The Parental Shidduch Crisis

By “Reuven”

Let me make something clear from the outset. The crisis I’m addressing is not “out there.” It’s very alive within ME. There’s a very definite, if not controlled panic that is building up within my kishkes. The kind that slowly but surely weighs down the whole system til it becomes effectively dysfunctional.

Oh, I still eat decently (though inconsistently) and socially interact with aplomb. But a growing sub-experience is smoldering anger, bitter disappointment and at times just plain mental cracking, which naturally gets in the way of my learning seder and employment searches, responses to “how’s life?” and ability to pray seriously without breaking down in a sob. And let’s not even speak of my sleep!

But please don’t misunderstand me. This is not a classic religious crisis. I have no doubts as to the Alm-ghty’s existence. Rather I feel as clear about His reality as Avraham probably would have after ACTUALLY doing the Akeida! It’s a sense of betrayal, on the highest level.

You see, I’ve come so far. Left so much for His sake. Worked so hard to clarify the theological and moral imperatives for serving Him. I invested valiantly in raising an exemplary family; in encouraging the kids to go all out for r-e-a-l-l-y living the truth of Torah. And they came through. They’ve truly made us proud, in the best way. The problem is that the older ones are now reaching the age of independence…

And G-d said: “Thou shalt find them Shidduchim!”

Well not exactly. In fact I didn’t hear Him say that at all. Actually I heard him whisper the opposite. Way back when I found my beshert without any third party. And G-d seemed so very, very pleased. So what in the world is this very spoken about unspoken rule about me having to find my son’s Shidduch??

Oy, the irony. The worst part of my crisis is that the kids are all such fine “catches.” The Rebbe and their teachers and our community members all tell us that. And I don’t doubt it. Bla”h, they excel in school, exude diligence, interpersonal sensitivity, humor and faith. Most importantly they each, in their own way, strive to be as Jewishly pure as possible. So, you see, I can’t just pair them up with the child of the BT next door.

They need “real” shidduchim!

Do I sound cynical? I’m trying hard to. Because while I could easily speak of all the wonders and grace in this holy system, I’m literally getting sick and tired of it. Just last month, after having seen tremendous signs of Hashgacha (Providence) in how the father of the same girl that my 17 yr. old daughter recently noted seemed like a perfect match for her older brother (and we quickly confirmed upon a little investigation), just “happened” to ride a bus with him and was so impressed by “speaking in learning” with him that he insisted in speaking with friends of ours about considering him for a chassan. But now the word is that his hands are tied since his wife insists on marrying her daughter to a miyuchas (nobly descended) family!

Believe me, that’s just the last straw. It’s been building up since we began to settle in to established Yiddishkeit. So that’s why I chose to write this. It’s a pressure release. Call it airing out my dark side…

Doesn’t G-d realize this “religious” ethic of parents-must-find-their-children’s-soulmate is torture for idealists? It was one thing to want the best of the best in search for my wife and Rebbe. But now also for these so precious, young Yidden about whom I most definitely am handicapped in taking the bull by the horn? People say “you must compromise.” Very nice when you’re speaking for yourself. But what if I steer my boy wrong? Maybe the couple needs to experience the wonder of stumbling upon one another. Maybe he needs to exercise that manly sense of hunting, stalking and catching his prey. Maybe they need to cry a little together in uncertainty over when exactly to tie the knot.

But of course all these thoughts are totally against the rules.

Did I say rules? Hmm. I guess that’s what I mean by crisis. It’s starting a dominoe effect. I’m now beginning to critically review so many other rules in this holy society that just don’t seem to be, dare I say, so holy.

Please help me, dear friends, if you have any insights / words of encouragement.

136 comments on “The Parental Shidduch Crisis

  1. Dear smm,

    I applaud your courage in writing and sympathize with your nervousness. As is, I have hardly been back at this site since writing this post.

    Some of it had to do with dealing with the new realities in wake of that wedding, and some had to do with a conflict with some administrators (such a Jewish issue, eh). But bottom line is I just had an inkling to check things out and I saw this.

    So number 1 – it hasn’t gotten any easier for us! In fact, the next ones in line were twins – a girl and boy, ages 17 – which made us think the girl would soon follow… it still hasn’t! Only last year did the boy find his other half.

    Oh, I must say, that was a great shidduch. Felt even much more evident than the first. Well worth waiting for. But my daughter is now 22, which is fairly “old” in our chassidic circles – and that has been tough indeed. She’s had plenty of offers, but not on the caliber of her brothers…

    Another giant problem, I might as well reveal, is that two years ago my wife of 25 years suddenly decided to divorce. And in a most ugly fashion. We’re still struggling with that one (in separate residences). In particular, the natural fall out of course is the kids’ shidduchim.

    OY does it hurt to see such a talented, fine young lady stew in this culture that allows her no contact whatsoever with potential shidduchim. It’s gotta go through us, and “us” these days is quite dysfunctional. Of course her Emmuna keeps kicking in, higher and higher, most of the time. When it does, a big wave of “gam zu l’tova” sets in. But then things settle down… and the profound worries return.

    As for your other question about BT vs MO, I’d need to hear more details.

    I hope you become aware of this reply soon, since I most likely will stop visiting the site in the next day or two.

    Hatlocha. We’re all in this together…

  2. I’ve never written here before and am a bit nervous. I am getting to the stage of shidduchim for my children and worry about two things –

    offering support for my daughter and BT or MO background.

    Will this post be seen if added to a much older thread?

  3. Judy,

    Re: #131

    I have no doubt of your good feelings about our tzanchanim!

    It was a semi-mood lightener.

    On the more serious side, however, the fact that a man and woman are not suited for marriage TO ONE ANOTHER rarely means that either party is seriously flawed. It simply means that either or both parties realize its best to look further.

    It’s up to us, as the parents of young singles, or in our own capacity as older singles, to prevent the decision not to move forward from being unjustifiably perceived by outside parties as an indication that the other party has serious problems of some type.

  4. To Gary #131: Paratroopers are great. I’d be proud to have one as a son-in-law (too bad all four of my daughters are already married, regretfully none to a paratrooper).

    I meant no insult to paratroopers. My comment was in line with Rabbi Goldblum’s earlier remark about the lime green Shabbos tablecloth. I was trying to think of some headgear that was not a black hat. Maybe I should have said a plaid deerstalker cap, sort of like Sherlock Holmes wears in all of the illustrated Sir Arthur Conan Doyle anthologies.

  5. Aside from lashon hara considerations,the reasons given for breaking a shidduch off are often a smokescreen, so why even bother to inquire?

  6. Judy wrote:

    “Maybe the yentas are demanding a reason. So tell them it’s because he wears a red beret instead of a black hat.”

    What’s wrong with a paratrooper?

  7. Maybe the yentas are demanding a reason. So tell them it’s because he wears a red beret instead of a black hat.

  8. Rethinking my comment in #127:

    Why should there have to be a “stated justification” that’s not true? A pat answer gives the appearance that there is something to hide.

    Would it not be preferable to say “It didn’t work out”? If a later inquiry is made by someone who is entitled to know the actual reason, the information could be divulged at that time.

  9. One question that should be asked of potential shidduchim: “What medicines are you taking?” I think it’s important to know all medical and health issues in advance. Not that these will necessarily rule out a wonderful partner for your child, but you are aware in advance and can decide on an informed basis whether to go ahead with the shidduch. I have two sons-in-law with serious medical conditions currently under control with the proper medication. Not that this has prevented them from being good husbands and fathers, but it was important to know about. After all, conditions such as diabetes can be controlled by taking a pill every day for the rest of one’s life (or the new “insulin pen”) and many people now are cancer survivors. This is probably not a question for the first date, but if the shidduch otherwise looks good, it should be explored before things get serious to avoid the pain of a later broken engagement or possibly even a divorce.

    I would also suggest that maybe in cases where a shidduch is proposed with a divorced person, that some discreet investigations be done with people who know the character of the former spouse. Anyone can say, “I divorced because my spouse wasn’t frum enough,” or “I divorced because my spouse was crazy,” when the actual truth is that the other spouse was running away from physical and verbal abuse. Certainly there are many divorces that are nobody’s fault except that the two simply were incompatible with each other, and each one will go on to make an excellent spouse for someone else. However, if anger or addiction issues drove the divorce, I would advise serious thought about not doing the shidduch unless the party to blame has really changed from what he or she was before.

  10. Judy,

    Your point in #126 about sparing people unnecessary embarassment is an excellent one. However, while the color of the table cloth may be a good “stated” justification for not proceeding towards marriage, I hope that the cases where it is the “actual” reason are far and few between.

    If one party is revolted by a different table cloth color than the one he or she is used to, or the other party can’t accomodate the other person’s preference at least part of the time, there may be more serious questions about the parties’ readiness for marriage or any other important (business, employment, etc.) relationship.

  11. It’s been much talked about that potential shidduchim are broken up for stupid reasons like, “What color tablecloth do you use on Shabbos?” Rabbi Goldblum addresses that issue in an earlier comment to this posting.

