I grew up in a frum family, and over the years, my three brothers have left our family’s ways. Only my sister and I are still frum. Of course, my parents are extremely upset about their sons, although we do still have a relationship with them. Now that I am ready to look for a shidduch, however, they are worried. I am also worried. I can tell that the local shadchanim, who know us, are hesitant to suggest anything. It has come to me through the grapevine that people are afraid to redt shidduchim for me, because they think there must be something terribly wrong with my family.
Truthfully, as far as I can tell, nothing is wrong with my family. We are very average. In income and everything else, we are like most families in the community. My parents work hard, but they have shalom bayis and always made time for us children.
I can’t explain why my brothers did what they did. The oldest one had some issues with learning disabilities, but the other two may have just copied him. It might sound crazy, but it could be that our home was so accepting that they felt a need to push the boundaries, or maybe they are just lazy and attracted by the non-frum lifestyle. I don’t know. Bottom line: I am being judged by what my brothers did. What do I do now?
The Shadchan Answers:
I must say, this an unusual question. Before I begin, I would like to point out that if someone has learning challenges, it does not mean that he cannot be frum. We all know people who have such challenges; they may not be the biggest learners, but they are extremely frum and observant and have tremendous family relationships. One cannot make a blanket statement that this is the cause of your brother’s straying from the path.
Indeed, it is not for us to determine what caused your brothers to go off the derech. It happens in many frum families; I am sure that your family is not the first to face this dilemma. There are plenty of parents who try their hardest to raise their children in the derech Hashem, yet some outside force rails them in. We never know all the facts that cause a person to leave the derech Hashem. Each situation is different. Especially since you write that your parents are emesdikeh (sincere) people, we cannot speculate as to why this has occurred. We simply have to daven and try to work with your brothers, and perhaps that “pinteleh Yid” will surface again.
It is unfortunate that we cannot separate you from your family issues. So goes the shidduch world of today! But all is not lost. I would suggest that you think out of the box and do your hishtadlus (efforts). You never know how far it will lead you. As I have said in the past, we must remember, above all, that we shadchanim are only the shlichim, the messengers. The real Shadchan is the Ribono Shel Olam (G-d). I know of many shidduchim that materialized in strange ways, and no one knows where yours will come from.
Broaden your horizons beyond shadchanim. You may meet your bashert in shul, at someone's house, or be introduced by a mutual friend. I would suggest that you always be composed, look your best, and have an air of simchas hachaim (happiness) about you. In the event you do meet someone on your own, I would suggest you ask a mentor or a friend with whom you are comfortable to be the go-between and serve as a shadchan. The most important quality in a shadchan is that he or she be someone whom you trust and are able to talk to, so that you can discuss your questions, doubts, and positive attributes of the other individual.
There are also shadchanim who deal with individuals with special family circumstances who could probably help you. Many boys come from similar situations. You need to consider boys who will look at you and not at your environment. He does not have to be a learner. He can be someone who is koveah itim and has a profession or other type of job. These boys may make wonderful husbands, but they, too, are foolishly discriminated against in our PC shidduch world.
We know many, many people who have been in your situation, have met the right person, and have built beautiful families, so you and your sister should not despair. Hashem is always watching over us. As for your brothers, you never know what your continued relationship with them could bring about. People in kiruv meet these kinds of boys every day. Many of them become wonderful balabatim, and some even become members of outstanding kollelim.
I hope I have given you a little more insight into your situation and – most importantly – hope in your future. I wish you hatzlacha (success) in finding the right zivug (mate). The Ribono Shel Olam should intercede, and hopefully your entire mishpacha will dance at your wedding very soon.