“There Is a Rebbe Among the Jewish People”

Following His Directives

..There is a Rebbe among the Jewish people, and he is not bound at all by the limitations of nature. A person who wishes to proceed on a secure path with regard to family matters should not lift his hand without asking the Rebbe ... For a Rebbe’s utterance is an utterance and his blessing is a blessing.

When a person is confused or confronted by fundamental life questions, he must know that the Jewish people have not been left without succor. There is someone to ask....

Do not rely solely on your own understanding, nor on the shadchan, nor on ... These are all approaches that involve doubt. And you have a sure path with which you can clarify your doubts.... Follow his directives and you will succeed.

(Igros Kodesh, Vol. III, p. 54)

Consent and Blessings, But Not Suggesting Someone

In response to an individual who asked that the Rebbe suggest a shidduch for a member of his family, the Rebbe responded with the following:

.. With regard to a suggestion for a shidduch... as of now I have no suggestions. (In general, those who turn to me in matters such as these, ask for my opinion, consent, and the like. However — not searching for a shidduch.)

(Tzaddik LaMelech, Vol. VII, p. 226)

The Rebbe Will Not Reject Outright a Specific Shidduch

.. Concerning that which you write in your letter that I write you clearly [my opinion with regard to the shidduch]:

The directives gleaned from the conduct [of the Rebbeim] in matters such as these are well known — also, I have actually witnessed the conduct of my father-in-law, the Rebbe — that he would avoid saying “no” with regard to a suggested shidduch.

Moreover, he would categorically avoid placing his imprimatur (“sheyikareh shemo”) on an aspect of separation [such as calling off a shidduch after it had advanced past a certain point; agreement that a couple should divorce, etc.].

Particularly — as I have written to your son sheyichyeh — that by the time the correspondence goes back and forth, matters may have changed regarding various [significant] aspects [of the shidduch].

For which reason, the young man should seek the counsel of his parents and other friends from among Anash — those who in any event are aware of the situation — and G‑d will provide his advisors with the proper perception as to how they are to decide.

(Igros Kodesh, Vol. VIII, p. 176)

Decision and Indecision

Reliance on G‑d Is Crucial

Surely, it need not be stressed that though, on one hand, before one makes a final decision regarding a shidduch it is essential to give the matter long and hard thought, nonetheless, it is also important to know that one cannot be one hundred percent guaranteed in advance.

We are to rely on G‑d, Who conducts the world as a whole, as well as the microcosmic world of each and every person; surely, He will lead the person to that which is best for him or her.

(Igros Kodesh, Vol. V, p. 269)

The Necessary State of Mind
For Successfully Concluding a Shidduch

In reply to your letter of the 23rd of Teves, in which you describe your doubts about whether or not you should get engaged to a certain young man, and for which reason these days are exceedingly difficult for you and you cannot seem to stop crying:

I am surprised that these doubts have had such a strong impact on your emotional state, when it is quite common for individuals to have doubts in matters such as these.

In fact, not only are such doubts common, they are also eminently understandable, as this decision involves a decisive step in one’s life. Since nothing in the realm of creation is perfect, it is understandable that there is room for doubts.

Nevertheless, although it is necessary to give hard and serious thought to this matter, the difficulty in making such a decision should not affect you in this [negative] manner. This is particularly so, since a proper decision regarding this matter must necessarily be made in a state of calm and serenity and not while one is in an opposite state....

(Igros Kodesh, Vol. XIV, p. 316)

Know What Lies Ahead

Once, in response to a blessing for the conclusion of a shidduch, the Rebbe — in addition to the regular text of his blessing — added the following:

You surely understand that when one becomes engaged one takes upon oneself (even before he is married) the responsibility for an additional Jewish soul.

Thus, your future conduct should be in a manner that you inspire others as well in matters of Yiras Shomayim, and Torah and mitzvos. And a word to the wise will suffice. ...

(From a handwritten response of the Rebbe)1

When and How to Decide

The Awareness That One Is Making a Lifetime Decision

It is clear that the matter of a shidduch and marriage is a lifetime decision. One must therefore consider not only the first period, when it is still new, etc., but take a longer view of the many, many years that will follow.

Here again, one must bear in mind not only the special and festive days, but daily life as it becomes routine day in, day out. For the relationship between the two persons must be consistently good and stable, harmonious and sincere, and it also directly affects the general atmosphere in the home.

Secondly, it is also clear that in order to attain such a relationship, the fullest cooperation on the part of both partners is required, and each should be willing to give it freely; that is to say, each should give it because there is a desire to give it, rather than being compelled to do so.

(From a letter of the Rebbe written in 5732)

Do Not Decide Too Hastily

Marriage is the most important event in the life of a man or woman; it leaves an indelible imprint on one’s entire life. Such a decision requires considerable thought and cannot be done in haste.

