Dear Readers: I want to share a letter I received this week giving me hope that there are some level heads out there in the shidduch world, and that not everyone is caught up in the hysteria and/or ga’avah (arrogance) that accompanies a suggestion for a date.
The letter was in answer to my previous column, in which I pointed out that the level of “checking” into a prospective shidduch has gotten way out of hand, as has the “criteria” used to assess the boy’s or girl’s “worthiness.” Case in point: A fine young man in his mid-20’s was asked the names of his high school yeshiva rebbes– which he readily supplied.
However, despite a glowing report from the various rebbes and his chavrusah, etc., the girl’s parents decided that they needed further information and wanted the names of his yeshiva ketanah teachers – even though over a dozen years had passed and he was now an adult.
In another shidduch scenario, a young lady’s reference was asked how she would rate the girl’s communication skills (perhaps the boy’s mother wanted to know if she would be able to decipher baby talk so the future eineklach would not cry unnecessarily). In yet another case, a reference was asked how she would assess the sincerity of the girl’s davening. The startled but indignant reference stated that she was too engrossed in her own davening to notice!
Dear Ms. Kupfer:
I have been following the shidduch crisis in all the Jewish papers in the last year or so. We live about 400 miles from New York City. Needless to say, I see the situation from another perspective. Of course, everything is subjective.
We have three married children who met their spouses in New York. We did not check out future sons- and daughters-in-law and/or their parents. Baruch Hashem, they are all happy. After raising our children in the Torah way by sending them to day school, we allowed them to make their own decisions. We respected their judgment. By the time they are grown, hopefully parents have instilled in their children Jewish values – and they should back off and let their children decide (I am not talking about extreme situations).
Judging people according to rigid and superficial categories, such as whether the “other family” serves on paper plates, linen or plastic tablecloths, the mother’s (or father’s) weight and when that person was toilet-trained (don’t laugh, I heard it!) breaks down communication – ensuring that there is no room for flexibility.
Parents who meddle too much should be told to respect their children and stay out, at least in the initial process. Our son met his wife through a girl whom he dated twice. One never knows how one can meet his or her bashert.
Young people (and their parents, if they are involved) should be looking for a person who demonstrates kindness, commitment, responsibility, honesty, integrity, respect to parents and older people, sense of humor, self-esteem, flexibility and, if possible, the ability to find out how a person handles his or her temper and disappointment.
Our last single son is a graduate student who is looking for a frum and independent girl who will be able to stand on her own two feet. (In fact, we made sure that our daughter had a profession, too.) He is talented and was considering staying in a yeshiva. But who will support him and his future family?
Those who wish to sit and study at the expense of others pay the price, in every sense of the word (and ultimately so do all of us). They mostly stay immature, depending on their parents’ financial support and just don’t grow up in a healthy way.
Since the parents pay for their adult children’s livelihood, some feel entitled to dictate to them where to live, how to space their children, how to dress them and what to name the grandchildren, among other demanding expectations. The adult children’s decision is often under a magnifying glass, and many times they are criticized about minor things. All this stress causes shalom bayis tension.
Now back to your article. Where do those young girls come from, wanting to stay home and have a husband who only learns? Are they realistic? Those who only study will not have earned money to get enough Social Security or any money for retirement, and will not benefit from all that goes along with the satisfaction of working and supporting one’s family. Having said that, I have no objection to parents occasionally helping out financially.
May we soon witness an improvement in this situation.
A Concerned Reader