Inbox: Issue 948| February 7, 2023
“The true goal is not to change your status to a married person. It is to build a healthy, whole bayis ne’eman b’Yisrael”
While You Wait [Inbox / Issue 947]
I am writing in response to the letter in last week’s edition titled “While We Wait.”
As a member of Klal Yisrael I have been following the give-and-take about shidduchim with much interest. When I read the letter by N. B., I so deeply resonated with her thoughts and feelings — yes, we need to do what we can to ease the process, but why in the world are we not focusing equally on the experience that these men and women are reporting.
Very few of us will be able to make a meaningful change to really overhaul the entire shidduch system, and furthermore, as N. B. said, the bottom line is that we seem to be undergoing a crises for whatever reason Hashem has so decided (not that it absolves us from doing our hishtadlus).
But until Hashem decides to put an end to it using whatever means He so decides, can we please, please hear more practical tips of what we can do to make the plight of these amazing men and women easier while they bear the wait!
Perhaps N. B. would consider writing a monthly column with do’s and don’ts for the uninformed in order to help us deal with this large demographic. There is no reason that they should feel like there is zero place for them in frum society, or that they are underappreciated or chas v’shalom disrespected (!).
The fact is, these frum single men and women, so publicly bearing the brunt of an incredibly difficult nisayon, usually with the greatest efforts to be b’simchah and full of emunah that Hashem knows exactly what He is doing, are the heroes of our societies and should be treated as nothing less than that.
Thank you, N. B., for the reminder.
A. F., Passaic
A Place in Our Society [Inbox / Issue 947]
Your article about the new shidduch initiative was really beautiful. Klal Yisrael is doing exemplary things, and the care and dedication this initiative requires is not something we’d see in any other community, so ashreichem to the founders and ashreichem for covering the story.
There were a few letter writers who touched on what I’m about to say, but I want to focus on two points. The cover image portrayed a girl waiting for her moment, all alone. While it’s true that we know a person is meant to have another half, and they are only complete spiritually once they are married, they want nothing more than to not be seen that way by our community.
They want to be seen as normal, functioning, and contributing just like anyone else, and in many cases more so. They want to be seen as having a place in our society, not as lonely and awkward and less than whole.
All too often we assume that they don’t have a place in society, and are just stuck in this waiting game, so we feel terrible for them, and we treat them as nebachs — and they feel it. There has to be a way that we can all become normal around the idea that not everyone gets married at 19 — and that’s okay, and someone can continue to have a place in our society even if they are anxiously waiting for something else.
Don’t get me wrong — it is a tzarah that our generation has been given and we have to do everything within our power to solve it. But the same way we wouldn’t categorize everyone struggling with any kind of handicap in one societal category, we shouldn’t do it for “singles” either.
Which brings me to my second, and perhaps more important point.
We are all so focused on shidduchim, sometimes it feels like we’re leaving Hashem out of the picture. Parents are obsessed with it from the time we choose what camps to send our kids to or where to make a bar mitzvah, because it will look bad for shidduchim. What if we did our best trying to marry off our kids, left no stone unturned, and then said “the rest is up to Hashem”?
As a klal we should have endless hakaras hatov to the people who are creating this new shidduch initiative. They are emissaries of Hashem, and we need them. But at the same time, we need to affirm that the reason they aren’t married is because Hashem is running the show and he decided it’s not the right time yet.
(As an aside, I know a few people who got married to the first guy who seemed decent because they were told by society’s messaging that if nothing is really wrong with the guy they should just go for it — their chances of getting married are dwindling by the minute, and it looks bad that they are still not married. And today some of those are struggling with shalom bayis.)
We’re not giving Hashem enough credit. We daven and get brachos and take on kabbalos, but the more we turn it into an obsession, the more painful the wait seems to be.
I hope we can try to make the young and not-so-young women in our lives who happen to be single feel more comfortable. We’re not all shadchanim, but we can do two things. We can daven for them, and we can actively not treat them as nebachs.
