Monday, April 11, 2005

What To Say

In the comments to my last post people asked what they are supposed to say to singles. I want to emphasize that I am not saying that the phrase “I hope you find your bashert soon” is bad. Of course it is the natural response to everything I have written in my blog and I appreciate that people are wishing me well. I was just using it to illustrate a point not to say that that comment annoys me (though the comment “I am sure you will find your bashert soon” does annoy me even though of course I know the people saying it have only very good intentions.)

Anyway here are my personal observations of good and bad things to say to singles.

A rule of thumb is that anything you would not say to a childless couple about being childless you should try not say to a single person about being single. Thus saying at a wedding “you are next” or “soon by you” has lost much of its appeal. Personally I think it is fine just to say “It was very nice to see you. All the best to you” just like you would say to any other adult. If you feel an irresistable desire to give them a bracha may I suggest “May Hashem grant you all that you desire” or “May Hashem bless you with success in all your endeavors.” If you say something specific about getting married then the single person may indeed interpret it to mean that you do not value all the other good things in their life such as their job, friends, hobbies, service to the community, etc. as has been mentioned in the comments.

If you want to set up a single person may I suggest that you first make sure you know something about them and what they are looking for? It is fine to call and ask them! This will show that you are making a thoughtful match and not just putting two people together because they are both frum and near each other in age.

If the single person has been complaining to you about being single then it would appear this is a single you know well and who trusts you so you do not have to be as worried about saying the wrong thing since it appears you are already friends and you tend to say the right thing to them! But here is a suggestion. You could say “You deserve to be happy and since you want to get married so badly I hope you get married soon. Meanwhile I am happy that you are my friend because you are a great person and the world is a nicer place because you are in it.” In other words to say that you hope for them the same things they hope for themselves but also to remind them that their existence has value even if they are single. Personally I like it when a friend (or commenter) tells me they are davening for me but that is because we are friends (or because I have opened myself up on the blog). I do not think I would like it if a person who hardly knows me told me in shule that they are davening for me. I would rather they daven for me and not tell me!

I agree with the commenters that setting a person up is much more helpful than just giving them a bracha but may I add another suggestion. Inviting a single person for Shabbos meals is also very nice and helpful to their lives even if it does not directly help them get married. You are still doing a chessed for them. Even if it seems like they always go away for Shabbos or have plans and you say “the next time you need a meal just call me” then still keep inviting them anyway. If you rely on them to call you they may be too shy or embarrassed to “invite themselves.” If you keep calling them then they will feel more welcome as opposed to one time being told “call me if you need a meal” and then never hearing from you again.

(By the way I think singles who have space should invite back families who hosted them. It is hard to cook for so many more people and childproof the house but if a family has had you over many times then it is time to invite them back! Even if they say no at least you tried. I am saying for Shabbos meals not to sleep over for all of Shabbos.)

People do not like to think that they have disappointed their parents by not getting married. If you have a child who is single then a nice thing to do is tell them “I am proud of you.”

21 Comments:

Anonymous Eeshaish said...

Actually I think it will be hard to change what people say. Maybe for those reading this blog, but this is the choir you are talking to.
That is, the issue is not whether you will hurt someone. For example, the fellow who has sunk into poverty, you couldn't necessarily know. He has the same good clothes and knows enough about dressing for success. So everyone who talks about which exotic hotel they are going to for Pessach is going to make him depressed.
I do not think that you should focus on what other people say.

4/11/2005 01:47:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm the commenter who asked what we *should* say, and I found this post helpful.

I was trying to express that when NJG wrote that people who wish that she marry are expressing that they, too, don't think that she can achieve happiness without marrying, that they seem to me to be reflecting back her view, rather than stating their own "from scratch".

Also that sometimes singles are ambivalent and almost nothing one expresses or sympathizes seems to work, because one way or another one is negative about future hopes or about their current situation. NJG's recommendation to try and express both that one wishes they achieve their desire and marry, and that they needn't define themselves this way, seems on target. I think NJG is right and that expressing both parts is the solution.

