Volume 14 Number 82
                       Produced: Wed Aug 17 17:28:10 1994

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

Dating Practices in the Yeshiva World
         [Shaul Wallach]
Dating Quota among Yeshivish Right
         ["Yaakov Menken"]
Dating Quotas in the "Charedishe" world
         [Moshe E. Rappoport]
P'sukim Fragment
         [Adina Sherer]
Waiting 5 and a half hours
         [Adina Sherer]


From: Shaul Wallach <F66204@...>
Date: Wed, 17 Aug 1994 08:30:56 -0400
Subject: Dating Practices in the Yeshiva World

      I find Dr. Sam Juni's labelling of Haredi dating practices as an
"atrocity" highly offensive, and find publication of this language in
Mail-Jewish totally unacceptable. I also find it quite unbefitting
Dr. Juni's professional character to show such utter contempt for Jewish
customs without first asking at least whether they correlate with stable
marriages or not.

      Dr. Juni asks about the reasoning for the practice of finishing
matches after as few as four "dates". Well, the Talmud doesn't talk
about "dates" at all, but says only that a man should not marry a woman
until he has seen her. The rationale seems to be that seeing the woman
is all that's needed for a man to decide whether she is attractive
enough for him or not, it being understood that he has already found out
from friends and relatives that her nature is good enough for him, and
that she is also willing.

      In the traditional Jewish communities around the world, it was
customary for the parents to take the responsibility of finding matches
for their children. The children would usually rely on their parent's
experience and wisdom in finding suitable mates for them. In such a
system, "dating" as we know it today has little or no part. Of course,
not every single marriage was a success, but the total absence of Jewish
marriage manuals before R. Eliyahu Kitov's pioneering "Ish U-Veito" ("A
Man and His House") of about 30 years ago seems to testify to the lack
of need for such books and to general marital happiness among
traditional Jews.

     Thus, for example, R. Yosef Qafeh of San`a, Yemen, explains in his
book "Halichot Teiman" that is was completely unheard of for a
prospective couple to go out - "lo tehei zot bi-Yisrael" ("there shall
not be anything like this among Jews"). The boy's father would ask
around among his friends for a suitable girl, and would then ask his son
is he was interested. Since even unmarried girls were very modest
(eg. they were covered up from head to toe just like married women and
usually stayed inside), the boy would have to find an opportune moment
to view his prospective bride. Such a moment would offer itself when she
was not completely careful about her modesty; for example, when she was
cleaning the courtyard or drawing water, when she would be unveiled and
thus offer him a glimpse of her face.

     A similar picture emerges from accounts of courtship in the more
traditional Jewish communities of East Europe. For example, I once read
years ago an interview in a Jewish student publication of one pious Jew
from the "old country" who emigrated to the U. S. around the turn of
century. I turned out that he met his wife on the boat. When asked
whether his decision to marry her wasn't rather hasty, he simply
answered "We were married". The interviewer then asked him how love
developed between them, and he said, "She does my shirts". And when the
interviewer expressed his surprise at the number of children, he just
said, "When there is love, there are children."

     How successful was this practice? This is a good question, since
Yemenite Jews, for example, went according to the Talmudic law that a
man could divorce his wife at will and did not accept Rabbeinu Gershom's
ban either on this or on taking more than one wife. R. Qafeh's
observation on this is noteworthy. He reports that in San`a, where women
were totally secluded from the men, divorces were quite rare. He also
gives the typical age of marriage as 16 to 19 for men and 11 to 15 for
women. In the smaller villages, however, where men and women worked
together in the fields, marriages were less stable.

     I believe R. Qafeh's observation in Yemen of 60 years ago holds
true all the more in today's open, materialistic society. A couple can
still live happily together without so much as even a single date before
marriage, or they can ruin a marriage within weeks after a courtship
lasting years. It all depends on their attitudes towards themselves and
their marital roles, their environment, and how much Fear of Heaven they
both have.

