Dei'ah veDibur - Information & Insight

A Window into the Chareidi World

27 Teves 5764 - January 21, 2004 | Mordecai Plaut, director Published Weekly









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Shema Yisrael Torah Network
Shema Yisrael Torah Network











Home and Family

The Shidduch That Did Not Match
by Yisca Shimony

A true story from yesteryear, some two hundred and fifty years ago.

It was early in the afternoon, on an early autumn day. The weather was chilly, with more than a hint of rain in the air. Inside the big kitchen in the home of R' Boruch Teomim Frankel, famous author of Boruch Taam and the Chief Rabbi of Leipnik, a town in Germany, the warmth from the cooking and baking made it warm and cozy.

Into this kitchen walked a young girl, Mirel. Elegantly attired but in simple taste, she smiled knowingly at her mother, who was busy instructing the cook and servants but barely aware at her daughter's entrance. Mirel turned to one of the young servants, a girl her own age, and began chatting amiably with her.

"What a pretty dress you're wearing," said the young maid.

"It is pretty, isn't it? I just finished the trimming. It is actually new, made in honor of a special occasion."

"Oh, really?" she asked inquisitively, eyebrows raised.

"Yes. We're having guests tonight. Do you know who they are?" she teased.

"No. Tell me!"

"Someone is coming to 'look' at me..." Both girls started giggling. At that very moment, in walked the Rov, R' Boruch Teomim Frankel, himself. He heard the girls' merry laughter but he wasn't in the mood for jollity. He looked critically at them and said, "Why so merry?' Not waiting for an answer, he turned to the rebbetzin and said, "I just heard that Reb Mottel the watercarrier is ill. He is in bed and his family is on the verge of starvation. You know the family. They have quite a brood, and they surely don't have any savings. They barely survived when Reb Mottel was working from dawn to dusk. May Hashem help these unfortunate people," he ended with a deep sigh and walked out of the kitchen.

The rebbetzin began pulling out jars of pickled vegetables and some smoked fish from the pantry and freshly baked loaves from the oven. She wrapped these up neatly and looked around the room. Whom should she send to the home of the watercarrier with this food? Her gaze fell upon her daughter.

"I'll be happy to go," offered Mirel.

"In that beautiful dress?" said the maid, shocked. "Let me go!"

"Both of you can go," said the rebbetzin. "Just make sure to wrap yourselves up in warm cloaks and to go quickly. The guests are expected soon."

The girls returned before long and came in through the back entrance, directly into the warm kitchen. A delicious aroma of freshly baked cookies and cakes welcomed them. "Could we have just a taste of those fine cookies? They smell absolutely mouthwatering."

The rebbetzin laid some out on a platter while Mirel cut some of the freshly baked cake to pass around. All was quiet for a few moments.


The guests arrived and were shown into the spotless parlor while Mirel sat in her room, waiting to be called in to be 'looked at.' Soon, the young maid knocked on her door and said they were waiting for her. Mirel entered the parlor with its solid oak furniture, breakfront and sofa, used only on Shabbos or for important guests, and saw an elderly couple sitting stiffly by the table. Complete silence reigned. The woman, bedecked with heavy gold jewelry, raised a hand to fondle the long string of pearls around her neck. Diamonds gleamed from the rings on her fingers. Mirel lowered her gaze to her own new dress, which looked suddenly shabby and unfashionable.

"That is a fine dress you are wearing," said the woman, a hint of dissatisfaction belying her words. Mirel just nodded without looking up.

The Rov broke the stiff silence with a sigh. "I just heard some sad news today. Our local watercarrier has fallen ill and will not be able to work for some time. Meanwhile, his large family is starving. They have no money for food, let alone medication. I am very troubled."

"Oh, why worry about a poor watercarrier? The poor are used to lack of money. I am sure his neighbors will see that they don't starve. But what does that have to do with us?" the woman said, somewhat impatiently. The diamonds on her fingers gleamed again as she made a gesture of dismissal.

The visit was soon over. Rabbi Boruch nodded to Mirel that she could leave the room. Mirel felt very uncomfortable and knew instinctively this was not a proper match. She went to her room and confided with her friend, the servant girl.

"It was horrible. All the woman thinks about is clothes and jewelry. You should have seen my father's face when she made that comment about the poor being used to not having money and that they wouldn't starve, after all..."


A few weeks later, Mirel met her intended match. This young man was a scholar in his own right but also bore the proud lineage of the Mogen Avrohom. But most important to Mirel, his family was known for their acts of chessed, their warm hospitality and their charity. Thus, she could continue in the path in which her own mother had trained her and the home she established would also be one of chessed.

And so it was. Mirel carried on the tradition of her caring parents and was encouraged, as well, by the example her in- laws set in this same area.

This was the true match ordained in Heaven.


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