like to think that people mean well and have others’ interests at heart when they offer advice. Let’s be dan l’chaf z’chus to this rav who thinks he is giving you sage advice. But you are correct. Moving to Israel doesn’t guarantee anything except that you will be starting a new life for yourself. I, too, know of people who moved to Israel for the sake of finding their bashert. One was married within the year of moving, the other lived in Israel for five years before she became a kallah and ended up moving back to America with her husband. The third is still looking for his zivug. The difference between you and these people is that they wanted to make aliyah.
Many feel that moving to Israel will give them an extra z’chus if they are seeking a bashert. Some call it another s’gulah that can be done in the z’chus of getting married. I did plenty of s’gulos, which I documented in this column: I fed a burger to my cousin’s dog, I slept with b’samim under my pillow for 40 nights and then sprinkled it in the ocean… No one suggested moving to Israel, but if they had, I would have felt the exact same way that you are feeling. For those who do make the move, they fully trust that this is the right path for them. They pick up their life and move, putting total trust in Hashem that He will guide the way. That is great for them. But that isn’t the path for everyone. I don’t think anything is wrong with you liking your life here. From what you wrote, it sounds like you are doing your hishtadlus in order to find your zivug. Some may argue with the opinion, but I believe Hashem will send someone his zivug only when the time is right, and it doesn’t matter if he is living in Brooklyn, Israel, Paris, or in his parents’ basement.
If you (or one of the readers) believe that going to Israel will help, and you will feel a closer connection to Hashem, and things may work out better for you there, then by all means go. But do not let anyone pressure you into doing something you don’t want to do. If you move, it is something you must want to do. There should be a yearning from your heart. If you move half-heartedly, or if you are persuaded into doing so, you may end up miserably unhappy, thinking about how “perfect” your life was before you packed up.
Personally, I think you handled the situation well. You told the rav that you would “consider” the move. If he pursues the matter with you again, you can tell him that you are either still “considering it” or just thank him kindly for his interest in your welfare, but at this time it isn’t possible to permanently pick up and go; you would, in either case, appreciate any t’filos he can say on your behalf. Just be gracious and kind because, as I said, I’m sure the rav means well.
Hatzlachah to you all!