Unlike most yeshiva bochurim these days, I own my own car. It is a 1997 Mazda Protégé in perfect running condition. I recently went out with a girl. The next day I had found out that she had “no’d” me. She told the shadchan that I was really nice, and that she had a fun time, but she “just couldn’t sit in that car. It was too old.”
I later realized that most bochurim, especially in that city, either rent cars for dates, or are always driving a lease (nice, new(er) cars), which is usually paid by their parents.
Should I be spending (wasting) my money to rent a car for a date instead of taking my Mazda? Or can I feif un and use my car, which is just fine?
Leaving aside the assumptions you are making about how common it is for bachurim to have their own cars, and how exactly it is that other bachurim find themselves in later-model vehicles, you do present an interesting question, YZ.
Not too long ago, a local rav shared with me a very similar story, albeit from the opposite point-of-view. One of his mispallelim had an available minivan for his son to use on dates, but his son emphatically refused to use it. He told his father that using an old minivan was unacceptable and that he would look like a nebach pulling up to a date in it. The bachur’s father thought it completely unnecessary to add rental car costs to his already growing list of shidduch expenses when he had a perfectly functional and available car for his son to use, so he asked his rav what to do.
After consulting with his rebbetzin, who is also a shadchan, the rav responded that renting newer cars when the family car is outdated is, in fact, the norm in many circles. Despite the rav’s feeling hard-pressed to consider this within the guidelines of yiddeshe daois, he told the father of this bachur that it’s not worth standing on principle in this regard, if it means that his son won’t be matzliach in dating. In some circles, not arriving in a later-model, cooler car, is going to have an adverse affect when dating, in others circles, it won’t – as you even alluded to in your question. That is a hashara which one must be able to make on a case by case basis.
What is the point of the story you may ask? The point is, that no matter how silly it may sound, the concept of using later-model cars for dating is one that has become reified. It makes a roishem and has real consequences in certain milieus.
Returning now to your question, generally, feifing-un just for the sake of feifing-un is inadvisable. If you really feel that having to rent a car for a date when you have your very own car is a complete waste, and b’sheita you want to use your car, that is one thing. But bucking the system just for the sake of bucking the system is not usually going to garner positive results. As such, I would certainly not recommend the feifing-un mentality.
However, as far as whether you should continue using your old Mazda or instead procure a newer ride for your dating needs, the answer is, it depends. And to a large degree, it’s up to you.
As in many other areas of shidduchim – and, indeed, as in many other areas of today’s frum-Jewish world overall, one needs to use a fair amount of sechel when deciding in which cases uniformity and conformity is the more appropriate route, despite one’s personal feelings of resistance. There are times when following conventionality is the right thing to do, and there are other times when one may confidently march to the beat of their own drummer without detriment – presuming, of course, that they are doing so for a sensible reason. It’s not always an easy line to draw, and it requires significant and honest reflection.
Before each new date, based on what you know about the circumstance, you need to assess whether it is possible that the young woman will be turned-off to you due to your car, or not. You then need to assess, if there is a chance that it will lead to a one-and-done situation, how important is it to you to continue dating this young woman. To put it coldly, what is the cost-benefit analysis, as it were.
Would you go so far as to say that any young woman to whom your old car would be a deal breaker is not someone you want to be married to, and that she must share this value with you for you to have a successful marriage together? Or could you perceive yourself marrying a young woman, even though she personally might be uneasy going on a date in your older car and find it bothersome?
If you feel so strongly about this that you are inclined to say the former, perhaps you should stick with your car. Perhaps. But if you are more inclined to say the latter, that is a much different situation. If that’s the case, it would be better for you to back off from your aversion to renting a car for a date. It’s a value and judgment call that you must make for yourself, and one that must be made with appreciation and acceptance of what the new norms of our day and age may ask of us.
To add one final and vital point, dating is not an entirely pragmatic exercise. Part of dating includes courtship; showing the young woman that you care about her, and that you want to go above and beyond what your own preferences may be, in order to make her happy and feel valued and sought after. Even if you feel so staunchly about using your older car, and that renting another would be wasteful, it is essential to consider that showing up for a date in a nicer car, in a sense, shows that you care to make the young woman feel as comfortable and valued as possible.
This is not to say that every young woman would be bothered or feel undervalued if she is brought on a date in an older car, but almost all young women would certainly appreciate being picked up in a nicer and newer car, even knowing that it’s only a rental. And even if you decide to shelve the car for dating, once you get married, it is quite possible that both you and your wife will be happy to have and use a car that is paid-off and in good condition, regardless of its age or looks.
Hatzlacha rabba with your decision, and with all your shidduch endeavors.