Friday, January 4, 2013

A reply to Rabbi Boteach

Rabbi Boteach wrote an article in the Algemeiner about the tired old refrain, that the system is broken and how are our children going to get married.

Here is a link to the article:

And here is my full  reply:

I am sure Rabbi Boteach, that you are familiar with the saying from our Sages: "There is nothing new under the sun." 

This system of matchmaking goes back to Avraham  Avinu. He sent Eliezer to find a wife for his son Yitzchak. Throughout the ages since, there have been times when shidduchim were harder than at other times, and naturally in our days, as we are so close to the era of Moshiach, this most holy endeavor is most difficult to accomplish. 

So you are right, it is not easy these days to make shidduchim. It is not easy for the parents, for the young men and women and for the shadchonim. 

But aren't we forgetting something? Isn't it G-d in final analysis that actually does the shidduchim? Does not the Medrash Rabbah (Genesis 68:3-4) quote Rabbi Yossi telling the Roman Matrona that since the six days of creation, "G-d sits and makes matches"? 

Things did not change that much, there IS nothing new under the sun, the system is not broken. We are!We are so influenced by Hollywood and Disney that we only look for the "Knight in Shining Armor", the "perfect match" etc. 

Since when are we or our children "perfect"? We do not recognize with our limited vision that the choice presented today is indeed perfect and custom made for our young man. No, we are looking for something better... 

And so by choice (because we have choice in all things) we say no again and again. And unfortunately the older we get the more difficult it is to match us, and for the majority, a slow descent in frumkeit follows, so our matched offers change, but sometimes our parents do not want to acknowledge our descent and still look for what would have been a match years ago, but no longer.

And why complain so greatly about shadchonim? The majority puts a lot of work into trying to match up couples. Most of the work is unrewarded and unappreciated. Most often the recipients do not even know the amount of hours a shadchan put in on their behalf, because the idea did not pan out. So do not be upset at the shadchonim, professional or not. 

You think Hashem has only shadchonim as messengers? The best shidduchim are made by family and friends, hopefully no one has a shortage of family, friends, acquaintances, teachers, Rabbis, neighbors, chance encounters etc. 

Before we throw our kids out in the very rough waters of "single events", let us fix our expectations and etend our search patterns beyond the shadchonim and tap into the larger circle of our friends, family etc.  

Last but not least, let us and our children increase our prayers and our charity. Let us articulate our requests, asking G-d again and again like a child to his father for what we need. G-d is still making matches all we have to do is let Him do His Job!

Sunday, November 20, 2011

From a Frustrated Shadchan

(A modernized version)

It's so hard to please anyone these days!!!

It's so hard to please anyone these days!!!
Here is a partial list of my clients .... I couldn't even get them one date, and that is why I am finally quitting and going into the pickle business.
Avraham Avinu: How can you recommend him to my daughter? Wasn't he involved in a family feud with his father over some idols? Then he left home without a GPS or a viable business plan!
Yitzchak Avinu: His brother is an Arab terrorist!!!

Rivka Imeinu: Sorry, she seems nice but did you hear about her mishpuche??? Her father's a murderer and her brother's a Ponzi scam artist...

Yaakov Avinu: Okay, he sits and learns all day... but his brother is a no-goodnik. And anyway, we heard he has a limp.....
Leah Imeinu: Her father's a con artist, and she has opthalmology problems. Maybe it's genetic?
Moshe Rabbeinu: Are you kidding? His parents are divorced! And worse.. They remarried! And we hear he's in speech therapy....

David Hamelech: How dare you suggest him to our yichusdike family? Our neighbor Yenti told us that his great-grandmother was a giyores!!!

Chava: Do you know anything about her family? We never heard of them. No one knows where she came from and she can't come up with any referrals!
Please chevra, judge the person for him/herself - you're going to marry the person, not the family. You're getting married to build your home, not to please your neighbors. And finally, remember that if you are in this world, you are not perfect and neither is your spouse!!

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Waiting for love

I recently re-tweeted an article by Gila Manolson published by 
I feel that especially in our days it is extremely relevant and apropos.  

I've heard too often of a couple who did not get engaged or broke an engagement, because they felt they did not have “feelings” for the other. “Feelings” being used as a euphemism for the word “Love” which, in the community I live in, would not be accepted as a valid excuse for breaking an engagement or for not going forward with a match.
 Our young people are expecting the euphoria and infatuation so common in the Hollywood firmament, forgetting that Astrology (stars in your eyes) is not a component of this Life 101 class.
As the author rightfully says, love is a choice we make. 
We can choose to see the special traits the other person has, his or her qualities and behavior that will make us appreciate that person and grow our feelings (of love).
We are so influenced by the world at large; by the instant gratification syndrome that we live with today that we do not want to give a relationship the proper time to develop from an embryonic like and appreciation to something lasting.
To clarify, I am not proposing that couples go out longer, which will not help and in fact will definitely hinder. A relationship will grow into true feelings of regard and love only after the couple is married, with equal effort on both partners to build a truly everlasting edifice, a binyan adei ad.
This brings us to the all-important question: if going out more times will not serve, how do we know the choice is the right choice?
The answer of course is not simple. One important component is emuna. Emuna (faith) that if we do our part the Aibishter will send us our match.
What is not often understood is that finding our match, our zivug, is no guarantee of living happily ever after, (as mentioned before: Astrology is not a factor). Furthermore whoever we marry IS the person we were supposed to marry. The future of Klal Yisroel depends on yiddishe families and Hakadosh Baruch Hu (as the medrash tells us) is busy with making matches (Mezaveg Zivugim); no matter how unlikely we may think a shidduch is, if it is meant to be it will be. Therefore whoever we finally marry is the right one for us at that moment. But we do not, really deep inside us, believe it.
Another factor is the belief that although we lack experience, and we are not objective when it comes to ourselves (as the old lawyers' saying that a man who represents himself will have a fool for a client) we still believe we know best. 
It is imperative for parents or other supportive adults to do proper research into suggestions. Not obsessive just thorough. If the suggestion passes muster then all the couple has to do, is decide if they like each other, admire each other’s qualities and can respect each other, then in marriage, love will grow through the daily giving one to the other. Unless of course, there is indifference or dislike of the other person, in which case it is obviously not going to work.  
Another reason we have so many young and not so young singles is that our expectations have spiraled out of control.
We are not looking for marriage partners we are looking for custom made fantasies: sometimes the list of qualities wanted cannot coexist, sometimes parents are looking for the diametrical opposite of what their kids want, and sometimes no one is good enough for their kids. 
We surely see how previous generations were not as particular and exacting as we have become.
So as Gila Manolson says in the article “By focusing on the good, you can love almost anyone.” If we kept this in mind there would be a lot more engagements and happy marriages around.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Answer to Chabad.Info article"Broken Engagements

