What is wrong with people?
I am asking this as seriously as I can. I am not referring to the “Shidduch crisis” that currently “plagues” our community. An achievable solution has already been formulated, albeit, not put into action. I digress.
Rather than focusing on the presumed crux of the crisis, I would like to address another blaring issue that occasionally rears its ugly head during the “Shidduch Process”.
Before we begin, I would just like to point out something that we all already know. A shidduch is something that is beyond our petty human comprehension. To create a successful match between two people is clearly the work of G-d. Don’t take my word for it. Ask your local Rabbi or Apikores, they will be able to point to numerous occasions where shidduchim are discussed.
That being said, for the “shidduch process” to work, many things must first fall into place. If one building block is pushed askew, the entire shidduch will come tumbling down. Therefore, it is of the utmost importance that people do not act in any way that may ruin a potentially good** shidduch.
The “Shidduch Information Relay” Issue:
Here is a scenario to illustrate the problem at hand:
Mr. Gvir* is considering Shtark Bochur, a wonderful boy from Flatbush, for his daughter. It is obvious that he only wants the best for his precious tzadeikis. To ensure the optimal shidduch match, he embarks on his campaign of discovery. Mr. Gvir calls friends and acquaintances alike, attempting to gather information on Shtark Bochur. Here is where the problem begins. What happens next is not a dramatization or hyperbole, this is actually something that occurs daily!
Mr. Gvir calls up Good Learner, Shtark’s roommate in the Mir (Jerusalem). Mr. Gvir asks Good, “tell me about Shtark Bochur”. Now Good Learner can handle this in a few ways. If he doesn’t already know the proper method of relaying shidduch information to others, he should politely tell Mr. Gvir that he is not in a good position to do so, he is so sorry, and perhaps suggest someone else who can give some information regarding Shtark Bochur.
If in fact, Good Learner does know the proper way to relay shidduch information, he would probably start with some variation of the following: “Well Mr. Gvir, as you and most people know, there is no way to properly describe a person over a mere phone call. In fact, no one would like to be described or summed up in just a few sentences.” Every person is unique and possesses nuances that would take a lifetime to observe and learn (after all, isn’t that what marriage entails?). Ergo, Good would tell Mr. Gvir that he cannot just “describe” Shtark Bochur, but what he can do is answer specific questions. Does he have brown hair? Is he tall? Does he spend every waking moment of his life glued to his gemara (or phone)? I am not going to delve into the minutia of it all, but the point is made. Good does not amalgamate his friend’s entire being into a few sentences (and perhaps a witty anecdote) during a short phone call with a complete stranger. He merely answers some questions focused on some unobtrusive details of his friend’s character, personality, and life-style.
There it is. The two proper ways one should handle a “shidduch call”.
Unfortunately, there are those who don’t understand how to respond during a shidduch call. Some people are just clueless, and rather than ask for help or guidance, they (inanely) rely on their own judgement when giving over information to an inquisitive party. Obviously, one who does this should STOP what they’re doing, and refer to the above methods of proper Shidduch Information Relay (SIR).
Alternatively, there are those who purposefully act in a destructive and damaging manner. These people, NAY, saviors, are the ones who decimate potential shidduchim for no valid reason. This is how: Mr. Gvir calls up Mrs. Shacheinrah and asks her to please tell him about Shtark Bochur of Flatbush, who has just returned from his spirit journey in Jerusalem. Inexplicably, Mrs. Shacheinrah does not employ one of the two aforementioned methods of SIR. Neither is she clueless as what is and what is not supposed to be disclosed to a potential suitor’s parents/guardian. She takes a fourth route. Mrs. Shacheinrah accepts it upon herself to protect Mr. Gvir’s daughter, and to ensure that no harm ever befalls her. Therefore, she does the following: Mrs. Shacheinrah proceeds to point out every little flaw Shtark possesses. She leaves nothing unsaid.
“Him? He’s a slob! My son once went to his dira, he says there were at least four pairs of socks on his floor!”
“I heard he doesn’t cover his nose when he sneezes in the Beis Medrash!”
“Shtark Bochur?! You know he has a younger brother who once had a dirty diaper!?”
These lines may seem ridiculous, but these nocuous, ruinous, and deleterious statements are spewed from the vile mouths of so-called “Saviors” every single day! These people, such as Mrs. Shacheinrah, think they are protecting this girl, they think they are stopping her from dating a terrible person. They. Are. Dead. Wrong.
I am not instructing people to withhold information from people during the SIR. I am humbly suggesting the following. Unless the person in question, be it a Bochur, or a fine young Bas Yisroel, is a covert homicidal maniac, deranged cannibalistic liberal, and/or stamp collector, kindly shut your mouth. If G-d did not endow you with basic common sense and the ability to discern what is important or foolish to disclose then just don’t say anything. It is not anyone’s job to point out minor character flaws to potential shidduch suitors. Who cares if the boy picks his nose?! Who cares if she has a wide smile?! These are things that can be seen from date number one! The “other side” can decide if it bothers them on their own! There is no mitzva to end a shidduch before it begins, especially not for grossly inconsequential reasons. You are not protecting anyone by doing so, you are being detrimental to the shidduch process. It is not for you to decide if this girl/boy’s minor character flaw should “make or break” a shidduch.
Everyone possess flaws. If we singled out each one of those flaws before two people even had a chance to meet, no one would even set out on a first date!
When partaking in SIR (Shidduch Information Relay):
DO: Answer specific, unobtrusive questions.
DO: Ask a local orthodox rabbi what should and should not be disclosed to potential suitors.
DO NOT: Attempt to “describe” a person in a short phone conversation (or even many).
DO NOT: “Protect” someone from a potential suitor by pointing out minor flaws and issues. We all have them, they are unimportant for the SIR. If it bothers the Boy/Girl, they will notice it when they date. Once again, it is UNIMPORTANT if he is messy, or she likes to shop a lot. It is not your place to ensure that the “other side” finds out about it.
*Names have not been changed.
**To be defined by rabbinic authority, not yourself.
Any questions? Derogatory, holier-than-thou remarks? Comment below!
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