Volume 15 Number 65
                       Produced: Tue Oct 11  5:08:03 1994

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

Dating in the Frum world
         [Jeremy Nussbaum]
Divorce and Shidduchim
         [Shaul Wallach]
Frum Dating
         [Yehuda Harper]
Frum Dating (response to Shaul Wallach)
         [Alan Stadtmauer]
Frum Marriage: Ideals and Deterrents
         [Sam Juni]


From: <jeremy@...> (Jeremy Nussbaum)
Date: Thu, 6 Oct 94 10:20:19 EDT
Subject: Re: Dating in the Frum world

> >From: Benjamin Boaz Berlin <bberlin@...>
> 	Since I am in the process of Dating in the Frum world, and I
> plan to make a transition to Engagement and Marriage in the frum world
> in the near future, I found the remarks of this gentleman to be
> intriguing.  While I commend him for his concerns over the due diligence
> required before one enters into a lifetime commitment, especially in
> light of the growing use of the Laws of Gittin and Divorce within the
> Jewish and Frum world, I would submit simply two points.
> 	The first answers the question as to why a meeting is necessary.
> Simply put, the Gemarah in Keddushin forbids marriages between couples
> who have not at least met once.

This is not quite the story.  It strongly discourages the father from
marrying off his daughter until she says "this is whom I want."
He still has the legal power to do so, and a woman has the legal power
to accept kidushin from anyone eligible to marry her (or even some
who aren't, where kidushin are tofsin even though there is a prohibition).

The gemarah is proposing a "good idea," not a law.  I remember a
tosafot there justifying the then current practice of arranged
marriage by saying that with the communities spread out, it can be
difficult otherwise to get married.  This does not seem to be applicable
to most communities nowadays, especially with modern communications
and travel facilities (trains, planes and telephones).
> 	Secondly, While I do not personally meet this level of Kedusha,
> I recognize that some are able to rise to a level that I am not.  This
> is a level, not really a hashkafa, where one respects the world around
> him (or her) and is grateful for everything in it, including Breathing,
> waking up in the morning, and being able to function, not to mention the
> materialistic needs that we desire.  To such a person the entire dynamic
> of marriage changes, and one will by definition, roll with the punches
> of life, insuring compatibility.  TO these people I say, Kol HaKAvod.

I fully agreed, until the "insuring(sic) compatibility."  It certainly
makes for a happier and more fulfilled person, better prepared to be
in relationship with someone else.  It does not ensure compatibility
with anyone in particular.  While I agree that this means there is not
one single "bashert" in the world for such a person, and that that
person can have a successful marriage with one of a large number of
other people, there still are individual factors.  They don't have to
make sense.  Even understanding, compassionate and committed people
have personal needs, hot buttons, ticklish points etc. and a marriage
with someone who can deal with those individual aspects in a positive
and enthusiastic way can be a great deal better than one with someone
who can deal with it, but as a burden.

> It is I who is weak.  The need to check out compatibility, which is well
> near imposible without a means of seeing the future, is a lower level,
> one that denies Bashert and the Bitachon that Gam Zu LeTovah.

Gam zu letovah is a great way of viewing the past.  It is dangerous to
say that about the future.  Even Ya'acov prepared prudently for all
possible occurences, and did not say "I have bitachon in God, and do not
have to take special precautions or carefully consider my alternatives."

> 	Indeed, by extensive dating, we not only open the door for the
> Yezer HoRah, but we rely on a crutch which will not be there in the
> future.  If this world in the antechamber to the next, then we delude
> ourselves into thinking that we have choice.  Our share in the Olam
> HaBah is mandated By the one above, as is our ultimate partner.  Choice
> is not an option.  We do not have an opportunity to shop around.

I was not aware that Judaism prefers a deterministic approach to life.
I thought that our entire lives are series of choices (and that our share
in the world to come was determined by our choices).

> Instead we are happy if, we are happy with our portion.  Learning to be
> grateful for that which we have is a trait that we should learn while
> still in the antechamber.

I'm with you on that point.  Just what will be after this life, I
don't know.  But while we are here, let us be happy with our portion
while at the same time looking to do our share in the world around us.
We just read Kohelet, which is about the frustration of looking for
ultimate fulfillment.  I think a key point that Kohelet makes is that
the most fulfilling way to live is to appreciate everything that is
happening now, and to maintain an attitude that we don't know the
ultimate meaning of everything that is happening in the world.