(Igros Kodesh, Vol. IV, p. 272)

Practical Decisions — Not Theoretical Ones

With regard to all the above, it is not worthwhile for you to base your decision [regarding a shidduch] on presumed theoretical conclusions. Rather, you should ponder a specific practical suggestion.

[When a practical suggestion comes to pass,] you should then ponder the degree of the good character traits [middos tovos] of the person suggested, as well as your emotional feelings toward him.

This is in addition to the rational and cogent matters that should enter into your decision, matters regarding which you have written about above.

Your conclusion should be based on the overall conclusion that results from pondering all the above matters, [i.e., character traits, emotional feelings, etc.].

I shall mention you at the tziyun [for a blessing] that your decision and conclusion be a truly good one.

(From a handwritten response of the Rebbe)

Be Clear in Your Own Mind Before You Decide

.. You write about a possible pending shidduch and conclude that you yourself do not know your true feelings about this matter.

It is self-understood that with regard to something as important as this, it is impossible to make a final decision until you clarify for yourself your views and feelings about the shidduch. Your final decision should be in keeping with this clarification.

(From a letter of the Rebbe dated Kislev 1, 5725)

Young and in Doubt

[In the year 5752, the Rebbe received a note from an individual who wrote him that he is hesitant and has doubts about finalizing a shidduch and that both parties are still quite young. The Rebbe responded:]

You write that [the two of you] are filled with doubts [about whether or not you should become engaged to each other].

Since this is the case, there is no point in asking [me about the shidduch], especially at your [relatively tender] ages.

(From a handwritten response of the Rebbe)

The Decision is To Emanate From the Young People Themselves

It is patently obvious that with regard to a shidduch it is the young man’s and young woman’s task (to make the decision; how to go about making the decision; what to do [after having made the decision, etc.]).

(From a handwritten response of the Rebbe)2

Best to Hear From the Young People Themselves

In reply to your letter of the 14th of Sivan:

Surely in the interim you have received my response to your question in the above letter.

Among the main reasons for the delay in the response — it is not as you write that it was because I was involved in many most vital matters, for the matter about which you write [i.e., a shidduch for your daughter] is significant [not only to certain individuals, but] to the entire world.

Rather, it was because my hope was that I would receive a letter firsthand, directly from your daughter. This is in accord with the dictum of the Torah:3 “let us ask her opinion.”

For with regard to matters that depend mostly on the heart and one’s feelings, it is self-understood that there can be no comparison between hearing it secondhand to hearing it firsthand, from the individual herself. This is true even when the secondhand report is from someone who is extremely close to her.

It was only after coming to the probable conclusion that a letter from her was not forthcoming, that I provided my previous response.

(Likkutei Sichos, Vol. XXXV, p. 271)

When One Party Is Ready And the Other Is Still Hesitant

Utilizing Those Who Will Have an Effect

You write to me that a suggestion has been made to you with regard to a shidduch, but the young lady is still hesitant as to whether she should pursue the matter. It is possible [you continue] that she and her father will come to me and ask my opinion.

You do not mention in the letter the name of the young lady, and it is also not clear from your letter whether you are seeking my advice, or whether you want me to know your views regarding this matter before the young lady and her father come to me.

With regard to the matter itself, in situations such as these, one utilizes the influence of friends or relatives who will be able to win over the other side, [doing so] in a manner that would be satisfactory to them. For — as it seems from your letter — you are unable to even ascertain why they have made no decision with regard to this matter....

(Igros Kodesh, Vol. IV, p. 313)

The Other Party May Well Be Lagging Just Slightly Behind

You ask how to bring about that this matter [of finalizing the shidduch] become nearer at hand to the young man:

It seems from your letter that the young man understands your serious intent, and since he continues meeting with you, surely this is a sign that he, too, is taking this matter seriously — although possibly not as seriously as you. These specific details, moreover, can always be ascertained by way of mutual friends....

(Igros Kodesh, Vol. XX, p. 68)

Informing and Seeking the Blessings,
Advice and Counsel of Parents

At Least One of the Parents Should Be on the Scene

In response to your letter of Tuesday ... in which you write about your son, the Tamim...

.. It is obvious that with regard to a shidduch, a child should not decide on his own, without one of the parents being on the scene....

(Igros Kodesh, Vol. XXIII, p. 113)

Parents Should Be Informed and Involved
Prior to Finalizing a Shidduch

In response to your letter of the 24th of Kislev, Erev Chanukah, in which you write about the possible shidduch with ... and that the two of you have already met a number of times and the shidduch seems to be to your mutual liking. However, you have yet to speak to your parents:

It is a bit strange [that you have not yet spoken to them], for the Jewish custom is to do so before a final decision is reached. At least, speak to them now with the objective of obtaining their interest and that they look favorably upon the shidduch, since you find it to be a good shidduch.