    However, if one reads carefully the Hilchos of Shmiras HaLashon, there pops out a good justification for asking these silly questions. Sometimes an explanation has to be given for firing or rejecting a person. In certain cases it is allowed or even required to state a lesser reason rather than giving the true reason. For example, if a shidduch was broken after discovering some delicate personal matter not necessary to reveal to the whole salivating world, one might give as the public reason for breaking it off that the family uses a lime green tablecloth for Shabbos. It’s a justification, it’s not the real justification, but it spares the other family’s privacy on a delicate topic that might otherwise become the talk of the town to their eternal embarrassment.

    Check with your own Orthodox Rabbi or Poseik, as I’m far from being an expert on Hilchos Loshon Hara, especially pertaining to Shidduchim and what one may or may not answer when asked a question about the other party. I just wanted to point out that seemingly minor and stupid justifications for breaking off shidduchim may actually be hiding major and real justifications that shouldn’t be aired in public.

  12. I would like to make a case for taking a new look or re-examination at issues like these, on some sort of periodic basis of sorts. as far as i know, some issues which might be termed a “crisis” are still in dire straits, and are not closer and perhaps further from a solution.

    I know that perhaps beyondBT is not necessarily read by millions, but I do think we still have a very valid and useful role to play as a public form, and as a meeting of record of sorts. I would assert and urge that perhaps we continue to try to fulfill this mission and mandate.

  13. I am a BT with seven children, ages 32 to 19. I am pleased to report that, Thank G-d, six of my children are married, leaving only the “muzhinik” (youngest). For years I had this nightmare that my children would be unable to find matches because I am a BT who went to public school and ate bacon as a young girl. Well, you know what, plenty of lovely young people out there also have “issues”: he has parents who are divorced; she had a broken engagement; he was a cancer survivor; the list of not-so-perfect people goes on and on.

    Find shadchanim who do not just deal with the grandchildren of big rebbes but also with normal everyday people. And finally, remember what one rav said, “Yichus is frequently a code word for money.” It is amazing how much in the background gets overlooked when a family is wealthy.

    This is not to sound cynical; a young couple does need a financial foundation to start a marriage. I also remember what I heard once lehavdil from a TV show, that in their high school the very top envied couple was the head cheerleader and the star quarterback; but did that mean that none of the other graduates of that high school ever got married? Of course not. All your son or daughter needs is that one person out there who is special enough to recognize his/her sterling qualities.

  14. Reuven–
    I think what’s hard for me when I think about shidduchim (thinking way into the future here, since my oldest is in diapers) is wondering if/how I’ll manage to figure out the difference between Torah-true and holy vs. not a good idea. For example, in secular life if a friend had gotten engaged after two months of dating I would have been very worried, and probably with good cause. In the religious world, and particularly the hareidi world, that’s not so unusual. Ditto for marrying young. If my secular friends’ kids came to them at age 17 wanting permission to marry, the answer would be an obvious “absolutely not.” In my current community there are a handfull of young women who marry at that age, and it tends to work well for them.

    Basically, many of the things that would have been warning flags in my old life are perfectly acceptable here, so what are the new flags and how should I advise children/younger friends on what to look for? It sounds like you thought through some of these issues–at first you worried that your son wouldn’t be involved enough in the process, for example, but you seem to have come to peace with that. This isn’t necessarily a hareidi issue, it’s more of an overall question about how we can figure out what to absorb in our new communities and what we need to reject.

  15. I have just read an amazing book on this subject entitled “The Shidduch Crisis: Causes and Cures” ( Urim 2008) by Dr Michael J. Salamon, Ph D. I would highly recommend this very important book to rabbbanim, mchanchim, parents and those of our children “in the Parsha.” This books analzyes where we have collectively erred in this process as a community, educators and parents. IMO, conferences on this subject will solve no aspect of the problem unless we carefully analyze the system and its multiple deficiencies and realize with the help of everything that our Gdolim have said that the shidduch system simply ignores midos and places a premium and being able to answer a series of stereotypical questions in the positive.

  16. Hi Reuven:

    I believe I’ve mentioned in more than one comment that I belong to a 12 Step Group, and the way I’ve learned to “work the steps”, so to speak, are the way I’m learning to “work life” (just to clarify, the 12 Steps are very much in keeping with Torah philosophy). How I am applying it to what you’re saying is I put something out that I need/want to say. I have no way of knowing in advance if it will be picked up by the group or not, so I turn it over to my “Higher Power” (in our case, Hashem). Not only might you touch someone in a way you couldn’t have predicted, the comments often take on an unpredictable direction that reach others, e.g. your issue with the mother who was looking for “yichus” touched many of us in different ways, including giving some of us an opportunity to express our ongoing struggle of acceptance as BT’s. Of course, you need to present your topic as you feel comfortable. However, I’ll submit a vote. You write it, I’ll read it (or to quote another source, “If you build it, they will come.”)

  17. “I wasn’t aware that anyone had to submit their topic for a vote in order to get it posted. Go for broke,”

    I know there are all kinds of posts, many which are basically cathartic for the writer. But I hesitate to waste everyone’s time with that. As much as THIS post was very definately cathartic, I made a point of writing it in a way that would relate to a collective problem facing older BT’s. I exposed my insecurities the way I did because I was “zoche” to be very in touch with the outrage that was threatening my well being at that time. But I tried hard to never cross the line of simply ranting or whining or waxing philosophical.

    So too here, with the possible sequel to Parental Sh. Crisis. I have tons of very fascinating info on the process I’ve gone through in raising this child, culminating in finding his Shidduch, but since you all already know a good deal about how the story ends, I would want to know if there’s real interest in such a thing.

    Don’t need lots of votes. Just a few substantial ones. And yes, Ora, if I do it I will include my view on how it was to let go of the beauty and “truth” I found in discovering my wife and give in to the “holy” rituals of Chareidi / chassidic dating.

  18. Ora: The point you raised, i.e. how does one submit to a dating procedure so radically different from one’s own is something I’m going through in several areas of frumkeit. In other words, I was so invested in the “when in Rome do as the Romans do” that I ignored my comfort level in doing any one of a number of things that was (and is) different than the way I did things “back in the day”. In a sense, in order to integrate as fully as possible into the community, I just fell into a lock-step without taking into consideration that other self who’d lived another way for a number of years. This is an issue I’ve been struggling with for awhile (another topic for future posting if I get my act together).

  19. I wasn’t aware that anyone had to submit their topic for a vote in order to get it posted. Go for broke, Reuven, and see what happens. I would recommend the same to “alf”(comment #106). I’d commented a couple times in a manner where I’d hoped the thread would begin to address my particular issue. I realize now that if I want my issue addressed, I’d better initiate my own post. You sound like you have an issue there, alf, so take a chance.

  20. Ora – your questions are appropriate. Tho your point is also valid, Belle. My “case”, as a number of commentators have already noted, is not so ordinary. We’re definately IN, heart and soul, but I also have kept a few toes OUT. And boy does it hurt when those toes get stepped on!

    I appreciate the invitation for another post and I can definately say I have p-l-e-n-t-y of material. But if I do it, I’d like to relate to the entire process I’ve gone through in raising this very special child. For in many ways he represented to me from day one the possibility of doing my part to bring the weird, staid, musty yet HOLY frumkeit down to “real life!” And I succeeeeeeded, beyond my dreams.

    Which has indeed left me with a couple of very mangled toes.

    So any votes for such a post?

  21. belle–

    I understand that. What I’m curious about is how Reuven came to see this as the best path. He kind of explained earlier, but I’m curious to hear more about how a BT parent can decide on a dating path for his kids that’s so very different from what he himself went through.

  22. Ora:

    Although I am not answering your question which is for Reuvain, from his responses it seems fairly clear that he and his wife are members of a chassidic group and that the children were raised to expect this. The children are not BTs, and if they were well integrated as a family, there is no reason to think their children will stand out from the vast majority of chassidic couples who meet and marry this way.

  23. Reuven–

    First of all, mazal tov.

    How were you able to become comfortable with this style of dating? Since there were less than two weeks between the first date and the engagement, I’m assuming the future couple only met three or four times? Did they meet without parents at any point? Clearly you think that two weeks is enough time for them to make this decision–how were you able to come to that conclusion?

    I hope you don’t take offense, I’m just curious. I know a hareidi couple who got engaged after two weeks and seem quite happy, but I also know BT couples who got engaged quickly and were absolutely miserable/divorced fairly early on. So my natural instinct is to be somewhat leery of such fast engagements, even though I realize that there’s a big difference between dating as an FFB and as a BT.

  24. At this point, we can’t really judge the situation since it’s so tied up with the personalities, etc., of all involved. Your “mutual Rebbe” may need to make the call here if you sense a conflict.

  25. Not to forget: Most of her relatives are in B.B. (tho they would definately come also to Yer.)

  26. BARUCH thiyeh!!

    Thank you all so very much. What an amazing Hashgacha. It definately does feel like there’s a real communal joy being shared here. I do hope I can soon respond to some of the very meaningful questions that have recently been posed. But as most of you so graciously seem to understand, we’re a little inundated at present.

