Rabbi Shlomo Sobol
Rabbi Shlomo SobolINN: Daniel Malichi

Last week, a 22-year-old man came up to me and said, "Rabbi, I recently decided to start dating. After much hesitation, I gathered my courage and called my 21-year-old cousin and told her excitedly that I was starting to go out and maybe she has a suitable girlfriend? I was sure she would be happy to help me. But what was her answer? ‘Most of my girlfriends are already married.’ What, she doesn't realize that I don't need many brides, just one?!”

This is one story among many that demonstrates what is happening to the dati-leumi community on the topic of making introductions for the sake of dating and marriage.

Before I begin, I want to say 2 things:

A. Kol hakavod to all those engaged in the holy work of making matches which, Chazal teach us, G-d also engages in daily. There are many hundreds of men and women who attempt – and succeed – to bring together new families in the nation of Israel. We can never thank you enough.

B. I apologize for the direct language in which I will be writing. I have no intention of hurting anyone, G-d forbid, but my purpose here is to discuss a painful point, in the hope that my words will enter your hearts.

There are tens of thousands of single men and women in the dati-leumi community who desperately want to establish a “bayit neeman b’yisrael” and to merit healthy children. Most of those singles could have already found their destined ones if we were all committed to this sacred mission. “Matchmaking” is not just a “Yenta” profession like in the stories, but it is the privilege and a duty of all of us: friends, mentors, teachers, Rabbis, and colleagues, to try to find matches for those we know.

Here are some of the excuses that singles hear when they approach others for assistance with finding a match:

"Sorry, I'm not good at this" , "I tried several times and wasn’t successful so I gave up","Most of my girlfriends are already married" , "My wife is a ba’alat teshuva, she has no religious friends”, “I’d be happy to help you, just remind me from time to time","Talk to Moshe, he's amazing at this","I would love to get involved but I'm shy”, “This topic is really important to me, but I'm so busy lately","I only managed to make a match once, and the couple divorced","I don't deal with matchmaking"

I won’t start refuting every excuse, but I will briefly address the first ones:

"I don't deal with matchmaking" – that is not even an excuse! I can refute this with two simple words: “Please start!” Do something integral for the singles in our community! If G-d deems it appropriate to be involved in making matches, then it is not below your dignity to do it too.

"I'm not good at this" – Let me tell you, I'm not good at sukkah building, but I struggle with my two left hands and build a sukkah every year. So please, do as much as you can to build homes in Israel, and G-d will do His part as well.

Most of my girlfriends are married" - the truth is, I’m not sure I believe you, but if that is true, I wish “most of your girlfriends” lots of luck. However right now we are not talking about those who have already married, but about those who haven’t. By the way, “most of your girlfriends” probably got married because of matchmakers who “most of their girlfriends” were already married too. Lucky, they didn't think like you.

So, here are my "Thirteen Principles" for those who want to get involved with matchmaking:

1. Want: Like many things in life, it all starts with will. You must work on yourself to want to help the singles among us. Even those who are not at the center of their community can still be successful in making matches. Every man and woman wants to get married, no matter their origin, occupation or appearance.

2. Ask: When you meet a man or woman whom you think are worthy candidates, “knock on the door” and ask permission to ask, then ask gently and directly whether they are interested in getting married, and if so, ask them for information, and try to understand what they are looking for.

3. Take Notes: People are not walking computers, so you need to write down the details of those you meet. At first it may seem to you that you have everything stored in your mind, but over time, if you do not have notes you will just have a jumble in your brain of names, occupations, and ages.

4. Invest: Don't pull names out of a hat. Not every man fits every woman. You need to spend time thinking about who is right for whom. And even after thinking of a match which seems compatible and is worth mentioning until you reach them and until they get back to you can sometimes take days. Don’t despair! Making matches is such a great thing that it’s worth the time and thought that you put into it.

5. Suggest: Do not wait to hear a heavenly voice announcing that this man is compatible with this woman. There is no way that the man and woman will be 100% compatible right from the start. Compatibility is for the two sides to check for themselves. If the offer seems right to you, just suggest it. The couple will make their own inquiries.

6. Dare: Don't be ashamed to suggest matches even to those you don't know well. Don't limit your suggestion-making to just your closest circle of friends. Dare to suggest matches for people you are less connected with: neighbors, classmates, work colleagues, etc.

7. Be Enthusiastic: When you suggest a match, do it with excitement and enthusiasm. If you aren’t excited about a match then the single won’t be either. Don't lie or stretch the truth but focus on the positives of the candidate and give over that information with lots of enthusiasm

8. Persist: You set up a match, they met and it didn’t go, or you thought of a match but they thought it wasn’t a good idea. Nevertheless, keep trying! Even if you disagree with their reasoning and think that they were wrong in refusing, do your part by continuing to suggest matches. The rest is up to G-d.

9. Believe: Do not despair of suggesting matches even to those who have already been labeled “picky” or “selective” or to those who have already dated for a while. Sometimes we feel “if others suggested matches for him/her and they didn’t work, then why would my proposal succeed?” So maybe it won’t. Who knows? But just maybe you were chosen to be the right messenger.

10. Lend: The one who suggests the match does not have to be involved in the dating process. However, you can offer to “lend” yourself as an address that the single can turn to if they need someone to consult with. If you are qualified then you can advise yourself and if not then give the single the contact information of someone else with whom they can consult.

11. Activate: The more people who engage in suggesting matches, the greater the chances of success. In addition, the task will be easier as the burden will be shared among more people. That is why we need to “activate” more matchmakers and create “working relationships” between them. This way, the number of potential candidates will be increased and so will the successes.

12. Pray: As in everything in life, we need to pray for and ask for Divine assistance, especially about arranging matches between a man and a woman. So pray to G-d that the singles who are searching find their match and that you as the matchmaker be the correct messenger to help build a new family in Israel.

13. Thank: Thank G-d that He gives us the opportunity to partner with Him in this holy task; to engage in the creation of families and the continuity of the people of Israel.

One last thought: It is possible that if the numeration in the dati-leumi community for friends and acquaintances who suggest matches was not a 100 NIS gift card at Steimatzky, but $1000 from each side, as is common in other circles, it would encourage many more people to engage in matchmaking. Let the matchmakers volunteer elsewhere. Suggesting matches in a job that is worth full compensation, not only in the next world (one who makes 3 matches is guaranteed paradise) but also in this world.

We should meet at happy occasions very soon!

Rabbi Shlomo Sobol heads Israel's Barkai Rabbinic Organization.for Practical Rabbinics and Community Development.