Meeting One's Besheret: The Ultimate Shidduch Story

            May 2013    
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How I Met Your Mother

By Walter D. Levy

Lessons from Torah: Chayei Sarah

"How did you and Mom meet?" my daughter asked. I paused and then replied, "It was our destiny. It was in the stars," I added. Just then, my wife, who was sitting nearby, smiled and said, "Your father's battery was dead; he needed a jump-start." Yes, my wife had succinctly summarized how we two had met. But then, there was more to the story.

Well, years later, my daughter, now married with two children of her own, would once again ask, "How did you meet Mom?" But this time, unlike the last, I would provide my daughter with the full, unabridged version of: "How I Met Your Mother".

I began by telling my daughter that in the late summer of 1968 I had returned to Boston after teaching two years on Long Island. I had recently been hired to teach history at East Boston High School (near Boston's Logan Airport). I had rented an apartment near Kenmore Square not far from Fenway Park.

I would go on to say that in addition to teaching school, I was also looking to meet a shayna maidel. I would tell my daughter that I tried everything: dating bars, parties, mixers, even computerized that last approach: "Jewish Singles in the Stone Age." I added, "I had some enjoyable dates, but I had yet to meet mayn besheret."

Then, one mid-November evening, I received a call from an old Boston University Hillel House buddy. "Walter, Hi, it's Dan. What are you doing on the Saturday evening after Thanksgiving?" I replied that I had no plans. "Well," Dan continued, "why don't you plan on coming over to my place on Comm. Ave. I'm having a mixer. There should be lots of Jewish women." I recall saying, "Fine, I'll be there."

That Saturday night I headed over to Dan's apartment. As soon as I walked in, I immediately spotted a lovely brunette on the other side of the room. Well, after I greeted Dan, I walked over to where the woman whom I had noticed was standing. I introduced myself. I remember telling her how Dan and I had been friends during our college days.

As our conversation continued, the women told me her name was Leah. She mentioned that she was from Springfield, MA and that she had attended college here in Boston. She continued by saying that she was currently teaching elementary school. She went on to say that her family belonged to an Orthodox shul in Springfield. Over the next several minutes we talked about a variety of topics. I found Leah both personable and attractive. Throughout the course of the evening I would talk with others at Dan's party, but it was Leah whom I was most interested in. I made sure I got her number before I left.

Well, about a week later, I would call the attractive brunette whom I met at Dan's party. But our meeting was under circumstances that neither of us could have predicted. On a blustery early-December evening as I prepared to do some Chanukah shopping, I discovered that my car wouldn't start. But whom do I call? Then, it dawned on me -- the woman -- the attractive brunette, the one that I had met at the party. I remembered that she had told me something about her family owning a small auto parts store. "Surely," I thought, "she must have a pair of jumper cables." I found her number. I called. "Yes, I do have jumper cables in my trunk," Leah said. "I'll be happy to help you. I'll be right over (she lived two or three miles away)." Sure enough, Leah arrived at my apartment within ten to fifteen minutes. She hooked up her jumper cables to my dead battery. Seconds later, my car turned over.

I would then tell my daughter how a rabbi's parashah commentary had helped to bring her mother and me together. I began by saying, "That night, as I thought about your mother's helpfulness, it rekindled memories of a recent Shabbos sermon. I recall it was the rabbi's commentary on the parashah: Chayei Sarah. As I remember, the rabbi had talked about the importance of kindness, only he used the Hebrew word: chesed. In his sermon, the rabbi told how Abraham had sent his servant Eliezer to a city in Mesopotamia to find a wife for his son Isaac. Miraculously, a few hours later - in a journey that often takes days - Eliezer and his party would arrive in the early evening at a well just outside the city.

At the time of Eliezer's arrival, there were several women drawing water from the well. Yet, there was one young woman, in particular, who caught Eliezer's eye. She was a woman who put the needs of others ahead of her own. As the rabbi put it, Rebecca engaged in several unselfish acts of loving-kindness: gemilut chassidim. They included the fact that she treated Eliezer with kindness and respect, even though he was a complete stranger. She would offer him water. She also drew water for Eliezer's (Abraham's) camels "so that they can (also) drink their fill." She graciously offered Eliezer a place to eat and sleep. And, she was thoughtful enough to provide a separate place for Eliezer's animals to eat and rest.

These acts of loving-kindness were a sign to Eliezer that G-d had selected this woman, Rebecca (Rivka), the daughter of Betheul, Abraham's nephew, to be Isaac's wife. Although Rebecca's family had some reservations about letting their daughter (sister) leave immediately, they left it up to Rebecca to decide whether she wanted to stay, or to join Eliezer and his party and return to Canaan to become Isaac's wife. She chose the latter."

"Well, in my case," I continued, "it wasn't water for my camels, but the use of jumper cables for 'my chariot'." I told my daughter that when I needed her, your mother was there for me. She came to me. At the time, I recall asking myself, "Was Leah's immediate response to a near stranger an indication that she was a giving, loyal and loving person? Was her chesed "a sign"? Had 'The Ultimate Matchmaker' arranged the shidduch?" I then told my daughter, "That evening, after we got my car started, I invited your mother to join me for coffee and a nosh. Your mother and I would become instant friends.

Months later, we would become engaged. Soon after, we would became husband and wife." I then said, "On that bone-chilling, early-December evening in 1968 I would meet the warm, wonderful and loving woman who would make me whole. I would truly find my destiny, "Mayn Besheret." I concluded, "And that, Lyn, is how I met your mother."

Just then, the front door opened and my wife walked in. She was carrying a take-out tray with two coffees, one for my daughter and one for me, and oh yes, my favorite coffee-dunking treat, mandelbrodt. It's then that I said to my daughter, "And every day, I thank my lucky stars."


from the May 2013 Edition of the Jewish Magazine

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