    How ’bout me noting the latest BT “issue” in doing this frum-chasuna (as opposed to ours which was totally kosher but quite, well let’s say, creative: WHERE TO HAVE THE CHASUNA?

    They prefer in Bnei Brak where the possibility for quality music is greater (in Yer. only drums are played), and we prefer Yerushaliyim, first and foremost, because our mutual Rebbe doesn’t travel out of the Holy City for such events. Additionally, our relatively few social connections (outside of the community) tend to be people with limited means and / or in transition in their lives, which would make it very difficult for them to leave Yerushaliym.

    So we all agree the Kallah should have the last word, but my chassan and I ( yes, I too have an opinion!) would hope to gently persuade her. Think it’s worthwhile??

  27. not to be alarmist, but this discussion is not really addressing the issue of how bt and children of bt are treated.

    If someone were to print it out and hand it out at the next gateways kiruv event, do you think you would have a large amount coming back the next day?

  28. Mazel tov, mazel tov! Thanks for making us a part of it. I feel like a member of your extended family.

  29. Mazel Tov, and thanks for allowing all of us to join you throughout the shidduch experience. May we all share many simchas together, if not in person, then at least here.

  30. Ok my friends… are you ready for this?


    Vort was last night.

    Shalom Yitzchak and Raizel – Roshei teivos: SHIR. As in Sharas HaYam, Shabbos Shira, Shiru l”HaSh-m Shir Chadash, Tnu l’HaSh-m Shira v’shevach, etc, etc…. ad Shmei HaShomaym!!!!!!

    So much to share, but so much to do. G”W before Shabbos I’ll try to say a little more. And also relate to your many, VERY thoughtful comments on that Leil Seder issue. Believe it or not your ALL right, but David Linn is even MORE right. The Rebbe agreed with me (as long as it wouldn’t cause machlokes)… and it a-l-m-o-s-t did… but ended WONDERFULLY.

  31. Reuven,

    Imagine how you would have felt if the girl’s mother had said something, “I really can’t do Pesach without my daughter’s help. I’m sure you’ll understand, if it’s ok with them, if they always spend Pesach with us.

    You need to minimize the potential tension a new couple will obviously be under trying to accommodate both sets of parents. Also, they aren’t really a “couple” yet. In fact they are virtual strangers. Pressure like that can only serve to push a wedge between them as each one’s natural inclination will be to accommodate their “side”.

    In my short experience, being a good in-law, requires a fair amount of tongue biting.

  32. Reuven may have SAID that, but his phraseology was telling a different story. Putting it like that- “as long as they don’t feel on their own..” is setting up the young couple for a guilt trip and for potentially unpleasant feelings on all sides. When the couple feel “on their OWN” that…, might Reuven not feel, on some level, a sense of rejection from them? A polite setting-aside of what he feels is his very significant need? If the couple decide to consistently go to Reuven, is that not setting them up in a situation that the couple is “hereby not feeling on their OWN” that they should attend her parents’ Seder? What might be her parents’ persepective on this “choice”?

    This situation is a real set-up, in all ways. I certainly can sympathize with Reuven’s needs, but the manner and attitude, as it might be perceived, can really shake things up. It goes without saying that Reuven means well, but such issues need VERY careful handling, and are usually best left unsaid.

  33. I think that some of us have missed the part where Reuven said:

    … Rather, as long as they don’t feel on their OWN the need to go to her family, they will lchatchilla come to us.

    So Reuven is being mevatel his needs to those of the new couple. So, I don’t think that is an issue.

    However, IMHO, I think that the request sounds out of the ordinary and, perhaps, doesn’t take into account the likely fact that your potential in-laws would want to have “the kids” with them for leil seder.

  34. I do not think it is a good idea to bring this up, much less insist on it. The girl has as much desire to be with her parents as your son has to be with you. I hate to put it like this, but Your needs, at this juncture, should matter little.= if at all. This is part of letting go. You have to respect them as an independent couple, and allow them to make these decisions as they see fit, without any guilt trips.

    When my daughter got married, I just decided the best way to have the couple choose to spend time with us, was to make all their visits very very enjoyable (they live in E”Y). SO, that meant, making steak and chicken every night for the son in law, making their guest room very cozy and private (which entailed an expenditure of some $$), giving them some spending money, and making NO demands of them. It is hard, I’ll grant you. (The latter part). However, they still love visiting!

    Hopefully you and your wife will devise similar customs with your children that will make them want to come to you, without depriving them of their need/desire to go to her parents. Be gracious.

  35. Reuven asked, “What do you think?”

    Some things we’d like to have are necessary, some are nice all else being equal, and some are not worth bringing up at all.

    If you regard their marriage itself as necessary, you’ll have to consider all side issues in that light. Do you know the other parties well enough to take a chance on your idea?

  36. While I sympathize with your feelings, I think the request is inappropriate. These reasons relate to you, not to the young couple’s needs.

    If I were a member of the family in question, I would be quite apprehensive regarding the perspective that does not appear to take others into account. Hopefully, they will understand that this request is limited to a special need associated with Pesach itself, and not a general attitude, which I am sure it is not.

    Hatzlacha Rabbah!

  37. I really want to do that update, but now everything is moving so fast, with new complications!!

    Perhaps let me share a relatively peripheral question, which appears to be a kvetch from MY side: before we sign for the Vort, the custom is to agree on as many of the. er, customs as possible. So I mentioned at one point that since this boy is our bachor and we have no other family around (and they have plenty) and our BT background is such that we learned so much while he was growing up, that they might agree that Leil HaSeder will NOT be one of those holydays that the couple does one-yr-here, one-yr-there. Rather, as long as they don’t feel on their OWN the need to go to her family, they will lchatchilla come to us.

    This appeared to them very weird. But it’s in my BLOOD! My bachor…

    What do you think?

  38. I would love to hear your take on the experience, esp about the yichus issue!

    One good experience can puncture many myths! Our daughter’s shidduch also went amazingly smoothly (with a family with some yichus, I might add). Yet, I would bet that some of these concerns are not myths for many. I think the lesson is that when you encounter an unpleasant individual, or are rejected for reasons you don’t think are right, then you should be happy that your child didn’t marry into this family! It obviously is not for her/him!

  39. So is there still some interest to share the end of this drama? Tonight’s supposed to be decisive. One thing I can say for sure: a number of myths about the “ultra-Orthodox dating” re. musty male-female interactions, re. greedy business machinations, re.insensitive guidelines from rabbinical authorities, and yes, even the Yichus paranoia… have all been punctured for me throughout these last few weeks.

    So let me know if anyone wants to hear more. I really think we can make this thread into an interesting document about older BT’s growing up!

  40. Ok… ready for the latest update?

    It seems that H’ had orchestrated my “crisis” precisely as a means for openning me up to recieving the opposite of what I was sufferring from with the Yichus-lady of whom I wrote. Should I say more? This week appears to be fateful…

  41. I must say I’ve never been one to appreciate these laws as so important for the well being of bnei aliya (those who are already on an upward spiritual momentum). Figured they were meant for the shallow and aimless who were bent on substitute aliyas via degrading an other.

    Thank you.

    In light of the present bracha in our lives of being shown a very special, potential zivug for our son (to be decided next week??), this lesson is helpful for calming me down indeed. I still remain, however, with the cry that we MUST work consciously on relating to this Shidduch scene with utmost sensitivity to how totally unnatural it is and respectively how challenging to the idealistic BT.

  42. Reuven,

    The Chofetz Chaim gives us the guidelines for judging favorably. For someone like a kapo, who would be considered an evil person, you don’t have to judge him favorably unless there is a much greater likelihood for a favorable interpretation. But for a talmud chochom (and his wife falls into that category too), you have to judge favorably even if there is a very small likelihood that the favorable interpretation is true.

    I assume you haven’t actually discussed her reasons with this woman. Therefore, you are putting you own negative spin on this. And I think, halachically, it is problematic. There is also the problem of kabbalas loshon hora, believing the negative things you were told, which might also be applicable. It is not easy to follow these laws 100% and that is why so many of us fail in them so often. But we certainly can try to work on ourselves and I think the results are very worthwhile, not only because that is Hashem’s desire (although that should be enough) but also because it gives us greater peace of mind.

  43. BTW, a fascinating article on the Aish email list by Rabbi Kahn explains the significance of the “Makat Bechoros” as a lesson in the limitations of lineage.

    Here’s an excerpt:

    “Originally the Temple service devolved upon the firstborn, but when they committed the sin of the Golden Calf, the Levites, inasmuch as they had not erred in the matter of the calf, were privileged to enter in their stead. (Midrash Rabbah – Bamidbar 4:8)

    “From the dawn of time there have been those willing to serve God, and others who have ignored or rejected such opportunities.

    “The lineage of the Jewish people is the antithesis of Pharaoh, instead of firstborn after firstborn after firstborn, the spiritual legacy which we carry is of those who chose to serve God regardless of station, and at times despite modest ancestry. This is the significance of God’s resounding declaration that we are His firstborn (and not Paroe, the quintessential ‘normal’ first-born).

