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Was the original shidduch algorithm a good one?


Hey there,

Do you ever try to set people up? Ever been set up?

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Shadchans (marriage brokers) usually set people up in one of two ways. Either they do this with wanton abandon. Throwing a guy and a girl together because they have some haphazard things in common and, “heck, she’s a girl and he’s a boy.”. Or they do tons of research and only set people up when they feel they have a level above a certain threshold in common.

In Parshat Chaye Sarah, the shadchan in the story, Eliezer, is nervous about setting up yitzchak and getting it right. He asks lots of questions about how to know he’s found the one.

It seems that at the start Eliezer very much favors the second more scientific approach to setting people up. He seems so particular about finding just the right one.

But when he’s on the ground doing his field work, everything changes. He seems to throw all caution to the wind and without even trying to start the task. He says to himself the next girl that offers my camels a drink will marry him!

What is going on here?!

Imagine J-Date suddenly abandoned their algorithm and instead put you together with the next person who logs in.

One interpretation is that Eliezer felt he was looking in the right ball park. Meaning, he knew the general location was a good one for finding good women who were appropriate for Yitzchak.

In terms of the choice criteria, offering a drink, Eliezer knew the act of giving is such an essential part of a successful relationship. As long as that element was there, it was enough for him to feel confident he chose a winner.

We often get bogged down by things we think we need from a partner. A good job, good looks, good family, etc.

Sometimes we get so thrown off by people’s insignificant details (arriving a bit late for a date, not saying the exact right thing, not wearing the right thing, ordering the wrong thing) that we miss the essential ingredients that make for a great partnership. Like their ability to give and receive.

It’s interesting that Avraham embodies the midah of chessed and Yitzchak embodies the midah of gevurah. Chessed is about giving and Gevurah is about receiving.

By combining these two midot we have the potential to create the perfect dynamic.

Getting the balance right is a challenge. While deep down we know we want a good give and take balance in our relationship, yet often it seems so obvious that we overlook it.

In the book, “Women who love too much” Robin Norwood addresses women who are very good at forgetting about their needs and give so much to a relationship, there is literally no space for anyone else to give.

These are women (and this goes for men too btw) who were abused or neglected as children and believed the only way for them to receive love is if they behave well and do everything right.

They were never taught by their parents how to give and receive and find a happy balance.

For people who were abused, receiving feels scary and weird because it’s foreign to them. When they date a kind man, who can give, they run a mile. The only kind of person they can feel attracted to is the one model they have of love, an abusive or neglectful one.

If you can relate to being attracted to partners who are either abusive or neglectful, drop me a line and tell me what you would like to do differently in your relationships to get the give and take balance right at my website.

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