Dating for Success: The Smorgasbord Syndrome

The noblemen scampered to the sides to let the king through. His regal personage stormed between the bowed heads as he approached the banquet table. There he stood transfixed, surveying the vast landscape of delicacies, as the royal chefs trembled.

“And where is the trout!” the King shouted at petrified servant.

The servant meekly lifted the king’s plate with the trout displayed prominently on top.

The king, recognizing that he was yelling at someone for his own mistake – the trout had been on his plate all along – became infuriated. He swung at the servant’s arm sending the plate crashing to the opposite wall. Servants dove to the floor to clean the mess.
“And berries, I do so like berries!” the king bellowed strolled around the table greedily.

Servants scurried behind the king as he insatiably pointed to one dish after another until a dozen plates were overflowing with food.

“Now that’s better,” the king announced haughtily, as he made his way to his chair. Anxious servants followed his back to the table where the plates were carefully set down before him.

But there were no berries. He hadn’t pointed to them and no one dared deviate from his directives for fear of his wrath. It was only a matter of time before the king discovered their absence. Someone would surely be blamed – and probably lose his life in the process.

The noblemen slumped down in their seats trying to become invisible, sweat breaking out on their temples. Servants stood at attention by the king, gritting their teeth, terrified. And one of the chefs across the room was choking back sobs of fear.

Unfortunately, a waiter busily refilling glasses thrust a cluster of berries on one of the plates without the king noticing. The nobleman mopped the sweat from his brow. He waited for the moment to present itself so that he could swiftly proceed. If not, who knows what punishment the king would dispense. The tension in the room was thick. People feigned congeniality, but everyone knew a sword was suspended over their heads. And then in one auspicious moment, as the king turned his chair sideways and bent down to pet his dog, the nobleman tossed the cluster of berries onto an adjacent plate.

The king turned his head just in time to catch the tail end of the nobleman’s actions and rewarded his with a rare smile. The greedy king smacked his lips in eager anticipation.

“Nothing is missing”, he gloated to himself, “naturally I can have it all.”

For many, the shidduch process is like choosing from an enormous smorgasbord. On display are many diverse candidates with their various character traits and personalities. Scanning the selection, we would like to be able to choose a little of this and a little of that. Perhaps the looks of one and the personality of another, or the family of one and the middos of another. Using this method, we compile a composite picture of the perfect spouse and anyone who doesn’t measure up doesn’t stand a chance.

Desires, like everything else in life, are given to us by Hashem to fulfill our potential. We can cater to our every whim, and throw a tantrum when we don’t get what we want. But like the king, our desire to pile our plates high will likely lead us to a lifetime of loneliness and misery.

A smorgasbord is designed to tempt the Yetzer Hara with its vast assortment of goodies. Our Yetzer Hara also helps us to compile a composite picture of a person that could not possibly exist.

We must not let our desire for everything make it impossible for us to get anything. We must prioritize what is most important to us. We must remove some food from our plate and be satisfied with less. And then, maybe Hashem will show us that the meager amount we think we’ve settled for is much more satisfying than we had ever imagined.