    Others willing to serve in the future will likewise merit this status:

    “Rabbi Natan said: “The Holy One, blessed be He, told Moses: ‘Just as I have made Jacob a firstborn, for it says: Israel is My son, My firstborn, so will I make the King Messiah a firstborn, as it says: I also will appoint him firstborn (Psalms 89:28). (Midrash Rabbah – Exodus 19:7)

    “One day the Messiah himself will merit to be called a firstborn. He will help teach the world that being a child of God transcends lineage. And that being a firstborn of God is about how we lead our lives.”

  44. Thank you, Ruth, for spelling out your perspective. There’s definately much room for contemplation and introspection here. I’d like to try to do a little within this format, tho I’m sure it will barely scratch the surface, but it may stimulate some further thought on this most important topic – for me and perhaps a few of our readers.

    If so, my wounded soul will sing DAYEINU indeed.

    1) Inferiority complex: A powerful but rather accurate term for a lot of what I’ve gone through. This is what I tried to bring out in my post by contrasting my rather significant “successess” in the frumness of my family to the feeling of not being “enough” (which had its roots in my childhood and forced me into seeking the “more” in life)that suddenly exploded during this Shidduch search for my son. I guess my cry of victimization is partly about questioning why I’m being forced to deal with this via my son, a truly good, solid Jew who “should” be able to do this work by himself, no??

    2) Judging favorably: That’s nice for normal functioning in life, but when reality seems to be breathing heavily down your neck, one needs to open his eyes and identify the enemy. NOt exagerating, of course. Not besmirching or aggressing. But, l’havdil, if one would be in the camps and would be suffering from the Kapos, should we also force ourselves to judge them favorably? And to what extent?

    I did in fact write in a comment that I didn’t balme the mother. There are plenty of reasons why concern for Yichus is valid. But in light of all the Hashgacha? Not even to inquire a little? As the saying goes around here, Yichus should be 10% of the search, money 20%, and the “keren” (person) 70%. So what in the world was she doing letting her 10% call the shots?? This is what was driving me crazy: such small-minded, quasi-Torah attitude drives so much of the frum world.

  45. It’s true that there often is judgmentalism and condescension around, but sometimes, because of our inferiority complex, we imagine it when it doesn’t exist. The Torah demands that we judge others favorably. So instead of seeing condescension, maybe we could think of a more favorable excuse, i.e. he was tired, busy, distracted by personal problems etc. This is what we are supposed to do according to halacha and it makes our lives a lot happier when we do.

    In general, when we decide not to pursue a certain shidduch, we shouldn’t say anything negative about the other party. And nobody seems to have said anything truly negative here either. To some people yichus is a top priority. They think that certain traits of tzidkus and Torah knowledge are passed down through the generations (mostly by example). And although this is often not the case, sometimes it is. So they may want to concentrate only on families of great tzadikim or roshei yeshivos. A regular frum FFB may not be good enough for them. My personal feelings in this case, or if my son’s yeshiva wasn’t prestigious enough for them, or if we aren’t rich enough or fancy enough for them is “it’s not bashert.”

    I think it is rechilus because you didn’t have to know the reason for the rejection and you were hurt by it. It was also loshon hora because it made the wife seem petty and condescending to you. However, the person who told you may not have seen it that way. He may have thought that there is nothing wrong with looking for yichus (similar to looking for a certain age range).

  46. well, well, well. This whole thread has proven to be much more meaningful than I could have dreamed of. Where to begin?

    David – if just for your comment, DAYEINU! Slicha u’kappara v’shalom v’reius. Seriously, that was very big and indeed “kind” of you. I know I put a michshole out there by waxing a little satirical. The bt next door pt was playing with fire… and you got burnt. Please accept MY apology for not making a parenthetical explanation, while I remain with the conviction that it’s of giant importance to cultivate the kind of cyber family for such matters that seems you commentators just might be offering.

    Ruth – It’s hard for me to actually see the punch of the problem as Shmiras HaLashon, tho your point is worthy of further thought. For me the problematic of this attitude is so very real, no matter our fidelity to the verbal laws, that the damage is bound to strike a raw soul one way or another. Let’s face it, the more intense one gets about assuring his Avoida is pure, the more likely judgmentalness and condescension is bound to enter his heart. We all know it in the way certain “Yirei Shomaym” or “Lomdanim” or “dikdukei Halacha”, etc, keep their distance from the lesser among us in these realms. Sometimes it’s just in the half-hearted nod they give to you in comparison to the warm respect they effuse for the Talmid Chacham to your right.

    Somehow, the simple innocence of “merely” taking pleasure in doing the Creator’s Will, wherever it presents itself, is a virtual impossibility for those who work so hard at trying to get “IT” (the Halacha, the Minhag, the political line, the Yichus) right.

    How does that old dittie put it:

    “Don’t walk ahead of me I may not follow,
    Don’t walk behind me I may not lead,
    Just walk besides me and be my friend
    and together we will learn
    to serve HsSh-m.”

    CL & SL – I’ll try to fill you in soon. It really is becoming quite a suspenseful development. Thanx so much for the interest.

  47. Speaking of being kinder (it’s on the other thread), and giving the benefit of doubt, I wish to apologize (unfortunately, belatedly) to Reuven for

    1) Not giving him the benefit of the doubt in the comment I misinterpreted
    2) For going overboard in my reaction to his post.

  48. Ruth,

    Very true indeed. It was rechillus for someone to have told “Reuven” what the mother said, because it caused him pain.

    However, in the case that the smallmindedness of people becomes known to us we still have to struggle to put it all into perspective. There’s always fuel for us to look at the negative side of things if we choose; we need to choose to look at the positive.

    Any system is almost by definition going to have problems, because how could any system incorporate everyone’s indiviualistic needs and desires? But despite the problems, we can still find inspiration if we make the effort to look in the right places.

    For example, in Reuven’s scenerio, we could choose to look at the father and the Yeshivah’s mashgiach who saw the fine qualities of Reuven’s son and appreciated Reuven and his family very much. Doesn’t that outweigh the smallmindedness of one person?

  49. One of the things I get from your story is the wisdom of the laws of Loshon Hora and rechilus. This wound that Reuven feels will never heal, where did it come from?

    “But now the word is that his hands are tied since his wife insists on marrying her daughter to a miyuchas (nobly descended) family!”

    Where did that word come from? Even if it is true (and it might be, but that doesn’t change the halacha), why did Reuven have to know this? Did he pressure the shadchan to find out the “real” reason? Or did someone feel they had to tell him? Yes that “word” caused a lot of pain and it was loshon hora. I don’t think the “system” is the real problem. It’s not following the halachos of shmiras haloshon.

  50. Regarding comment #17, Bas Yisroel:

    I’ve been there, and understand your comment, although I don’t agree completely. As this topic doesn’t really generate much discussion here, I am inviting you to e-mail me privately, if you need to connect to another parent in the parsha. Pleae ask the administrators for my e-mail if you wish.

    Reuven: We are on the edge of our chairs.

  51. P.S.

    It was a totally weird, exciting and somewhat promising first “date.” In our circles, it was a six way meeting (both parents), afterwhich we charmingly left the dining room and left them to themselves. (the apt was lent to us by an amazing “gemach” set up for this). Actually we arranged to be there first without the holy Romeo, so we could get a feel for her and her thoughts about her future (on top of the 5 minute meeting that was arranged for my wife and her last week at a Simcha). Boy was *I* nervous!!!

    Fascinatingly, as soon as the bachor came in, there was a knock on the door. I immediately got up (SAVED by the knock!) and remarked “perhaps it’s Eliahu HaNavi. (Loud chuckle by everyone). Then I opened it to see to ANGELIC looking shnorrers. I tell you, I’ve never been so happy to see a shnorrer!! I immediately dispensed 10 Shekels and thanked H’ for the kapara opportunity…

  52. Alright – not on a date-by-date… but I must say this DOES feel like a bit of shlichus for the BBT community to enter into that fuzzy, scary but sorely needed realm of REAL-life “Ahavta l’ra’eicha k’moicha.” As in providing an extended family sense of having a mother’s shoulder to cry on / a worldly uncle to counsel with / a sympathetic brother and sister to bounce outrage off of.

    So yes, Ellen,there is a purpose to this sharing of what may appear now as “premature” weeping. The fact is that I was quite aware when I was writing it that the crisis, on an emotional and physical health level, would likely pass soon. But SPIRITULLY, after the dust would settle, I sensed the wound would remain. And I know other’s have experienced similar things about “the System” without having the “successfully frum” family and ability to articulate feelings like I do…

    No question, Bob, that tfilla does tremendous things. But so do friends.

  53. Reuven-

    Hope the first one is the last one! keep us posted (although not on a date by date basis!)

  54. Ron: There’s a purpose for everything, including Reuven’s premature crying “wolf”, or “crisis!” or whatever. When someone posts here, it opens up something for myself, one of my issues, or reading a comment might show me a different way to look at my own stuff. So Reuven might be a shaliach for all of us who tune in to this sight. I even get so much from the archives. There are so many different ways that Hashem can give any of us what we need. I just need to be open-minded enough to realize that and to try to remember to look for it.
    Oh, and p.s. Reuven, hatzlochah is right!

