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Chronicles Of Crises In Our Communities – 7/25/08

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Dear Rachel,

I really enjoy your column and it has helped me a tremendous amount in married life.

About a year ago (in your column of 6-13-07) you printed a letter from a frum girl who was engaged and didn’t know much about married life. She stated that she was uncomfortable with what she had learned.

You answered her very well and I was wondering if we could hear from her again. She should be married for about a year now and I am eager to know how she and other frum girls are faring in their married lives.

I too come from a frum home (chassidish) and never associated with a male until my marriage. I actually found the idea of not really knowing my chassan until marriage thrilling. After we married we had the chance to connect in such a deep way and to talk about things I had never discussed before with anyone.

The relationship exclusively between just the two of us made it so dear. I already loved telling him about myself during our sheva berachos.

I am curious to know if people have a hard time connecting or feeling comfortable with each other under the circumstance of not having had any previous experience. (I found this aspect exciting.)

I am married for a little over three years, Baruch Hashem, and still think that this is the way to go. My friends too seem fine, unaffected and happy. (We did everything the chassidish way.) I’d love to hear from others.

Love our way

Dear Love,

Thank you for validating the very purpose of this column, which is to provide a safe and anonymous forum for communicating, discussing or venting delicate issues that affect our daily lives.

In the column you cite, three young ladies – two engaged at the time – wrote about their apprehension at the prospect of finding themselves suddenly sequestered and having to be intimate with their other halves – virtual strangers up to then.

As clarification to the puzzled reader: In Chassidic circles, the concept of dating is a foreign one and, for the most part, frowned upon. The parents of children ready (at least age-wise) for marriage check out prospective matches before agreeing to have their son/daughter meet in a designated and supervised setting. Such an encounter (bashow in Yiddish) only comes into play once the boy has met the girl’s parents’ approval and the girl has successfully passed scrutiny of the boy’s parents.

The young ones do have their say and are, in fact, encouraged to voice their respective impressions of one another (to their parents in confidence following the bashow). Should they, for instance, feel no connection whatsoever and/or either of the young pair expresses a valid reason for refusal, the shidduch in tactfully nixed. (As one would expect under the circumstances, the boy or girl is spared the onus of having to turn the other down since at this stage the parents are doing the orchestrating.)

The number of bashows preceding the lechayim (which informally but officially signals the conclusion of a shidduch) ranges from one to a handful. Usually, two or three suffice, for if neither the boy nor the girl can by then come up with a solid excuse for rejection of the other, they are encouraged by their parents – who have already ascertained the viability of the match beforehand – to trust them and seal the deal of a lifetime. Often, to the delight of all concerned, the young ones take to one another like two peas in a pod, the chemistry between them sparking instantly.

The benefits of such an arrangement are not to be minimized. Just a few: Both the young male and female are spared the frustrations of dealing with shadchanim directly; fruitless conversations and awkward dates with unsuitable setups are avoided; the stress involved in having to reject someone is the responsibility of the parent. Plus, the appreciation of every milestone is elevated, every significant stage in life euphorically celebrated with a heartfelt hakaras ha’tov to Hashem. And as the writer above illustrates so purely and maturely, the sanctity of marriage is elevated when a couple unites as one without any preconceived notions of “love” and with no baggage, as in a “past,” to contend with.

As I had written to the anxious young lady in the column of last year: “You and your partner in life begin to “date” in earnest on your first day as husband and wife, with the newness and excitement of getting to know one another piquing your interest in each other on each successive day. The single who has been “hanging out” with the opposite sex long before even thinking of settling down may be streetwise, but her/his anticipation is short-lived and the thrill of togetherness will leave much to be desired.”

It would be nice indeed to get some feedback from other young couples of similar backgrounds (e.g., chassidish), to hear how they are doing – especially from those who had previously written, given their earlier trepidation and the traditional manner in which they first became acquainted.

Thank you for writing. May your enthusiasm and attraction to one another last a lifetime!

About the Author: We encourage women and men of all ages to send in their personal stories via email to rachel@jewishpress.com or by mail to Rachel/Chronicles, c/o The Jewish Press, 4915 16th Ave., Brooklyn, N.Y. 11204. If you wish to make a contribution and help agunot, your tax-deductible donation should be sent to The Jewish Press Foundation. Please make sure to specify that it is to help agunot, as the foundation supports many worthwhile causes.


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