Having just celebrated the joyous day of Tu B’Av, we present a letter from the Rebbe with detailed and clear advice regarding a shidduch. The letter, written originally in English, is from the archives of the Rebbe’s trusted secretary Rabbi Nissan Mindel.
Miss ________ 5737
New York, N.Y.
Blessing and Greeting:
I just received your letter, in which you write about your acquaintance with a young man, and that you attempted to convince him of a basic matter in Yiddishkeit, etc.
It is not clear from your letter whether this is intended merely to be informative, or whether you would also like to know my opinion and/or advice. At any rate, even if this is in doubt, I nevertheless consider it my duty to express my opinion in this matter, considering the seriousness of it.
Knowing of your background, it is surely unnecessary to emphasize to you at any length that in contemplating a shidduch, the first prerequisite is that the future partner in life be fully committed to the way of the Torah and mitzvot on a daily basis, with emphasis on the actual fulfillment of the mitzvot.
Of course, the Torah, as the embodiment of infinite divine wisdom, provides a wide field for intellectual study and is a source of profound concepts, and you find in it sources of, and references to, the various mitzvot. Much can also be found in our sacred literature in the way of explanation of their deeper significance. However, the proper–as well as logical–Jewish approach is that one must not wait to perform a mitzvah until one fully understands its significance, and certainly one must never make such understanding a condition of its performance, especially considering the limitations of the human mind. For every day that passes without the fulfillment of the mitzvah represents an irretrievable loss.
It is also understandable that when a person promises to commit himself fully to Torah and mitzvot in his daily life at some future date, this promise can be valid only if he knows from experience what such a promise entails. Since such a commitment would entail a radical change in his way of life, coming after years of living according to a fixed pattern, he cannot–however well-meaning he may be–have a real idea as to whether or not he would be able to carry it out. Only after he actually puts himself to the test for a substantial length of time will he be qualified to decide whether or not he can accept upon himself such a commitment for the rest of his life.
Clearly, when it comes to marriage, this should not be tied in with any expectation to educate, or re-educate, the would-be partner–especially where such education would be required at almost every step. Human nature is such that when a person is pressured into making concessions for the sake of another person–every day and many times a day–without as yet seeing any reason for doing it except to please the other partner, this is not a healthy situation, and it is bound to generate resentment and disharmony, etc.
The above letter is from The Letter and the Spirit by Nissan Mindel Publications (NMP).
These letters were written originally in English and were prepared for publication by Rabbi Dr. Nissan Mindel, whose responsibility it was the Rebbe’s correspondence in English and several other languages.
We thank Rabbi Shalom Ber Schapiro, who was entrusted by his father-in-law Rabbi Mindel with his archives and who is Director of the Nissan Mindel Publications (NMP), for making the Rebbe’s letters available to the wider public. May the merit of the many stand him in good stead.