Monday, July 03, 2006

Are They Girls, Or Is It An Meat Auction?

I've been re-reading SephardiLady's post on the "Shidduch crisis" and was struck by the fact that it seems that in some (many?) cases, the shidduch market has turned into a meat auction, with sons "selling themselves" to the girls whose parents can give the most money in support. In the post mentioned above, Sephardi Lady quotes a letter that was written to the Yated where several parents of marriageable-age girls are complaining that they cannot get shidduchim for their daughters because they don't have the means to support their future sons-in-law to be for X number of years. In one particularly egregious case, a young man rejected a girl out-of-hand because her parents didn't have the funds. But once a neighborhood person was willing to kick in some money for her, all of a sudden the doors were wide open.

Personally, I find the whole attitude a bit sickening. Are we actually going back to the concept of dowries and marrying for money? What ever happened to looking for someone who has good middos, someone who shares your outlook on life, or even someone whom you fall in love with? Have we become so shallow now that money is the primary focus?

Of course, this sort of thing doesn't go on (generally speaking -- of course there are exceptions) in the secular world. You don't often find a fellow who wants to focus his attention on genetics, for example, who will hold out until he finds a father-in-law who is willing to support him while he gets his Ph.D. Such a thing is practically unheard of -- and we'd all roundly criticize (and rightly so) a prospective future geneticist who did so. Of course, some may marry spouses who are willing to support them - but that's a decision of the prospective spouse and not one that her father and mother are held "hostage" to.

Of course, this is a problem that has more than one root. Part of the problem lies in the fact that earning a living is considered "pas nisht" in some communities. Part of the problem lies in the fact that in some communities girls are told that the only way they'll matter in life is by being the wife of someone who learns full time. And part of the problem lies in the fact that if a girl decides that she does want to marry a full-time learner, it seems that even if she says she's willing to support him ( a commendable goal, if one is capable of doing so), she *still* can't get the go-ahead without a large bank account in her or her parents' names.

Sigh. I cannot tell you how happy I am that I never had to put up with the shidduch world. I was fortunate to meet my wonderful wife at a young age, before we ended up in the shidduch scene. My mother was broke, my father wasn't wealthy. Her parents weren't wealthy either. When we got married, I went to work to support our family. That's not to say that her parents didn't provide some help - they did (and still do!); but it was never a condition of my marrying their daughter and it was never asked for outright. I could not see asking my in-laws to support our family full time, even if it was because I wanted to go into learning full-time.

But, to get back to the point, I think we need to change our attitude toward matrimony. We need to focus more on the positive reasons to marry someone, and not on the size of the in-laws' bank accounts.

The Wolf


Neil Harris said...

We'll stated. Glad to see you're blogging again. From your blog to the frum world's ears!!!

Shoshana said...

Thank you! I think it's absolutely ridiculous for people to consider themselves ready for marriage without any kind of means for supporting themselves, completely relying on the girl's parents for financial support. And the guys who will turn down a girl because of her parent's bank account doesn't really know what Torah is about, so he shouldn't be learning full time as it is.

Orthonomics said...

Thanks for the link. Glad you are back blogging.

There is no question that finances are important (more about the compatibility of spending and saving than actually having), but a person who bases only person's worth on that alone is sure to have a miserable marriage.

The Jewish Freak said...

The culture of that world has become very sick, and until it changes, it will produce even more sickness.

Ben Avuyah said...

I actually felt a bit of shame when my in laws helped out a bit when my wife and I bought a house. I cannot really imagine living off of someone else's hard earned wages. The fact that this is now standard fare and tied unapolegetically to matrimony is a shame. If torah study really results in excellent midos, how come we have policies of outright dowries/financial garauntees returining into the arena of marraige in teh frum community?

Anonymous said...

I don't think that one should be ashamed of needing financial help or accepting it from ones family. Everyone wants to be independent, but, with the way the world is today, many people can use a helping hand. The problem is more when one makes this a critereon for marriage..or when one just expects someone to do for them "just because".
Ben Avuyah, my parents also helped us to buy the house that we currently live in. We were already beginning to search for a house to buy, when my father and mother offered to help us so that we would be able to afford something that was somewhat better than our own means would allow for. We didn't ask, they offered. And it was kind of hard to accept said help, but we were still both thankful and grateful that it was there. I am very thankful for all that my parents have done for us over the years, but I never demanded it or expected it of them. I know that my Hubby would have wanted it otherwise, but he also agreed that it would make our purchase of a home a lot easier to do. Sometimes one needs to know when to accept a helping hand as well. However, one should never EXPECT said hand to be given, or chas v'sholom, demand it as a right.

Ezzie said...

We, too, were fortunate enough to meet outside of the shidduch world.

This unfortunately leads to stupid comments by some friends, including, "Well, you never had to shidduch date, so you can't relate." While this is true, that doesn't mean that I'm not qualified to state my opinion on the subject, when it comes down to common sense. (Don't reject a girl out of hand simply because she wasn't drop-dead gorgeous on date 1, don't say no because you weren't head over heels after 5 minutes, don't be concerned with stupidity that has nothing to do with her/him and whether you should continue to date/marry her/him.) It's disgusting to see the attitudes people have towards dating, as if it is some kind of "impress me" contest, whether with money, looks, or a combination of both.

