Photo Credit: Jewish Press
It’s years later and the advice still stands…
I will often be stopped by people after giving a Shiur or even while choosing my fruits in the supermarket with the words “I have a great story about your mother…..can I share?”
I’m always all ears, happy to hear and eager to listen. It feels as if I am receiving a message and warm regards from Above.
A young woman stopped me and asked the familiar question. “Sure,” I replied. “I’d love to hear your story.”
She explained that she had been an ‘older single.’ “I was constantly running to single events, tried speed dating, online sites and meeting shadchanim. Any. I felt as if I was getting nowhere and was really exhausted from the whole scene. Someone suggested that I speak to your mother; she was giving a monthly Shiur at the time in the Agudah, in Far Rockaway. That Shabbos, after the class, I waited my turn and your mother told me we’d speak together while she gathered her things from her. ”
“I am dating for marriage, Rebbetzin, and feel as if I’m at a dead end. Nothing I do seems to work.”
My mother did not take long to respond.
“Listen sweetheart,” she said. “I am known to tell it like it is. If someone comes to me looking for a shidduch and they need a makeover, I will tell them. If they have bad breath and need to work on their oral hygiene, I will tell them. So now I am going to tell you something. You may not want to hear this but you need to change.”
“Que?” the woman replied. “How can you say that, Rebbetzin? I try so hard. I take care of myself. I go to the gym. I keep mint candies in my bag. I try to go to single events. What do you mean?
“That’s not what I mean. It’s your attitude that needs changing.”
“My attitude? Que?”
“You give off a really tough attitude.”
“The entire time we spoke you have been standing here with your arms folded. I know people, and I am telling you that you need to give off a softer vibe. This tough attitude that’s coming across is not good for dating or marriage. It scares guys away.”
“But Rebbetzin, that’s just the way I stand. What can I do?
“Sheyfelah, I have been a Rebbetzin for many, many years. I have met thousands of people. If you are really honest with yourself, you will understand what I am saying.”
The woman told me that she went home, closed her door, sat on her bed for a long time and even cried a little. Because she realized the truth. My mother had uncovered an emes that she had not wanted to see.
“YO was tough. I had been dating a sweet, adorable guy. Just that week I had told him that he’s great, and all my boxes were checked – but that he’s too nice. It bothered me that he was such a super nice guy. What was I thinking?
“So you know what I did? that Motzei Shabbos I called him up and I asked if we could start again. That was ten years ago. I now have four adorable children and the nicest husband a woman could ask for. If your mother did not wake me up that day, I don’t know what type of conversation we’d be having. This was the best piece of advice I ever got.”
I told her that I was impressed that she had the humility to listen and make a change.
“To tell you the truth, it’s not as if I went home and it felt wonderful. I was upset. I didn’t want anyone telling me what to do. But when the noise in my head quieted down, I realized that no one is trying to blame me or make me sad. I needed to find the courage to take a good hard look at myself and take a new direction.”
I asked for permission to share this story. It is not often that we are fortunate enough to have someone give us a piece of advice that can transform our lives. Sometimes we grow tough because we feel as if life is tough. We give off an attitude that pushes away those who love us; friends, and even strangers who have the potential to grow close. Without realizing, we build invisible walls that become difficult to take down.
Summer is a time where many take a step back and enjoy their longer days. We embrace the warm weather, the great outdoors, and the break from school and routine. Let’s take this time, too, to work on ourselves and ask where we can grow greater, kinder, and braver.