Some of your panelists have, in the past, mentioned that we have a dating crisis. They have pointed out that it is so hard to just get people to go out on a date.
I have been thinking of a new proposal that I believe could really change the dynamics of our shidduch system. The idea is that, after a shidduch is redd, a boy and a girl should automatically go out on one date after two things are investigated: middos and hashkafah. Once those two requirements check out, the boy and the girl should be sent out on one date. Following that one date, all the regular shidduch research may be done, no different than it is done now.
This would address the major problem, which is that shadchanim are finding it more difficult than ever to just get singles to go out. By getting the ball rolling earlier, it will make the subsequent research much more real and relevant. People will take it more seriously, and having gone out already, the shidduch will have a much better chance of progressing, especially if the boy and girl hit it off or even if that preliminary date only went “okay.”
Under the current system, because of some unreasonable excuse or idiosyncrasy, singles are not going out in the first place. We need a change in our approach. This, in my opinion, is one way to change it. What do the panelists think?
While I feel you do make a poignant and valid point, even within your suggested model, it takes more than only middos and hashkafah for a shidduch being redd to require a couple to “automatically” go on a date. At a minimum, the idea must make some general sense on a larger scale and there must not be any glaring red flags. Furthermore, for a couple to become emotionally connected, only to then find out that something justifiably objectionable stood in their way, requiring them to break up, is not a situation we ever want to make any more likely than necessary.
The real issue here, I think, is the nature and extent of shidduch investigating. Therefore, whether it takes place before a first date or after, for it to remain being so exhaustive will continue to hold back shidduchim from taking place that really aught to.
On the one hand, I do believe that middos tovos and similar hashkafah are the truly important things, and not investigating much further could possibly effectuate meaningful change in the shidduch system and eliminate hours of wasted time, energy and emotion. I have personally heard numerous stories, first hand, from children of Roshei Yeshiva and other renowned gedoilim, whose parents told them explicitly that middos, hashkafah, and connection between the young man and woman are all that matter, and nothing else is l’ikuvah.
On the other hand, however, I feel that the current rate of broken engagements and divorce illustrates a reality which tells us that very often either the research is being done incorrectly or not enough is thought through or looked into in a shidduch. When that is the case, the negative effects are just as damaging as those that are holding singles back from dating as much as they should.
Maybe we are not on the madraigah to accept people so openly to the point that all that matters are middos tovos and basic hashkafic compatibly. Maybe the nature of the 21st century and the way we live our lives prohibits it and requires more specific compatibility points. Whatever the reason, large scale, I do not think we could all succeed in marriage with only those criteria as compatibility.
As with almost all things, the middah hamimutzah must be found. A safe place between the two extremes where families can responsibly look into a shidduch with sechel and common sense, but not go overboard to the extent that we often see, which, as you accurately pointed out, is hindering our young men and women from actually dating.
The problem, I truly believe, is simple to understand and identify. The solution, however, is much more difficult. For the simple reason that it asks the tzibur to do something which is difficult, and counter to most people’s nature.
To begin with, it is only natural for a parent to do everything in their power to protect their child. The same way we guide our children away from a hot stove or teach them not to talk to strangers or walk in a dark alley alone at night, we agonize over what could happen, chas v’shalom, if one’s child entered into a disastrous marriage.
So we make lists, choosing the things that we do want and the things that we don’t, and then we begin the task of investigating them. All with the noble goal of doing what we think is best for our children and protecting them from danger. Each item may be perfectly sensible and appropriate in its own right, but when the list of investigative points surmounts from a few to a dozen, and when each point goes from a general idea to a super specific demand, that is when things have suddenly gone too far. It is then that we find ourselves spending hours, days and weeks investigating a shidduch and turning it down when it misses on point 6b of our list.
Finally, as we live in the age of information, reaching someone across the world by phone or email is cheap, quick and easy. If we can find something out, why not make the call and ask? When we ostensibly can, in fact, dig as deep as we want, why wouldn’t we exhaust every measure to make sure that we are getting exactly what we desire? Wouldn’t that save us time and money in the long run, as we avoid entering into shidduchim that we know will not work?
The challenge is to accept that no matter what we do, we can never know everything and we can never predict what exactly will go smoothly in our lives and what will not. We can imagine what those things are, and we can do reasonable and sensible hishtadlus, u’shmartem meod es nafshoseichem, to protect ourselves and our children, but we cannot truly ensure our future or predict it, that is G-d’s territory.
If we could accept, as a Klal, to look only into those things which are truly important (which will of course vary from person to person), and to know that no human being is perfect, and therefore not focus on minutiae, we could effectuate the meaningful change which we so sorely need. May Hashem give us the strength to do so.