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"Matchmaker, Matchmaker...!"

10/29/2020 04:49:30 PM


Rabbi Reuben Israel Abraham, CDR, CHC, USN (ret)

          Shraga Feivish was the most successful matchmaker in the whole province.  People used to say that he could seal a match between a bulldog and a Siamese cat if he put his mind to it.  One day, the Rebbe summoned Shraga Feivish and presented him with a problem.  “Shraga Feivish,” the Rebbe said, “Moshe Mendel the son of Uri the baker is a wonderful boy.  He is destined to be a great scholar and a tzaddik.  He must be able to devote his life to Torah and prayer.  Menachem the banker has a daughter who would be perfect for Moshe Mendel!  This match is made in Heaven!  I want you to arrange this match.  Your reward will be substantial, both in the world and the next!”

          “Rebbe,” Shraga Feivish replied kissing the tzaddik’s hand, “There is nothing that I would like better than to do the Rebbe’s bidding!  But what can I do?  Menachem the banker has visions of securing a high-society match for his daughter.  He will not give me the time of day for anything less than a blue-blooded Rebbishe grandson.  The banker with the baker?  This will never work!”  “With HaShem’s help, you will make it work,” smiled the Rebbe who then proceeded to bless the matchmaker and send him on his way.  Shraga Feivish arranged to meet with Menachem the banker.  And, surprisingly, although he had a number of good proposals, Menachem the banker was nevertheless both curious and eager to hear what Shraga Feivish had to offer.  With the Rebbe’s blessing, Shraga Feivish was completely confident that he would be successful.

          “My esteemed Reb Menachem,” began Shraga Feivish as he ceremoniously opened his notebook. “I can offer you any number of the best young men in all of Podolia and Galitzia.  If it is blueblood you seek, my clients include the offspring of the Baal Shem Tov, Rebbe Michal’e of Zlatchov, and the Noam Elimelech, just to name a few.  If it is scholarship that you seek, I represent the best boys from the best yeshivas, the least of who has mastered the entire Talmud by age fifteen.  With your wherewithal, I can offer you the choice of the cream, that is with exception of one boy….”  With that statement, his curiosity got the best of Menachem the banker; he swallowed the matchmaker’s “bait.”  “Which boy?” he demanded to know.  “Do not hide anything from me, Shraga Feivish!”

          “What does it matter to you?” asked Shraga Feivish.  “Money cannot buy everything.  I have one boy who is so far ahead of the rest in holiness and pure Torah scholarship that he deserves not only a father-in-law of sound financial means, he deserves a father-in-law who will appreciate having an absolute tzaddik for a son-in-law.  After all, you are a banker, Menachem….”  “Are you insinuating that I am not good enough for this boy?” Menachem the banker replied.  “Do you not know that I learn with a chevrusa every evening?”  Shraga Feivish smiled and said, “So do the wagon-masters and the water-shleppers.  This boy prays like and angel.  When he finishes the Shemonah Esrei, he is standing in a puddle of tears, and….”  “What are driving at, Shraga Feivish?” Menachem the banker demanded to know.  “Do you think that I pray like one of the peddlers?  I am the first one in shul for Shacharis in the morning, and I am the last one to leave.  How dare you imply that I am not worthy of having a tzaddik for a son-in-law!”

          By now the tension in the air was so thick that you could cut it with a knife.  Shraga Feivish calmly said, “Listen Reb Menachem.  For your own good, why not settle for a Talmudic scholar who happens to be the grandson of the Rizhiner Rebbe?  I mean, after all….”  “No, said the banker, “I demand to see your best boy, the tzaddik!”  “I am sorry, Reb Menachem,” replied Shraga Feivish, “but I do not think the Rebbe will let me match the young holy man with anything less than the daughter of someone who is truly on the appropriate spiritual level, one who has a working knowledge of the Ari’s Eight Gates….”  “ENOUGH!  I DEMAND TO SEE THE REBBE!  TAKE ME TO THE REBBE!” shouted Menachem the banker.

          Shraga Feivish’s ploy had worked perfectly!  The more obstacles he placed in Reb Menachem’s way, the more the banker desired the match with Moshe Mendel, the young holy man.  Later, in the Rebbe’s chamber, Menachem the banker literally begged the Rebbe to grant a blessing to the match between his daughter and the baker’s son.

            In this week’s parashah, Parashat Lech Lecha,             we read the following: “And HaShem said to Avram: “Go for your sake from your land and from your birthplace and from your father’s house to the land that I will show you.  And I will make you into a great nation and I will bless you, and I will make your name great and you will be a blessing.” (Bereshit 12:1) Avraham Avinu, Abraham our Father, faced ten tests in his lifetime, and none of them may have been as difficult as this particular test.  By testing Avram in this way, HaShem knew that he would “pass the test” with flying colors as his desire to do HaShem’s will not for only his own sake but for the sake of those who would follow him and who would eventually become the People Israel was intense, so intense that he left everything he had known and loved behind in order to begin the journey of bringing Torah and Eretz Yisrael to this world.

The tests we face in life as the People Israel are more often than not very difficult for us to face and overcome.  But, may we be like Avram; may we have that same desire for ourselves and, most especially, for those who follow us! For it is then that we too will become Avraham  Shabbat Shalom!

Sun, March 7 2021 23 Adar 5781