Monday, March 22, 2010

More On Shidduchim...

My last post, apparently, touched a raw nerve for a lot of people, and the comments came swiftly.

A part of me was thrilled (Yay....someone's reading my blog!). But the bigger part of me did not like being attacked. I guess this is negative attention, kind of. Better than no attention at all? I'm not sure...

But all those comments did get me thinking about some of the issues discussed in the comments, and about the whole shidduch system, and I'd like to share some of those thoughts, and get some opinions.

First thought was triggered by a comment by Bored Jewish Guy.

Most guys, even in the stricter chasidish circles, know what they like or don't like in a girl well before they're old enough to get married.

My first thought when reading that was, "Nah...not my son. It may be difficult for someone like BJG to understand, but my son and his friends really have very little, if any, exposure to girls."

But a few days later a very minor incident made me realize I was wrong.

My kids came up with an idea for a shidduch (her friend to his friend), which I thought was actually good, and I was going to possibly suggest it. In the meantime, my son texted his friend, saying he had an idea for a shidduch for him.

The first question his friend asked was, "Is she pretty?" I did a double take.

"That's a normal, natural question," my son said, in his friend's defense.

Sure it is. Of course. But....when did my son grow up??

So that was a reality check for me. You were right, BJG.

Second thought is in connection to my post title. I chose it because it is one of those "crazy" shidduch questions that some people ask, and I was making a point. be completely honest...although it's not a question I'd ask, I don't think it's as crazy as it seems.

Suppose my son was raised in a home where the Shabbos table was always set, with china, glasses, silver and pretty tablecloths, and he marries someone who grew up in a home where they just put a pile of plastic cups and some napkins in the middle of the table, and then used disposable plates. Neither method is right or wrong. It's just different. And sometimes different can cause some conflict. Not because of the plastic. But because the plastic is usually indicative of the way many other things in the home are done...the way that home is run. I'm not saying it's an insurmountable conflict. I'm saying that it's something to take into account.

Third thought is a question that came to mind because of the reaction my post engendered.

I wonder if the reaction would have been the same if I would have written about money instead of looks.

Before you beat up on me, let me explain where I am on the money issue.

My son would like to learn full time for about two or three years. Obviously, he wants to marry someone who could appreciate that, wants the same thing, and is willing to work hard to help him realize that. During that time, rent and bills will have to be paid. If his wife has a job that covers that...great. If not, the money has to come from somewhere. I don't have it. So money definitely plays some part in the decision.

But I understand that while the support coming from the girl's parents lasts for a couple of years, he will live with this woman forever. And in those cases where the support lasts longer, there are almost always strings attached. So while money does play some part, it only plays a small part.

I am also very familiar with the other side of the coin. I also have a daughter in shidduchim. I've lost count of how many shidduchim fell apart because I am not able to support her. She wants to marry someone who is learning, is willing to support him, and is able to do so. But most parents of boys in shidduchim want money, whether or not they have it themselves. It's an entitlement.

So here's my question:

What if I would have said, someone suggested a shidduch for my son, but the girl's family does not have a lot of money, and would not be able to support them for whatever amount of time he wants to learn? What if I had two suggestions, both equal in every way, but one has money and one does not...and I'd choose to go with the wealthy girl? Would the uproar be the same?


  1. Mystery:

    If you hit a raw nerve with your last post, you CERTAINLY are asking for it on this post! Yes, I'd love to read all the idealistic comments sure to come, but there's no arguing that today, in our circles as well and in the world at large, money blinds people. All the yeshivos that have these high standards, only accept "mitzoyonim", lest they bring down the level of academics, all goes out the window if the father of the imbecile happened to have donated a wing in the dorm. Bochurim are COACHED by their mashgichim to go for the cash in a potential shidduch, all for the virtue of Torah learning, of course. A shver with a big checkbook gets the prize talmid chochom, even if (perhaps especially if) it took a three year stint at Otisville to fatten the portfolio.

    So, Mystery, please don't blame yourself for a screwed up sense of priority, when our leaders are more guilty of it than all of us mere lemmings. Yes, we know the cliches, money can't buy happiness. It's the inner person we ought to look at. Undoubtedly, it's the sweet charm that Elin Nordregen saw in Tiger, and would've gone for him even if he were washing dishes in the kitchen at Morton's for a living...

  2. MW: First of all, thanks, I like to be right :-)
    Personally, parents money is irrelevant to me, b/c I'm working and I expect to support my family by myself. I do understand the issue though, both of my married sisters, married guys who wanted to learn for a few years. My father could afford to support them, but he wouldn't b/c he's against the idea. I agree with my father, a lot of the guys being supported, are taking advantage of the system. If a guy is truly a dedicated learner, it's a different story. Bottom line, the money question bothers me more than the looks question.