> 	On one last note: As I aim to become engaged soon, I am
> naturally interested in any thoughts on marriage, from the mundane to
> the philosophical.

Good luck!

Jeremy Nussbaum (<jeremy@...>)


From: Shaul Wallach <F66204@...>
Date: Sun, 09 Oct 94 16:30:11 IST
Subject: Divorce and Shidduchim

      An anonymous poster tells us about the problems of some of her
friends who are unhappy in marriage:

>Some of our writers have pointed to the low divorce rate in the frum
>community and surmised from this fact that those who don't divorce are
>happy.  This is often not the case.

    It was never claimed that they all were happy. What I did say was
that Haredim are more inclined to live with marital problems. In my
mind, a marriage is successful if it is able to raise children with a
Torah education to the age when they are able to marry themselves,
regardless of whether the partners feel "happy" with each other.

>               I know, personally, several women who are dreadfully
>unhappy (to the point of considering suicide, has ve-shalom) but feel
>that they have no alternative--a woman with a high school education and
>maybe a year in seminary has no way of supporting 4,5, 6 or more
>children on her own--and no support from the community.

     This, however, is unacceptable. Your friends sound depressed -
something that befalls women twice as frequently as men. It is not a
consequence of a small number of meetings, since the average Haredi
woman is expected to support her husband who learns in the kollel and
to raise her children. This is not something that is ordinarily
questioned at the outset in many Haredi circles. What is unknown at the
time of marriage is how long the wife will be able to do this this and
when the husband is expected to go out and get a job to help support the
family. If his wife becomes depressed, then he has obviously waited too
long and is not fulfilling his halachic responsibility to support his
wife and children. Now it is his responsibility to care for his wife's
mental health.

>                                                         When I was in
>the midst of my own divorce (after consultation with several prominent
>rabbonim) I was informed that all divorces were the woman's fault, by
>definition.  This defies reason, especially with an abusive husband.

     What you heard was either an attempt to encourage you to make
every effort to effect a reconcilation, or it was a slander against
women in general. Having not been there at the time, I can only give
the benefit of the doubt. But I personally have heard the reverse -
- that men are the ones who are responsible for Shalom Bayit.

     My wife is considered one of the more successful matchmakers in
Benei Beraq. Out of the more than 100 matches she has arranged, I
have heard of only one that ended in divorce. This was the result of
the husband's insistence on observance of certain customs based on
the Qabbala that the wife was unable to accept. Some of her former
students from school have also been divorced through no fault of their

>One other issue in the shidduch scene has not been addressed--people
>lie!  (I'm sorry, but there is no other word for it sometimes).  Anyone
>who has been through the sidduch mill knows this--age, physical
>appearance, plans for the future, ability in learning, finances.  I
>attribute a lot of the problems in my marriage to the dishonesty of
>people who felt that the main thing was simply to get us married off.

     My wife's "secret" of success is her honesty. She knows that others
hide things - like illnesses - but she always reveals these things to
the other side.

     There is a list called shiduch at jerusalem1.datasrv.co.il moderated
by a matchmaker who also seems to be the wife of a rabbi who runs another
Jewish list on the same network. Most of the people who post to the list
are Orthodox, and she insists on honesty. Perahps your friends might be
interested in this list as a possible alternative to the traditional
"shidduch" mill.




From: Yehuda Harper <jrh@...>
Date: Sun, 9 Oct 1994 10:06:23 -0500 (CDT)
Subject: Frum Dating

The most important thing to remember in regard to dating - and our lives
in general for that matter - is that every experience in life is planned
by Hashem to teach us important lessons.  A little over a year ago, I
met a wonderful woman through cyber-space.  After the "usual" courtship
of a few weeks, we both felt that we were 100% right for each other.
But, due to circumstances beyond our control, immediate marriage was out
of the question.  After almost of year of telephone dating (and 3 short
meetings), the relationship had to end because of lack of communication.
The initial impressions we made on each other for the first six months
were fairly correct; but, as time went on, I inadvertantly began giving
false impressions about everything from where I stand frumkeit-wise to
the kind of relationship I wanted with my non-Jewish parents to how I
feel about finances and relating to the world in general.