Why Engagements Fall Through
When an engagement is broken off, it brings sadness and sometimes despair. But for Jews, who believe in Providence, there must eb an answer to why Shidduchim fall through. More
Beis Moshiach Magazine
21 Sivan 5771 (23.06.2011)
Presented by Rabbi Boruch Sholom Cohen
Edited by Y. Ben Boruch
A Shidduch That Falls Through
The Chassid R’ Menachem Mendel Cunin received a bracha from the Rebbe Rayatz for a certain shidduch. However, the shidduch did not work out. In 5691, R’ Cunin wrote to the Rebbe about a new shidduch suggestion, and in his letter it was apparent that he was unhappy that the Rebbe’s bracha for the previous shidduch did not work out.

The Rebbe told his secretary, R’ Chatshe Feigin to respond to R’ Cunin, telling him to pursue the new shidduch idea. As for his being upset about the Rebbe’s bracha not coming to fruition, the Rebbe said:

When I was 14 years old, I heard a story from my father (the Rebbe Rashab):

The tzaddik Rabbi Levi Yitzchok of Berditchev had a shadchan, who would make shidduch suggestions for his sons and daughters. For every suggestion, R’ Levi Yitzchok would give him a pitak (a coin).

Since R’ Levi Yitzchok was constantly in a state of d’veikus and was always preoccupied, he had a set time for the shadchan to come and make his suggestions. That was during the time that he folded his tallis and t’fillin

(Parenthetically: R’ Levi Yitzchok folded his tallis and t’fillin himself and they once asked him: Why don’t you let the talmidim or mekuravim fold it, when any one of them would be thrilled to do so?

R’ Levi Yitzchok explained: We find that Hashem Himself was involved in the burial of Moshe Rabbeinu (and Chazal say that this was because Moshe was personally involved with Yosef’s bones when they left Egypt; this is why he merited that Hashem Himself took care of his burial). This is despite the fact that after the passing of a tzaddik his life is no longer the way it was when he was alive in this world – although “tzaddikim in their deaths are called alive” – still, there was the histalkus of the neshama after all. But what is special about a tzaddik is that even after the histalkus of the neshama from the body, the body remains holy.

So too with the tallis and t’fillin – while a mitzva is performed with them, which is the absolute essence of the Supernal Will, the body of the King as it were, then within [these objects of] the mitzva there shines forth all the lights of the Order of Hishtalshlus and above the Order of Hishtalshlus till before the Tzimtzum, as it is within the Essence of the Ein Sof, and as such can be compared, as it were, to the neshama being invested in a body.

After the mitzva is done, and the tallis and t’fillin were removed, it’s like a histalkus, as it were. Nevertheless, the body remains holy. Therefore, just as Hashem Himself was involved with the body after the histalkus, so too with mitzvos which are the body of the King – I want to be involved with it.

When the Alter Rebbe heard this reason he praised it, as we know that the Alter Rebbe received something from every disciple of the Mezritcher Maggid.

That’s the end of the parenthetical note.)

When the shadchan would go to R’ Levi Yitzchok to make suggestions, of course he could not know precisely when R’ Levi Yitzchok would be folding his tallis and t’fillin and he always had to wait.

After some time, when the shadchan had made many suggestions and had received many coins, but the suggestions did not work out, he decided to stop going with more suggestions (because once upon a time people made do with less).

R’ Levi Yitzchok called for him and asked: Why did you stop making suggestions when 1)the inyan itself is a lofty one for it is a “binyan adei ad” (everlasting edifice). 2)It is included in the mitzva of Ahavas Yisroel, to try and help another. 3)Especially when you made money. So why did you stop?

The shadchan replied: What’s the point when the suggestions don’t work out?

R’ Levi Yitzchok said: Even when a shidduch suggestion does not work out, there is a purpose to it. For Chazal say that forty days before the formation of a fetus, they announce Above: “the daughter of so-and-so for so-and-so,” because up Above everything is announced and all Supernal announcements provide life for the angels. Their life-force comes from this, when they hear the announcement they repeat and announce what they heard, and this sustains them.

It is known that the angels are created from the Torah and good deeds that people do, but when the Torah and mitzvos are not done for the sake of Heaven, they lack chayus, and in such cases produce maimed angels, which is why there are blind and deaf angels.

When the announcement is made, “the daughter of so-and-so for so-and-so,” and the angels repeat this, these angels mistakenly change the names and announce other names. Since everything an angel says is not for naught, the people involved cannot easily attain the real shidduch, but have to suggest those names that the deaf angels mentioned and after those suggestions are made, which do not work out since they are not the real match, they ultimately attain the real match. And so, there is a benefit even to those shidduch suggestions that do not work out because through them, one reaches the real match.
 ---------------------- Answer:

Broken Engagements - not wrong suggestions

The title of this story is not descriptive of that the article says.

It is an unfortunate fact that we hear of a lot of broken engagements, and there surely is more than one cause.

A possible reason that occurs even before the engagement itself is the amount of influence the media and the world at large has on us these days. Young people expect fairy tale feelings and fourth of July fireworks to tell the they have found THE ONE. Reality is that very rarely is there such an instant connection or "lightning strike" as the French call it. Usually there is just a gradual growing of "like" and good conversation. If one misses the other, if things that happen during the day are stored to be told over on a shidduch date. That is why going on a marathon date for 8 hours is not as good as 2 shidduch dates of 4 hours each. The reflection period and the initial braking the ice is just as important.