      It is true that today, family life in even the most conservative
Jewish circles is more strained than it was even 20 years ago. In the
lack of any concrete data, I would tend to attribute this to the ever
quickening pace of life, the greater material demands being placed on
the family, the greater mobility of children and their independence from
their parents and from each other, and the growing acceptance of the
concept of the woman working outside the home and mingling freely with
the men.

     As far as the yeshiva world goes, it might stand to reason, but
does not necessarily follow, that the continued delineation of roles
between man and wife, and the early age of marriage and of addition of
children would tend to confer an added measure of stability to the
family and strengthen it against the strains of modern life. Since each
partner's role is still more or less well defined, it may well be that
relatively few meetings between a prospective couple are needed in
comparison with Jews pursuing more "modern" life styles. Against this
background, I would kindly ask Dr. Juni not to dismiss so rudely Haredi
dating practices, but to consider objectively how well they help to
preserve family stability in our changing world.




From: "Yaakov Menken" <ny000548@...>
Date: Wed, 17 Aug 1994 14:11:04 -0400
Subject: Re: Dating Quota among Yeshivish Right

In V14 #78, Sam Juni <JUNI@...> wrote:

>My daughter's teacher just announced her engagement to her "beshert"
>(her intended) groom.  To her friends, she confided proudly that she
>comitted herself after only four dates.  As a mental health professional
>and as an adult, I ask the obvious -- What in the world is going on
>here?  If a youngster makes an impetuous decision, why is she programmed
>to be proud of it? And, who is doing the programming? And, WHY are they
>doing this programming?  I assume there is a litany of Da'as Torah's
>about this (defined as the ruminations of Roshei Yeshiva who are experts
>in Talmudic Law), and I'd be most curious about the reasoning for this

As it happens, I married my own "bashert" on the first day of Rosh
Chodesh Elul (less than two weeks ago), so this has a lot of personal
relevance.  I can not express how happy I am that, as _part_ of the
"Yeshivish Right," I at least have the necessary tools in hand to make
my best shot at a successful home.

First and foremost, let's look at who we're dealing with: the
"Right-Wing" Orthodox.  Most of the readers here are Orthodox Jews - to
the best of my recollection of Sam's previous messages, he's included -
and we all know that our divorce rate is a fraction of the national
average (while Sam and I are in the U.S., the same is true in Israel,
the U.K., or just about any nationality you might choose).  Yet we are
not Roman Catholics, who at least until recently stigmatized divorces
and divorcees.  We're doing _something_ right.  And the further "right"
you go, the lower the divorce rate.

Especially in the "Yeshivish Right" (not all black hats are Yeshivish,
so read carefully!), there seems no dearth of truly happy relationships.
The more successful the individual is at separating the Western/secular
concept of love & marriage from the Torah-based concept, and at choosing
the holy over the profane [sic], the better chance he or she has of
finding osher v'chaim [abundance (of happiness) and life] in marriage.

One way or the other, the "facts on the ground" demonstrate that this is
no "atrocity."  This young "Yeshivish" lady who committed herself after
four dates is far more likely to still be married to her intended (and
happy about it!) 20 years hence than is a non-religious woman who lived
with hers for two years first.  And <ahem> the stats for a Stern girl
who dated her YU husband for a year before getting engaged fall
somewhere in the middle.

There is nonetheless a problem of rush decisions.  Why is unclear, but I
think it has something to do with "love at first sight" - they're proud
to have instantly realized that indeed, this is _the_ one.  This can and
_does_ lead to mistakes, but not often enough for many young couples to
recognize the problem.  My wife and I didn't go nearly so fast - but as
she puts it, one couple can take four months, another two weeks, and
both can be very happy.  The goal is not to fall in love, but to realize
that this is a person who is going in the same direction, whom you _can_
and _will_ love - and that doesn't take a year.

