There has been much written about the issue of Shidduchim or lack thereof over the last few years. Many have pointed their fingers at the statistical disproportion between the large number of girls and the shortage of boys. Many have talked about the difference between a “good” boy and a “good” girl. Others have blamed the age differential of when each gender begins dating. Others have claimed that not enough people are getting involved in actually suggesting matches. The list goes on, as we all painfully know. Whichever reason you see as the crux of the matter, there is one issue which I feel compelled to point out here because of its great importance and yet its virtual neglect from public discussion. Perhaps it is this issue which is truly preventing people from coming together. That is: Are the daters doing their part to act with proper care, consideration, and sensitivity towards others? Are they being taught and are they putting into practice how to be the “mentsh” that both girls and boys always state that they are looking for?
I hope that we will find ways to enhance the lives of our dear fellow people. Please let my words find merit on their own accord. If you feel that I have raised a good point, then I am happy; if you disagree with me, I respect your opinion as well. So here is an extrapolation of what is on my mind.
Care and Consideration
Our Nation is known as compassionate and caring toward others. However, my experience working with people in the parsha has led me to see that unfortunately, many people are getting hurt daily in the process of finding their mates. Why is this so? Perhaps people realize the great responsibility and seriousness of choosing a spouse; they see the great lifetime ramifications that depend upon this decision and thus they become extra protective and cautious for their own safety. This may cause an inadvertent neglect in factoring how one’s words or actions could hurt other people. It is my hope to tap into people’s true sensitivity in order that we can realign our actions to be consistent with our Torah understanding of true derech eretz, respectful decorum.
Questions to Ponder
I am going to ask a series of questions. I understand that many of them can be answered, and some of them very well. Perhaps I am missing information, perhaps I am being too judgmental or extra sensitive, or perhaps you are not guilty of anything listed below. Indeed if some or all of my words do not apply to you then I salute you for being such a considerate person who thinks about others! Perhaps then I will be able to strengthen your resolve towards sensitivity. All I wish to show is the many areas of sensitivity and consideration which I think should be thought about more by our young men and women, and their parents, in their search and quest to build a Jewish home for Hashem. The questions are meant to stimulate the mind to point out the issues and to represent the numerous feelings and sentiments as they have been expressed to me by those that raised them.
Remember that before you can walk in someone else’s shoes, you must first take off your own. Try to see and feel the side of the victim, you will find this most enlightening. This way we will heighten our awareness and learn how to make this world a happy place for all. All of the stories below are true to the best of my knowledge.
- Are we courteous and respectful as the Torah dictates from us?
- Why is it permissible to speak any lashon hara, slander, and justify it by calling it “research” or “I feel that this is relevant”? Why can we insult people or hurt their feelings so freely?
- Why do people blatantly lie?
- How do people know what the “dater” will find attractive, intelligent, lively or fun, that grants them the right to inform people not to go out with someone? Doesn’t everyone have different tastes? Do we not find ourselves surprised all the time by people’s ultimate selections?!
- Why do all of his/her friends have to know, and in great detail, about every single girl/boy they ever met or were suggested and “knew” that she/he wasn’t “good enough” for them?
- Why do people not return phone calls? Why do people make suggestions and not call back with the details that they promised? Why do people neglect to reply with an answer to suggestions that they were offered? Why do people not call politely to remind them?!
- Why do people dismiss a Shidduch suggestion with two lethal words- “THAT family?!” “THAT seminary/Yeshiva?!” “THAT Shul?!” “THAT city?!” or even “THAT Shadchan?!
- Why do boys complain that they couldn’t find the girls house, because no light was left on, and when they finally thought they found it, no sign or number was in sight to dispel their doubts? Is there a way to make it easier for the dater to find the proper house?
- Why was a boy given a 45 minute unannounced impromptu test and psychoanalysis, by her parents, on everything he ever learned and the detailed recounting of his ultimate life goals, as he waited nervously before meeting the girl for the first time?
- Why was one boy who called a woman for information three days before Pesach told that he should call back after Yom Tov as she was too busy then, only to be called on Erev Pesach by that exact woman asking him for information about his friend for her daughter?!
- Why do boys complain that girl’s written profiles contain no vital updated information, wrong ages, wrong numbers and many vague descriptions? Why do girls complain that boys don’t even have a written profile? Couldn’t things be much better clarified by giving over a clear written document?