Safest Country [Eye Spy / Issue 946]
Having been going to China the last 25 years between 180 to 200 days per year, I can only say that some the facts and statistics that Geoffrey Caine presents may be somewhat biased or exaggerated, however it’s not really relevant.
What is relevant, however, to me is that China is the safest country in the world, where one can go outside for a walk anywhere in the dead of a moonless night with not a fear in the world — thanks to China’s surveillance technology and artificial intelligence.
Plus it is illegal to even carry a toy water gun, let alone a firearm, blade, bullets, or any device resembling any type of weapon. True freedom is being able to allow your teenaged daughter to take a walk solo after dark, rather than keeping her a prisoner at home.
Of the 20 million Uyghurs residing in China, unfortunately ten percent are either radicalized or on the verge, so China “nips it in the bud” as Mr. Caine states, and sends this ten percent for reeducation.
China prevents a possible 9/11, or any act of terrorism before the act, and if Israel can learn from China, they can also get terrorism and crime down to zero.
Tentacles Around the World [Eye Spy / Issue 946]
Your excellent article “Eye Spy” (Issue 946) reminded me of Winston Churchill’s famous quote after the fall of France in 1940: “But if we fail, then the whole world, including the United States, including all that we have known and cared for, will sink into the abyss of a new Dark Age made more sinister, and perhaps more protracted, by the lights of perverted science.”
Never before in world history has one nation had the global reach of China. By virtue of being the world’s factory and source of much of its technology, China’s tentacles have spread around the world. Their desire of anschluss with Taiwan is reminiscent of Hitler’s claim on Austria — ein Reich, ein Volk, ein Fuhrer.
As with Nazi Germany, China will start with Taiwan and expand all over in a China uber alles. China’s goal is to enslave the world economically even without large armies of occupation. Any country that dares interact with Taiwan is subject to a Chinese boycott — look at Lithuania for an example.
It is very difficult to avoid buying Chinese goods, but it can be done. If one is interested, there are websites that explain how to do it. Jews do lots of business with China, but don’t realize that they are feeding the dragon that can destroy them. China is an atheist state opposed to any form or practice of religion. The Uyghurs are the best known example, but China also persecutes Christians and Falun Gong, among others.
If we Jews would come under Chinese rule, there is nothing to stop them from outlawing Torah and mitzvos and using their sinister technology to enforce it. Hopefully Mashiach will come and this frightening scenario will not materialize.
Different Views from Different Settings [Job Search / Issue 946]
As a school psychologist, I was excited to see this past week’s Job Search. As our children and students develop in a world with Covid, technology, addictions, and rampant mental illness, the field is growing and the need for school psychologists increases each year.
I was disappointed, however, at those chosen to represent the field. School psychology is an ever-changing field, and those who entered the field 20+ years ago may not have the most realistic and up-to-date view on entering the field today.
Most noteworthy, a school psychologist in the Tristate area today usually requires a doctorate. While there are still graduate schools for those pursing a master’s degree, the field has become extremely competitive, and finding a first job without a doctorate in New York or New Jersey can be difficult, if not impossible. Many masters level school psychologists have been grandfathered in previously, before doctorates became more widespread. Out of town, however, there are major shortages in school psychologists, and master level school psychologists can be equally considered.
Additionally, hearing from three professionals who all work in the public school domain gives a narrow view of the field. More recently, many Jewish day schools and yeshivos have begun to employ school psychologists as well. The job description, as well as day-to-day functions, look very different when employed in the private sector. Including this information could have given a more comprehensive view of the field of school psychology.
I would be glad to provide more recent and relevant information for those interested in the field; I can be contacted through Mishpacha.
Rachel Klipper, PsyD
Yeshiva Har Torah
The Rabi Akiva of Poland [Akeidah Moments / Issue 946]
As the mother of one of Reb Yaakov Wasilewicz’s second-grade classmates in Talmudical Academy of Baltimore, I wanted to convey to him my family’s heartfelt nachas upon reading the article about him.
