SARAH & AVI - EIGHT YEARS OF SEARCHING
In this week's edition we speak to Sarah, a British woman who grew up with a chareidi hashkafa in a modern orthodox environment. Sarah aspired to be a doctor and to marry a man who would learn full time in Kollel. It took this very special woman eight years of searching, from England to Eretz Israel, to find her destined zivug. When she finally did, it was in quite unsuspected circumstances. Here is her story, her wisdom, and her encouragement.
Inspire Kallah Q: Where are you from?
Sarah: I am from Manchester. I was raised more modern, but I was always just interested in doing the right thing.
Q: How did you grow stronger religiously?
Sarah: We were a frum(orthodox) family but we didn't live in a frum community and after school I went to seminary. Home was a strong background and I always wanted to grow, and after I went to medical school I went back to seminary again. While in university I did a lot of chevrutot and was involved with Aish, I was a madricha for Aish camps and organized shiurim.
Q: What was dating like before you met your husband?
Sarah: Horrendous! I hated it. I went out with loads of people and I couldn't figure out the formula. If you want to buy a car then you work hard and then get it, but for this there was no clear cut solution. In the beginning I didn't realize it would be a problem to get married, I didn't think it would be a problem, I thought I'd just find someone.
After the first few people who are unsuitable I forced myself to keep going out, but it was just awful. Then everyone says you are so picky, but you know what you want is right, and you know what you need, and you stick by it. You think in your head maybe I'll compromise, but I didn't. I always had this horrible feeling it wasn't right even when the other side was interested, I could never compromise.
Q: What were some of the challenges you faced? How did you overcome them?
Sarah: I started dating when I was around 18 and it was hard because I was in England and I knew my person was going to be in Israel because I couldn't understand how someone frum would choose to live outside of Israel.
In the beginning I would get excited and then get very down and think about it all the time. Not that I was not confident, but I just thought that even though Hashem creates your zivug, it doesn't mean you'll find him.
I changed my attitude after so many years because you can't be down all the time. Worry shows a lack of emunah and a lack of belief that Hashem is in control. I had to work on myself to be the best person I could be and keep on doing my medicine, knowing that Hashem at the right time would bless me.
I would daven harder, and more, and do that extra bit of kindness which all went toward my tefilla to get what I wanted. I also went to tzaddikim.
Q: Any other unique challenges?
Sarah: I had chareidi hashkafa but in a mizrachi environment and the shadchanim didn't understand that I was learning in medical school and I really wanted someone who was learning full-time. I found the shadchanim difficult to deal with.
The most success I had was with my friends who cared about me and were trying to look out for me, they knew I needed someone learning and very intelligent.
Q: How did you finally meet your husband?
Sarah: I finished medical school, worked for a year and returned to seminary at Nishmat and then started going out again. My teacher suggested someone for me but she thought I wouldn't be interested because he had only been learning for a year and you know, I had made my rules, and he wasn't brought up religious so I said no.
Then a few weeks later my friend, trying to find me a shidduch, said that a rabbi brought up someone from Chappelles (Yeshiva) for me but I said I didn't want someone who had just started learning Torah, it was just too hard for me.
She was very persistent and the week after she rang me and said that his rabbi commented that he was extremely clever and hadn't seen anyone like him. I said I wanted a one week break, that's how I felt, but she caught me at a time when I was exiting my car with boxes in my hands and I had to make a quick decision so finally I said "fine" I'll go out. It's all about good PR and organization.
Q: What was dating your husband like?
Sarah: My husband is a very good reader of character but I'm not a person who likes to open up. Whereas other boys complained to the shadchan to try to open me up, he didn't. He read me well and let me go at my own pace. As opposed to an instant falling for him it was a gradual falling for him.
A few days after dating him I told my teacher at Nishmat that my shidduch knew her and she said that it was the same boy that was suggested to me earlier!
With him I just didn't have that feeling inside of "this isn't right." He realized he wanted to marry me after date five, for me it took two and a half months.
I needed clarity, a day trip with him, a Shabbat with him. I got a lot of clarity from the day trip in an unsourced, very chilled environment, not an uncomfortable situation sitting at a coffee table trying to figure out what to speak about next. We got to tachlis talk, he was Torah focused, intelligent, chilled, and very accepting of me but wanted me to grow.
Eventually he was able to say the words of I love you and I was like "Ooo I don't want to say it," but I didn't feel so funny that he said it. I'm not so good at opening up so I said something like: "do you want to see your family in Canada then?"
Q: How did he propose?
Sarah: He arranged a date, it was on Shushan Purim and we went to Caesaria for a picnic. We walked to the seashore and I asked him after awhile if we could go back because it was cold, and then he proposed! By the end of the day I had spoken so much my voice was gone. We decided that we'd tell our family and after Shabbat we would tell everyone else, when we rang his parents my voice didn't come out, it was very embarrassing.
Q: How did you know he was the one?
Sarah: A feeling inside. And because I knew who were not the right ones before.
But I don't think there is a rule that you need to have this or that feeling. For each person there are different formulas, equations, and reactions.
Q: Do you have any words of wisdom for single girls who are still searching?
Sarah: The formula for getting married is to daven and to go out with people.
Have your rules about who to go out with, but don't be too strict, and be a mentsch about it. Remember that Hashem is in control. I have seen friends that have depression over dating and become very bitter. It is very important not to be that way because your goal in life is to improve yourself and get closer to Hashem. The more you work on yourself, the better your zivug will be. And as far as I know there are different zivugim for different levels of growth in your life.
Keep davening and keep going out.