But of course it is true that it is easier to focus on what "people don't understand" than on oneself...I'm sure NJG knows this.

4/11/2005 07:03:00 PM  
Anonymous Eeshaish said...

Maybe. In my own experience, people used to say those things, IY" ba dir. I could not stand them either. In my case, I had to have it drummed into me to get serious. A Holocaust survivir relative had the ability to be brutally frank, as to be honest, I was at that time data non-Jewish women, and didn't really have a committment to marrying a Jewish girl.
I had a religious experience at a certain point, in which I made a committment to Hashem that the next opportunity I had, she would be the one. ( I also had 'blown' or let slide through my fingers at it were, many many fine Jewish women). I thus was living out of that committment and declaration.
After that, it took under a year and I was married, Kdas. Thank G-d we have been blessed w/ a number of healthy, beautiful children.

4/11/2005 08:59:00 PM  
Anonymous ClooJew said...

I think, lulei demistafina, that NJG's comments were incredibly valuable. In essence, focus on the person as a person and not as a "single" person.

Very basic stuff that's just ignored by everybody. Thanks for taking a stand and explaining it clearly.

4/12/2005 05:49:00 PM  
Anonymous zsj said...

Earth to Rabbi Aish. I don't mean to be rude, but have you been in the frum world for more than 5 minutes? If you had, and you were able to take the debate away from your own issues for just one second, you might realize that this post is bang on, perhaps THE most essential piece of reading from this blog for the members of a social group which now tiptoes around Single Frum Women over a certain age as if we are Aliens from Planet Hopeless. Just as NJG describes, we find ourselves increasingly alienated as we are subject to more ignorant, offensive, thoughtless and trite comments and suggestions.

NJG- Absolutely everything you said in this post is SO true, and it is fundamental that people in the frum world are made to listen. Thank you for giving us a voice! Now- as a parting shot, why don't you send this post to a Jewish journal for publication?

4/13/2005 11:32:00 AM  
Anonymous eeshaish said...

zsj, what the heck are you rambling about ? "you might realize that this post is bang on, perhaps THE most essential"

You must have missed alot of my postings. My intention is to get the Kallah to do something to resolving her problem. I have a tremendous love for the Kallah, and everything I do is based on
seeing her at the Chupah.

The Kallah has been able to put into words a pain that is unique to our community, but is manifest in many forms.

R. Eeshaish

4/13/2005 12:04:00 PM  
Anonymous zsj said...

Eeshaish, unfortunately I've read all your postings. You need some serious help.

4/13/2005 12:49:00 PM  
Anonymous eeshaish said...

zsj, speak, why do you make this negative comment about me? Please, contribute to us.

4/13/2005 01:15:00 PM  
Anonymous eeshaish said...

What I mean is, this is a mostly respectful crowd of people who participate and contribute to this blog. It reminds me of those times when your shule or community is a real fun place to be at.
I am aware that some of my ideas are a bit against the typical frum grain, but I have always felt welcome. Even when I was just starting to feel my way around the blogging styles that are the tone set by the blog writer.
I have not had someone make such a negative and disrespectful comment to me, as you have re: "unfortunately I've read all your postings. You need some serious help. "
This type of thing is not part of the positive space that NJG has created in our little world here.
So I would suggest that in the future, please refrain from this type of unruly attitudes.
Please be or remain friendly at all time.

I have taken the position that NJG should continue to have a strong active presence in this blog, which you may have notices, she has declared her final post and declared that she will be closing it down.

IOW, in addition to the traditional and very excellent advice that she has been given, I am asking her to consider taking this a huge step further.

Is that what you object to?

4/13/2005 01:41:00 PM  
Anonymous zsj said...

(Apologies, NJG)

No, that is not what I object to. And further, that should be perfectly clear.

Shalom.

4/13/2005 04:46:00 PM  
Anonymous ClooJew said...

Aliens from Planet Hopeless. I think I saw that once on the SciFi Channel.