May G‑d, whose benevolent providence extends to each and every one, lead you in the way that is good for you in all aspects.

(From a letter of the Rebbe, printed in
Heichel Menachem, Vol. III, p. 171)

When Both Mother and Child are Opposed To the Shidduch

You write that your mother is opposed to the shidduch. [You also write that] you, yourself are [also] inclined towards not going through with it. This being so, what room is there for doubt [whether you should go through with the shidduch]?

(From a letter of the Rebbe, printed in
Heichel Menachem, Vol. III, p. 170)

Undertaking Good Resolutions

To an individual who decided to become engaged, the Rebbe wrote the following:

Surely I need not exhort you to increasing measures of Torah and mitzvos, especially in conjunction with the new direction that your life is now taking.

(Igros Kodesh, Vol. XV, p. 8)

The Rebbe’s Blessings For a Shidduch

Unconditional Blessings

Greeting and Blessing:

I am in receipt of your letter in which you write about your forthcoming marriage, and certain problems connected with it, in view of the fact that your fiancée is a convert.

You further ask for a berachah and for permission to publicize the fact [that you have received my berachah], but write that if I should instruct you not to publicize it, you will respect my wishes.

I am, of course, very much surprised at your whole approach — that you should think I would give a berachah with the stipulation that it not be made public.

Obviously, this kind of conduct would have no place in halachah, or in elementary rules of honesty. Clearly, if a berachah is in order, why give it surreptitiously?

There is no need to elaborate on the theoretical aspect of this matter. You are surely more interested in the practical side.

Let me assure you that, upon receiving word that Rabbi ... , after being fully informed of all the circumstances in the case, has agreed to be the Mesader Kiddushin (perform the wedding), I will be quite satisfied that everything is in accordance with halachah, and will be glad to send you a berachah without any stipulations whatsoever; and you will be free to make it public, or not make it public, as you wish.

While on the subject of your letter, I must take exception to the concluding paragraph, in which you assert that, according to halachah, Jewish women cannot “publicly make contributions” to the community and that a wedding is the only opportunity for a woman to stand before the congregation, etc.

This is an entirely erroneous view. Jewish women have historically played an important role in Jewish life and have made substantial public contributions to the good of our people.

Suffice it to mention that at the time of Mattan Torah, Moshe Rabbeinu was instructed by HaShem to speak to the women first and only afterward to the men4 (see Rashi’s commentary).

Similarly, to the construction of the Mishkan, women were the first and most eager contributors5 and, to cite something more directly relevant to our own times, our sacred sources6 tell us that just as worthy women (nashim tzidkaniyos) had a primary role in the first Geulah of our people (from Egypt), so, too, the final Geulah from the present exile will be hastened through the merits of Jewish women.

(From a letter of the Rebbe, written in the year 5743)

Notifying the Rebbe Upon the Successful Conclusion of a Shidduch

News of a Shidduch Leads to Conveyance of Wedding
News And Receiving the Rebbe’s Wedding Blessing

Thank you for notifying me of the glad tidings regarding the shidduch of your daughter tichyeh; may it be in a good and auspicious hour, good in all aspects.

Your conveying to me these glad tidings ([the conveyance of which constitutes] the mitzvah of Ahavas Yisrael), should bring in its train [as “one mitzvah leads to another mitzvah in its train”] that you be able to convey glad tidings of the marriage [of your daughter] for a Mazal Tov and a “binyan adei ad” [an “eternal edifice”].

(Igros Kodesh, Vol. V, p. 52)

Some Responses of the Rebbe Upon Receiving News
Of the Successful Conclusion of a Shidduch

Thank you for the glad tidings regarding your relative ... that he became engaged in a good and auspicious hour to a fine young lady.

May G‑d will it that the wedding take place in the appropriate time, and may they build a home in Israel based upon the foundations of Torah and mitzvos.

(Igros Kodesh, Vol. III, p. 418)

I received with pleasure your letter bearing glad tidings regarding the shidduch of your daughter ...

May it be G‑d’s will that all this be li’Mazal Tov, Mazal Tov and in a good and auspicious hour for an eternal edifice based upon the foundations of Torah and mitzvos, as they are illumined by the luminary of Torah — Toras HaChassidus.

May you and your wife sheyichyu derive from them much Chassidic nachas.

(Igros Kodesh, Vol. VIII, p. 184)

Mazal Tov! May the edifice be an eternal one, [based] on the foundations of Torah and mitzvos. May your lives be happy and fortunate in all particulars.

(From a handwritten response of the Rebbe)