Blessing for [Do Not Insert Anything Here]

BoSD said a prayer at the kever of R’ Meir ba’al Hanes on his yartziet. Conclusion of her boss: “Wedding upcoming!”

Response of BoSD: “Say what?”

This reminded me of something that annoyed the bejeebers out of me in seminary.

For those who don’t know or might have forgotten, many seminarians participate in the sport of Brocha Collecting. The goal is to get as many brochos as possible from as many Big Names as possible in the course of your 10 months in Israel.

I was never a major-league player, but initially I dabbled in it in the ad hoc street game way. If a bunch of athletes were going and had the extra space, hey why not. I went along. If I was in the right neighborhood for Shabbos and my partner for the weekend wanted to score – we went.

Now, weird thing: nobody ever asked us what sort of brocha we wanted. In fact, 99.9% of the time, the only brocha we got at all was for a rapid betrothal.

I can’t really blame the rabbis and rebbetzins of Israel for taking the cognitive shortcut of assuming they knew what interested us. If I was accosted by wide-eyed seminary girls on my way to Shabbos lunch, I’d also throw them a quick bone and continue home. There’s no way a gaggle of 18-year-old girls is going to stand between me and my chulent.

Maybe marriage is all that occupies the minds of 18-year-old Israeli girls, but it really didn’t bother me much at the time. After all, everyone knows that after seminary you go home and get married. It’s a natural thing, like teenage growth spurts and getting wrinkles. It just happens. Why would I ask for special intervention on the matter?

But it wasn’t just the rabbis. It was everyone. Our tour guides would talk about how every kever we visited was a segula for getting married. Random strangers at various kevarim would accost us to tell us tales of chizuk lest we lose hope and not daven for our zivug with as much kavana as we might. People who we visited for Shabbos would insist that we visit the kever of their local ‘saint’ and wink and ask for an invitation when we returned.

The assumption is so widespread, I’m sure it applies to the dead as well. I can just see what’s happening in that kever while we all pray. “Hm. Sem girl, I’ll jot her down for marriage.” He stifles a yawn. “Now that middle-aged woman over there – I wonder what she needs?”

Truth be told, I also found it a drop insulting. I mean, do they all think there’s absolutely nothing else occupying our minds? If we got married tomorrow, our happiness would be complete? A slightly shallow analysis, methinks.

Which was why I resolved that when I grew up and became a tzedekes and rebbetzin, sought out for brochos, I would always ask everyone what concerned them. Well, unless the chulent was getting cold. Then I’d just give something general like “may your wish come true.”