  3. IDK, i'm a guy while I would love to learn for a few years after marriage, my parents can't afford it, and I don't want the other side to shoulder it all.

    Before I decided that I would be going to graduate school soon, I as suggested a girl who has 0 money for support. However she has other considerations which really attracted me to want to date her (being mature enough to pay for her own seminary because she thought it was important, working towards this goal throughout HS, stellar middos, caring, etc...) I spoke to a rebbi of mine and he told me that its possible to make it (assuming you are educated about cost-saving methods, cost of living etc) learning part of the day and working the other half.

    I believe that if the girl herself is worth it, and you are REALLY machshiv learning, then you would find ways to make it work, regardless of the economic conditions of the parents. Having bochurim ask for wealthy in-laws is not a realistic hishtadlus.

  4. Thank you so much for your prayers. You are an angel.

  5. Well...this may be a very unpopular opinion, but just because somebody *wants* something, doesn't mean they'll get it. Meaning, it is very nice that somebody wants to learn for a few years after marriage but you know, maybe for him that's not going to happen.

  6. all i'm gonna say is money and looks are fleeting and then all that's left is character...marry a quality person and you will be able to get through anything together.

  7. Menachem...

    I didn't know about the bochurim being coached. Is that really true?
    Somehow, it doesn't seem fair that a girl with money gets a better boy, but if you believe in "bashert", I guess it would have nothing to do with the money...


    You're right about guys who take advantage of the system. But there are some guys who are seriously learning, and deserve it. That's the kind of guy I mean.


    Absolutely. I agree with you. All that is definitely more important than money. And, as I said in my post, I'm not looking for parents who can support...nor am I offering to support my long as the girl earns enough to pay the bills.


    Maybe not. But I'm going to do everything I can to help him get it.


    That's for sure. But they're both nice things to have. Kinda like a bonus.

  8. What I have a hard time believing is that the two girls are equal in every way. That can't be. Just be careful what you wish comes with MANY strings attached. Some you might never even know about, it's just something your son will silently suffer through.

  9. Also, the girl who is willing to work hard to support is probably much more reliable and probably has better hashkafos and character than the girl who is willing to live with a learning husband while her father pays for their sugar and socks.

  10. SIS...

    I know that. I agree with all your points. My question about money was hypothetical. I am NOT looking for a girl with money for my son.

  11. The Torahs requirements of members of the Sanhedrin include a plethora of things we might consider frivolous...he should be rich..and tall/good looking etc.
    Is the Torah so small minded? understands and works with the human being in all its frailties..
    There's no question that someone tall, rich and good looking..demands a greater amount of respect, we are hard wired that way.

    It's only normal for someone who has a choice to choose...

  12. David...

    Thank you!
    Where were you last time?

  13. "And sometimes different can cause some conflict."
    Marriage causes conflict. Lots of it. Because you are combining two people from radically opposing genders and ways of life. Even the most similarly raised two people have conflict, because that's what partnering in an honest way is about. I think the issue with this piece, at least, is this fear parents seem to have about the harshness of "scary" things like conflict. Well maybe if these kids weren't actually kids when they were getting married these differences wouldn't be as important. You could just roll with it, with some maturity, or learn how to fight fairly (which dating for longer can help in as well).
    As to the money angle, yea, that and the so called fat thing bug the heck out of me. But that's because I think if you're old enough to get married that implies you are also able to support yourself, and that you are neither entitled nor is it a healthy idea to continue to mooch off of others, especially if it means you possibly missed out on better opportunities because they couldn't afford you.
    I don't mean to attack you. I am attacking a system that creates dependent, submissive and undeveloped children who marry too soon, have too little education behind them, and make poor choices because of these so called values.

  14. Anonymous...

    Sure marriage causes conflict. But don't you think it makes sense to minimize it where possible? Two people coming from similar backgrounds with similar goals will have an easier time.
    As for the system...I don't disagree with you. But it is what it is, and neither you nor I can change it. So I choose to work with it.

  15. Since this is a hypothetical question, can I propose a hypothetical answer? Ask your son which one he would prefer! I mean it is his life; he probably should have some say in the matter. I think boys need to sit down and really think about the consequences of their decision. You can’t have everything, and like SIS said there are always strings attached. Maybe it would be best for a boy to discuss with his parents and rabbiem the implications of the situation and then decide which path he should follow for himself. Of course this is all hypothetical….