If this hadn’t happened to me, I would think someone made up the story. Last week, I picked up a girl from her house. She seemed to be everything I am looking for in a girl . . . until she was in my car for about two minutes. I opened the car door for her and then I went around and sat down in my driver’s seat. I noticed that she did not put on her seat belt. I politely asked her to do so, and she responded, “I don’t use a shoulder belt during the summer while on a date–for tzniyus reasons!”
Not wanting to risk getting a ticket, I told her that I wouldn’t drive unless she was fully belted in. She refused and promptly opened the door to the car and left. She didn’t tell the shadchan the whole story, and she made me out to be the bad guy.
I am 26 years old and have been dating for four years. I went out with many girls, and heard and experienced all sorts of weird things. But this is over the top. I have given in to girls not wearing makeup, perfume, or showy clothing for tzniyus reasons during a date. But this is a matter of safety! Is this a new fad to add to the already existing craziness out there? If it is, then I am done with dating. Seriously, please tell me what’s going on.
By Baila Sebrow
I must confess that as a shadchan I heard of a similar situation only once before. At the time, I thought that someone composed such a story to mock or be humorous of frum daters. Curious, I inquired further and shockingly discovered that yes, indeed there are girls and even some boys who hold by that self-imposed custom. Before I go any further, I urge all singles: please do not attempt it. Seatbelts are designed to protect people by keeping the body in the proper place during a car accident. They are structured to be used in the way that they were designed, not just by using the lap belt, but in conjunction with the shoulder belt. When stopped for a red light, even the best driver in the world could hardly prevent a rear-end collision. For example, the force of a 5,000-pound SUV or a tractor-trailer weighing 80,000 pounds can potentially kill a non-belted passenger by ejecting them out of the car through the window. Unfortunately, there have been too many such stories in the news.
As I am sure most people know, laws are very strict today. Not only will the driver get a ticket if the passenger is not fully wearing the seat belt, but he will very likely lose points on his license. In addition to the airbags, the seat belts in a car are part of the system designed to save people from an injury or fatality in case of an accident, Gâ€‘d forbid. Under no circumstances should any girl or guy impose such risks on themselves or others.
I sincerely hope that this is not becoming a fad. However, there are those who may take on any additional restriction that they hear of, if they think it will show growth in their spirituality. Whoever conceived the ideology of girls’ not wearing a seat belt during the summer months did so in a non-thought-out process. There is no mitzvah in endangering one’s life for such nonsense. A savvy girl who is modesty-conscious and concerned that the shoulder belt will expose a part of herself that she prefers not be too visible, will wear an outfit which will make her feel more comfortable with regard to tzniyus, yet, at the same time, will not compromise her safety and that of the driver.
I am bothered by another aspect you write about that I hear all too often as a symptom of an already existing problem in the current shidduch system. Your letter indicates that there are some girls, who for reasons of modesty, will not wear perfume, makeup, or what would be considered showy clothing. That seems to bother you, yet you stress having given in to those who restrict themselves from such indulgences. I agree that in some frum circles, girls are more stringent in those areas than others. However odd it may seem to you, they have the right to do so. What puzzles me is that it appears that you are of a different philosophical frame of mind. Why are you dating girls who are not on the same page as you, whether in terms of hashkafah or philosophy? Stating that you give in to their ways is of no benefit to you or the girls you are being set up with.
You need to be up-front with the shadchanim who are introducing you to girls. They may be of the opinion that you are seeking a girl who is more frum than you are letting on, which could be the result of your family background, former yeshiva education, or even the community you reside in. Or they might assume you are seeking a girl who may be on your religious level, yet prefer someone who believes in simplicity with regard to dressing and grooming. Whatever the reasons may be, one thing is very clear–your shadchanim have little information as to what you are really seeking.
With regard to your uncomfortable incident, I salute you for your unyielding reaction in refusing to drive the car until your date would have been safely belted in. This girl clearly showed ignorance for her own safety as well as yours, and lack of consideration for you as her date and driver of the car. In addition, the fact that she promptly left after being asked to do what is normally expected of a passenger demonstrates rudeness. Do not concern yourself with what this girl told the shadchan, and whom the shadchan actually believes. You behaved in a manner which showed concern for everyone’s safety. At the age of 26, you give a strong impression of maturity, intelligence, and sensitivity. Continue to carry on in this manner, as you will be rewarded with an equal life partner.
Baila Sebrow is president of Neshoma Advocates, communications and recruitment liaison for Sovri-Beth Israel, executive director of Teach Our Children, and a shadchanis. She can be reached at Bsebrow@aol.com. v
Questions and comments can be submitted to firstname.lastname@example.org.