So many times couples break up after going out 8,9 or 10 times because they are waiting for those fireworks or lightning or forever feelings that only come after marriage. And sometimes couples who let themselves be convinced by good advice from parents and mashpiim and get engaged, then listen to advice from friends or bad advice from adults and break the engagement because they are not 100% sure, and it is "better" to break up an engagement than a marriage. By the way one is NEVER 100% sure and the whole point of shidduchim is to rely on bitochon that the Eibishter will send us THE ONE for us. If one does all the right things: research, meet seriously enough to see if there is a connection and listen to mashpiim and parents then one will not go wrong. Again there are many different reasons why an engagement may break and sometimes it is beshert it should do so (we sometimes know when a break is beshert because the break up is so totally senseless we are left speechless).

So don't expect 100% or atmospheric indications. Read Eternal Joy for the Rebbe's advice for example:pg.85 " cannot be 100% guaranteed in advance [of successful marriage]. ....Rely on G-d who conducts the world...surely He will lead the person to that which is best for him or her." etc.

Friday, December 17, 2010


I have written that couples must be compatible have common interests etc. That is all true but I wonder if we really understand what compatible means. Sometimes a couple that is composed of an avowed republican and an avowed democrat, one who loves nature and one who cannot be away from civilization, one who loves to read and one who would not pick up a book if paid are actually a better match than the couple who goes camping together and has exactly the same interests. The reason is that as important as similar interests are the same values shared by the couple are the ikar - the important point, not whether he ever heard of Dostoyevsky.
If both share a derech of chessed, or of being careful  with mitzvos, or of living life besimcha, or a belief in lerning and doing, those are all permanent things which will bind the couple together and will assure that their goals are similar and the way to those goals is with similar method. If they have values and goals in common then it does not matter if the superficial is not the same, it does not matter if he likes to take long walks and she likes to read. With good values they will each compromise and have a good marriage.

Friday, March 19, 2010

What is wrong with singles events

Sorry for the long hiatus.Too many balls to juggle, I dropped a few:).

Conversations and articles have been cropping up in our own Chabad circles, and in other frum venues as well, on the subject of singles events. Why not put a bunch of singles together and let nature take its course.

Problem one is supervision. Will the frum organizers of these events screen each participant first to make sure they are what they represent themselves to be? At the level they are organizing the event for? Will all participants attend with the intention of earnestly trying to find a possible match, or will some just go to have a "good time" so that the person they connect to gets their hopes up for something permanent when no such thing is offered?

What about health issues? What if both families are carriers of genetic diseases and if Dor Yesharim results were checked they would not be compatible? Now that the couple has met, started a rapport, feel connected, they are told, so sorry wasted your time, you cannot be a match?! What if one side has severe issues in the family that the other side would not accept under normal circumstances? And I mean severe issues such as mental illness,abusive or controlling behavior etc. These things are usually researched by the parents or mashpiim before the couple meets, but here we go "mit die kop arop" we put the horse before the cart and let couples meet without any background checks.

Why do people think single events are the best thing since the invention of the wheel? Meeting someone and jumping into a relationship right away takes away the objectivity from that person. Now they are in a very emotional state. They cannot think clearly about the others' defects or even their qualities because they are wearing rose colored glasses, and they are blinded by their “love” which may be infatuation or whatever you may call it, but it is not true love. Take a peek at

Two more points I can think of, but will discuss them next time.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Non Traditional Methods Cont'd

It is not as unusual as it once was to let "Mame Liebe" do the job. Which means when a couple meets and "falls in LOVE".

In the best situation once the couple has been dating for a while and they want to marry, they will approach the parents and lay the situation out for them. Or the parents may find out on their own about the couple.

Although the reaction of a parent when faced with such a request might resemble something somewhat closer to fireworks than flowers, parents should consider that the children did come to them eventually, and want to do this in the proper manner after all. No matter what let us consider that like everything else this is also definitely Hashgacha Protis. Hashem does bring about shidduchim in a lot of different ways, and due to the level this couple was in this was the way it had to work out.

The worse scenario is when the parents find out that their child is just happy dating and has no thought of marriage!

But let us look at the more positive way: either the kids tell the parents they wish to get married and need their help with the wedding, or the parents find out on their own and confront their kids. Either way the parents should take a deep breath and count to ten before even thinking about the situation. Do not, absolutely do not, say the first thing that comes to mind. You are closing the door before it is even open.

By coming to you, the couple is acknowledging that they cannot do this alone and hopefully they are willing to listen to your advice. You have to realize that rehashing past behavior at this point is counterproductive. You have been put in a spot you do not wish to be in, but have no choice about. As they are so fond to say in this country, when you are given lemons, make lemonade. Maybe this is a good thing for your child, and if you manage this correctly, only good will come from it.

Consider the situation from this point forward. Do the research into the boy or girl as you would do in a normal case. If for no other reason, do it at least for your own peace of mind. Share your research with your child. If what you find is negative, explain your concerns to your child, calmly and logically. You may be able to influence him or her to your way of thinking, or you may give yourself more time, and anything may happen with time. An infatuation may be replaced by another interest, or they may fall out of “love” just as they fell into it.

The one most important thing to remember is to keep the dialogue open with your child. Even if one of the parents cannot be rational or logical in this situation, the other has to stay in touch and maintain an open channel.

When you show your displeasure to your child, make sure he/she understands that it is the circumstances and his/her choices that you are displeased about, but that you still love him or her. It is the action you hate and not the child. A benefit of keeping an open channel with your child is that they may listen to your advice on how to build a Bayis Neemon. They may be willing to accept a slightly more stringent lifestyle than they would otherwise because you were logical and persuasive about the necessity of keeping certain mitzvos and boundaries.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Non-Traditional methods

Until now the focus of these articles has been on the traditional way to find a match, a regular shidduch through a shadchan, professional or otherwise. It is becoming more common and even accepted to go though some non-traditional paths to find a shidduch as well. I will try to explore some of them.