  55. Bracha Ve’Hatzlachah!

    I’m glad you’ve given us a chance to see your enthusiastic and hopeful side as well!

  56. I hope we can look back on this — soon, but in the appropriate hour — and wag our finger at you, Reuven, for crying “crisis” prematurely! Your points, of course, are still well taken.

  57. Make no mistake about it: addressing heartfelt tefillah to HaShem is what makes the world move. Beyond BT is helpful but somewhat incidental—except, of course, when you motivate others to share in praying for your success. And, above all, we shouldn’t assume that HaShem’s plans and actions are always understandable on our level.

  58. Sounds like only the drama of a crisis brings out the gusto!

    Here I sit, two hours before this precious child of mine takes his first step to conisder his first candidate for Neshama completion; this unbelievably beloved Neshama, the apple of my eye, who in many ways guided my way into the weird, wild world of frumkeit (after all, if I wanted him spiritually healthy I couldn’t exactly serve him half-baked emuna and social belonging). Now his Eema and I have been at it for nearly five months, including as you know a few wild swings with some major bruises. Then, suddenly, in one swift swoop, one of the few really sweet connections we have in this community comes up to me and shyly offers the thought that his father (a prominent member of the community who has hosted us a number of times) mentioned how nice it was if there would be a shidduch for my son among his many granddaughters.

    whew. That happened just about the time this post was published. Now is THAT Hasgacha or not?? Or perhaps I’m setting myself up again for disappointment?

    One things I know is that this time things are moving with real, honest to goodness care for everyone involved. So wouldn’t it be nice if the “BeyondBT community” could share a little in this blessed process?

  59. Nu – isn’t anyone going to wish us Hatzlocha?? They’re supposed to meet tonight. WORLDS are depending on this…

  60. Therefore, sephardi carriers, or carriers with other heritages, may go undetected, because they lack the markers typical of ashkenazi carriers.

    As I recall, there is a Sephardi panel at DY and they even take an extra vial of blood for those with mixed heritage.

  61. My understanding is that testing panels like Dor Yesharim look for genetic markers that are more common in those with ashkenazi ancestry. Therefore, sephardi carriers, or carriers with other heritages, may go undetected, because they lack the markers typical of ashkenazi carriers. Dor Yesharim testing, or other panels, are not a 100% guarantee that two people are not both carriers. If two people are carriers, they have a lower chance of being detected by any particular panel when their heritage deviates further from the population that the panel was created for.

    (In case this isn’t clear, I will make an -oversimplified- analogy: If fruits are being tested for their apple-y-ness in a place where the most common apples are red delicious and gala varieties, a ‘testing panel’ may consist of inquiries into the weight and size of the fruit as well as the color. The weight and size ‘markers’ would screen out fruits like grapes or watermelons and the color marker would screen out fruits like oranges, because these apples are red. However, when presented with a granny smith variety apple, this ‘apple-y-ness panel’ would likely fail, since granny smith apples are green and not red. The panel test would indicate that the granny smith variety fruit is not an apple, by its tests and indications. As we know, this would be inaccurate. The granny smith variety is an apple, but it is critically different from the apples that were considered in detail when the testing panel was developed.)

  62. I also will clarify my opinion (for what it is worth). All Ashkenazi couples MAY AS WELL get tested. There is no good reason not to, and it would even set a good public standard. I was only answering DK’s good question as to why it might be that fewer MO couples do it (though I have never, ever heard of any actual resistance or objection).

  63. Ora,

    Yes, all Jewish couples should be tested period. Ron’s link has excellent information. Of course the odds are that the couple will be compatible. When my daughter was in Bruriah (an MO girls HS in NJ) they had a program for the parents with a geneticist, one of the founders of Dor Yeshorim, and a Dr. All of them imparting the importance of this testing.

    It’s now becoming more accepted in the MO high schools. Soon it will just be the norm for all 12th graders. I think the early resistance in MO was more sociological than scientific. Your example is a good one. You were already dating when the issue came up. At that point you have to weigh the odds vs the emotional havoc a positive result would cause. DY pre-empts that issue by allowing a check with one simple phone call before or at the beginning of the dating process.

    It really comes down to a simple cost-benefit analysis. For 100 bucks per kid you can eliminate the possibility of these diseases afflicting your grandchildren. Weigh this against some of the silly things we spend money on and it’s a no-brainer.

    There used to be a Tay Sachs ward at Maimonedes hospital in Brooklyn. It was closed years ago thanks to DY. If you’d ever seen or worked with one of these kids you’d know why I’m so passionate about this.

  64. I wouldn’t want to be the one who guessed wrong about genetic diseases and went forward.

  65. I’m obviously not saying that a MO boy whose grandparents are all from Lithuania and a MO girl whose grandparents are all from Lithuania don’t need genetic testing. Just that they are unlikely to both be entirely Lithuanian.

    Not all prospective couples need genetic testing. If you don’t trust me, ask a doctor who works in the field. If you want to be 100% sure there aren’t genetic problems, you can run tests even if one of the partners is Yemenite and the other is Russian, but the chances that you’ll find anything are so low that most doctors will tell you not to bother. As I said, in my case I was told that the testing was unnecessary even though our backgrounds are fairly similar. I actually don’t know a single MO couple that did need to test. In America probably more do.

  66. listen, chevreh… amazing things are happening! Perhaps it’s due to the zchus of your allowing me to to “air out my dark side” and offering such thoughtful responses (well, most). I.e. speaking of Dor Yesharim, my son and a wonderful new prospect have just got back positive results… and are gearing for meeting next week!

    Ruth – I do think this is most of it (as easier as it is to admit it retroactively than while you’re IN it, seeing that “Hashgacha”). Still, let us not neglect the victimizational aspects of the system, now matter how you cut it. Such matters really should be dealt with ONLY with the most sensitive approach for everyone’s feelings and sensibilities. The market-sense of how it is “normally” done is outrageous. Thank G-d, this present prospect came through a good friend. And there’s even some Yichus!!

    Bob – Yes, I have heard that in that family the parents work along very different wavelengths.

    Good Shabbos everyone, and thanx again for your ears and hearts. Stay tuned…

  67. Let’s not try to finesse this; all prospective Jewish couples need Dor Yeshorim testing before they get serious.

  68. This makes no sense at all. Ashkenazim are a most closely related group, even if they lived in different parts of Europe

    Yeah, that’s why people always mistake DK and me for each other, even though he’s a Litvak and I’m a … whatever the hell I am.

  69. The potential reasoning, DK, would be that Modern Orthodox circles are far more heterogenous. Lots more ‘mixed marriages’ of all the positive sorts – converts, sefardim, folks from entirely different European stock. When I was a young man, this was just becoming a known issue in Israel, and kehillot in Bayit V’gan were the first to push it. As a health care professional, I would say it might as well be done in all Ashkenazi communities; but I would be especially pushing it in Hasidish and Hareidi circles.

  70. I never heard before that wearing a knitted kipa is a segula for Tay-Sachs!

    This seems to be a useful site for information about pre-marriage genetic testing for Ashkenazim.

  71. “Reuven” said above,
    “Now I can appreciate her concern. They are, after all, descended from a number of special tsaddikkim. But after so many signs, not even to meet with us??”

    While it’s OK for a parent to have special requirements, even including yichus, for their child’s future spouse, that parent needs to put his/her cards on the table from day one. This will avoid dashing the expectations of others, including those of that parent’s own spouse! In “Reuven”‘s case, it appears that the girl’s father and mother were not on the same page going into the shidduch encounter.

  72. “Reuven” said:
    “You know, I think the essence of it is how it exposed the vulnerability that so many of us have to t-h-i-n-k-i-n-g we know the Hashgacha. The BOOM. It’s all on its head.”

    I think this is the key. We think we know the Hashgacha, but in fact we know nothing at all. Everything seems to match up. It must be perfect, we think. But Hashem thinks very differently. It happens to almost everyone at one time or another. We try to redd a shidduch — it seems so perfect. One or the other of the couple doesn’t think so. Our children go out for a number of dates. We’re planning the wedding already. It doesn’t go. That is life. Just another reminder from Hashem that we are not in control here. He is.

  73. Menachem–
    I don’t think genetic testing is as necessary in MO circles. My husband and I had heard of it and were ready to get it done while dating, but the doctor told us it wasn’t needed because our backgrounds are different (and we’re both ashkenazim born to American parents with roots in eastern Europe). So I think it’s mostly an issue when the backgrounds are very similar, which mostly happens in hareidi communities and some more insular sephardi communities.

  74. Time is tight (that “horizon” is getting closer in leaps and bounds!!), but let me try to clarify a point.

    The yichus was not the real issue; it was the small mindedness in the face of such clear, beautiful Hashgacha. I.e:

    1)my daughter met her at a special Shabbaton for SCORES of girls in the community, spending hours in conversation with her, and then let us know how well she matched our son in her style of thinking and degree of care for tsnius and the intensity of passion for other ideals,

    2) after my wife turned down a couple of very nice offers because the girls’ look and body language seemed so different from our son, she felt VERY good about the way this girl looked,

    3)The father really was interested in our son after riding a bus with him and conversing in limud. And even after finding out that he’s of our family, he let it be known he was interested… until his wife had the final word.