- Why can’t people write their actual date of birth, education, present occupation, family details, descriptive personality and haskafa of themselves and what they would appreciate in a spouse along with any other pertinent information which they know would be of relevance?
- How did a boy who dialed a reference number which he was given on a printed profile end up on the phone with the prospective girl’s mother?
- Why do official references say all the time, “I’m sorry, I don’t really know that person!” Why don’t people choose references who are articulate, patient and updated about their life goals? Why don’t references just call their friend directly to clarify the questions which they cannot answer? Why not give a large selection of references, with a short relationship description, so that there are many people to be called in case some of the references cannot be reached?
- Why do so many people refuse to speak or write a profile for themselves leaving it all to their parents? So many shadchanim say that they only realized who the person was when they met or spoke to them in person to hear what they themselves were looking for and not what their parents wanted?!
- If one is mature enough to get married, are they not mature enough to speak to the shadchan themselves between dates? Surely one can discuss what they will say with their mentor(s), but why play broken-telephone by sending messages through others?
- Why do people ask insensitive and irrelevant questions, such as, “list me off all of the prospect’s character faults!?”
- Why is it common practice for a boy or girl to wait a week or two or longer for an answer? Do people not know how much stress and anxiety this causes?
- Why do people turn exchanging dor yeshorim numbers into such an issue? Why can’t it just be done, and not mean anything, whenever one side asks for it, whether it’s before the dating begins or any time after? The entire process takes literally 2 minutes (try it and you’ll see)!? Why do people lose their dor yeshorim number or not have it available, thereby looking careless? The official paper is not needed, one can simply write down the nine digits and carry it in their wallet or phone! Why isn’t it done as early as possible before two people become quickly emotionally involved?
- Why are people so tense, serious and uptight on dates, wouldn’t one represent their real self better if they just relaxed and opened up gradually instead of attacking? Why was a girl’s first words to a boy as they pulled out of her driveway, “so what are your life-goals?” and “tell me about your entire family?” What happened to formalities or “how was your trip here?”
- Why are people so quick to jump to conclusions, why don’t we talk and clarify things together?
- Why did a shadchan dismiss a Rosh Yeshiva’s concerns about why a shidduch fell through by simply stating, “I never would have set them up in the first place!”? Are we God?
- Why was a person dumped after many long and serious dates without being talked to in person, or even over the phone, and even the shadchan who called to inform them that they were not getting engaged had no explanation to provide?
- Why do so many boys and girls not have a trusted rebbe or mentor to speak to? How do they think that they can navigate the complex issues and dangers of dating on their own or by only speaking to friends their age with insufficient life experience to guide them properly?
- Why do people double-date?
- Why do so many people only focus on themselves and not try to make the other person comfortable? Even if one is not having a good time and recognizes that their date is not for them, can’t they still exercise common courtesy to another human being?
- Why are so many people so quick to dump? Relationships take time to develop and very often so does attraction!? Why are so many people so quick to get engaged? What’s the rush?
- Why do so many people not communicate their concerns and questions directly to the one they are dating? Isn’t that something important for a partnership?
- Why do so many girls only speak to their rav, without even speaking to a rebbetzin or trusted woman mentor who can help her with her feelings which her rav does not necessarily specialize in and will advise her of this as well? Why do boys not ask their mothers and sisters for advice on how to understand the opposite gender?
- Why is so little appreciation given to the boys and especially to the girls who spend hundreds of dollars and hours traveling in just to date? If one is not comfortable expressing appreciation verbally, doesn’t he/she at least deserve more than one short date?!
- Why do people do a timed-date, how could you develop a relationship with someone by telling them that the clock is ticking, “the date must be from four to six”, without a sensitive justification?
- No one said you have to marry this person, but why should they walk away from dating you with much pain and questions on your middos?
- Why is it so difficult for you to even consider a date, at lease provide the one suggesting it with some justification that he or she can better understand what you are seeking.
Application of Answers
Reading through these questions should give you a feel for the areas that deserve thought. I reiterate that I am not looking for answers to these questions; There are many valid and thoughtful ones to be found. I am looking to heighten sensitivity and awareness. Everyone wants to be nice and respectful and perhaps this is a great project to work on for those seeking to get married as well as those wishing to grow together in their marriage.
To sum, shidduchim is about finding the right person, at the right place, at right time, and in the right manner! May we all be zocheh to live with health, happiness and harmony!