Many articles on shidduchim bemoan the fact that shadchonim do not make the cut anymore. They are not flexible enough or not thorough enough or not involved enough.

- As an aside let me make a few comments:
1. The job of a real shadchan is very difficult, they spend time interviewing or talking to bochurim and young ladies, they make hundreds of phone calls many times without results, they put a lot of effort into an often thankless endeavor.
2. There are some shadchonim who request a payment before looking for a shidduch. If you know that these shadchonim interview prospective "clients" and try to properly match singles, (not just throw a list of names at you) then they are not being outrageous by asking some remuneration for all the time they put in on your behalf even if at the end the shidduch does not come from them. One always has the choice of not using them, but to criticize them for taking money for their time and effort is not the right thing to do.
3. Do not throw up your hands and complain about shadchonim and how they are the reason there is such a difficulty finding matches. I wrote it before and I will keep repeating it: most shidduchim come from family and friends so forget the shadchonim if you are so upset at them, but if you are smart just use it as another tool in your arsenal and don't make an issue of it.
Disclaimer: I am not a shadchan, I will counsel, try to give advice as on this blog, and I speak to groups all over the world on the subject.

I am sure you all have heard all kinds of reasons why the traditional way is not the way to go, and we are not discussing shiduchim made by friends.
Actually the traditional way is the best and ultimately the only method, but there are many who do not agree, so let us see how we can minimize problems in other methods.
Please so not consider that any of the following are what a Chassidishe bocher or Kallah meidel may try, but there are many degrees and levels of people and maybe someone who reads this is not going to try the previously discussed ways.

A way could be to try to meet girls at frum single events or shabatons, at shabbos tables or weddings etc. This means taking matters initially in one’s own hands, but it is a good idea to consequently follow up with a request to a parent or shadchan to make inquiries and find out about the person one is interested in and be an intermediary.

There are pitfalls in this method, not least of Tznius, but as long as parents or other married adults are involved from the beginning, matters may turn out well. A lot of couples who are now in their 50's and older have met in this way, and many propose that there is nothing wrong in this method because it had worked with them, or their parents, or grand-parents, etc.
What we forget maybe, is that the world was a lot bigger then. Which means that generally people met others of like mindset and upbringing, similar backgrounds etc. People were also a lot more moral and the mainstream did not have to worry about a lot of the problems we have today. Many actions were unthinkable, which these days are accepted. So we live in a much more dangerous society (to our way of life, not specifically security wise) than the society older generations lived in.

To be continued.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Gmar Chasima Tovah

May you all have a gebenchte Yohr, a nachasdike yohr. May all those who need a shidduch find their beshert this year and build a bais neemon b'Yisroel
Shana Tovah Umesukah

Sunday, August 16, 2009


When talking about brothers the Rebbe says:

“It is my considered opinion - and this is also my response to those who inquire of me regarding this matter - that with regard to sons, one is not to impede the marriage of the younger [brother] before [the marriage of] the older [brother]. This is especially so when the younger [brother] has already attained the age of twenty. [In fact,] haste in this matter is to be lauded. The older brother should have it explained to him that assisting his [younger] brother in performing an unambiguous and obvious law of our holy Torah also constitutes the older [brother's] own performance of a clear law of our holy Torah. Thus, the merit [of his performance of this law] stands him in good stead, that he should soon obtain a shidduch as well.”
(Printed in Kfar Chabad Magazine, Issue 851.)
“... As the verse, ["This is not done] ... to give away the younger [sister] before the older [sister]," is stated with regard to daughters; your brothers sheyichyu should interest themselves in shidduchim without one waiting for the other. Surely each one of them will completely forgive the others. This [act of forgiveness] will also serve as a segulah for a good shidduch for the brother who grants the forgiveness.”
(From a letter of the Rebbe, printedm in Mikdash Melech, Vol. III, p. 53)

For parents who are in this position, it is worth reading through the letters in Eternal Joy, either in the book form or on the web at The Rebbe answers cases where a brother has an older sister or a sister has an older brother etc.


I received an email some time ago regarding older siblings who are "holding back" younger ones.
Sometimes the siblings are very close in age, and the older one is not ready or cannot find what s/he needs.
Sometimes the ages are not close, but the first one has had no mazel for the moment. What should a parent do?

When a family has siblings who are close in age, it is expedient when possible to start looking for the older daughter/son early. This way one has more time to find him/her a shidduch, before the younger sister is ready too.

Of course, if the older sister is not ready and one sees no signs of readiness at all, it is more complicated. The situation of a younger sibling who feels caged in by her older sister is a very difficult one for the whole family, and parents in such situations should not leave any option untried. Talking to a Rov, davening, taking on additional hachlotos, saying tehilim, helping other Kallos, tzedokah, etc. Chazal tell us that the gates of tears are always open. May your efforts be recognized, and may all those who need shiduchim soon find their Zivug.

I know about the case of two sisters who are 15 months apart. Everyone always praised the younger one for her beauty, although the older was just as pretty, although in a different way. The parents started looking for her in the middle of Sem Aleph and she got engaged in the middle of her Sem Beis year. Then the second one got married right after.

Unfortunately as they say "man proposes and G-d Disposes" or "man tracht und G-t Lacht". If one part of the couple is not ready, our plans do not work out, but we should not start off being pessimistic. If we look for the right things, minimize our list to the max, and make ourselves the best keily we can be (do our hishtadlus) then most of the time we will be successful.

There are differences in how one deals with girls or boys. To everyone who is in this position, please consult a Rov. Present the whole case to the Rov: how old the older sibling(s) is; how long and what efforts were made to marry them off; the age of the younger sibling(s) who is ready to go; the reasons why the family believe that sibling should go first, etc.