    Now I can appreciate her concern. They are, afterall, descended from a number of special tsaddikkim. But after so many signs, not even to meet with us??

    And then it was finally pointed out to me who he was on one Shabbos — and I was so touched by a special Shabbso demeanor that is similar to ours….

    That’s when all those waves of torturous cynicism came. You know, I think the essence of it is how it exposed the vulnerability that so many of us have to t-h-i-n-k-i-n-g we know the Hashgacha. The BOOM. It’s all on its head.

  75. All this reminds me of the little lizard who bragged that he was a brontosaurus on his mother’s side.

    Someone once said that zechus avos (or, in this context, yichus) is like a lot of zeroes. They add up to nothing unless you are the ONE in front of them all.

  76. Belle,

    I’ll even go further in agreeing with you. Having been through one “yeshivish” cycle I agree that the prelims need to be more thorough. This is specifically because the dating cycle is so short and there is not enough time during dating to get these things vetted out. I’d hope you’d agree, though, that the level of detail, e.g. Shabbos tablecloths, mother’s apparel, etc., has gotten out of hand. I’m confident this is not what the rabbanim meant by thorough checking.

    While we’re on the subject, I just want to make sure you’re all aware of Dor Yeshorim. Dor Yeshorim is an organization that provides genetic testing. They currently test for about 10 markers for genetic diseases such as Tay Sachs. The results are not disclosed. Each subject gets a number and early in the shiddach process someone calls DY with the boy’s and girl’s numbers to make sure they are genetically compatible. In a very short time this has virtually eliminated Tay Sachs from the frum community. Most Bais Yaakovs and Yeshivas arrange for the blood draw in 12th grade. Ironically, it’s not yet as accepted in the MO high schools.

  77. Ever hear the yichus joke? It goes like this:
    What does a potato and yichus have in common?
    The best part is 6 feet under.

    I hope I haven’t offended anyone’s sensibilities, but the whole shidduch scene has gotten way out of control (at least here in Brooklyn). There certainly is some merit to having parents check into certain prospects, but to a limit. We’ve almost turned the process into ethnic cleansing, l’havdil. The pressure to be able to find a great catch for one’s child sometimes becomes more of a keeping up with the Goldstein’s, like trying to get the best boy in Lakewood. I can’t tell you how many people I know whose daughters married the best boy in Lakewood. Could they all be married to the same guy? OK, so I’m exaggerating a little, but parents can get so caught up in this that they sometimes don’t realize when they’re basing some of their decision-making on what society has determined is the best kind of shidduch for one’s child. There isn’t a “shidduch crisis” here because there aren’t enough boys to go around, but rather because some people became so insistent on certain predetermined criteria that the years slipped by, and many older singles find that they’ve missed the boat.

    I’m sure, Reuven, that this isn’t where you’re at right now, you do sound like you’re looking out for what’s best for your child. And it certainly is a rude awakening when we discover that our so-called “holy communities” also suffer from the same small-minded human foibles that the greater metropolitan velt suffers from. The peer pressure in our community is intense, and I’ll bet the girl’s mother is more concerned what others would say if they found out her daughter was marrying a BT (horrors!), as opposed to objecting to your son for personal reasons. How sad for her that she is unable to think for herself because she’s so driven by what others think.

  78. Belle,

    I don’t believe I said that the parents shouldn’t check things out, I just think that the kids should ALSO be involved. Of course kids at 18-19 will be highly biased by their hormones and also they may not be mature enough to vet out the information on their own. (Yet somehow we buy into the idea that they’re mature enough to get married!) Even in MO circles there is some amount of basic research that goes on.

    However, today there is a tendency away from this common sense approach (often away from common sense in general). Given the enormity of this life decision it’s just basic Chinuch to have the kids involved at some level. IMO, letting a boy bury his head in a gemorah while parents like Reuven are freaking out does not not set a proper tone for his behavior in marriage and life in general.

  79. Belle – That points to a couple of other problems in the yeshivish world – the emphasis on getting engaged rather quickly, the overexcitement at meeting a decent member of the opposite sex, etc. Calm parenting and reminding them not to rush would be wise; most of the background checks aren’t finding out much of value.

  80. There are many aspects of the shidduchim approach, as well as the entire approach to dating, that play out differently in the different frum communal spheres — from group to group, and within groups and sub-groups (including various similar-seeming categories in different places).

    It’s always a mistake to generalize!

  81. This is not to brush off our problems, but we Orthodox Jews ought to be proud that our crisis is not like the general society’s “parental marriage crisis”. In their crisis, increasing numbers of parents are unmarried and they often neglect or abuse their own unwanted kids. Our local newspaper has reported many tales of dead and battered kids from such non-families.

  82. I actually disagree w. Menachem, although he sounds reasonable, at least for those in more yeshivish circles. Various roshei yeshiva and rabbonim advise that a parent should *thoroughly* check out a prospective date, because very often when they go out, they will get attracted quickly and want to marry rather rapidly. This is not unusual in the more right wing frum world. The kids are depending on the parents to screen for those “not so nice under the surface” people so they don’t have to sniff out problems. The kids really DO want their parents to spare them all the aggravation of inappropriate dates.

    A good and insightful search by a parent should approve only those individuals whom their child would want to marry, and if their child marries him/her, they would be thrilled. Of course this only works if the parent knows the child well, as Reuven seems to. This search would include goals, hashkafa, personality traits, and middos, in detail.

  83. Reuven,

    I’m happy to hear that you have something on the horizon.

    You said, “…but we are rather insistent in finding one that really rings true for us as THE one.”

    I think this does sound a bit selective. Maybe people should focus on finding A girl/boy that seems compatible and let G-d and the kids figure out if they are THE one.

  84. I am some years away from my children being of marital age. However, I think about this topic often. From what I have experienced so far in my BT life, I would expect that my children could very well marry into families who share our BT experiences. True, our children are not BT’s, but because we parents are, our family dynamics are not the same as their FFB friends’
    families. We tend to socialize more with BT’s and feel most comfortable with them because we share a secular past experience, and can share our ongoing BT experiences together. Our children have friends who are from mostly FFB families, and their social experience is likely not the same as us BT parents, but I still feel that when the time comes, even they will feel more comfortable with a boy who’s family shares our own family’s dynamics. It scares me to think too much into this, but alas, I know it will be here too soon…
    Thanks to all for expressing your opinions on this very sensitive subject.

  85. Every time I read one of these ‘shidduch threads’ (there have been several), I deeply thank the Ribono Shel Olam that I was educated and acculturated among a different sort of hevra. Like Yoel ben Avraham above, I was educated in Dati Leumi/Religious Zionist circles. Among all my hevra, I never heard of the kinds of problems and tribulations that I read about in these threads. In the yeshivot that I learned in, we had a much more mixed and integrated hevra, with all the attendant benefits. I think there is something truly wrong here.

    What is broken is not Hashem or His Torah. What is broken is the societal model. A model which is not an absolute or necessarily correct.

    And, for what it is worth ‘Reuven’, you wouldn’t want in-laws who think less of you or your son. So, you really probably are better off without such people in your family.

  86. Menachem – your experienced counsel is striking a consistent chord. Our phone DID start ringing way too early and we’ve gotten many nice suggestions, as far as the girl’s general specialness and the family’s community status goes. I do not believe we are being too selective in the sense of looking for the “best,” but we are rather insistent in finding one that realy rings true for us as THE one. A few of the really nice suggestions dissolved because she just was a VERY different character. The other one’s have proven to be not so nice under the surface.

    Neverthelss I DO think my issue is fairly unique in that my complaint is not about discrimination against BT’s, per se,but about the ridiculous role of external issues and small mindedness that is allowed to call the shots in this system, which at the least causes BT idealists like me to seriously question how such “holy” community structures allow H’ to run things…

  87. in our community we work so very hard on keeping the boys purely in Torah and avoida, especially those who do well, that burdening them with all this is very b’dieved (last resort).

    W/ all due respect, you get what you sign up for. Certain communities have certain hang-ups, and they are not going to change anytime soon.
    Does not make it right, does make it the reality.

  88. I’m speaking from my own perspective. I don’t pretend that every place and situation is the same.

  89. Bob Miller Wrote:

    “Some involvement of the bochurim in the identification and screening steps of shidduchim is expected.”

    Not necessarily true at all, as Reuven indicated above in comment #25. Some communities/yeshivas are so focused on not distracting the boys from their learning that they’ll go to great lengths to “protect” them from the process. This has gone so far that there are now cases where the mother of the boy will have the first “date” with the girl!

  90. I feel awful for you – but even more so for them!! and happy for you that you got out of marrying your son to a family with warped ideas!! pathetic and lame – you should feel just like they do – they’re not suitable enough for you – where they come from and you come from – ur certainly SUPERIOR!!!