We used to call him the Rabi Akiva of Poland! Though he was years older than his young classmates, he was always so sweet to them.
Every once in a while we would get an update on him after he left TA. He was in Shor Yoshuv, he got married, had children, he put out one song, then two. The hanhalah who took him under the “TA family wing,” including Rabbi Kahana, Rabbi Herskowitz, and Rabbi Fuchs, took immense joy in his every milestone and accomplishment.
Always humble, always wanting to learn, an inspiration to all of us. It is a brachah to have been a small part of his life.
With much admiration,
Mrs. Sarah Stern,
A Systemic Problem [The Lonely Wait / Issue 946]
I would like to respond to Naomi Rosenbach’s piece regarding the shidduch crisis.
For many years I harbored (and sometimes voiced) my concern about the way our community approaches shidduchim. As a baalas teshuvah, I never understood the superficial weight some people place on certain things when looking for their life partner. It always disappointed me. “That’s just the way it is,” I was told many times over, and “there’s nothing to do about it.” I am thrilled that the problem is finally being confronted.
Two things Naomi Rosenbach said in her article specifically resonated with me. The first is her point that prospective partners view each other “as a series of unrealistic boxes to be checked off rather than as unique individuals.”
The second is her point that “a man presented with endless lists of women ends up viewing shidduchim as a contest in which he is the judge.” I unfortunately see this happening with a close relative of mine who is otherwise a wonderful person. He looks at resumes with an eye that objectifies prospective wives. He dismisses potentially good partners because their already superficial resumes (which don’t say anything about who they really are) don’t fit his even more superficial requirements.
What’s happening is a “systemic problem” that has to be attacked at the institutional level where values sprout and grow. At the age of 22, our bochurim unfortunately don’t have a proper understanding of what marriage is or what it means to find the right spouse. Many seminaries try to inculcate the right knowledge and values to our daughters, but our sons don’t receive this very important piece of Jewish education.
How to choose a spouse and how to build a happy marriage is, in these challenging times, something that has to be learned. I would suggest that before a bochur embarks on shidduchim, he be required to complete a course on marriage (from a Torah and psychological perspective) that imparts the proper mindset and values for choosing a spouse. He needs to hear certain things from the rebbeim he respects most, and parents and shadchanim need to reinforce these values. This should become a standard part of his (and her) Torah education.
Expand Our Infrastructure [The Lonely Wait / Issue 946]
Regarding the disparity between the number of girls who want to marry learning boys and the number of available said boys (a.k.a. it’s easier to be a “good girl” than a “good boy”), it’s not enough for girls to hear that it’s okay to marry a guy who is working. We have to give the message to our boys early on that it’s okay to be a guy who isn’t learning full-time but is living his life as a ehrlicher Yid, davening with minyanim and having a seder kavua.
Boys who are driven to produce outside a yeshivah environment (whether they struggle with learning or not) need to know there are options for them that won’t negate their status as a ben Torah or jeopardize their chances for shidduchim.
Expanding our infrastructure to support our boys in their chosen path (before they develop unhealthy coping mechanisms and diminished self-worth) will ensure they are healthy, motivated, and hashkafically sound. These will be the quality working bnei Torah that we can in good conscience encourage our “great” girls to marry.
The True Goal [The Lonely Wait / Issue 946]
Thank you, Mishpacha, for bringing up the discussion about shidduchim and sharing all of the responses. I found Naomi Rosenbach’s piece to be very interesting! Both her research and her approach are very refreshing.
The shidduch push has caused an imbalance. Young people are made to feel that if they can just get married, they have made it. Marriage is almost the goal in itself, rather than thinking of the life one builds after marriage starts.
The true goal is not to change your status to a married person. It is to build a healthy, whole bayis ne’eman b’Yisrael. It’s healthy and beautiful to want to get married and start a home, but do we make the yearning more painful by giving our kids the feeling that if they aren’t married they haven’t made it and don’t have the same place in society? When someone gets married they aren’t instantly wiser or a more important member of society.