I am going to quote some of the Rebbe’s letters on this subject from Eternal Joy (published by Sichos in English). As you can see--although the Rebbe mentions in the majority of the letters that the younger one can go ahead if certain conditions are met, the Rebbe also says in another letter that the siblings should marry in order of age. Therefore, consult with Daas Torah and do not decide on your own as you are not an objective observer and could come to an erroneous conclusion.

In these letters the Rebbe speaks about sisters, and the Rebbe tells the parents to go slowly ahead with the shidduch of the younger sibling:
“In reply to your letter in which you notify me that a fine shidduch is being suggested for your younger daughter tichyeh, a shidduch that is finding favor by all, but your older daughter tichyeh is not yet married, and you ask my opinion in this matter: You should [first] obtain your older daughter's assent regarding this matter and her forgiveness regarding her sister preceding her in a shidduch. The kishurei hatena'im [of your younger daughter] should be celebrated in a restrained manner, and there should not be too much of a rush to make an early wedding. May it be G-d's will that in the interim your older daughter will find her mate, one that is fitting for her both materially and spiritually, and you will be able to inform me of glad tidings twice over. We do not know the wondrous ways of Divine Providence. It is possible that your older daughter's overcoming her natural inclination to envy her sister and forgiving her [for preceding her in a shidduch] with a perfect heart and true joy, will remove the final obstacle and impediment, and she will find her shidduch very speedily. With blessings that the kishurei hatena'im of your younger daughter take place in a good and auspicious hour, and that you speedily be able to transmit the glad tidings of the kishurei hatena'im of your elder daughter tichyeh.”
(Igros Kodesh, Vol. IV, p. 197)

“In reply to your question about the marriage of the younger sister before the older one: Presently, during the time of the four-fold darkness of Ikvesah deMeshicha, when the "Son of David" [i.e., Mashiach] will arrive [only] after all the souls will descend from the "Storehouse of Souls" known as Guf, then if the older sister will forgive [her younger sister] with complete forgiveness, this matter [of her getting married first] has been permitted [by our Sages]. It would be advisable that this forgiveness be in writing or take place in front of two witnesses. Understandably, all this applies only if the young man is G-d-fearing, etc. It would also be appropriate that in addition to the forgiveness, the younger sister as well as the parents set aside some money for the wedding expenses of the elder sister, to be utilized when she becomes engaged in a good and auspicious hour.”
(Igros Kodesh, Vol. XV, p. 326)

But in the following letter the Rebbe sees that in this case the situation merits that the younger sibling wait:
“In reply to your letter of Monday, in which you write that up until now a shidduch has not come up for your older daughter, and a shidduch is presently being suggested for your younger daughter: You are to exert yourself to find a proper shidduch for your older daughter - it is known of the many places in which our Sages, of blessed memory, have spoken about the tremendous responsibility that lies on the father to find an appropriate shidduch for his daughters. Since our Nesi'im have been exacting with regard to the verse, "This is not done ... to give away the younger [sister] before the older [sister];" therefore, only afterwards [i.e., only after you find a shidduch for your older daughter], should you seek a shidduch for your younger daughter.”
(Igros Kodesh, Vol. VII, p. 269)

Tuesday, August 11, 2009


Do we tell our kids about the names that are suggested?

Personally, I do not believe they need to hear every name that comes up oe even every name we are looking into. It is true that they may feel we are not doing anything or that no names are being suggested, and we can explain that names are being suggested and we are looking into them but there is nothing concrete yet.

In the case of a boy, if we believe a prospect is interesting enough after a couple of calls, then we might pass on the information to our son if he insists on being kept in the loop. I personally prefer not to say anything until it becomes much more of a real possibility and less of a probability, but it really depends on the kind of communicaton you and your son have.

With girls I truly prefer not say anything until I have done all the research and believe it is a definite as far as us parents are concerned, and it is then up to my daughters. My reasoning is that girls are easily hurt, and if they hear how many times a name comes up and either gets rejected by us or by the other side, they might get feelings of insecurity.

These feelings may come from either the possible rejection or the feeling that their parents are too picky and no one will get through their vetting. Those are my reasons for not wanting to mention everything that comes up to either my girls or boys. Ultimately, it is a decision the individual parent should make.

In the book, “Don’t Judge a Book by its Cover”, a story is brought down about the search for a Chazzan by the town of Brisk. The leaders of the community came to Rabbi Chaim Soloveichik with the names of the finalists: one of them had yirat shamaim; another was a big lamdan; another had wonderful midos, and so on and so forth. Rabbi Soloveichik listened to all of them and then asked one question: “Which one knows how to sing?”

Sometimes in the search we get distracted. We forget what the important middos are. We get lost, asking questions that do not matter, and we get sidetracked by minor annoyances. Let us stay focused and let us not procrastinate. I have spoken to some older singles and others who married at a later age than usual. They all said how at the end there were so many things that they had thought were indispensable, but as time went on, they did not seem so important.
Ultimately, their partner only had one or maybe two of the requirements they originally thought they could not live without.

Why do we have to wait until our kids are older, until they almost despair of finding their mate?

Let us strip the requirements to the bare minimum right now. Let us be more accepting, less fastidious now, so we do not have do it later. Look for compatibility, shared goals, solid character traits and health. Hair color, nationality, money and weight are not essentials.

In previous blogs we have looked at all kind of questions: questions to ask our kids, questions to ask a shadchan, questions to ask ourselves, questions to ask people for references . All this was to give you an idea, a reference point, a map. You know the destination, where you want to go--what are the important things for you. I hope I made it clear that we should emphasize the important points, the essential qualities, and not the fluff.

