Friday, December 25, 2015

An Important Perspective on Shidduchim

Updated -12/29/15

I came across a very insightful post on Facebook about the world of shidduchim - the process by which many religious Jews find their mates. It was written by Asher Lovy and I am basing this post on it.

Is the shidduch system as it exists today the root of all evil?  Let us examine the damage it can cause. Every family is likely to have some skeletons in their closet. Some worse than others. Some more remote than others. But they are Issues that they would rather not reveal to the public. Increasingly it is being done at the expense of someone’s welfare. 

Like keeping the abuse of the shidduch prospect’s sibling a secret. So much so that much vital therapy is avoided lest someone find out. Why? Because it will hurt the Shidduch chances of - not only the survivor, but their siblings. So families try mightily to keep all this in the closet.

When it comes to getting married, your reputation is paramount. It determines who you will marry, which can determine your future value too. And that might in turn determine who your children will marry, ad infinitum. Marriage itself is a status in our world. Being single is a devalued state for an Orthodox Jew to be in.

Today’s shidduch market is just that. A market place based on supply and demand. People chase the most prestigious options available to them. Your value is not who you are, but what your worth is measured in an almost crass materialistic way. Which has created a sort of checklist system of finding a mate that is worthwhile. Instead of valuing a potential shidduch’s character first,I t may be valued last – if at all. Also way down at the bottom of such lists are things like personality, compatibility, and chemistry.  

It’s almost as if externals are the primary attributes the system seeks. Sort of like a trophy. How will this shidduch look on me? In that vein, yichus, and family wealth go to the top of the list. Money is always at the top of the list it seems. Which schools you went to are more important that what you studied in them or how well you studied them. How other view you in that regard becomes more valuable that the actual content of his knowledge and character. Character is almost an afterthought,

That’s why there are soften resumes offered to shadchonim. Which inevitably contain lies. Certainly lies of omission if not outright lies and distortions about the individual. Honesty means little in such resumes.  So if you have a skeleton in your closet like an abused sibling or one that in any way went OTD (…hate that word – but it’s concise and convenient) you cover it up.

References are worthless, because the Shidduch prospect is obviously only going to give you favorable ones.

The irony is that when people start investigating the shidduch beyond those references, the truth may very well come out of the closet. Which will not only ruin your shidduch chances, it  will brand you as a deceitful liar!

And yet people involved in shiduchim for their children still try and hide it, knowing full well that it might be discovered. That’s because coming right out in the open about it is a losing proposition that will get you nowhere fast. So you lie, either by commission or omission – and hope for the best.

What happens to a perfectly good person when it all comes out shouldn’t happen to a dog. Their reputations are so tainted, that a decent shidduch will never be recommended to them no matter how how fine and decent he or she is!

Which in a way is understandable in a world where the slightest flaw devalues not only you but your entire family. Why would you want to marry someone from such a family? It will eventually hurt your own future children’s shiduchim later in life.

Based on this one could easily surmise that the Shidduch system is the root of all evil in the frum world. This is not to say we should eliminate it entirely. But it is to say that the way we go about it ought to be changed. We need to place more value honesty and less value on externals, or on skeletons that have no bearing on the individual shidduch themselves.

We ought to take a lesson from those who do not use the shidduch system to get married. Sometimes a little knowledge is a dangerous thing. Some things are better left out. At least at first. Let the couple get to know each other. Relevant information can come out later and evaluated  in a better and fairer light. And the least of anyone’s concerns should be ‘How will this shidduch look on me?’ Whether it is the Shidduch prospect themselves saying it or worse, their family.