Only after the "engagement" ended did I realize that the pride I had put
in my communication ability was false.  I realized that, more often than
not, impressions are more important than words and that one must always
choose his words carefully and be extremely careful about his actions so
that people don't get the wrong impressions.  Also, I have discovered
that one cannot become angry or revengeful when he is misunderstood (or
causes himself to be misunderstood) and must always repect the feelings
and doubts that others may have.  For me at least, discovering these
truths about human relationships would have been virtually impossible
without dating a caring, sesnsitive person for a year.  Unfortnately,
both of us went through a lot of pain in the process.

By no means am I advocating long, drawn-out relationships.  Never again,
will I drag out a relationship for such a long period of time.  But,
sometimes Hashem causes the "rules" to be broken to teach us important
lessons that cannot be learned any other way.  I believe that the
problems the anonymous poster noted about his own marriage are perhaps
the result of undue pressure within some elements of the frum community
to make a shiduch immediately before both parties have discovered some
of the important things in life that I have learned over the past couple
of months.  While it is true that its usually best to have a short
dating period and get married as soon as possible, we have to remember
to let Hashem teach us about ourselves too.  Sometimes, when people rush
into marriages under pressure, Hashem's will is being thwarted by others
trying to put everyone into one mold.

Yehuda Harper

From: Alan Stadtmauer <stadt@...>
Date: Fri, 7 Oct 1994 00:55:34 -0400 (EDT)
Subject: Frum Dating (response to Shaul Wallach)

I'd like to comment on two small points made by Shaul Wallach in the 
course of his comments about frum dating:

In one post he quotes Rashi in Yebamot:
> Did not our Rabbis tell us (Yev. 63): "Hut 
> darga we-sav itata" (go down a step and marry a woman)? As Rashi says,
> a man should take a wife who is "less important" than him, because
> otherwise he will not be accepted by her. It seems to be important for
> the success of the marriage that the wife accept the authority of her
> husband.

Rashi uses the phrase "shema lo titkabel aleha" (_lest_ he not be
acceptable to her). I see no reference to authoriy in this Rashi. Often
the word "titkabel" refers to accepted in the sense of being desirable. 
Thus perhaps the Rabbis's concern was that if she comes from a higher
social class, she may resent being married to someone less important.
(Particularly if the marriage had been arranged.)

The context (not quoted by Mr. Wallach) may support this reading: The
immediately preceding gemarra recommends waiting to marry. Rashi explains,
"wait until one has checked the woman's actions that she is not bad and a
nag (my free translation of "kantaranit")". It seems the Rabbis are not
suggesting that success depends upon the acceptance of the husband's
authority, but that the couple be mutually acceptable to each other. 

In another post, Mr. Wallach comments: 
> We need only read the story of Yizhaq's marriage with 
> Rivqa in the Torah to see when love really starts (Genesis 24:67). 

While we are looking at Biblical models of love and marriage, let us not
forget that Yaakov began to love Rachel ("Vaye'ehav Yaakov et Rachel" 
Genesis 29:18) 7 years before he married her. In fact he married her (and
Leah) _because_ he loved her (rather than the reverse). Furthermore, the
text emphasizes Yaakov's love 3 times -- all before their second day of

Certainly we should not see in Yaakov an endorsement of dating for seven
years. Nevertheless, as we look to earlier models with which to 
understand modern marriages, we must avoid selective quotations and 

Alan Stadtmauer


From: Sam Juni <JUNI@...>
Date: Thu, 06 Oct 94 23:57:43 EST
Subject: Frum Marriage: Ideals and Deterrents

Shaul Wallach (15:51) notes that when a Jew truly devotes himself to
Torah and Hallacha, psychological issues in marriage become moot. I
might agree with this, but I think the scenario is an idealized one,
and definitely not one can presume exists in our folks. Practically,
then, even frum Jews cannot close their eyes to the problems discussed.

Although in a sophisticated context, Shaul dropped a phrase which rubbed
me the wrong way.  I have no reason to believe that he intended for the
implication I read, but the phrase Shaul uses (when he "plays with fire")
that the husband's option to divorce the wife serves as deterrent
"against the wife misbehaving" evokes a condescending and patronizing
attitude toward the maturity of the woman.  I would hate to be married
to a spouse who might do things which I would label as "misbehaving."
I had  enough of that from my pre-schoolers.

P.S.  I was chagrinned to fine myself adjectivized in Shomo Engelson's
      (15:54) depiction of one poster's approach to the Dating issue as
      "Juni-an." Am I being honored or immortalized?


End of Volume 15 Issue 65