In “Eternal Joy”, a sefer anyone who is looking into shidduchim should have, the Rebbe writes:

“Surely, it need not be stressed that though, on one hand, before one makes a final decision regarding a shidduch it is essential to give the matter long and hard thought, nonetheless, it is also important to know that one cannot be one hundred percent guaranteed in advance. We are to rely on G-d, Who conducts the world as a whole, as well as the microcosmic world of each and every person; surely, He will lead the person to that which is best for him or her.”
(Igros Kodesh, Vol. V, p. 269)
Another important point:
“It is patently obvious that with regard to a shidduch it is the young man's and young woman's task (to make the decision; how to go about making the decision; what to do [after having made the decision, etc.]).” (From a handwritten response of the Rebbe)[2] But let’s keep in mind that: “... It is obvious that with regard to a shidduch, a child should not decide on his own, without one of the parents being on the scene....”
(Igros Kodesh, Vol. XXIII, p. 113)
One last thought that we should memorize:
“Marriage is the most important event in the life of a man or woman; it leaves an indelible imprint on one's entire life. Such a decision requires considerable thought and cannot be done in haste.”
(Igros Kodesh, Vol. IV, p. 272)

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Consider who you are talking to.

When doing research, consider who you are talking to.

If you are talking to a close friend of yours who also knows the other side, then you are on more even ground, as you know what their standards are and how they judge, and you can put the answers in a proper prospective. I

f you do not know the person you are calling for information, be careful what weight you put on the answers. If something you hear is raising a flag, ask specific questions to clarify what you are hearing, you may have misunderstood or the person at the other end meant something different. It is much easier to clarify things right away, rather that later. Also, do not automatically say no. Do further research on that one point until you are very sure that the facts are true, and it is something undesirable to you.

Some other possible questions: What is their connection to the Rebbe? What part does the Rebbe play in their lives? (this is not a “meshichist” or “anti” question). Are the parents hands on parents or more laissez faire. Was there sholom bayis in their home? Do they have a lot of emotional baggage? Is she open-minded? ( what does open minded mean to you?) Is the family open-minded? Are they straightforward and honest, or is there a hidden agenda, and you don’t really know their intentions? Are they open to change, or do they dread it? How do they act with strangers: are they respectful with all kinds of people, janitors, cleaning ladies, shopkeepers, kids, secretaries yidden and goyim etc.? Are they a ‘good listener’? Are they always thinking of the next project, or do they take time to really give you their whole attention? Do they set attainable goals or just castles in the sky? Do they go with the flow, or do they know where they are going? Do they have a mashpia? Do they follow advice or prefer their own counsel? What is their conversation like? Eleanor Roosevelt said, “Great minds discuss ideas; average minds discuss events; small minds discuss people.”

Centuries ago, Machiavelli (Niccolò di Bernardo dei Machiavelli born in 1469 and diplomat and adviser to the Medici family, known for his work “The Prince” and Discourses on Livy) noted in “The Prince”: “The great majority of mankind are satisfied with appearances, as though they were realities, and are often more influenced by things that seem, than by those that are.” Or as Rabbi Yehudah HaNossi (the prince) used to say: “Al tistakel b’kankan elah b’ma sheyeysh bo.” Don’t look at the flask, but at its contents.

What about Shlichus?

A lot of girls say they want a boy who is prepared to go on Shlichus, but, is this just a formula, or do they really only want a Shlichus position, and are they prepared to do whatever necessary to help their husband attain such a position?

It is very hard to get Shlichus today as we all know, and if one is not 100% dedicated (or one’s family is in Shlichus), it is not a given that Shlichus will materialize. I have discussed this previously, but it seems to me that a lot of girls feel they have to say they want someone in Shlichus, or they will not be viewed correctly; they will be considered less desirable; they will get a "second tier" boy.
That is a terrible misconception.

If a girl would be happy with a working boy it should be said; it might open up many more possibilities, especially if she expects that ultimately he will end up working anyway because he cannot find a shlichus position. And one should not wait until one is 26, 27 lo "settle" for a working boy, but choose this as an option early on.

There are boys who are either working, learning a profession, or in yeshiva but planning to work, who are just as "chassidish" as boys who sit in 770. They may even be better learners. Some do not touch their beards, have regular chavrusas, are careful to daven with a minyan etc. Do not assume that just because a boy is looking at other possibilities besides shlichus, he is a lesser offer.

Another fact to consider. A girl may say she wishes shlichus, but what she wants is shlichus in an established community where it is not a struggle to find Cholov Yisroel and where there is a choice of restaurants for the occasional outing. Not only that, but she may not feel comfortable with having an open house 24/7, where she must feed and advise and befriend perfect strangers on a daily basis.

Consider more than the perks of shlichus and decide if your qualities will fulfill the mission. If not there are other ways to be a shliach without going on shlichus.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Questions on Health

I wrote about health back in May. Such questions should definitely be asked, no matter how uncomfortable they might make you.
Ask about family health in general, and the person you are looking into specifically, both physical health, and mental health.
Be reasonable, certain conditions are not life threattening and do not greatly influence the couple's life. Others are of concern but can be dealt with and still others have to be discussed with a doctor. Consider your own family history as well. No one is perfect but if both families carry the same tendencies, they might get aggravated in the children.
Don't hesitate to ask your doctor if you are not sure, (and even if you think you know) whether a condition is acceptable or not.

Lets ask some more

  • What are her hobbies?
The reason we ask this question is that hobbies give us another insight into the personality: if a person’s hobby is reading, and the other person's hobby is white water rafting, we can see immediately how different those personalities are.
We can gain insight in character by the hobbies a person has as well. For example: a person whose hobby is genealogy research has a sense of family, history and an inquisitive mind. A person who likes to travel, is able to assimilate new things and is comfortable in strange places. Someone who does photography has an eye for detail and so on.
Sometimes a hobby is something we wish we could do full time if we did not have to eat.