  91. Some involvement of the bochurim in the identification and screening steps of shidduchim is expected. Often, their classmates tip them off about eligible sisters, cousins, etc.

  92. Reuven,

    Your experience seems to been running counter the norm as I’ve heard it. Most, almost all, the people I know with good boys in learning have had the “problem” of too many girls to choose from. Generally, as soon as they put their boys (child of BT or not) ‘on the market’ (and often well before) the phone starts ringing off the hook.

    The few people that we know of who have had problems with boys are those that are being extremely selective. In one case, a boy, a really good boy, has been on the market for a few years now. We know of some fantastic girls that have been suggested, but nobody seems to be good enough for this boy’s mom.

    For reasons of your anonymity you haven’t shared a lot of the details with us, e.g. where you live, which could be a factor.

    Having married off two daughters in the last two years (I wrote about both experiences here on Beyond BT) I understand your fears and frustrations. But my experience and those of the vast majority of our friends, BT’s and not, indicate that most likely you’ll do fine.

  93. #9 wrote: “If you feel so greatly burdened by this, get him involved. IMO the boys are way too pampered in this process and it’s not healthy for them and for their future lives.”

    I think this is sound advice.

    The fact is that this whole bitter revelation happened well over a month ago (I posted 2 wks later and the administrators needed 2 more wks)and since then I HAVE got him more invovled. You see, in our community we work so very hard on keeping the boys purely in Torah and avoida, especially those who do well, that burdening them with all this is very b’dieved (last resort). At the same time I’m taking it so very seriously that I can’t just go with the flow of listening to one cold shadchan to another ever-chipper one to another manipulative one… and assume his beshert’s going to drop into our lives. We know our children very well and insist on finding a real, shining match. That’s why that story was so painful. NOT merely because they didn’t like our yichusnessless, but because the signs that she was THE fit seemed so strong. EVEN the father (the most miyuchas in that family) felt that.

    Alas, this “compromise” of invovling him more might just be the solution. Something very good has just entered the horizon, bla”h…

  94. I really feel for you and I don’t think you need professional help as one of the posts suggested. This is stressful stuff. I nearly cracked up finding a yeshiva for my son and that is only a three year commitment. I think its great that you are posting, and being real with your feelings. As to Miss Yichus, as much as it hurts now, remember, rejection is Hashem’s form of protection. Your son’s zivug was determined forty days before his creation and will turn up, possibly even with Yichus included but the waiting is a killer. Just sit tight breathe deep and rememeber that Hashem is running the show.

  95. David S – Believe me, I too am a subscriber to “it’s all from Him” attitude. In fact I’ve even functioned as a counselor of others in this. But this nisayon is making me crack and I felt that it’s time to find a different outlet than T’filla sobbing and virtual ulceritis (G-d forbid). My hope is that, besides being a little cathartic for me, it will help the Velt healthily re-assess how to manage this bursting of the BT bubble among even the best of ’em…

    But I do appreciate your concern that none of his “strive to develop a victim’s mentality.”

    Ruth – nice perspective

    BY – I was concerned I might compound the pain of others in your situation. Please forgive. I have indeed recieved far more gifts than I deserve. Yet when you smack into a wall too many times, even the most blessed can fall…

    Ellen – thanks for being a sister. But please distinguish between frumkeit and your relationship with H’. I must say that even at my worst, I know that my tfilla sobbing is doing something good.

    Rabbi – GREAT story!!

  96. The Ba’al Shem Tov once sought a shidduch between his son and the daughter of one of his chassidim. After much evasion from the chassid, the rebbe finally pulled from him the truth — the chassid’s wife was against the shidduch because the Ba’al Shem Tov, who had been orphaned by unknown parents, had no yichus. The Ba’al Shem Tov accepted the explanation and looked elsewhere.

    One of the inevitable stages of ba’al tshuva development is facing our disillusionment with the realities of the frum world. And it’s usually not one stage, but stage after stage after stage. Believe me, I have plenty of frustration and bitterness to contend with.

    Although I’m still a couple of years away from the shidduch parsha, I really couldn’t care less whether my daughter’s future choson will be FFB, BT, chassidic, litvish, or kippah sruga, as long as he has good middos and a passion for Torah and mitzvos. That his great grandfather was the Gaon of Wherever is fine, but has little relevance to the selection process.

    I’ve told my daughter already, if a boy on a date asks what color tablecloth her mother uses on Shabbos, tell him lime green and ask him to call for a taxi.

  97. Reuven-I respectfully disagree. Our greatest sefarim were written by real people whose names are known to anyone who opens a sefer and who spent a lifetime analyzing the views of the Tanaim and Amoraim whose names are mentioned on every page of Shas. IMO, we should emulate their intellectual fear of noone in presenting their POV-no matter how controversial on the most pressing of issues.

  98. Boy, oh boy, you touched a chord in all of us who’ve been there, are there, or approaching there. After years of following the rules, perfecting our routines so that we appear totally “blended-in” ( I once read a tongue-in-cheek post somewhere that you know they’re BT if they don’t talk during davening), our dirty little secret comes out and there we are, as vulnerable as when we first got there.

    A Satmar woman whose daughter was in a residence for the profoundly developmentally disabled, as were two of her brother’s children, gave me a lesson in emunah many years ago that I had occasion to remember many years later, i.e. that she wasn’t worried about shidduchim for her children because “here in Satmar, Hashem provides someone for everyone.” I learned that He actually looks out for those of us outside of Satmar, including us residents of BTville.

    I don’t mean to detract from the pain of your finding yourself outside of the mainstream once again. I had to struggle with that on several fronts, including finding myself the unwilling member of the “frum parent of the kids-at-risk” community (I’ve felt your pain, too, Bas Yisroel). I have since married off three of my four sons. I’m grateful that they’ve all married Jewish girls. My “ben Torah” son married a very lovely girl from a family with “issues” (like ours). All my married sons have beautiful children and HKB”H given me the nachas of being able to experience another joy in life, grandchildren.

    I’ve long since given up the battle of wanting to be a part of the mainstream, and am working on accepting where I am today. I’m also reexamining my approach to the choice I made many moons ago to be frum as well as my relationship with Hashem. To paraphrase Yogi Berra, it’s deja frum all over again.

  99. Reuven, can you tell us which side of the ocean you live on, and if you’re in a big city or a small community? I only ask because understanding where you’re coming from, for me, requires a better… uh, understanding where you’re coming from.

  100. Sorry, I have no sympathy for the writer of this post, while my kid is busy munching burgers from McDonalds and watching T.V. friday night. Be thankful for what you have, and strengthen your emunah. Don’t give in to the yetzer horah of despair! G-d created your children’s beshert, sure we have to do our hishtadlut but it’s not all in your hands. IY”H may your children all find their beshairt in the right time!!

  101. Just a little perspective from someone else in the “parsha.” There is a lot of silliness out there when it comes to chareidi shidduchim but, on the whole, I think other methods are worse. Yes, some people will reject you because you are not “meyuchasdik” enough, but (and it happened to my cousin) others might reject you because you are too “meyuchasdik”. Some people will reject you because you are too poor, and others because you are too rich. And sometimes, when we have more than one name to choose from, we don’t even know why we say yes to one and no to the other. It’s usually nothing personal. The whole thing is bashert and Hashem just lets us act silly so our children will end up with the one bashert for them.

    I’m not crazy about the system, especially when you are looking for your daughters. But somehow, through it all, most of these children end up very happily married to someone who complements them very nicely. I try not to be silly. I try to concentrate on essentials. I let my children make the decisions, but I do try to screen out any obvious misfits or major problems beforehand. Still, I realize that with my sons who are already (b”h very happily) married, some of my choices of which girl to check out first didn’t make much sense. Because I wasn’t doing the choosing — it was Hashem.

  102. Okay, Reuven, thanks for taking us over to the “dark side.” Darth Vader you are not.

    Remember that HaKadosh Boruch Hu makes the shidduchim, not you or I. We have to do the hishtadlus, as in any other endeavor, but ultimately it’s all from Him.

    You have legitimate points, and the system may indeed victimize, but that’s a part of imperfect Olam Hazeh, no matter which way you turn.

    We have to strive not to develop a victim’s mentality, or be hung up about not fitting in. A friend of mine once remarked to the Tzaddik of Monsey (sorry, I don’t remember his name) that he felt he didn’t fit in anywhere. Not in YU, not in Lakewood, not in Jerusalem. The rabbi replied, “So you don’t fit in anywhere. So you’re an Avraham Avinu. That’s something to be proud of!”

  103. my first, lengthy response just disappeared… but will hopefull be posted! In the meantime, to a few of you more directly:

    David Linn – very correct

    Chana Leah – your empathy is just what the doctor ordered.

    Ora – that distinction between benefits and perfection is a good one.

    Those questioning the Miyuchas reason – it was true. I even had one of the most miyuchas rabbonim in our Yeshiva speak with her (since he highly regards my son)

    Steve – no need to sign. Why give the Yeitzer of others who may know me or my writings reason to judge?

    Yoel – yes, this is a strength of the D. Leumi. Still, believe it or not, I wouldn’t switch. The chareidim may not have a lot of anasthesia in their operations, but they cut to the core and take out waht’s needed (if we can last!)

