I remember substituting in a day school office many years ago, and calling a mother to let her know that her son, during recess, had muddied his clothes as he played. He was covered in mud from top to bottom, as he had slid while playing baseball.
She told me she was busy – at the gym – and that it would be a good lesson for him and he would be more careful in the future if he stayed in his wet, dirty clothes for the rest of the day.
This child came from a “top” family.
Misguided as well is the attitude towards young people who go to yeshivas/girls’ schools that are thought to be lower level schools. Graduates of these “loser” schools are often ostracized when in comes to shidduchim. The irony is that many of these students are more sincere and hardworking in their davening and learning, and have elevated middos, greater sensitivity and ahavas Yisrael than their peers whose entry into a “good” yeshiva was smoothed by their father’s or grandfather’s hefty annual donations or yichus.
Just recently a teenage boy (who went off the derech) told an audience he was addressing that the only reason he wasn’t thrown out of his yeshiva was because his father paid full tuition.
Rabi Akiva’s father-in-law, the wealthy Kalba Savua disowned his daughter Rachel, because she married a man whom he judged to be totally unsuitable for her, based on his lack of yichus, education and social status. But as Kalba Savua learned, what you see is not necessarily what you get. He could not get past the exterior and give his daughter’s suitor a chance. He refused to give himself the opportunity to see what his daughter saw. I’m not saying that parents should embrace every shidduch suggested to them – just that they keep an open mind and see beyond the shallow surface.
To prejudge a person, either favourably or unfavourably because of superficial yardsticks is unfair and self-defeating. A parent might pass up a wonderful person because his or her resume was shvach – not up to par in their eyes, and instead choose an impressive “illusion”, ending up with a son or daughter-in-law who will bring discord, turmoil and heartache to the family.
The old saying, “don’t judge a book by its cover” has much merit.