To the Shadchan:
Thank you for your very helpful columns about shidduchim. You are the epitome of sechel. Now that our oldest son is starting in shidduchim, we are flabbergasted at all the new “rules.” It seems like a different world today than when we went out. If you step out of the box, everybody looks at you, saying you are not yeshivishe enough, not this-or-that enough, etc. For example, calling the girl before the first date is now taboo. It doesn’t make sense that the shadchan has to be the one to set it up; we feel if you are old enough and mature enough to get married, you should certainly be able to make a short phone call. We didn’t like it but ended up going along with the crowd.
Our son goes to yeshiva out of town and is able to rent a car for a modest amount for his dates. Recently, he was home and going out from Baltimore. He didn’t want to use the family minivan, even though it is a late model and very clean. We looked into renting a car, but the cost was around $250 for the weekend, prohibitive for us. Our son is not spoiled at all, but he felt it would be “embarrassing” to pick her up in the family van. We went back and forth about this for a while, even asking his rebbe and the shadchan what they thought. Both said that neither the girl nor her parents would mind at all going out in the family van. In the end, my son was able to borrow his friend’s car, so all was well for the moment.
Another thing: I hear from my friends that when their daughter’s date is over, the boy drops her off in front of her house. Is this a new “thing,” or do the boys simply not know better? We have advised our son to park the car, get out, and walk her to the door, and he is happy to do that.
Here are a few more questions: At what number date is it appropriate to go out to eat (meaning being seen in public), even if you are not about to get engaged? At what date do you drop the shadchan as go-between for calling directly to ask the girl out? Is it the shadchan’s job to push either party to try again or, if one side says no, to just let it go?
We don’t go for resumes and all the other shtick, but unfortunately we seem to be one of the only ones who feel this way (besides Mrs. Katz). We would appreciate your opinion on some of these questions of etiquette in this new world of dating mishugas.
We thank you in advance for your input.
Searching for Sechel in Shidduchim
The Shadchan Answers:
When I first read your letter, I thought, who is “mimicking” my column? It is a breath of fresh air to know that someone else is not afraid to come out and say what is on her mind. Most people want to stay “within the box” and are afraid to voice their opinion. Kol hakavod to you.
I agree with you 100 percent that the shadchan should not “set up the date.” Where did this come from? Never in our day – nor until about five years ago – did this happen. What is wrong with the boy calling the girl to set up the date? It is a good way to “break the ice” with the girl. In my opinion, shadchanim should stop arranging the dates, and we should revert to the old days in this respect. As we both agree, if you are old enough to get married, you are old enough to call the girl. With all the “meshugas” in the shidduch world, parents should get on board and advise their sons and shadchanim to stop this narishkeit (foolishness) and get with the program.
You ask when the shadchan should be “dropped.” I have told the couples I fix up that they can call me until the third date. If it goes beyond the third date, I feel they can handle it themselves. There is no reason for the shadchan to have to walk the couple step-by-step all the way to the proposal. Eventually, they will have to be able to make their own decisions. Let them start with this decision. Nothing is accomplished by “spoon feeding” them every step of the way.
As I mentioned in my last article, shadchanim are there to listen and be a sounding board, but they should encourage the couple to figure things out for themselves and come to their own conclusions. Only if there are issues, problems, or a decision by one of the parties to drop the shidduch would it be a good idea to call their shadchan for discussion and expertise. The only time I “push” is when I see a possibility of it going further. If it seems obvious it is not going anyplace, I let it go. Shadchanim, please take heed. Things will turn out much better in the end!
As for the car rental dilemma, it is ridiculous! I do not know where you dated, but in New York, in our day, whoever heard of a boy renting a car? We went by subway, believe it or not, and guess what? It cost very little money! There is no reason why your son should not use the family car. If this goes against the girl’s mindset, then that girl is not for your son. There is no reason for him to spend $250 (of his parents’ money) for a rental, when he has a car at his disposal. To borrow a car is not advisable either. What happens, chas veshalom, if he gets into an accident with his friend’s car? You will then be out more than $250. I would not let him take that chance. Explain all this to your son and stand on your principles; do not give in. If your son has no other choice, he will have to accept your decision.
I would not suggest taking a girl out to eat until after the third date. A second date is really not advisable. Eating out and meeting an acquaintance is like telling the acquaintance “we are a couple,” when you may end up not even going on a third date. I have heard of some couples eating out in a different community on earlier dates so that they are not likely to bump into anyone they know and can have some privacy. But it is a waste of money at that point. If you are dating in New York there are plenty of places to go without spending money on restaurants. The same is true of Baltimore, since you can always go in to Washington or other places of interest.
Of course, the boy should walk the girl to the door and do exactly what you said and what your son did. What kind of business is this? Are the boys “first class” citizens but the girls are not? Besides, in this day and age, when there is so much trouble in the outside world, you never know who might be lurking in bushes, etc., waiting just for such an opportunity. There is nothing wrong with the boy getting out of the car and walking her to the door, even if he does not want to continue the relationship. It is a sign of menschlichkeit and caring for people, and a girl would consider this a midda tova. Boys should certainly learn the correct etiquette before going out on a date. And if their parents won't teach them, they have no other place to learn, unfortunately, since their friends most probably do the same thing.
We speak a lot about a “shidduch crisis.” We, ourselves, initiate the crisis! Years ago, there were no resumes, no pictures, and no rigid “rules.” When our grandparents met in the shtetl or came to America in the early 1900s, they didn’t have resumes either and somehow managed to get married and have wonderful, fulfilling lives.
I do not know how these things got started, but they are not getting the job done anyway. As I have heard from people who divorced and from their parents, many of the resume references they spoke to did not divulge the whole truth. Sometimes major problems were kept in the dark and were found out only after the couple married.
When everything is said and done, as I have stated so often, we are only shluchim (messengers). Hashem makes the shidduchim. It may be that Hashem is sending us a message: “Let Me do it. Just do your hishtadlus (efforts) and get out of the way”!
I hope you will be zocheh to walk your son to the chupa very soon, iy”H, and then all the silliness will fall to the wayside. Thank you for your beautiful letter and support, and may we continue to enjoy nachas and brachos from our families.