    David S. – I appreciate your intro… but you still went way over board. Please ck in with your own professional first.

  104. chevreh — thank you, first of all, for sharing your “kishkes” with me. The post seemed to hit many different visceral chords, causing at the least a greatly needed sense of comraderie for me.

    Regarding the inherent healthiness of where I’m coming from: I tried to emphasise that this experience was something exceptional for me; that I’ve actually been quite a thoughtful, balanced and positively visionary individual for most of my life, which I’m inclined to believe contributed significantly to my children’s successes (bla”h). But over the last few years, everything started slipping – clearly due, to a large extent,to my subtle misfit status in this society.

    I won’t go into details at this point, but I’m quite aware that is a giant Nisayon and that my present sense of crisis is surely revealing of impurities in my emuna. Yet I can’t quite shake the feeling of being victimized by the system…

    Interestingly, none of you so far picked up on the “pressure release” and “trying hard to be cynical” remarks. Put differently, I feel like an overstressed nurse in an underpaid and under appreciated psychiatric ward who feels deeply committed to the sacredness of my mission but sometimes just needs to jump behind the bushes and act as if I’m more meshugana than my patients!!

    For anyone who’s worked with handicaps – Ha’mayveen yaveen.

    Re. my employment needs: Yes, there’s something much bigger going on and yes I have tried consulting with “professionals.” I’m actually a very responsible person about such matters. Obviously if I was a tsaddik or otherwise blessed with enough else going on in my life that lifted me above the vicissitudes of frum nurishkeit, this stuff wouldn’t phase me. But just because one has a wound doesn’t justify “religious” abuse of it.

    The real power of this post, I believe, is in the fact that I’m truly not blaming any individual. Not even that mother. It just seems to me that this very holy “ocean of Torah” we all believe in has a few giant whirlpools which are bound to drown some very good people… and my neshama truly is crying about it

  105. Reuven: You probably realize you are not alone in skepticism about the “systems” whether it is shidduchim, yeshiva, business dealings, etc… That being said, I couldn’t agree more with comment #1, and am truly awed by your struggle with this nisayon, which was custom-made for you, and from which you and your family will probably grow substantially. HKB”H made us each uniquely talented so that we would use our talents creatively to serve Him. We are not meant to be carbon copies.

  106. Giving the benefit of the doubt, I assume Reuven meant that it’s not as simple as “oh you’re a BT, me too, let’s get our kids married!”

  107. Reuven,

    There is no “rule” spoken or unspoken saying that you have to find your son’s shidduch. Either you or he have chosen a hashkafa within which this is the norm. But even within that norm there is variation as to how involved the child is in the process. If you feel so greatly burdened by this, get him involved. IMO the boys are way too pampered in this process and it’s not healthy for them and for their future lives.

    Also, could you please confirm for us what you meant by this sentence. “So, you see, I can’t just pair them up with the child of the BT next door.” It makes a huge difference if it follows Eitan’s or David’s interpretation.

  108. I agree with Eitan 100%. The truth is, not all aspects of our society are always holy. The shidduch system has its benefits, but it really isn’t perfect. That doesn’t mean Torah isn’t perfect, just that our human failures can throw things off (and that not every single part of frumkeit is d’oraita (or even d’rabanan), as he said).

    I agree with David that you shouldn’t accept the rumors that your son was rejected for not being “miyuchas.” Unless the mother said this to your face, IMO you should assume it’s not true and the shidduch didn’t work out for a different (less painful) reason.

    Also, it might help to remember your own dating/shidduch background. Once you end up married, you are actually thankful that previous connections didn’t work out (if they had, you wouldn’t be with your spouse) even if at the time the decision not to continue a particular relationship was quite painful. Similarly, when your son is married, you and he will both be happy that previous attempts at shidduchim did not work. I know that thought is probably cold comfort now, but hopefully it will help a bit.

  109. Guest Anonymous Contributor-First of all, if you really believe in what you are writing, then remember why John Hancock signed the Declaration of Independence in bold and large print. Then-look beyond the envelope of shadchanin, etc and ask your friends for help and advice. They my have ideas , suggestions and contacts that are invaluable.

  110. The very first davar Torah I even learned (actually pre dates my Giur) was “Torah wasn’t given to Angels …” It has kept me sane all these thirty-five years.

    I opted to live in Israel amongst the so called National Religious and Baruch Hashem my children have no problem finding suitable mates or families happy to open their arms to them.

    Wishing you a geuls shelma

  111. To #2, David, the author obviously did not mean that he could not set up his children with the children of Baalei Teshuvah, but that he is angered by limiting their options to such a small subset of the religious world, even though the daughter of an FFB may be more suitable for his son.

    I’m glad you were able to interpret what he wrote this way. I hope that’s what he meant.

    To me, the implication was that his son is too good for the “child of some BT next door”; he needs “a real shidduch.”

    It seems pretty self-contradictory for a BT parent to reject the child of a BT for the simple reason she’s a child of a BT.

    Apparently I’m not well versed in the syntax of cynicism.

    Especially given the fact that the assumption that a baal teshuvah’s children are rejected by the frum community at large because they’re children of baalei teshuvah is completely false. The weddings I have been attending are ample proof of this.

    As Bob Miller indicates, if someone is looking for yichus, they may lack the values you’re looking for. Some people are just looking for money. Money and yichus are most definitely virtues, but if there’re the determining factors, I’d question what kind of values these people have.

  112. It’s not totally satisfying, but it’s at least helpful to reflect that people who reject you or your child for insufficient reasons…

    1. …may lack the values you would want in your close relative or associate.

    2. …may be acting out of habit or because of social conditioning or for other reasons you know nothing about, and not out of personal malice.

    Some people bemoan the fact that Jews, including Orthodox Jews, today are a very diverse group. This can also be your silver lining; seek out advisors, friends and neighbors who can be wholeheartedly on your side. Some, wih HaShem’s help, may even be able to fix you up with a job. That’s a sort of shidduch in itself.

  113. Personally, I don’t see any contradiction between a total faith in Hashem and his Torah, and distaste, or even disgust, with particular aspects of frumkeit (which are not always from the Torah so much as from the shtetlach). According to the Rambam it is necessary for one to clarify what mitzvoth are d’oraitah and which d’rabanan (and what is a minhag) because if one mistakenly believes a d’rabanan law to be d’oraitah, he is transgressing baal-tosef (adding to the Torah). Perhaps not all prevalent customs in ANY given community are precisely in line with the highest will of the creator, and perhaps it is a positive thing for us to clarify what is the wheat and what the chaff.

    Good luck sifting.

    B’ahavat Yisrael,

    P.S. To #2, David, the author obviously did not mean that he could not set up his children with the children of Baalei Teshuvah, but that he is angered by limiting their options to such a small subset of the religious world, even though the daughter of an FFB may be more suitable for his son. The statement is in perfect confluence with the rest of the post. I suggest you think about why you feel a need to attack the author personally based on what is written in the post.

  114. “Reuven”: Your cry for help is real. I rarely make such a suggestion, and I don’t take it lightly, but I think you should definitely seek professional help for your crisis.

    You seem to be upset because the mother of a potential shidduch for your son rejected your family because it’s not “miyuchas.” That was the “last straw.” Besides the fact that this is Rechilus, and the reason should never have been said or believed (instead, a parent may simply say: “We’re not interested,” and leave it at that) I think there is far more going on here.

    plain mental cracking, which naturally gets in the way of my learning seder and employment searches

    Someone middle aged with children of marriageable age who is searching for employment has a much larger problem than a “parental shidduch crisis.” You seem to have substantial anger, resentment, and frustration bubbling underneath the surface.

    Rather I feel as clear about His reality as Avraham probably would have after ACTUALLY doing the Akeida! It’s a sense of betrayal, on the highest level.
    You see, I’ve come so far. Left so much for His sake

    I hope you realize the inherent contradiction here. You’re comparing your emunah to that of Avraham Avinu after passing ten enormous trials of emunah, but you feel betrayed because your neighbor is not so excited about your sacrifices to become frum.

    Whatever you sacrificed you did so for your own sake, not His sake! Get it into your head—whatever you do in serving Hashem is for your own gain. You don’t give Hashem anything by serving Him; He doesn’t need your sacrifices.

    Stop complaining and look at the wonderful gift He’s given you: Children you’re proud of!

    So, you see, I can’t just pair them up with the child of the BT next door.

    What’s the matter, they’re not “miyuchas” enough for you?

    They need “real” shidduchim!

    I hope this post is really satire.

    There’re too many contradictions in your piece. It seems you’re making a crisis out of the shidduchim issue when the real crisis is deeper, within the realm of your self-contradictory attitudes and emotions.

    Basically, I see an underlying theme of seeking to avoid responsibility in your post. Please, seek professional help.

  115. oh I feel so bad. It angers me at the selfishness and thoughtlessness.

    this is a test and I pray that you can get through the storm. think of it as Hashem filtering people to find the perfect bashert for your children!

    Kol Tuv,

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