Perhaps the most important decisions a young man and young woman face are those involving marriage: what qualities to look for in a prospective life-partner; when to begin considering the matter; whom to meet; and what qualities to look for in one’s bashert.

These and many others are real questions over which young men and young women spend many hours thinking deeply. And if their initial meetings for shidduchim don’t work out, the process of introspection and questioning of goals and purposes becomes even more entangled.

Instinctively, when facing such critical questions, a chassid or a chassidah turns to the Rebbe for direction. And this is most appropriate. In one of the letters written by the Rebbe before accepting the Nesius, he writes with regard to the Previous Rebbe:1

…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.

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....

He should not solely rely on his own understanding, nor on the shadchan … These are approaches that involve doubt. And he has a sure path with which he can clarify his doubts.... When he follows his [i.e., the Rebbe’s] directives, he will succeed.

Particularly after Gimmel Tammuz, one of the best ways to receive the Rebbe’s guidance is to study his teachings and writings. The Rebbe has spoken about the issues of shidduchim and marriage in numerous farbrengens and has responded to the questions asked him by hundreds of young men and women in his Igros Kodesh, as well as in personal responses during Yechidus and through his secretariat. By studying these sources, it is possible to appreciate some of the fundamental elements of the Rebbe’s approach.

To facilitate this process, we have collected2 and translated selections from a variety of the Rebbe’s letters, sichos, and personal responses regarding marriage and shidduchim.

Admittedly, there are difficulties with such a collection. Firstly, the collection and the translation are our own; it is not a guide to marriage authored or edited by the Rebbe.

Secondly, it is not all encompassing. There certainly is considerably more material from the Rebbe regarding shidduchim than that which has been collected here.

And finally, it is entirely possible that the advice the Rebbe gave one individual may be inappropriate for another. Moreover, some of the responses to individuals are not necessarily the Rebbe’s final word on the matter.

What we have done to try to resolve this latter difficulty is to quote a variety of letters and sichos, even though some may appear different from others. The dates or sources cited may be of benefit in discerning the Rebbe’s later responses. So, too, by noting that numerous answers are in the same vein, we have an indication of the Rebbe’s general approach to a specific issue or matter.

Nevertheless, it must be borne in mind that the Rebbe’s answer to one individual does not necessarily apply at all to another, as the Rebbe has pointed out on a number of occasions. To quote but one:3

“It is patently obvious4 that a directive to an individual does not serve at all as a directive to the multitude, even when the issues are the same. Particularly so, when this is written as a private letter to him.

“For most often this depends on the conditions of the life of that individual, his personality and temperament, the possibilities that exist for him concerning that which he wrote [to me about] in his letter, and more, and more [reasons, not enumerated here].”

In instances of doubt, etc., one would therefore do well to remember the Rebbe’s exhortation to “ask one’s Mashpia or Rav….” We are then assured that not only will the Rebbe’s holy blessings accompany each potential and actual groom and bride, but his instructions on these matters will be followed as well.

While it is our hope that our text will make the process of making these decisions somewhat easier, reading it will also serve as one of the first steps in thinking through and internalizing the individual mission each one of us has in life, who is the proper person to share that mission with, and how the Torah and more specifically, the teachings of Chassidus, can enhance that mission.

May the preparations for marriage being made by young men and women today herald the coming of the ultimate marriage celebration, that of the bond between G‑d and the Jewish people. As the Rebbe states: “The marriage of every couple … is connected to the ultimate marriage between G‑d and the Jewish people that will be consummated in the Era of Redemption.”5

At which time, “we will again meet with the Rebbe on this earthly plane, and he shall redeem us.”6

Sholom B. Wineberg
Overland Park, Kansas

Purim Katan, 5760
Jubilee Year of the Leadership
of the Lubavitcher Rebbe