  • Does she say ChiTas? Does she daven every day, etc?
Find questions that will tell you the level the girl is at. Asking if she is Chassidish these days means so many different things to so many people that one really has to be specific. This applies to boys and girls.
If Davening every day is important to you, then ask. If going to shul every Shabbos is the level you are aiming for, then ask about it. To ask how frum a person is a very subjective question, but asking a specific thing that is important to you gives you an insight.
  • Does she have a lot of friends? Is she dedicated to her friends?
Neither a no nor a yes answer is negative. This just amplifies your previous question of how sociable she is. Most people have a lot of acquaintances but a limited amount of close friends. Asking this question might reveal that this girl always tries to help out her friends, or she is the one everyone goes to for advice, or she is the one to go shopping with. This will give you further insight in her character.
  • Does she have a sense of humor?
Humor in life is a necessity not a luxury. If one can laugh at oneself and take oneself less seriously, it defuses a lot of little incidents that could become big. One can minimize problems by seeing the humor in them. We are not talking of a letz, a joker that finds everything a reason for mockery. That is not a good trait. We are discussing someone who has a positive reaction to a negative situation.
A person with a good sense of humor is easier to live with than someone who is serious and intense.
  • Does she have common sense?
It is hard to have this question answered truthfully. Most people will say yes without giving it a thought. According to the dictionary common sense is good practical understanding, sound practical judgment that is independent of specialized knowledge, training, or the like; normal native intelligence. Also from the dictionary: “Common sense is not so common.”
Maybe a better question would be: is she a practical person. Does she simplify tasks, does she easily visualize solutions. Of course these questions show a lot more than common sense.

It is worth repeating that one should have specific questions that target qualities that are important to our son or daughter. We want to know weather our child can live with this person so we ask those questions which will bring to light possible conflicts or confirm positive points. We will never figure out the entire person just from research, it is useless to try.

  • Is she a morning or a night person?
It is easier if both partners are the same. This way one is not drooping when the other is getting into gear, but this is definitely not a deal breaker.
Is she a half glass full or empty kind of person?
Optimism, like humor is a great quality to have, and again it is only important to the extent that it will effect her partner.

  • What do you consider her best quality? (subjective question) What is the one thing that comes to mind when one mentions her name?
Try to have the person limit the answer to one quality only. Do not accept a wishy-washy answer. "She is a great girl", is too general.

  • What do you consider her worst defect? (subjective question)
You are not expecting a major chissaron to be revealed here. Someone may say, she is often late, or she is absentminded, or she talks too much on the phone, etc. Those are all acceptable, but if someone cannot come up with even one minor drawback, then I would ask some more questions and call some more people. Everyone has some failing and if they cannot think of a minor one to tell you maybe there is a major one they cannot get out of their mind. On the other hand, they really do not know the person that well and cannot think of one.

Please do a thorough research but not an obsessive one.

More ???

  • Does she have an even temperament.
Give examples of what you mean- (subjective question).
Is she moody, one minute having a smiling disposition and the next upset or angry. Often moodiness may be a warning sign of other more serious problems.
  • Does she have a temper?
This one can be combines with the previous question although they are not really the same. Temper was discussed at length in a previous article regarding boys’ questions. Not only boys have tempers. Girls can have them too. Find out how she acts when angered. Does she sulk, hold grudges? Does she retreat into offended dignity for ages? Does it quickly blown over, etc.?
A woman's anger is generally less intimidating than a man’s; therefore often, one does not consider this an important point, but it is good to know if a girl is prone to outbursts or is generally even-tempered.
Think of how your son's temperament is and direct the question as counterpoint. If your son has a very long fuse and does not anger easily, then someone who is more volatile may be ok, but if he has a short fuse and so does she, it might lead to too many sparks.
  • Question: Is she neat, organized?
Give examples of what you mean (subjective question).
Some boys must have neatness around them in order to feel relaxed or even to be able to think calmly. Others can function in the middle of a tornado. Some people are very organized in their thoughts; therefore, the chaos around them does not affect them as much, but for people whose thought processes are not so organized, having neatness and a seder around is essential. If you, the mother, are very conscientious in your cleaning and would not dream to leave a dish in the sink before going to bed no matter how tired you are, find out if that is a quality your son values or if he barely notices. If the wife of such a boy is more concerned with having a warm house (warmkeit in yiddish not warm as in heat) than a spotless house, will this engender discord among the couple?
  • Question: Is she careful with tznius?
It is a sad fact that we as a community are not as careful with tznius as we once were. Because we work closely with people in all stages of kiruv, we are anesthetized against seeing something problematic in tznius. We accept that people will go around without stockings in the summer, or wear skirts that are short with slits or barely cover the knees and collars that are a little too open, and so on and so forth.
This is also due to our openness to the world at large: we are bombarded by ads and magazines and goyishe ideals that have nothing to do with our ideal of beauty or modesty.
It is also a question of education. For whatever reason, if one mentions the word tznius in conversation, it is taboo just like religion and politics; it is bound to raise animosity and resistance.
In reality, tznius is a beautiful thing. It is a well of self confidence that women and girls have that enables us to dress in a pleasant and pleasing way and still retain our dignity, our regal worth. It allows us to feel well-dressed and au-currant without running after every twitch and twist of the fashion world. It enables us to be appreciated for who we are and not for what we wear.
So to get back to our question, we have a lot of different levels in our neighborhood, and I have come across the fact that an eminently suitable girl will be rejected because her hems are too high or she does not wear stockings. The decision to look more fashionable so that she attracts the right attention, or some would say to be more comfortable, is preventing a great girl from making a good shidduch. We are letting our standards slip, and it is not beneficial in any way.

So, if your son is concerned that his wife wear the right length and be stricter with her tznius, this question should be asked. And it should be asked also when your son does not have a personal opinion at this point, but you do not wish your daughter-in-law to sit across from you at your table dressed in an unsuitable manner. This encompasses a whole other topic of course, and I know a lot of people will be riled up (did I not write it is like talking politics where no one can agree?), but I find it incomprehensible how young couples can so blatantly insult parents in their own home.
  • Question: Is she fashion-conscious, obsessed?
All we want to know is if she is obsessed by fashion and must always try the latest styles or does she dress stylishly but have other areas of interest besides the latest color in vogue. I knew someone who was very difficult to talk to because her world revolved around clothes and fashion.
For the right boy such a girl is eminently suitable. Her kids will always be dressed to the nines and her house will be a showplace.
  • Is the family a close knit family?
This question matters to some people and is totally irrelevant to others. Sometimes your family loves the match suggested but may have some issues with a close relative. In such a case, you might want to know in advance how close the family is. It should not make a difference to the shidduch if other more important things are fine, but it is good to know.
Another reason for the question is, for example, if your family is very tight and always spend Yomim Tovim together, this answer gives you a heads up to how much you will have to share. If both families are close you will have to juggle visits and reunions. When only one side is close knit it might be difficult for the other to understand why s/he is always on the phone with their family, or is always visiting and so on.

