Yael* had had enough! At the age of 27, she had been living in Yerushalayim and felt she had gone out with every potential boy who had ever stepped foot in the city. She needed a change desperately, and moved to a mixed moshav up north where religious and secular live together. Yael had studied Chinese medicine and found a job in Tzfat. She also registered for classes at Yeshivat Ohr Haganuz, located near Meron.
Across the hall from Yael lived Dani*, a young man who studied at Yeshivat Ohr Haganuz. No, Yael and Dani did not marry each other. But they did make an arrangement between them. If either of them went away for Shabbos, they would allow the other to use their apartment to put up guests. Dani went away a few times and Yael happily hosted her friends. One week, Yael made plans to go away for Shabbos. Honestly, she was a bit uncomfortable with having Dani’s friends stay in her apartment but she felt she had no choice after he had graciously let her friends stay at his apartment on several occasions. Yael put away all photos of herself so that at least she would feel less exposed. In the end, Yael’s plans fell through but she felt she couldn’t make Dani cancel his plans. She spent Shabbos with a friend elsewhere in the moshav.
Four of Dani’s friends from Yeshiva came to stay in Yael’s apartment. Yishai* was a baal teshuvah who very rarely left Yeshiva. He hadn’t wanted to come for Shabbos but somehow his friends convinced him to join them. Walking through the apartment, Yishai noticed Yael’s books on chasidus and on Chinese medicine that lined the shelves. Despite her absence, Yishai got a feel for Yael’s taste and hobbies and was intrigued by her. He liked her vibe and enjoyed being surrounded by her things. His friends teased him that one day in the future he will marry the girl who lived in the apartment.
After Shabbos, Dani told Yael about Yishai and suggested that she go out with him. Yael wasn’t interested. In the past, she had gone out with baalei teshuvah, and it was never a problem. But Yishai was Israeli and Sephardi. She felt that their backgrounds were too different. Besides, she had just ended a relationship with someone else and was taking a break from dating. A few weeks later, a Rabbanit from the Yeshiva called Yael to suggest that she go out with Yishai. Yael declined the suggestion once again. The Rabbanit contacted Yael yet again a few weeks later and she finally agreed to go out. Yael and Yishai met and had a nice time together. But as she had suspected, Yael felt that their upbringings were worlds apart and their differences could not be bridged. Among other things, she wasn’t used to his chareidi way of dating. He had come to the date dressed in a suit and they sat in someone’s apartment on the moshav of Ohr Haganuz. Not exactly her speed. Yael tried to call the Rabbanit to tell her she did not want to continue dating Yishai, but she could not reach her. The Rabbanit had lost (or had been made to lose) her phone for a short while. Yishai ended up calling Yael before she managed to reach the Rabbanit. At that point, Yael figured she would meet Yishai again and tell him herself that she didn’t want to go out anymore. Yael was honest and told Yishai that she had a nice time with him but she felt that they were in two different worlds. She explained that she was not used to dating boys dressed in suits while sitting in a stranger’s apartment. Yishai did not see that as a reason not to pursue their relationship and readily agreed to date Yael on her terms. He came dressed more casually and they began going to outside venues. Yishai and Yael continued to see each other and on the 17th date, Yishai proposed to Yael. Yael was not expecting this development, nor was she ready for it. While Yishai was focused on the commonalities between them, Yael was focused on the differences. Yael felt it was too soon and got very nervous. They went to speak with a rav, who understood that they had the basis of a relationship. Even so, he suggested that they give themselves more time to get to know each other better. Yishai and Yael dated for a few more weeks and subsequently got engaged. Once they were engaged, Yael went with Yishai to his yeshiva on Shabbos. A shadchan who hadn’t heard that Yael was engaged approached her to suggest a boy for her. Yael explained that she was already engaged to a wonderful boy and pointed to Yishai. The shadchan laughed. Yishai was the boy she was going to suggest.
It is said that since the days of the world’s creation, Hashem spends his time making shidduchim. He understands what each person needs and orchestrates things so that they end up where and with whom they belong. It’s amusing, but not really surprising when shidduchim come about in the most unexpected ways.