Monday, August 13, 2012

Losing Sight of What's Important In Shidduchim

The Flatbush Jewish Journal has a regular column titled "Ask the Flatbush Shadchan" by Mrs. Chana Rose.  The following letter appeared in a recent issue.  Any typos are mine and mine alone.

Dear Mrs. Rose,

We have a fabulous daughter in shidduchim.  She went to the right schools, seminary, camps.  She is a baalas midos, involved in chesed, smart, focused, etc.  We are a balabatish family, also involved in the community.  After seminary in Israel, she opted to pursue her studies in Brooklyn College.  After much soul searching, asking hadracha, and much davening, we agreed to let her pursue her studies there.  Everything has been going well, except for the fact that she is not in shidduchim anymore!

She has found "Mr. Right," or so she thinks, on her own.  Now, what is she thinking?  We are not that kind of home, this is not how things are done, not in our family, not in our community.  Mrs. Rose, how can we allow this?  And if we do, how can we legitimize the situation so that it does appear to be a Shidduch?  Truth be said, he does happen to be a great boy.  However, we feel like the "rug has been pulled out from under us."  We did not have the option or privilege of checking him out nor his family.  We did not have the experience of setting that grand table in anticipation of a boy's arrival for a date.  We did not wait up for hours till she came home.  All the dating was done on school time.  We were presented with a done deal!  How should we proceed now?

This letter typifies one of the things that has gone horribly wrong with the world of shidduchim today.  This woman* is completely missing the forest for the trees.  The goal of shidduchim isn't to "set a grand table" or "wait up for hours till she comes home" or to have the "privilege" of checking out another family.  The point is to find a match that will make the bride and groom happy.  Everything else, if it needs to be done at all, is just secondary.  

In this letter, the daughter has found someone who will make her happy.  Furthermore, the mother even agrees that he's a great boy!  Instead of being happy for her daughter and her happiness, she's contemplating having her daughter throw it away ("How can we allow this?  And if we do...") just so that she won't feel cheated out of what she feels is her due (the ability to set the table, wait up for her, check out the family, etc.).  She needs to realize that the shidduch process is not about her and her ability to do these things, it's about her daughter and her daughter's happiness and future.  She's completely lost sight of this, and instead is  so focused on the little play rituals that go on that she's forgotten the end goal.

The Wolf

* At least I'm assuming it's a woman.  The letter sounds like it was written by a woman.

Monday, August 06, 2012

Did Someone Declare A Jewish April Fools Day and Not Tell Me?

I'm beginning to wonder if someone instituted a Jewish equivilant of April Fools Day and forgot to inform me, because, I'm having a hard time believing a story that VIN is reporting as fact.

As we all know, some chareidi men in Israel go to great lengths to avoid any possibility of contact between the sexes.  Among the measures that have been tried (with varying degrees of success) include separate sidewalks, signs telling women not to walk in certain areas at certain times, separate checkout lines (or even hours) in stores, and so on.

The newest development on this front has now arrived.  Someone in Israel has developed a pair of glasses that purposely obscure vision.  The glasses are designed to prevent the person who is wearing it from seeing more than three meters ahead.  If the person already wears glasses, they also sell stickers that you can put over your lenses to provide the same effect.

Normally, I would have a hard time believing that this could be true.  My first natural reaction is to dismiss this as a joke.  However, after what I have seen over the last few years, I have to say that I just don't know.

If this report is, indeed, true, then I feel very sorry for the direction that we are headed.  Aside from the complete absurdity of the concept of hindering one's eyesight, there is also the issue of public safety to deal with.  How does one know whether it's safe or not to cross the street if you can't see more than three meters in front of your face?  Does the admonition to protect yourself from physical harm no longer apply?

Personally, I find it very ironic that this news story is reported right after we read on Shabbos the verse of וּשְׁמַרְתֶּם, וַעֲשִׂיתֶם--כִּי הִוא חָכְמַתְכֶם וּבִינַתְכֶם, לְעֵינֵי הָעַמִּים:  אֲשֶׁר יִשְׁמְעוּן, אֵת כָּל-הַחֻקִּים הָאֵלֶּה, וְאָמְרוּ רַק עַם-חָכָם וְנָבוֹן, הַגּוֹי הַגָּדוֹל הַזֶּה.
(Rough translation:  and you will observe them [my laws] and do them, because they are your wisdom and knowledge in front of the nations that they will hear of all these laws and say "surely this is a wise and understanding nation.")

I find it hard to believe that a single non-Jew reading this story would think that, by doing this, we are being wise and understanding.  On the contrary, they will look at us and say "what a foolish people they are..."

The Wolf