I am 26 years old and I have been dating for seven years. When I came home from seminary, I was looking for a full-time learning boy. Even though a lot of shidduchim were redt to me, I still did not get engaged.

Lately, I realized that I need a learner/earner. The problem is that I find that the boys who are working are not as frum as I would like them to be. I am looking for a boy who goes to minyan three times a day and will make time to learn every day.

The shadchan that I am working with told me that I am being unrealistic. But why is that? My father gets up early in the morning to make a neitz minyan, gives a dafyomishiur, and then goes to work. He makes a Minchah and Ma’arivminyan every day, and still finds time for a chaburah in the evening. Plus, he works as a busy lawyer.

There is a boy I went out with a few times that a shadchanredt to me, but I do not think he is really all that into the learning. Also, I have been hearing from people that he sometimes misses minyan. A few people have even told me that he does not go to minyan.

This boy likes me and wants to continue dating, but I am having doubts about his frumkeit. My friends think I am being rigid, and my family says I should not compromise on frumkeit. What is your opinion?


By Baila Sebrow

“Compromise” is a tricky word to use when deciding on the type of shidduch that would be most compatible with you. You’re a 26-year-old girl; no one knows you better than yourself. There is no way to successfully compromise on what would ultimately bring you happiness. This is not the time in your life to make relationship negotiations. (Married life is a different story; in a marriage, compromise is a healthy and mature approach to living in harmony.)

When you first started dating, you were very young and idealistic. Girls fresh out of seminary oftentimes prefer full-time learning boys, so it is not surprising that you followed the path of so many others like you.

I am not sure why you chose to change course now with regard to the type of boy you are seeking. Such a change is not uncommon, but my concern is that your motivation be for the right reason.

There are many people, your shadchan included, who feel that there is no such thing as a learner/earner. I, too, am skeptical about this term. When a girl meets with me for the purpose of finding her a shidduch and she tells me that she is looking for a learner/earner type of guy, my first question to her is, what does “learner/earner” mean to you?

There are a lot of ways to define a learner/earner. For example, to some it may mean that the boy’s focus will be on learning, as well as his close connection to his rebbe. To others it means that the focus will be on parnassah and some learning if the boy feels up to it after a hard day’s work or school. Still others have additional explanations as to what a learner/earner means to them.

It sounds like you are looking for a boy who will be focused equally on learning and parnassah, carefully balancing the two–someone similar to your father. It sounds like you are looking for a guy whose daily activities replicate those of your father.

Growing up in a home imbued with such Torah, as the daughter of a busy lawyer who is also so actively devoted to learning, can be the reasonable explanation for why you now decided that a learner/earner boy would be the right choice for you. The problem that you are facing is the realization that your father might be a tough act to follow.

While it may not necessarily be impossible to find a guy who follows a similar derech as your father, it is more common to find that in a man who is already established in life. You are likely going out with young guys who are building themselves academically and professionally. So, it is not unheard of for a guy at that point in life to slack off in learning, or even miss a minyan at times. The question is how much that will bother you and whether it would be a cause for future marital strife.

Furthermore, the early-morning and late-evening seders that you are accustomed to may also not be a realistic plan for a guy. I am not saying it cannot happen, but I do not want to give you false hopes in case things do not come through as you would like them to.

The issues about learning that you have with the guy you are currently dating are in all probability going to happen with another guy too. There are many guys who are presented as learner/earners by shadchanim even if they are not that into learning.

The important thing for you to do right now is to make an educated decision whether or not it would be in your best interest to continue this relationship.

With regard to your hearing about this guy not going to minyan, you need to conduct thorough research before being mekabel this tale.

I will share a story that happened with a couple whose shidduch I was involved in that almost fell apart. This boy lived in a small community, and the parents of the girl he was dating went to the rav of the boy’s parents to inquire about him. The rav informed the parents that he does not know the boy, because he never sees the boy in shul.

The parents further questioned the members who daven in the shul and lived in the community for many years, and they were told that the boy does not go to shul. At that point the parents were vehemently against the shidduch, and they were going to do everything they could to prevent a marriage from happening.

When I became aware of this situation, I contacted the boy and I told him in full detail the latest information that was threatening to end his relationship with the girl. He started laughing, and he told me that on Shabbos he attends a shul the next town over. He said that the shuls in the town where he lives have much older congregants and he does not feel comfortable davening in any of them. He instead preferred to walk a further distance so that he could daven with a younger chevrah. And during the week he attended a shul close to where he worked. After the story was confirmed by the parents, the shidduch went on, and the couple has been happily married for several years, baruchHashem.

I am not saying that the scenario of that couple I described is the same as in your case. What I am saying is that you should not react quickly to something you hear without verifying the information–even if what you hear is coming from a reliable source. There are so many variables in tales. So please make sure that the story is accurate. I urge you to ask your shadchan to intervene proactively on this matter.

If there are other issues about the boy that bother you–for example, you feel that he is just not frum enough–then this shidduch is not for you. There can, chas v’shalom, be an absence of shalom bayis where the wife is always second-guessing the husband’s commitment to frumkeit.

Before you come to any final decision, please brainstorm with someone objective whom you trust. Whatever the results may be, they should come about only after thorough forethought.

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

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