Fine Day, Tisha b'Av
A classic line from the first Harry Potter movie:
Uncle Vernon: Fine day, Sunday. In my opinion, best day of the week. Why is that Dudley?
Harry: There's no post on Sundays
Uncle Vernon: Right you are Harry! There's no post on Sunday. Ha! No letters today, no sir! Not one single bloody letter! Not one! Not one, blasted, miserable-
At this point Uncle Vernon is cut off as hundreds of letters flood the house.
Once a year I emulate Uncle Vernon in the joy of one particular day: Tisha b'Av.
Right you are readers: there's no one getting engaged on Tisha b'Av. Ha! No SimchaSpot pictures today, no sir! Not one single bloody 19 year old teetering on too tall high heels! Not one! Not one, blasted, miserable-
at this point I am cut off by the flood of engagements that come in on Tu b'Av.
But, for 24 blessed hours, as I sit on the floor, and feel my stomach twist and churn, and watch holocaust movies and sports, and eventually move to Keeping Up With The Kardashians because my brain can't process anything else without food (maybe Riverdale?) I don't have to wonder which child I used to babysit for is getting engaged that day.
It's my day, when we all get to be miserable together. Those of us with clinical depression train the whole year for Tisha b'Av and we make the rest of y'all look like you're mourning with training wheels on.
So Imagine my surprise when I receive an email from a random organization that I have never heard of that said:
GETTING ENGAGED ON TISHA B'AV
What’s the Urgency? Can’t wait a day? You are permitted to get engaged on Tisha B’Av for the same reason you can write an engagement contract on chol hamoed, “lest Acher preempt him because of Hashem’s mercy” on Acher.
At first I thought when they wrote Acher it said Archer. I got excited that they were using my blog to paskin halacha. Then I realized, no R. Shame.
WHY CAN'T WE HAVE ONE LOUSY DAY IN THE WHOLE YEAR?
If you're so desperate to be engaged you have to do it on Tisha b'Av I feel bad for you. You clearly need someone to slow you down before your relationship takes a turn and skids wildly out of control like Lightning McQueen.
The email went on to define what Acher is: He is someone who doesn’t have a bashert.[ii] Hashem has mercy and permits him to marry someone else’s bashert. It is this renting asunder a preordained bashert to give Acher a wife that is as difficult for Hashem as splitting the sea.
And of course this little tidbit made me ALL the anxiety.
So there are people wandering around out there whose match doesn't actually exist and Hashem has to bend over backwards to make sure they get a match and there is the slight possibility that this person will find their match on Tisha b'Av, perhaps when they run into the wrong bathroom to throw up, so therefore we allow for people who meet throwing up in the bathroom on Tisha b'Av who seemed to be really hard to make a shidduch for get engaged on Tisha b'Av.
You know what that means?
It's time for a Tisha b'Av shul hop.
Time to put on my best dress and crocs and march from shul to shul until I literally die of dehydration and search for a man. Cause, apparently, G-D is cool with me getting engaged even though it is the No-Post-Sunday of Judaism. G-D is ready to split the sea for me and my croc'ced out self.
The email continued to say "Not everyone marries their bashert. When the bat kol announces who the bashert is, it is decree for some that that they will easily find their bashert, while for others it will only be with great difficulty or never. (ME!!!)
You can’t recognize your lost other half if you never meet. You can say no to your bashert and you are left with marrying Acher – the other. Before saying no to a shidduch suggestion, think twice. You may be saying no for all the wrong reasons. The more you say no to suggestions, the more likely that your bashert is pastover. You can’t force it. You are looking for your lost other half. It is not looking to fall in love, but recognition. When you recognize it, you fall in love. Falling in love is an inevitable byproduct, not an end in itself."
First of all I love that they made up the word pastover it's like Passover but an adjective.
Second of all I love that we have returned to the same narrative of ALL YOU SINGLES WOULD BE MARRIED BY NOW IF YOU WEREN'T SO DAMN PICKY.
Sometimes I forget for a moment that this is all my fault, but luckily random organizations email to remind me.
There is no room here for the fact that the boys seem to be on a different level than the girls. There is no room here for my feelings, for my desire and perhaps my birthright to be loved and to love someone. There is just blame that I probably passed over my bashert because he was too short and now Hashem is going to have to do all this extra work to get me-a very hard case, nebbuch-married off.
The email continues: "The old fashioned, time tested shidduch system works as it is, not the way you want it to be. Even Hashem needed a shadchan: Moshe Rabbeinu, humiliated himself repeatedly to bring the Jews close to Hashem and incessantly cajoled Hashem to give the Jews another chance. As soon as the shidduch was closed at Har Sinai, Hashem immediately paid Moshe shadchanus, the קרני אור."
I forgot about when shadchans humiliated themselves to find my match. Was that what happened last week when a shadchan called me and asked me to send a different picture "where I look pretty."?
"Shidduchim sets the stage and lays the foundation of your lifelong relationship, one where you respect each other, have a capacity to forgive, replacing selfishness with selflessness, replacing “What’s in it for number one?” with “What’s in it for us?”. You quickly learn that nothing – no difference in opinion or preference is more important than this relationship. Being right is no longer important. You can either be pigheaded or be married. It is the relationship you cherish and constantly strive to improve – it is this relationship that brings the shechina to the world. The Maharal puts it succinctly – “A man and a woman is the mishkan for the shechina”.
So now I'm pigheaded or married.
Can I at least be a cute pig that doesn't get slaughtered for Christmas dinner and maybe does a "Babe goes to the city?"
"So marriage is not just holy, but wholly in that it makes you whole.
So wholeheartedly give each possibility a chance. When you get a shidduch suggestion, consider that
Yes is for one date.
No is for-ever."
The email leaves off reminding me that I am half a person. A shell. A lower citizen and reminds me that it is my fault. Had I only said yes to the 42 year old, or the chassidish kid who stalked my references, I'd be married. But I chose to have standards. I chose to be practical in an ever changing world and to look for someone who loves Hashem as much as I do and leaves room for me to grow, because G-D knows I need more room to grow.
Yes is for one date.....in some ways they are right, how hard can it be to go on one date?
I ask the shadchans to put on their full faces of makeup and spend $40 on a blowout and $20 on a manicure and wait for someone who they have never seen before-not even a picture-to pick them up and take them to wander aimlessly around a park for 4 hours while mosquitoes feast on their legs and blisters develop on all ten toes and you fruitlessly try to find a topic that you connect on with someone from an entirely different background who you felt pressured to say yes to because your friend's sister in law thought of it. I ask you to keep your eyes open on a restaurant bench in Teaneck when you worked late the night before and an engineer defines what he does on the day to day. I ask you to get into the car after two hours of zero connection only to realize he isn't taking you home, he has more date in mind.
Are there some people that are too picky? Sure.
(Are they all men? YES)
Do we all have a right to be picky about who we want to build a bayis with?
I'm not getting married until I find someone I enjoy spending time with who makes me feel loved and accepted and is someone who wants to grow close to Hashem with me and wants to build a home together. No compromises there. I don't care if that makes me a pig. Oink oink.
So this Tisha b'Av I will try to enjoy a day where no one gets engaged and I don't have to see any pictures. If someone takes the advice of this site and chooses to get engaged, that's on them. I just beg, please don't send it to SimchaSpot until I can listen to music again.
I have plenty to mourn. But I'm still hoping for a fine day.