Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Compatibility Scales in the Dating Game

I have been told that Frumster – an Orthodox Jewish dating site has the following categories in their questionnaire about your profile when you apply for their service:

Modern Orthodox
Modern Orthodox Machmir
Yeshivish Modern
Yeshivish Black Hat
Shomer Mitzvot

I must admit that these categories leave me scratching my head a bit. It seems like there ought to be more categories or at least better descriptions of those listed. Here is how I interpret them:

Modern Orthodox Liberal – MO Lite or LWMO . This category can be seen as descriptive of either of those, although they are very different from each other.

Modern Orthodox Machmir – RWMO

Yeshivish Modern – Charedi Lite or Moderate Charedi. This category too can be seen as descriptive of either of those, although they are very different from each other.

Yeshivish Black Hat - RW Charedi

Chasidish - Chasidish

Carlebachian - ??? (I didn’t know being a Carlebach Chasid was a Hashkafa or a lifestyle choice)

Shomer Mitzvot - Orthodox

Of course this list isn’t really a breakdown of Hashkafos. It is more of a list of lifestyles for purposes of compatibility. And I suppose it is a good idea to date someone whose lifestyle choices are similar to your own. I would also note that there are really no rigid lines between these categories. Nor do most people fit neatly into these categories. I suppose most people probably reside somewhere in one of them but may have one or two characteristics of another.

The question arises as to whether one should even identify where their sympathies lie. Perhaps one should only consider the last category – Shomer Mitzvot – to be the only relevant one? Isn’t it divisive to label people? Doesn’t that undermine Jewish unity - Achdus? And doesn’t it preclude the possibility of two perfectly compatible people meeting if they try and match up based on those labels?

First I would say the spectrum of Hashkafos is so wide that some lines do need to be drawn. So in the end - labels are important.

While it is true that labeling people can be divisive it need not be so. Even though simply identifying oneself as a Shomer Mitzvos does avoid conflcit - which in turn promotes Achdus - simply being Shomer Mitzvos is simply not enough information. Just because 2 people choose to define themselves that way doesn't mean that there aren't major differences between them that would make them incompatible.

Are not a Satmar Chasid and a Religious Zionist Shomer Mitzvos? Certainly as it applies to Shiduchim - it is of major import to know where a potential couple reside Hashkafically. I cannot imagine an ardent Satmar Chasid marrying a woman who is a strong Religious Zionist.

Lifestyle choices do make a difference even when both people are Orthodox. When setting up a date between two people it helps to know as much about them as possible. However coming from different backgrounds need not be a game-ender. Sometimes it is and sometimes it isn't. Some people are flexible some are rigid. Some people straddle lines between Hashkafos - or accept a point or two from another Hashkafa into their own. The trick is for the person setting up the date to know when there is a chance for compatibilty or not regardless of the Hashkafos.

So the bottom line in my view is that there is no real formula for successful dating. But common sense should play a major part when setting people up. I would for example never set up a Satmar Chasid with a Religious Zionist. But I would set up someone from a Chasidic background with a Modern Orthodox background – if their basic lifestyles and goals are similar. I know a few marriages like that which are very successful.