What Rabbonim do say is that neither extreme is appropriate.  The advice
that I received was to wait not merely until I was certain, but _after_
I was certain.  Generally, a range of 4-14 dates is normal, but
sometimes it can take longer.  Going out for too long can also be an
error - and remember, this is a community that takes issues of
pre-marital contact very seriously.

In the Chassidish world, these issues are so dominant that much of the
dating is replaced with (theoretically) meticulous examinations done by
each side's parents, and the result is that some couples are pressured
to commit themselves after _one_ brief meeting.  IMHO, this is sadly
myopic, and can lead to failed marriages - but they have plenty of
successes as well.  Yes, the Yeshivish system might be better, but few
other groups could improve on their record.

So yes, speed _can_ be an issue; but no, it's not an atrocity, and
certainly the "Yeshivish Right" has a track record that deserves
respect, not condemnation.

Yaakov Menken


From: Moshe E. Rappoport <mer@...>
Date: Wed, 17 Aug 94 15:14:25 SET
Subject: Dating Quotas in the "Charedishe" world

In reply to Dr. Sam Juni's question:

In my grouping of the American "Heimishe" dating scene you either :

1. Date Once and get engaged   ( strict Hassidic )
2. Date several times and then either stop or get engaged
3. Date as often as you want to (Modern Orthodox)

I assume that the lady you were referring to is from group "2".  For
group "2" there are no strict "quotas" imposed but it works something
like this:

-Going out one time is permitted without committment (except that you should
 hopefully not be meeting more than 10-20 people before you get engaged)

-After the 2nd date you are seriously considering the person for marriage

-You would not go out more than 3-4 times unless you were VERY serious.

  Getting engaged after 3-6 dates is quite common. Each date lasts
  between 2-6 hours. It is accompanied by much soul-searching and taking
  "information" about the prospective candidate and the family (as

My own 2 cents: The system works pretty well. Nearly all my yeshivah &
college educated friends are B"H very happily married after 20+ years,
and are now getting busy marrying off the next generation. Sure there
are problems, but not more than in any other system (actually I think
much less.)

By the way, here in Europe where I live now, the first date is
equivalent to the 3rd date described above - it represents a strong
commitment to marry the person if there is no personality clash. That
means that all the homework has already been done. Most people are
happily married here too.

I think the bottom line is: the system basically works well because
people understand the rules of the game, and there is a lot of
commonality in the social background and values of the people involved.

If any pressure is applied, it is almost always subtle. Very few parents
or mentors would push people into getting engaged if they weren't
sure. Of course, since we are today B"H dealing with a large population,
even a small percentage of problems will add up to a lot of people, but
thank g-d, nowheres near the number of problems in the general

Moshe Rappoport


From: <adina@...> (Adina Sherer)
Date: Sun, 7 Aug 1994 13:19:28 -0400
Subject: P'sukim Fragment

I believe that 'V'Zot Hatorah...'  is a complete pasuk.  Ashkenazim add
the 'Al pi...' part, but Sepharadim instead just say 'Torah tziva lanu
Moshe morasha kehilat Yaakov' which is again ( I think) a full pasuk.
BTW - has there ever been a sytematic analysis of the differences
between various 'nusachot' in the siddur?  for example, the slight
differences in kedusha, and so on.  Where did they come from?



From: <adina@...> (Adina Sherer)
Date: Sun, 7 Aug 1994 13:19:30 -0400
Subject: Waiting 5 and a half hours

> From: Arthur J Einhorn <0017801@...>
> I think I once heard in the name of the Lakewood RY Horav Aron Kotler ZT"L
> that the minhag in Europe was to wait five and 1/2 hours. Can anyone verify
> this?

I have heard that many European communities had a custom of waiting 6 hours
usually, BUT  on short shabbatot waiting 'into' the 6th hour - ie 5 hours
plus a little bit - to be able to eat a dairy seuda shlishit after a meat
lunch meal.  The reasoning I heard was something like - a full 6 hours is
a chumrah anyway, so it can be relaxed a little to accomodate the mitzvah
of seudah shlishit.



End of Volume 14 Issue 82