By Baila Sebrow

By Baila Sebrow

Question

As the oldest in my family whose siblings are much too young to start shidduchim, I do not understand why singles include their married siblings’ mechutanim as references in their shidduch résumés.

Before COVID-19, very few of my single friends’ résumés included the parents of their newlywed- or even longtime-married siblings as shidduch references. Since the pandemic, I have been criticized by both shadchanim and my single friends for not including the phone numbers of married siblings on my résumé when I submitted to the WhatsApp shidduch chat we are a part of. How can any of my siblings be married if they are too young to get married? Why is that lack of info a turnoff for a shidduch? Why am I am being asked to provide information that doesn’t exist?

Without offering any proof in sifrei halachah, my friends have asserted that the ritual of calling each and every married sibling’s mechutanim (including those who reside overseas and/or barely know the single in question) as a crucial element to determine the shaychus of a first date has the same level of chashivus as the Aseres HaDibros.

Having visited the three concentration camps in Poland where my Holocaust-surviving grandfather’s married siblings and their mechutanim were killed while he was still a bachur, I find it hard to believe that my grandparents, as well as the grandparents of my friends, all spent hours fishing for reference information from each prospect’s married siblings’ parents before deciding on the shaychus of the first date.

When I pointed this out to them, they told me that these phone calls are absolutely necessary because of “yeridas ha’doros” as well as “the spirit of the times.” They then encouraged me to daven and let Hashem solve the shidduch crisis.

What in Hashem’s name does calling each mother-in-law of a single’s numerous married siblings have to with the single? How would it determine one’s overall qualifications as a future spouse and parent?

Response

Singles and their parents keep referring to the reason singles are experiencing challenges in dating as the “Shidduch Crisis.” For the umpteenth time, this term was initially coined because young ladies in yeshivish and other right-wing circles start dating immediately upon their return home from their seminary year in Israel, and there are fewer age-appropriate guys for them to date. The young men in such circles typically do not start dating until 23 or 24, and some even 25. At age 19, a young lady does not feel compatible with a guy who is in his mid-twenties or older. There are those who do find shidduchim and get married very young. However, those young ladies who get left behind get older, and they are the ones who are part of the devised phrase “Shidduch Crisis.”

The rest of the frum singles are single for their own individual reason. It is their personal crisis, but they are not all necessarily sufferers of the general shidduch crisis. What you are presenting to me in your letter is not part of the shidduch crisis, either. I will address your concern about the insistence of having the names of mechutanim on the shidduch résumé (another entity that needs to vanish). When it comes to getting married, it is not only about the two people who decide to spend the rest of their lives together.

One does not marry just the person he or she is standing with under the chuppah. The chassan and kallah are marrying each other’s family too. Anyone and everyone who is connected to you and has an impact on your life will become part-and-parcel of your marriage. Talk to anyone who is married, and they will agree. Consequently, who the mechutanim are becomes an important facet in a shidduch decision.

I am categorically stating, though, that calling the mechutanim is ridiculous. I have seen cases where the mechutanim will not be truthful in terms of revealing important information, or, the other way around, if the mechutanim on the other side reneged on a financial promise, or whatever else they are ticked off about, they will disparage them to the point of ruining a potential shidduch. So, other than wanting to know who the mechutanim are by name, savvy folks leave it at that.

According to what you say, your family has no mechutanim, so no one can go fishing in that lake for you. But you should not be wasting your time on that nonsense. You will never find out information you are really searching for from anyone’s hand-picked reference, mechutanim or otherwise. If you really want to know everything there is to know about somebody, look into their history with regard to how they live their lives on a day-to-day basis, past and present. That should clue you in to the type of future you can expect from the person you are contemplating marrying, as well as the family.

It seems to me that you are too caught up with every new fad that comes out in researching a shidduch. The fact is that every month or so, I hear of a new technique that people employ in order to gain as much information about a single man or woman and his or her family. In my opinion, it stems from the fear of a failed engagement or future divorce. Not only is the divorce rate skyrocketing, but broken engagements have sadly become the norm in the frum society. People rush to get engaged as though they need to beat the clock, and since nobody wants to work things out in a relationship, the minute something goes wrong, or somebody rolls their eyes at something, the impending wedding gets called off. Just as we have frum people who have been divorced multiple times, there are staggering numbers of young people who have several broken engagements under their belt. All this was unheard of in the past, and so in an effort to avoid joining this statistic, there is always something new to hit the scene.

It’s not just about calling mechutanim or going so far as to call teachers from elementary school and counselors from sleepaway camp; there are those who will call school and camp nurses to uncover medical histories, too. There is no limit to the measures people will take to find out information. Those who don’t mind spending money might even hire a private investigator to unearth suspected classified information. Ironically, those who have the most to hide manage to keep it hidden despite these excessive measures.

There is something else I need to touch upon. These WhatsApp shidduch chats have become dangerous modes of redding shidduchim. Many of these groups have no verification of their members. It’s open season for predators. Anyone can join. Meanwhile, thousands of innocent unsuspecting singles and their parents are posting information about themselves and their families, complete with names of all family members, including maiden names, ages, places of schools and employment, shuls, travels, hobbies, e-mail, and home addresses, phone numbers, etc. I caution people not to participate in any group that does not verify their members. So when you talk about submitting your information to WhatsApp groups, my advice is: DON’T DO IT. Not only that, but do not deal with shadchanim who are part of public chats either. The only WhatsApp groups that are (relatively) safe are those where the admins make sure to interview each person who is on that particular chat, and to ensure that any information posted does not get shared with other groups.

I would like to respond to your assertion that in pre-Holocaust days, people did not go fishing for information as today. Back in the shtetl days, people typically married into the families they knew personally or had heard much about. So, although there were no résumés or social media groups as a means to present oneself for shidduchim, there was plenty of checking out a prospective single man or woman in those days, too. I will agree that immediately following the Holocaust, there was much less checking. Tragically, there were sole survivors of large families who perished, R’l, and they found themselves all alone. Their objective was to get married and create their own families. That was the only time in recent history that frum people married on the basis of a mutually satisfying conversation.

Your hishtadlus in finding a shidduch should not be about going above and beyond derech ha’teva in making the determination of whether to marry a young lady. It is so easy to just nix a shidduch rather than view each suggestion as the possibility for marriage. Make a pact with yourself that you will consider every shidduch redd to you as someone you will potentially marry, and only if there is real and serious incompatibility will you decline to go out. Do not look for perfection; look for the young lady who is perfect for you! 

 

Baila Sebrow is president of Neshoma Advocates, communications and recruitment liaison for Sovri-Beth Israel, executive director of Teach Our Children, and a shadchanis and shidduch consultant. She can be reached at Bsebrow@aol.com. Baila also hosts The Definitive Rap podcast for vinnews.com, Israel News Talk Radio, WVIP 93.5 FM HD2, and talklinenetwork.com. Questions and comments for the Dating Forum can be submitted to 5townsforum@gmail.com. Read more of Baila Sebrow’s articles at 5TJT.com.

1 COMMENT

  1. This letter is clearly fake, written by someone who is trolling. Either that, or the writer is psychotic. There is no one in the world that would tell a single who doesn’t have married siblings that she has to somehow include her mechutanim on the resume. Something is not right here.

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