Yosef is taking Tova out on a fourth date. Yosef announces that he made reservations for dinner for the two of them. He does not give Tova a choice of a restaurant. What should Tova’s reaction be when she realizes that her family is not comfortable with the hechsher of this restaurant? Should she tell him nicely or pretend not to be hungry? Does she need to forgo her family’s outlook and eat there anyway in order not to lose the shidduch?
For the primary purposes of this response, I am going to work under the assumption that this establishment has a hechsher from a reputable Orthodox agency, and the only issue here is that Tova and her family keep to an even higher standard of kashrus, relying on only a select number of hechsherim. Or, perhaps, Yosef is from another city, had traveled in for the date, and was either misinformed or unknowingly made reservations at a restaurant with a hechsher considered unreliable by the frum community of Tova’s town.
If that were not the case, and it was clear that Yosef knew the restaurant was of sub-par kashrus, and still made the reservation without asking Tova, it would appear that the two individuals are not on the same page regarding a vital area of their yiddishkeit, and there are far greater issues facing this shidduch that are in need of attention.
In either case, pretending not to be hungry, and refraining from eating so much as a salad, while Yosef enjoys his repast, is likely to come off poorly. And as far as forgoing her standards for the date, one should never have to abrogate their level of kashrus for a shidduch date, or for any other reason, for that matter.
Returning, then, to the supposition that Yosef’s degree of adherence to kashrus standards are not dubious, and this was simply a misunderstanding, a straightforward and polite conversation is what seems to be called for. Not only can this address the mishap, it should provide the added benefit of assessing how successfully and understandingly Yosef and Tova can communicate, and work through challenges together – which are of the foremost and central components required for a happy and healthy marriage.
If Tova can ask Yosef to wait a moment before entering the restaurant, and respectfully state, with composure and confidence, that while she has no concerns with Yosef’s kashrus, she is, however, personally uncomfortable with the hechsher of this particular eatery and would like to change venues for the date, she will have done her part to begin a productive and constructive dialogue.
Furthermore, conveying that she understands most people do rely on the hechsher in question, or that Yosef didn’t realize that kashrus was an issue with this restaurant, should preserve Yosef’s dignity, prevent him from going on the defensive, and allow Tova to uphold her kashrus needs, all while effectively furthering the conversation.
Correspondingly, if Yosef can respond equably, and agree to go elsewhere, in appreciation of, and deference to, Tova’s kashrus needs, he will have done his part to complete the dialogue and will have made a preponderant impression as a kind, considerate, and supportive young man.
At that point, this small misadventure will have transformed into a considerable step towards mutual respect and the establishment of meaningful lines of communication.
As with many such scenarios, the greater issue is not the scenario itself, but how it is handled, and how openly and honestly the individuals are able to communicate in order to resolve the problem.
May The Suhch Vayehi grant safeh berurah to Yosef, Tova, and all those in shidduchim, so that they may lucidly and courteously converse with one another at all times and under all circumstances.