The decision of who to marry will affect someone for a lifetime. Naomi Rosenbach speaks about her research with those on the other end that have made fear-based decisions and are dealing with the fallout. Why do we give the message to our kids that it’s a crisis? Why not do hishtadlus toward getting married, while encouraging our children to enjoy the stage of life they are in, continue growing as individuals, and reminding them (and ourselves!) that Hashem has a plan.
Three Participants [The Lonely Wait / Issue 945]
As parents of a daughter in shidduchim, we read the article on the shidduch crisis with great interest.
We believe part of the cause revolves around three different participants in the shidduch process, and with some changes to each of these, the crisis could be minimized.
Shadchanim: have to recognize the enormous responsibility that they have undertaken. It is not just a means of parnassah for them and not just a service to Klal Yisrael. They probably do not realize how much influence they have on people’s lives.
Whenever our caller ID shows an incoming call from a shadchan, our heart skips a beat, and we pick up the phone with a combination of great anticipation and trepidation. Our hearts palpitate as we think: “uh oh, we better make sure we sound good and say the proper things so they don’t think badly of us or our daughter.” When we send an email response, we agonize over it, trying to ensure we have the proper and appropriate politeness, tone, and phraseology.
From our limited experience, we feel that some shadchanim are more likely to focus on the easy shidduchim because it is the low-hanging fruit: less work and easier to succeed. It is not that hard to fix up the “top” boy with the “top” girl when both are from seemingly “perfect” families. When that is not the case, you seem to fall by the wayside.
A widowed friend of ours from an out-of-town city was accidentally sent an email from a shadchan about her son that said: “Out of town. No father.” This was not an exhortation to fix up an orphan — it was saying “stay away from him,” and brought pain to that almanah.
Every one of us: needs to be a shadchan. Everybody has a nephew/niece, cousin, friend’s child, neighbor, coworker, etc…. who is looking for a shidduch. Each of us has a responsibility to always be keeping an eye open so that we can make suggestions. Even if the shidduch does not work out, it would achieve two significant accomplishments: a) there would be more dating activity, which would keep up the spirits of those looking for a shidduch, and b) it would broaden the single’s network as the person with whom they were set up might then be able to suggest one of their friends.
The system: All of us know happily married couples who met via a “non-shidduch situation” with the realization that under a shidduch system neither side would have agreed to go out with each other.
There needs to be a mechanism (with appropriate tzniyus and supervision)allowing singles to meet each other in an informal way and not just via a formal shidduch. This could be a form of speed-dating, or as others have suggested, a venue such as chasunah halls where the kallah’s friends can meet the chassan’s friends, or any other properly chaperoned situation where there is a chance to meet in a more casual setting.
If more shadchanim would expend equal focus on all who come to them; each of us makes a concerted effort to suggest shidduchim; and there are more informal, non-shidduch opportunities to meet; the “crisis” might not be eliminated — but it would certainly be mitigated.
May all who are looking for their shidduch find their appropriate zivug b’karov.
Fun and Inclusive Group [Praying for Each Other / Issue 945]
The Ohel Sarala Shabbaton was incredible; spending time with others who are in the same position helped us feel less isolated and alone. Since the Shabbaton, we created a singles group where we meet on a regular basis for single females to socialize called The United Singles.
The United Singles is a fun and inclusive group for female singles ages 24 and up located in Brooklyn who want to meet up, hang out, and make new friends.
Our mission is to create an open space where members can feel comfortable socializing, laughing, and building meaningful relationships with one another. Whether you’re new to the area or just looking for some fresh faces, come join us for our events, activities, and more!
Just send us an email at email@example.com, and get ready for an awesome experience.
Inspired to Action [Praying for Each Other / Issue 945]
I was really inspired by the article about the Ohel Sarala Shabbaton. I’m a regular mother with a few kids who has multiple friends hitting 30 and not yet married. I’m being mekabel on myself to redt a shidduch each month for the next 12 months. Please join me in this mitzvah by doing the same.
