Article courtesy of Am Echad Resources.They advertise their services through names ranging from utilitarian(americansingles.org) to wishful (2ofakind.com) to earnestly purposeful(singleswithscruples.com) to hopelessly cutesy (cupid.com, currently being redesigned). The ubiquitous"dot com" may give their endeavor a hyper-connected, cutting edge, millennialfacade, but this is very venerable wine, no matter how new the barrels.It was an August 26, 1999 New York Times story that shouted the good newsfrom the rooftops. The e-shadchan, the term for a Jewish matchmaker, had come of age. In "You've Got Romance! Seeking Love on Line," Bonnie Rothman Morris described the various Internet dating services that have sprung up around an ancient need that has preoccupied the human race ever since G-d told Adam that it was not good for man to be alone. Most of us, however, lacking Adam's connections, have to make somewhat more of an effort than simply agreeing to a rib donation under anesthesia.The article abounded with happy tales of now-blissfully-wedded couples whohad met through the anonymity of Internet dating service sites, of whichover 2,500 exist, catering to every preference from nonsmoking Mozart loversto follicularly-impaired Dalmatian-owners.One paragraph in particular sent my SQ (Smugness Quotient) flying into thestratosphere. "Relationships that begin online may have a better chance ofsucceeding because they start from the inside, from communication, and worktheir way out. For many people, this does seem to work well in the sense offocusing more on the thought processes and common interests before they haveappearance to distract them from how they feel about the person."It took the Age of Internet for this seemingly simple bit of wisdom to reachlarge numbers of people. The absence of any taboos and barriers insituations of face-to-face contact, save those of contemporary socialconvention, has spawned an era of confusion and often heartbreak inmale-female relationships. Initial communication on a verbal-only levelallows for exploration of intellectual and emotional compatibility andshared ideals, and provides the distance necessary for levelheadedassessment. Reading a contemporary acknowledgment of the fact made me feeldeeply grateful and proud to be part of a community and a tradition that hadbeen in on this secret for a few thousand years.I have often marveled at the incredible brilliance and sensitivity of theJewish religious tradition's laws of tzniut, or modesty. Growing upOrthodox, I took it for granted that mothers and fathers loved andrespected each other; that girls and boys were not educated together and didnot mingle in casual social contact; and that as a result of this ethos ofdistance and modesty, I could expect to marry someone with whom I wouldrecreate the atmosphere I witnessed growing up, not only between my ownparents but in all (bar none) the homes of my classmates.The rules governing male-female relationships were, and are, deceptivelysimple: Modest dress, no physical contact, and no seclusion in privateareas.Under these conditions, which allow for the presentation of an integrated,attractive person as opposed to a sexual object, dating in the traditionalJewish world is undertaken in a spirit of seriousness, purpose, and respectfor the humanity and spirituality of the other, an attitude grounded in thebedrock belief that all humans carry within them a spark of the Divine.
Thus, it was especially rewarding to read of signs of Divine reciprocity, asit were; there is probably no area of human endeavor in which the hand ofProvidence is as obvious as in the successful culmination of the search fora mate. Morris writes of Diana, who spotted guitarist Greg at an outdoorconcert. Plans to see the band again the following week, with the hope ofmeeting him, fell through. A month later, Diana logged on to Match.com toinform her fellow cyber-searchers that she was thinking of relocating to anew town. One response, asking her to delay her move, caught her attention,and several e-mails later, the gentleman invited her to a local concert towatch his performance. Fast forward several months, and mazel tov! Dianahas a new last name.The tale instantly brought to mind the story of my friend Aviva, who wassmart, beautiful, single, and sick of the search. For a change of scenery,she took a vacation to Israel. Waiting in line at the airport on the wayback, she noticed, standing a few feet in front of her, a well-dressed andfriendly-looking yeshiva student. She found herself thinking, "Why can'tanyone ever set me up with a guy like that?" Putting the subversive thoughtsfirmly in the Wishful Thinking department, she strode purposefully onto theplane, and made it safely back home.Several weeks later, a phone call from a shadchan (the stone-age equivalentof Match.com's Online Dating Coach) suggested a particular candidate. Hearrived at her home at the agreed-upon time. As she entered the livingroom, where the candidate was chatting with her father, he turned to greether--and her jaw dropped. It was Mr. Wishful Thinking! Who has, at thispoint (need I say?) smoothly segued into Prince Charming.Whether or not the Internet will seriously impact American courtship isanyone's guess. But one thing is certain. Jewish tradition has beenresponsible for a consistently high level of happily-ever-aftering over thecenturies, well before the advent of americansingles or 2ofakind.
It's probably because it's always been the Oneandonly.