An unlikely shadchan
I was 26 years old at the time and single, waiting for the right boy to show up. Many fine boys were redt to me, but I didn’t feel that any of them was my bashert. And so the shidduch ideas kept rolling in, some that were interesting and others that were completely off target. It was around that time that my family was thrown into an alternate world—a world of diagnoses and disease, a world of hospitals. My adorable nine-year-old nephew Rafi was diagnosed with cancer. Thus began a saga of endless hospital stays. We were close to despair when the wonderful volunteers of Achim Beyachad, a division of Chai Lifeline, stepped in and took charge. The boys visited continually. They never seemed to tire. They lifted Rafi’s spirits in the bleakest times, responding to his every whim. Chaim Weiner* was one of them. He sat by Rafi’s bedside from dawn till dusk, enlivening an atmosphere overhung by clouds of gloom. In a place where the smell of sickness and death saturated the air, the volunteers brought the scent of hope. Rafi became completely attached to them and looked forward to seeing them—especially Chaim Weiner. One day Rafi told Chaim that he had a suggestion for him. A shidduch suggestion, that is. Chaim listened intently as Rafi raved about his Aunt Rikki. It was an idea that had been suggested in the past but had been vetoed because Chaim was a few years younger than me.
Chaim’s heart melted when he saw the determination of his little friend-turned-shadchan. He told Rafi, “I think my party would be interested. Why don’t you suggest it to your aunt and her party, and we will take it from there.” Rafi pursued the matter without hesitation. Once it was suggested, I agreed; I’d seen the tremendous chesed that Chaim had been doing for some time now. When Rafi was feeling down because of the harsh effects of the chemo, Chaim stood by patiently and devotedly, giving him encouragement. Even when Chaim was overwhelmed with emotion and it was hard for him to smile, he did his best to keep his feelings in check. He remained strong, letting Rafi hold on to him for support. In short, Chaim seemed to be everything I needed in a husband. What was a four-year age gap against the prospect of a lifetime with someone with such depth of character? And besides, who was I to stand in the way of the prophecy of a nine-year-old boy? It was a match made in Heaven. After a short while we became engaged, and I’m now happily married, baruch Hashem. Whenever someone asks me who my shadchan was, I still get goose bumps. And when I share the story, so does everyone else. Now that I’ve crossed the Yam Suf, all I can say is, “Thank you, Rafi; mission accomplished!” All that remains is to daven for Rafi’s complete recovery; may he have a refuah shleimah b’karov.