Please email firstname.lastname@example.org confirming you will be taking on this kabbalah. May it be a zechus for you and your family, and may this crisis end with the coming of Mashiach.
A friend who cares
A Tip for Nechama Kichel [The Kichels / Issue 944]
Dear Nechama Kichel,
I noticed you were desperately racing the clock when Shabbos was starting before 4:30 p.m. I was also wondering why none of your family members were helping out. But the tense expression on your face answered my question. Your husband and kids have probably learned to lie low and stay out of the way when you’re in that sort of mood!
Ordinarily, it’s difficult to get someone to change their attitude, but, since you happen to be a cartoon character, all it took was a little bit of ink (I used ballpoint pen), to transform your stressed expression into a smile! Now that you look happy and relaxed, I’m sure your family will wander in while you’re working and you’ll be able to delegate some of the Erev Shabbos jobs.
You’re probably old enough to remember the song about asking for favors nicely:
“Could you... would you... do you mind...? Excuse me... pardon… would you be so kind?” And the cheerful responses of, “Sure!... I’d love to!... The pleasure is all mine!” (from Suki and Ding’s “Oh, No! It’s Lashon Harah Again!”)
A mother who makes pleasant requests will not be avoided like a mother who demands cooperation and barks orders. Just make sure to keep a chair nearby so you can sit down quickly before you faint when you hear the six magic words: What Can I Do To Help.
I hope this tip will make your Shabbos preparations easier, especially on short Fridays.
Rebbetzin Raizy Ruggela
Not Even Close [Standing Ovation / Issue 943]
I am writing to you regarding David Nachum Golding’s column. Firstly, I would like to thank him for the wonderful column, a great break from reading about all the problems in the chareidi or heimishe world.
But on second note, I would strongly disagree with him regarding “Hamalach” being the best song ever composed. I mean, “Keili Atah” from the Alter Rebbe of Chabad? Can you get better? Even in recent times, “Machnisei Rachamim,” or “Avinu Av Harachaman” — both from Chaim Banet, the second sung at almost every Chumash seudah worldwide in every circle of Yiddishkeit (yes, even by Sephardim), and watching the tears flow down every adult’s face as the precious yingelach sing that song? “Aderaba” from Yossi Green?
These are songs that became mainstays of Yiddishkeit as the tunes express the deep meaning of the words. “Hamalach” is a great song, and I’m a longtime fan of Abie, but it’s not close.
But either way, keep up the great column.
A follower from Lakewood, NJ
Prominent Member [Torchbearer Special Supplement / Issue 941]
Once again kudos to your very talented writers, Dovi Safier and Yehuda Geberer, for their brilliant writing on the gaon Rav Aharon Kotler, published in the Special “Torchbearer” supplement.
On page 46 of the article, there is a photo of my father, Rav Meir Cohen, the menahel of the Agudath Harabonim, at a gala celebration of Rav Eliezer Silver’s birthday, but “For the Record” there was an error in the caption. The person seated between Rav Yaakov Ruderman and Rav Simcha Elberg was my father, not Rav Shimon Morduchowitz. And the person seated between Rav Avrohom Joffen and Rav Pinchos Teitz was not my father, but Rav Zalman Reichman.
In another great essay by Dovi Safier on “The Life and Legacy of the Meitscheter Illui, Rav Shlomo Polachek,” (Mishpacha, Issue 931), the author mentions a number of talmidim of the Meitscheter. Again, “For the Record,” my father, Rav Meir Cohen, was a prominent member of this early group of talmidim, 100 years ago.
My father arrived in America circa 1923, after having succeeded his father, Rav Shmuel Hakohen Burshtyn, mechaber of the widely used seforim on halachah — Minchas Shabbos and Maadanei Shmuel — as the rav of Shatava, Ukraine. Because my father had already received several semichahs in Europe prior to joining the Meitscheter’s chaburah, he also served as a mentor to talmidim of the Meitscheter in Yoreh Deiah.
Rabbi Chaim Cohen,
(Originally featured in Mishpacha, Issue 948)
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