The Mechutanim

By Mr. Cohen

This true story happened to me approximately in my 11th year as a Baal Teshuvah.

I used to work in a company owned and mostly staffed by Orthodox Jews.
One of my FFB coworkers, around 50 years old, made frequent phone calls
during work hours and I could easily hear everything she said.

One day I noticed something about her conversations:
The mechutanim this…
The mechutanim that…
The mechutanim want…
The mechutanim said…
The mechutanim did…
The mechutanim own…
The mechutanim know…
The mechutanim forgot…
The mechutanim will…
The mechutanim won’t…
The mechutanim can’t…
The mechutanim over and over and over again, more times than I could count.

I suddenly came to a realization:
Even if I mastered every Torah book that was ever written,
I would always be a disadvantaged contender in the marriage market
of Orthodox Jews, because my traif parents will never be valid mechutanim.

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7 comments on “The Mechutanim

  1. Steve Brizel, I might be totally wrong about this, but according to my very small understanding that I acquired from 32 years in Orthodox Judaism, the average FFB, especially Chareidim, do not know about and do not care about what R. M. Sternbuch said; they care about KVELLING, and that means yichusdick shidduchim.

    Why do yeshivot teach Gemara to children who are much-too-young for it?
    So parents can KVELL that their much-too-young child is studying Gemara.

  2. Some of the greatest spiritual personalities in the Torah and among the Chachmei HaMesorah were BTs and Gerim. R M Sternbuch in a series of Teshuvos in ShuT Teshuvos Uminhagim stated that Midos are a far more important criterion in analyzing a potential shidduch than Yichus.

  3. And my first thought as I was reading was “gee, I guess the coworker isn’t such a good model of proper middos” . . . talking about other people, even if it isn’t actually lashon hara, can easily dissolve it.

  4. Who are these ‘mechutanim’? What do they do? What do they want? What’s their function in life? Are they constantly supportive?

    Have a ‘conversation’ next to her: “The Rosh Yeshiva asked me to help him with…” “The Rosh Yeshiva begged me to speak at…” “The Rosh Yeshiva told me I should give shiur in…”

    Watch…you’ll get set up quite fast!

  5. You have a basherte, too. Ask HaShem for guidance. Find supportive rabbonim, who do exist. Make a strategy.

  6. You have a basherte, too. Ask HaShem for guidance. Find supportive rabbonim, who do exist. Make a strategy.

  7. Ruth was a convert from Moav, and poverty-stricken to boot (“no yichus, no money”). Yet she merited through her kindness and her deep faith to marry Boaz, one of the greatest men of his generation, and to become the great-grandmother of King David (and to ultimately be an ancestress of Moshiach through the Davidic line).

    Rabbi Akiva was dirt poor and totally unlearned until age 40. Yet Rachel, the beautiful daughter of the wealthy Kalba Savua, who could have chosen any Talmid Chochom for a husband, chose him. Of her, Rabbi Akiva stated: “All of mine and yours (that is, their considerable Torah learning) are hers.” Rabbi Akiva eventually became so wise and holy that it was said he could have merited to have given the Torah to Klal Yisroel

    I have met many fine people who were Baalei-Teshuva and Baalos-Teshuva, as well as those who were Gairim and Giyoros. Note that there are many people categorized as FFB (Frum From Birth) who have parents who are deemed “traif” for one reason or another (divorce, jail, mental illness, abuse, drugs, alcoholism, you name it). In addition, think of all those FFBs who have siblings or cousins who lower their standing in the marriage market (congenital defects, off the derech behavior, undesirable character traits). I don’t think anybody comes from a family that is one hundred percent (after all, Moshe Rabbeinu’s sons had Yisro the non-Jewish priest as their maternal grandfather).

    Let’s suppose you were a member of the Kivitzyaner Chasidim (the name is made up). Among the Kivitzyaner Chasidim, the Number One bachelor in the marriage market is the twenty-two-year-old great-grandson of the Kivitzyaner Rebbe. Along comes a 32-year-old handsome, tall, rich Doctor with great middos who also happens to be a Gair Tzedek (convert). Would your average Kivitzyaner unmarried young lady consent to accept a date with this tall handsome doctor? No, she’s lining up to be considered by the Kivitzyaner Rebbe’s great-grandson. She wouldn’t even dream of dating the tall handsome doctor, even though he ‘s a “top catch” and would make some lucky Jewish girl a wonderful husband.

    Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. There’s no such thing as a genuine diamond without a flaw. Stones without flaws must be low-value man-made substitutes rather than true gems. You lack yichus? Last time I checked, those of us who are not the great-grandchildren of the Kivitzyaner Rebbe also don’t have yichus (in the eyes of the Kivitzyaner Chasidim).

    It sounds to me as if Mrs. XYZ your fifty-something coworker was planning a wedding and encountering a lot of difficulty from the other side (a.k.a. “the mechutanim”). Unless you plan to marry into Mrs. XYZ’s immediate family (probably not the best choice for you personally), I wouldn’t worry about her incessant discussion of “the mechutanim.”

    Let me close with an old joke from Jewish folklore. The matchmaker says, “I have the perfect man for you. He is such a wonderful guy,” to three Jewish women, ages 20, 30 and 40.

    The twenty-year-old woman: “What does he look like?”

    The thirty-year-old woman: “What does he do for a living?”

    The forty-year-old woman: “Where is he?”

    In summary, there are plenty of wonderful Jewish women out there who will judge you on your own merits, who and what you are, and what you are capable of becoming. Nobody is “traif.” Don’t despair: SHE is out there, somewhere!

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