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Thought for the Day: Incredible Shidduch Question Answered From Bava Kama and Sukkah

A rabbi, priest, and imam walk into a bar; the bartender says, "What is this... a joke?"

That is, but the following ma'aseh really happened (as elucidated by R' Fuerst; Shiduchim, Incredible But True Shailos).  Shimon was upset with Reuven and wanted to take revenge.  (That's forbidden, of course; but sometimes Jews do things they shouldn't, unfortunately.)  Shimon approached Reuven and told him he had a wonderful shidduch for him.  The girl was amazing and her family had already done all their checking; they were ready to go forward to make a shidduch with Reuven.  The "proposed shidduch" (in quotes because Shimon had not, of course, spoken with anyone) was very attractive to Reuven, who did his checking very quickly and went back to Shimon to ask him to proceed.  Shimon was over the moon, his plan to embarrass Reuven was going better than he hoped.  Reuven told Shimon (after waiting enough time to keep Reuven from suspecting anything fishy) that all was arranged, he should be at the girl's home at 8:00PM the next evening.

Promptly at 8:00PM the next evening, Reuven shows up at the girls house.  Her father answered the door, Reuven introduced himself, and the father (who obviously had no clue what was happening) asked, "Are you sure you have the right house?"  "Oh, yes," said Reuven, "Shimon confirmed all the details with me."  Now the father (a ben torah himself) chahped what was going on and invited Reuven to join him in the living room.  The father didn't have a complete plan, but wanted to minimize any embarrassment to Reuven.  After speaking with Reuven for some time, he realized that this takah was a good shidduch!  The father explained that there had been a miscommunication and they thought the date had been set for the next night; he apologized profusely and asked if Reuven could come back the next night when his daughter would be prepared.  Reuven was happy to comply.  The date happened, the shidduch was made; Mazal Tov!

What's the sh'eila?  Shimon wanted shadchanus.  (Not forbidden, a chutzpah, but not forbidden.)  After the discussion calmed, R' Fuerst made another of his classic remarks.  "As with many things, but especially with Choshen Mishpat, there's what you think and what the Torah thinks.  Let's check what the poskim have to say about it."

The first source was a mishna in Bava Kama.  If someone Yehuda leaves his fruit/produce in a public thoroughfare, and Asher somehow damages the food, then Asher is patur from paying damages because it was left in a public arena.  If, however, Asher's ox ate the fruit, then he must pay for the benefit he received.  After all, he needs to feed his ox anyway, so that money that he would have paid someone else now goes to Yehuda.  If Asher would have fed his ox barley and Yehuda box contained (much more expensive) wheat, though, Asher is only obligated to pay barley prices for the food eaten.  Since Reuven would have had to pay shadchanus to someone, therefore, it would seem he is obligated to pay that money to Shimon.  (Only whatever the lowest going rate is, of course.  Also, nothing is owed from the father since Shimon never actually discussed the shidduch with him.)

That's not the final word, though.  There is a gemara at the end of Sukkos that the nations of the world will come to HaShem in the end of days and demand reward for helping Klal Yisrael; after all, they built roads, market places, and whole cities; all of which ended up aiding the Jews.  HaShem will answer them back, saying, "Rasha'im!  You did it all for yourselves.  The fact that it turned out well for my Klal Yisrael was not your intent; in fact, you wanted the opposite!"  We same the same thing here.  Shimon's intent was to harm Reuven; the fact that it turned out well for Reuven is not due to Shimon's efforts, but to the fact that HaShem runs the world.  If shadchanus is owed to anyone, it's to HaShem.

Lots to learn from all this.  I was particularly tickled that not only could Shimon's question be addressed with solid halachik reasoning, but also that the resolution to the sh'eila required input from all over shas.  There is no island in Torah, everything is connected to everything else.

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