I don't understand how any "market" could get this way: If a person wishes to learn full-time, that should mean that they are willing to sacrifice to do so. That should translate into not necessarily being able to date anybody they want because someone may not be willing to make that sacrifice to support their husband full-time (perhaps they want to be home with their children more). Instead, they have somehow "flipped" the market, to the point that not only is sacrifice not automatic, but no longer even a thought. Those who wish to learn are somehow holding the girls for ransom instead of sacrificing even an iota of comfort.

With all the stories told yeshivish circles about the sacrifices people made in the past in order to learn, where did this idea that one not only need not sacrifice, but can actually profit from learning and not working? It's disgusting to see what this has done to the shidduch world.

Rebeljew said...

Yeshiva Tuition - 8K per child
Kosher meat - $20 per pound l'mehadin
Matzoh - $15-18 per pound
Avg number of kids - 8+ by age 30
Large gas guzzling car to carry 10 people - $$$$$$$$$$$$$
Large house in a Jewish neighborhood anywhere - $$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$
Summer Camp - $$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$ per kid

Gee, I wonder why people marry for money! And I wonder why people resort to criminal means to gain more money.

Anonymous said...

"Sigh. I cannot tell you how happy I am that I never had to put up with the shidduch world. I was fortunate to meet my wonderful wife at a young age, before we ended up in the shidduch scene"

I was also very fortunate to meet my wonderful wife outside the Shidduch scene. However, I would make sure to put quotes around that word, "never" in the first sentence. Our eldest child is now reaching marriagable age and people who are just a few years ahead of us are already warning us about the current shidduch scene. Whereas meating people outside of that scene was still fairly normal, even in the frum world, 20 or so years ago (we met 22 years ago), things have changed today.

G-d Willing, get ready!


topshadchan said...

This is how my father dealt with shidduchim:
"I paid for their education so they can get a job.
I will pay half of a wedding and the rest is up to the couple."

All of his sons and daughters were treated the same.

We worked, we got our own furniture, we paid the rent.

That is exactly how it will be with my children i"yh

Todays parents are negotiating with terrorist, in my opinion. And all they get for their efforts is even more complaints that the poor spoiled children are getting what they idiot friends are.

Like my wife likes to say, children think they are owed everything. We are here to break that cycle of dependancy.

The Chainik Hocker said...

Lucky for me, I'm a working boy- living in Lakewood, noch- so none of this applies to me! I can date girls with poor or middle class parents because I"M going to be supporting HER (iy"H, of course).

Seriously, though, the modern shidduch scene is a humiliating and painful process and I will be glad when it's over- soon, I hope.

Jewboy said...

100% correct.

PsychoToddler said...

This is all symptomatic of a larger problem in the frum community--the dying infrastructure. As BW so eloquently put it, in these circles, getting a job that earns your family a parnossa is "pas nisht" and so these people are dependent on wealthy in-laws for support.

But when that generation dies (or goes into nursing homes or whatever), who will support this new, materialistic generation that is "above" working for a living? And who will their 10+ kids go to when THEY need money for marrying off?


To me, that's who. They will come to my door with some filthy papers and complain about how they have to marry off their 14th daughter and can't afford a dowery. And they will stand in my front hall and make faces at my TV while I write the check.

I don't see how this system can continue to support itself. If they can't get some sense knocked into them, they will die off.

Anonymous said...

>And they will stand in my front hall and make faces at my TV while I write the check.

I don't understand. Why would you write a check?

Tell them you gave all your tzedaka money to a kiruv program or a Talmud Torah.

PsychoToddler said...

I never turn people away.

Oops, did I just say that? All of you, ignore that last statement. I don't want none of you lining up at my house for handouts.

Anonymous said...

PsychoToddler -
Here's a better place for your tzedakah money:

BBJ said...

>And they will stand in my front hall and make faces at my TV while I write the check.>

PT, I'm sorry, but I'm laughing madly at the image of this. You, writing your check, and the schnorrer in the living room having a stare-down with your appliances.

But don't worry about it. Today I got a job! I'll leave you alone for a while.

Anonymous said...

My wife and I met 27 years ago on the UWS( Yes, Virginia, couples do meet there!)without a shadchan. IMO, shadchanim and other authority figures within any yeshiva are a help. However, if you know young men within a Beis Medrash who can frankly evaluate whether a potential shidduch has the requisite "midos and maalos", that IMO is more important than meeting a RY, Mashgiach or shadchan who reallly don't know the young men all that well. A good friend who knows both potential candidates well can often be a better shadchan than a formal shadchan.

Anonymous said...

Unfortunately, this problem crosses all hashkafic lines. I have blogged previously and often about the Upper West Side ( UWS) and how it has created a community of MO singles who basically have major committment and other issues that preclude many of them from finding their basherte. Today's NY Sun reported that a 25 year old Brandeis grad was so distraught over the end of a relationship that she fatally jumped from her apartment building RL. There are all sorts of "healing services" and a lecture by D D Pelcowitz at the Jewish Center. Perhaps, addressing the needs of singles is a tikun that we should undertake as a society this Tisha B'Av.

Anonymous said...

You have two extremes the anti-marriage secular culture which states a woman doesn't need to get married and istead she should focurs 90% of her energy on career and on the other hand the brainwashing shidduk machine culture that want to marry any girl off who is over the age of 18. A balance is needed.
Women shouldn't feel as if their only goal in life is career and at the same time a woman shouldn't feel as if she's a piece of meat ready to be wed off to the first guy.