Bashert and Hishtadlus
What happened to bashert? Does not everyone have a bashert?
The straightforward answer is that hishtadlus comes before bashert. No one would say that it is OK to drive without a seat belt, because in case of an accident, if it is bashert to live, you will live anyway. In the same vein, nobody should say it is OK to smoke because your grandfather smoked, and if it is bashert for you to live a long healthy life you will live a long healthy life even if you smoke. In the two examples noted, did bashert just disappear? The answer is that we are mechuyev to do or not to do what we know al pi derech hateiva is the correct thing to do or not to do, in order to protect ourselves. Bashert comes after hishtadlus. Even a passenger with seat belts needs syata dishmya to come out OK after a car crash. Not wearing the belts is negligence on his/her part.
Since we are discussing bashert regarding shidduchim, I will turn to an example which is shidduch related. Today, when a shidduch is redd, and both sets of parents, after much research, finally allow the children to meet, there is one more step that may get in the way. The children may have met more than once, the family compatibility seems to be perfect, the children are willing to go forward, everything seems to click, but before the shidduch can go forward, one unpleasant hurdle has to be overcome: the Dor Yeshorim test. If the Dor Yeshorim Labs say that this couple may have problems with (some) of their offspring because this particular combination may result in every fourth child (on average) coming down with a disease like Tay Sachs (a disease only found in Jewish Ashkenazic families), or some other disease, the shidduch is called off. What happened to bashert? On the surface the shidduch looks perfect. Why would you allow some lab to interfere in the process? The answer, of course, is hishtadlus. If the lab shows that stopping this shidduch “may” prevent much grief in the future, the hishtadlus will be to call off the shidduch before it progresses too far. What 30 years ago would have passed for a great shidduch based on research of the families, is now thrown to the wayside because of a lab test. Bashert did not disappear, but hishtadlus comes before bashert.
Not so long a go there was a special unit in a Brooklyn hospital where Tay Sachs children would be treated until they unfortunately died. There is no cure for children born with Tay Sachs. That hospital unit has closed down. Why? Because Dor Yeshorim tests are so entrenched in our community, that fortunately, there were not enough new cases to keep the hospital unit open. The hishtadlus prevented the calamity of new cases of Tay Sachs from continuing to develop.
I bring all this up regarding the shidduch crisis. Ten years ago, although everyone knew it was much harder for a girl to get married than a boy (at least in Yeshivish/Litvish circles), very few understood why it was so. There was no way to make hishtadlus in changing the situation. If you know no cause, you cannot take action to stop the cause. B”H the problem has been identified as age-gap, whereby in a growing population, where there are more children born each year (approximately 5% more per year, bli eyen hora), and whereby the boys start shidduchim four years later than the girls, it is inevitable that many girls will remain single r”l. More than 50 Gedolim signed a kol-koreh requesting that we start our sons’ shidduchim closer to age 21 than to age 23, and thereby alleviate the future pain that will inevitably happen if we just continue waiting with shidduchim for our sons until age 23. It is our hishtadlus to actually act on the Gedolim’s recommendation. May every one of our bnos yisroel be zoche to meet their bashert, and build a bayis ne’eman byisroel.