April 14, 2024
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April 14, 2024
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Dating Thoughts From Someone #InTheDatingParsha

Every Friday night, Orthodox Jews have a custom to sing the song “Eshet Chayil/A Woman of Valor.” My favorite part comes at this song’s conclusion. Sheker hachen, hevel hayofi, eishah yirahat Hashem/Beauty is vain, looks are deceiving; a woman who fears God should be the one. These powerful phrases convince Jewish singles like me to acknowledge a fundamental romantic truth: Prettiness will fade; hotness always disappears, but a beautiful soul lasts forever.


I know what you’re thinking: Who are you to be discussing this topic? Yes, many young journalists refuse to address controversial subjects. Western society has granted mental health experts the exclusive license to discuss sensitive topics like addiction, abuse and even romantic relationships. This unwritten rule manipulates younger writers to mistakenly think, “Leave these topics for the experts. I’m only 22; adults will read my thoughts and say, “What does this inexperienced kid know?” Passionate writers must ignore these self-imposed fears and share their important messages.

Within the Orthodox community, many rabbis and matchmakers struggle to understand the contemporary male shidduch dater’s mindset. Seventeen months of shidduch dating has provided this writer an up-close look at Judaism’s Orthodox dating world.



Story Time.

Several weeks ago, at around 8 p.m., I opened WhatsApp and pressed the blue call icon. My bedroom door remained shut like a bank vault; white iPhone-style earbuds connected sound to both earlobes. Baruch Hashem, the time to call a shadchan had come. A friend of mine named Steve had joined Mishkan Shiloh, a matchmaking organization, pre-COVID. Following many hit-and-miss dates, Steve met Mrs. Right via this network. Upon the announcement of Steve’s engagement, a thought popped into my 22-year-old mind. If Mishkan Shiloh worked for Steve, could it work for me?


Midway through this phone call, a series of questions were asked by the shadchan, in a gentle grandmother-like voice: “What are you looking for personality-wise? Quiet? Outgoing? What’s your look?” Without a second thought, these vocal cords offered society’s most generic answer: “I’m looking for something very specific.” Shadchans hear this line from singles 80 times a day. Your average single, frum Orthodox guy might follow this response with this request: “I want my kallah to be smart; sensitive; fun; frum; positive; family oriented; tall, but not too tall; fun, but motivated; chill, but knows when to laser focus.


Two weeks later, a Mishkan Shiloh shadchan sent me an idea/dating suggestion. From a compassionate standpoint, this young woman allocates free time on Sundays to visit her apartment-bound grandparents. Personality-wise, she excels at starting conversation and volunteers time to create programming for adults with special needs. To quote this girl’s shidduch reference: “She is a positive, growth-oriented Torah learner who would jump in front of a truck for her friends.” Religious, outgoing, sincere, inclusive, giving, thoughtful, considerate… yet the next morning, I texted my shadchan, “This girl isn’t shiyoch/worthwhile for appearance-related reasons.”


Social psychologists might offer two reasons for my shallow response.

Possibility No. 1: TV, film and media influence. Over the course of my 22 years, I have observed plenty of PG-13 rated films and television shows. PG-13 programs always feature overly attractive women, in an effort to amuse their male viewers. Shows like “Two and a Half Men,” “Friends” and any Adam Sandler movie introduce beautiful female actresses to global audiences. Exposure to TV shows like these inspired me to develop the following romantic expectations: My wife’s gotta look like Charlie Sheen’s girlfriend, or like Jennifer Aniston. These unrealistic demands for a soulmate’s perfect physical features prompt me to always compare eligible Jewish bachelorettes with TV beauties’ looks.

Possibility No. 2: The “somebody else” syndrome. Many early daters like me often develop the following pessimistic thoughts about a new dating interest midway through date No. 1: She’s nice, but somebody else might be more outgoing, sensitive, positive, or prettier. Another girl could better meet my wife requirements.

To quote a neighbor from New Jersey named AC, “Every rose has its thorn. Nobody’s perfect.” If you always think there’s someone prettier, smarter, thinner, more religious out there, you may overlook the great girl sitting across from you at Starbucks.


World renowned psychiatrist Rabbi Dr. Abraham J. Twerski writes about the main ingredient one should look for in a spouse. “You should marry someone who will help you bring the most kavod l’shamayim/Glory to Hashem.” Rabbi Herschel Schachter, rosh yeshiva at YU, once relayed a similar heartwarming comment. “Every girl I went out with who had good midot, I found attractive.”


Sadly, many Jewish men and women remain single today. The Gemara says, Kol Yisrael araivim. “Each Jew is responsible for every other Jew.” Our community’s married Jews must exert more effort to help singles find their soulmates, particularly older singles. Adults jump for joy and tell 23-year-old guys, “Hey, I know a great girl.” We must offer the same level of enthusiasm for 33-year-olds, 40-year-olds, divorcees and widowers. How often do we knock on their doors and ask if they need romantic help? What if that single, divorced, widowed or never-married 30-year-old was your brother, sister, uncle, cousin, neighbor?



I encourage everyone reading this to invest time in helping their neighbors, friends and relatives find that special someone. You don’t need to be a matchmaker to show someone you care.

The author is “in the dating parsha,” and therefore wishes to remain anonymous.

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