  • Is she sociable, or reserved?
Give examples of what you mean. (subjective question)
This question might have gotten an answer when you asked about temperament. If not, it is an essential question as you should know if the girl is introverted or very outgoing (to mention two extremes). Don’t match a very social and outgoing person with a homebody who would rather stay home with a sefer than go out and visit. It will not really draw out the shy partner. It will make it a point of contention between the two if one is always wishing to go out and the other wants to spend the evening relaxing at home. If one side is a little more friendly and gregarious than the other, the one will draw the other one out some. As long as they are not at the polar opposites they will influence their partner a bit, but when the differences are too far apart then they will only get on each others nerves. Naturally, there are always exceptions, but before you think you are one of those exceptions, consider well.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Questions on Girls

Here are some questions that you may want to ask when researching a girl:
  • What Seminary did she go to?
We ask what Sem a girl went to because it gives us a basic idea of what kind of a girl she is. Choosing a sem should be individualized according to the girl needs. We should find a sem for our daughters that will give them the possibility to grow and become capable independent women who know their own worth.
Some girls go to seminaries that emphasize learning. Some go to sems that give courses in possible future enterprises, such as sewing or hair/wig care. There are different kind of sems for different characters. Knowing where a girl went might give one an idea of where this girl is heading. Often girls will just go to one sem or another because their friends are going there, or their sisters went there. That does not disprove what is said above. After all a girl who is not interested in learning will not go to an intensive learning program, just because some of her friends will go there.

  • What is she doing now?
Rounds out our picture of the girl. If she is in shlichus, or teaching, or working, it will tell us how she is managing her time.
  • Did she go on shlichus after Sem?
  • What does she want to do, teach, work in an office, go to college, shlichus etc?
  • What did she do with her summers?
  • Is she shy or lebedick
Give examples of what you mean - I explained in the boys list of questions what we are trying to achieve with a particular question. I will not repeat here what was covered before. Some questions are appropriate for both boys and girls so look at both lists, it may be I did not repeat it.
I will digress to share a story someone related recently. I do not know if the story is true or not as the one who told me the story did not know the protagonists, but it clearly illustrates a very important point.

A shadchan offered a match to a family, Rabbi and Mrs. Plony. Their son was a well-liked boy with good midos who knew how to learn. The parents naturally wished the best match for him. They investigated the proposed name, but the results were not encouraging. No one said outright that there was anything wrong with the person, but there were rumors, generalities, and unfounded objections. Therefore, they decided not to continue with this shidduch and told the shadchan that they were not interested.
Mrs. Plony was upset that another initially promising lead had come to nothing. The constant high and lows were very wearying, so after talking to the shadchan, she went to the Kosel to daven that her son find his besherte. While pouring her heart out at the Kosel, a girl stood next to her, davening herself with apparent deep sincerity. When the girl saw the tears in the older woman eyes, she approached her to see if there was any way she could be of help, and Mrs. Plony got into a conversation with her. When Mrs. Plony mentioned she was from a particular sect of Chassidim, the girl asked her if she knew of a family Plony that belonged to that sect. Without revealing her own name, the very surprised lady asked the girl why she was inquiring of them. The girl answered that a certain shadchan had offered the son of this family as a shidduch, but after hearing that they were looking into it, she did not hear anything further, and therefore, she was making limited inquiries into the family herself to see if it was a possibility. That is why she had come to the Kosel -- to daven for Siata D'shmaya that she may soon find her shidduch. After some more conversation, Mrs. Plony discovered that this was a very warm-hearted girl, intelligent, and with good middos -- just what she was looking for her son.
She revealed herself as that Mrs. Plony the girl was trying to find, and a short time later the couple was engaged.

The nimshol of the story is clear to everyone. If you are not happy with the answers you receive, or have unsubstantiated objections, or do not have enough people to ask, do not throw away the shidduch but refine your search; ask more pertinent questions; insist on confirmed information, ask friends if they know anyone in the area or if they know anyone who might know this family.
Why put the Eibishter to the extra trouble (such as to make the mother and the girl meet) because one has let themselves be swayed by rumors and hearsay.

But like every coin has two sides, if your tendency is to examine everything with a magnifying glass and then to go for the microscope, take a step back and do not examine so much. Stick to the important traits and questions and forget the irrelevant questions about scraping the dishes or tying the shoes. Asking if he has a good voice or not may be appropriate when hiring a chazzan, but it will not make or break a marriage. At least not as a rule.

Another point I wish to bring up. In every group there are popular name, so for example by us there are a lot of Mushkies, Nechamas, or Mendels and Yosef Itzchaks. Sometimes in a family there are cousins with the same name who are very close in age. Be careful when looking for information that what you get is for the right person. One shidduch never came about because the information was relayed that the girl was introverted, when in reality that was the cousin and not her.

So on to the questions. Let me say again that there are probably other questions that you might find important that I have not listed (write me a note) and questions which I have listed that you may find irrelevant.

Wrap up

One last comment on the boys before going on:
It has become more and more common for some boys to go to the army (Israeli for the most part) for 18 months or more. Some of these boys may have been distancing themselves from frumkeit, some felt this was a must before they entered the next stage of life and the responsibilities. Do not refuse to look into these boys. Just because they went to the army does not mean they are not frum. Many of them learn with chavrusas, go to minyan, do Chitas and do not touch their beards. Some plan to go to Kollel after they marry, some even on shlichus.
So keep in mind that there are outstanding and middling boys who are learning and outstanding and middling boys who are working, and among those there are outstanding and middling boys that went to the army. Do not take things for granted, investigate, the only caveat being: do not be obsessive just diligent.