EeshAish, what I think ZSJ is getting at, and I must say I concur, and, lulei demistafina, it seems NJG concurs as well, is that your posts are often hurtful. You have blatantly violated many of the requests made of you, most recently, to STOP calling NJG "kallah." She doesn't seem to appreciate it.

4/13/2005 06:31:00 PM  
Anonymous eeshaish said...

Cloo, you are incorrect. I stopped everything that was asked of me. Not that it would hurt to have some humor once in a while. You know, call her what she wants to become. What is so horrible.

What is he getting at, do we have to guess?
I asked him to provide some details as to what the heck is eating at him, but he cannot do so. not that you can either.

4/13/2005 06:53:00 PM  
Anonymous zsj said...

Eesh- I'm not a "he". If you couldn't even get THAT out of my comment, then it seems mine (and NJG's) appraisal of you was more than correct.

Thanks Cloojew.

4/14/2005 03:44:00 AM  
Anonymous eeshaish said...

More esoterica. What do you mean?

"If you couldn't even get THAT out of my comment, then it seems mine (and NJG's) appraisal of you was more than correct."

I'm sorry madam, I can't 'get' anything out of these crytic posts of yours. At least I have something to say, and the lady of the house hasn't banned me, which she could do. She could ban my IP address.

It would be helpful if you would articulate better. Also I never posted anything hurtful. Everything I did here was coming from love. I made a few suggestions as did many others. I did more than go, tsk,tsk, tsk.

After all, how much can you kvetch about something. Fine, there is a time for action.

I offered her that she has an opportunity to take serious action. So what do you offer her?

4/14/2005 09:37:00 AM  
Anonymous ClooJew said...

I do have to apologize to Eesh for one thing. I was reading his comments out of sequence. Apparently the kallah references ceased when asked.

zsj, asl?

4/14/2005 07:00:00 PM  
Anonymous eeshaish said...

Of course, it was only a joke. I felt that there needed to be a bit of levity here, don't you think this would help?

I have someone that I am trying to introduce her to. It is a match made in heaven. She only has to email me. The guy is very interested. By Shavuous, she will be engages, A'H. She only has to type an email to me.

4/15/2005 08:23:00 AM  
Anonymous eeshaish said...

He is tall, thin, handsome, owns his own company, has many friends in the community, upper west side, very frum, learns, davens, benches, baal Tzedoka. her age bracket. Super nice guy, fun. Very frum, Mishulachim come to his office, he prints a check, and asks them for a bracha he should get married soon.
I have seen this.
He is interested, I pointed him to your blog.

How to proceed?

4/15/2005 01:55:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

To the not-Rabbi: you should consider taking a TOEFL alongside your meds.

4/22/2005 01:44:00 AM  
Anonymous another single frum guy said...

...um perhaps a bit more on topic?

"People do not like to think that they have disappointed their parents by not getting married. If you have a child who is single then a nice thing to do is tell them “I am proud of you.” "

Do not tell them, as a single friend always hears from her parents, "you're taking years of happiness off of my life!"

6/09/2005 12:43:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am not going to comment on the overall content of this blog, though I adore the fact that you said, essentially, that as a community, we need to focus on the PERSON rather than their MARITAL STATUS!!

I came upon this site perchance. I am married, have kids, and am a BT. (Gotta love them titles!) I am reading this site with amazement because it takes a lot of guts to say what you have, to be as honest, as open, and as true to your spiritual, halachic, feminine, sexual self as you've been. I am amazed too, as a quote collector, that you hit on the head a sentiment that speaks to me in abundant volume: "Orthodoxy is not for wimps; It takes fortitude to keep the mitzvos day after day, year after year." NJG, I love this statement and it gives me more chizuk than you know. I wish you luck on whatever road you rome, whatever path you choose. You explemify the beauty and hardships of being frum, and I admire you for telling it like it complicatedly is!

Good luck and be well always!

6/26/2005 07:40:00 PM  
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10/14/2005 05:17:00 PM  

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