Passover Seder? When You’re Single — More Like Passover “Balagan”

Image by Zlatko Unger

Simcha raba Simcha raba, Aviv Higia Pesach Ba!

How exciting!

We get to see our extended family around the Seder table, bring special Passover gifts to our hostess, eat Matzo balls and drink a lot of wine.

But I noticed something kind of annoying in the past few years, since I’m in my mid-twenties.

Ma nishtana?

Suddenly post-Haggadah conversations focus on the “why are you still single” part a little too much.

Who Has a Bigger Matzah?

Let me clarify something: I love the Seder, and love Passover in general.

In fact, it’s my favorite holiday. Nothing excites me more than seeing my extended family around the table, including family members I haven’t seen for a while (probably since the last Seder).

But when you’re in your mid 20’s or older, I noticed the Seder suddenly becomes a place for comparing test scores.

And you know what’s being graded? Your life.

All of a sudden the Seder theme changes from a fun and exciting family gathering, to a life comparison contest.

And I’ve seen this happening in many other Jewish tables, so it’s not just a one-off example of one crazy Jewish family.

“Do you have a girlfriend yet? My son has a great new girlfriend.”

“My boyfriend is so smart, he’s the top of his class in college.”

“My daughter met a great Jewish boy from a very wealthy family. What about you?”

Good for you Mishpuche. I’m happy you’re doing well.

But let me understand something: Are you really looking for answers to these questions? Or are you just trying to brag about yourself or your amazing son/daughter?

If it’s option #1, then we can have this discussion, even though I don’t like talking about myself.

If it’s option #2, then please spare us your ego-burst and pass me the Matzo Balls please (here’s a great Matzo Balls recipe by the way).

The “Old Jewish Mother” Phenomena

Does this “pissing contest” happen only with our extended family and friends?

You may be thinking that it doesn’t really happen with our immediate family and close relatives (I know I said “Old Jewish Mother”, but it can be any close relative really).

Is that true?

Let’s find out.

If you’re still single, then you may have heard some of these ramblings during the Seder:

“Why aren’t you settling down? Look at Moshe, he already has 2 kids.”

“Why don’t you ask Lilly out? She comes from a nice & wealthy family”

“I don’t understand you youngsters”.

Sounds familiar?

And how do we usually react to these questions?

We deflect.

· I’m not thinking about marriage right now

· I’ll find someone when Hashem wants

· I’m too busy at work.

But here’s the thing: these are exactly the types of questions that stress us out unnecessarily, keeps us awake at night, and worse- causes us to make rash decisions.

Don’t get me wrong. I know our families mean well and I appreciate the concern.

But It got me thinking.

Are they really worried about me? Or are they worried about their own self-image?

I know it’s an uncomfortable question. But I don’t think running away from it because it’s uncomfortable is a good idea.

And most definitely don’t ask your relatives this question directly… because they’ll misinterpret it and get offended unnecessarily. Plus, you probably won’t get a straight answer anyway… To be honest, they probably don’t really know the real answer themselves.

Let me tell you what I discovered from my experience.

Sometimes, they’re more concerned about making themselves look and feel good, than what ‘s actually best for us.

It’s not because they’re mean or anything. It’s just the nature of human beings.

There’s a reason why Chazal told us “Love your friend as yourself”. Because if it were easy, they wouldn’t have bothered telling us that.

It’s because loving someone as you love yourself is so hard, that we’re being told to work hard on ourselves to aspire to reach that level.

Different Times, Different Priorities

Let’s be honest: times have changed.

We no longer settle for the first man/woman we meet and say to ourselves “OK, I’ll take it”.

We don’t go out with someone just because they look good, have a nice job or have wealthy parents (I hope).

Not to mention that sometimes dating is just not my top priority. I’m busy getting a business off the ground, who the hell has time for dating?!

After I understood this, let’s go ahead and respond to the “Old Jewish Mom”’s questions:

“Why don’t you ask Lilly out? She comes from a nice & wealthy family.”

Because I’m not going to date some girl just so you could brag in front of your other old Jewish mom friends that your son “hit the jackpot”.

“Why aren’t you settling down? Look at Moshe, he already has 2 kids.”

Moshe? He got married in a Shidduch when he was 19 years old… Sure he has 2 kids. But is he happy? Is he able to support them?

“I don’t understand you youngsters”.

That’s right. You don’t… so please stop trying.

Just to make it clear — this isn’t a response for them. It’s a response for myself.

Knowing that, I can now read the Haggadah in peace.

Chag Sameach :)