Friday, June 12, 2009

Bochrim Questions

About a boy (some questions may not be appropriate in all cases):
  • Where did he go to yeshiva?
Besides the obvious, this question helps you know more about the general approach the boy has in life. For example, in the yeshivish world, if one hears a boy has been to Brisk, or Mir, or Chaim Berlin, one can tell by the yeshiva what approach the boy is comfortable with. In Chabad, if one hears the boy was in Tzfas or in Detroit, it would also give an idea of his derech.
On the other hand, it is also possible that someone went ot a particular yeshiva but does not ascribe to the derech of the yeshiva, but because of circumstances he went to learn there. Therefore do not make major assumptions because of the place the bocher went to learn at.
It is useful to know what he is doing now besides waiting for a shidduch to happen. Is he sitting in Yeshiva learning because he is really a lamdan, enjoys learning, and is gaining from it, or is he just wasting time until he finds a shidduch?
Is the boy who is "treading water" (staying in yeshiva just because of shidduchim) before he gets married and can go to work, a better choice than the boy who is now working (or studying for a profession) and learning on the side?
  • Is he helping out a shliach while he waits?
  • Is he learning a business, a career?
  • Is he working part time and learning part time?
  • Is he teaching?
  • Does he have Smicha? Is he interested in getting Smicha?
  • What did he do until now?
  • What did he do with his summers? This might tell you something about his character. If he was often a counselor in a camp, it might indicate he is gregarious, outgoing, and likes kids.
  • Is he a learner, or does he just learn because he is waiting for a shidduch?
    Yes it was asked before but as they say, if at first you don’t succeed... If you did not get a satisfactory answer to #2 and you wish to know if he is the kind of boy that is more laid back rather than pro-active, go ahead and ask straight out.
  • Can he give over a D’var Torah? This is not a measurement of his learning; many boys know a lot but would rather listen to others than talk themselves. Rather, this will tell you if he is a quieter boy or he is comfortable to stand up in front of people and expound. It might be important to some girls and not important to others. If he wants to go on shlichus, being able to stand up and give over a drasha is a useful, sometimes indispensable skill.
  • For a boy who is now in Yeshiva, you might want to ask if he goes on mivtzoim regularly.
  • If you are asking a friend or a Rebbi, ask about his learning if he is a masmid and if he is on time for Seder, if he learns Chassidus before Davening, and other such questions.
  • If you are asking a neighbor or another reference they might not know and guess.
Know what kind of questions to ask, depending on who you are talking to.
  • Is he enterprising or laid back? Give examples of what you mean (subjective question). Put the examples in the situation that is important to you. e.g., is he comfortable to go up to strangers for Mivtzoim or does he like to go to people he established a relationship with? Or maybe you want to know if he is the kind of kid who used to sell doughnuts in elementary, swept peoples driveways etc. Give examples that will be meaningful to you and will reveal a side of his character

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Common research questions

Herewith follows a list of some of the most common questions generally asked when doing research.

I wish to re-emphasize the importance of research. It is not an outdated practice; it is not (generally) a hunt for irrelevant details; it is a job that parents or mashpiim must do to prevent possible disasters down the line. When a boy and a girl go out, it is not fair to ask them to find out background information that their parents should have found out in advance. During the first few dates asking information is awkward for the couple, and later when feelings are involved, it is difficult for the young people to get the information their parents could have gotten before they met.

When a couple goes out, they should only have to judge if there is any connection between themselves, any reciprocal feeling. They should not have to dig for family information.

Basic questions about the family:

• Family composition -

  • how many siblings,
    how many are married and
    to whom.
    Who are the grandparents
    If it is of interest to you, ask about the family's yichus
  • Family Status -
    Parents are married, divorced
    FFB, BT
    What do the parents do for a living
• Do the siblings get along?

• Family health: are there any major problems in the family which might compound health weaknesses in your family, i.e. Diabetes?

• How is the family regarded in the community?

• If it happens that the parents of the suggested Shidduch were divorced, one should find out if the prospective mate had the opportunity to observe a happy, normal marriage. Do not automatically reject children of divorced parents. A child of a divorced couple can be just as well adjusted as a child of a couple who stayed married. Probably better adjusted than the child of those cases when the parents stayed married but the child was exposed to constant strife between them. If a child of divorce has been able to observe a regular happy household, either by friends or on shlichus etc, there is no reason why this person cannot have a happy married life notwithstanding his/her parents divorce.

• If one of the families are Cohanim, they will have particular questions requiring answers because of the rigorous halachos regarding marriage of Cohanim.

Questions about boys next time.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Footsteps in Cyberspace

Many of us do not realize the permanence of cyberspace. Even those among us who are computer savvy do not appreciate the fact that things written on the web are a lot more permanent than one could imagine.

Why do I bring this up? Let me tell you. Last year, I was talking to a friend who has a child of age for shidduchim. In the course of our conversation she told me she checked a prospective shidduch on Google, and she was able to see pictures, a profile, and other information.

Now I am on Google constantly, and I will head there first for almost any kind of information, but I must say this was a new idea to me. So first I thought, “Great, another source of information!” ...and then I thought, “Gevalt!” Do you know how many young girls and boys write all kind of foolish things on the net in places like Facebook, blogs, etc.--Girlish confidences, funny pictures etc. Just imagine 4 to 6 years from now when someone puts their name in Google: Result 1 to 2750 of 155,905.165 for plony ben plony. Scary thought!

So besides the conversation with your kids about not giving any personal information on the web, have a conversation about making sure that what they write will not embarrass them years down the line. That goes for any adult that is on the web as well.

More on Research

Be thorough in your research.

Ask the right questions and call both the reference you were given and friends or family who might know the prospect.

On the other hand, to all those who give information: make sure your information is factual and true to the best of your ability (see previous articles).

If there is a medical problem and you are not sure if it should be mentioned, call a Rov. By withholding information you are not doing a favor to anyone. I recently heard a story of a divorce that came about because of information that was withheld. A couple had a baby that was born with certain defects which were caused by medication the husband was on at the time of conception. The wife had no idea the husband was on medication or even that he needed any. If the wife had known about the condition, the baby might have been born healthy.

Again on the other hand: people think that shadchonim or others trying to make a shidduch are trying to fool them or trick them by "hiding" information. This is not so. Many times a Rov will tell the family they do not have to disclose a certain fact. It could be because it is well known in the community and it is not something hidden but obvious when one meets the person (such as a limp or a stutter). Do not jump to conclusions that the family was "hiding information". Allowing for a lag of time before some information is found could be the making of a shidduch. If the family has found out that the prospect is full of maylos, good qualities and middos, then when they discover that there is a flaw they will measure it against all the good and still go on with the shidduch. But when the flaw is laid bare at the beginning, it becomes a major flaw and the shidduch is rejected.