My son, who boruch Hashem is an excellent boy, went out with a girl, who, on the first date, asked him if he davens with a minyan three times a day. My son, a superb and ehrliche ben Torah, has virtually not missed a minyan since his bar mitzvah. However, he was very turned off by the question, going so far as to say that he views it as “socially off” to have been asked. “Socially off” is not the type of thing he’d usually say, so I was taken aback. But he felt strongly about it.
I don’t know what the equivalent question would be for a boy to ask a girl, but my son remarked that he’d never ask a girl that type of question.
What are the feelings of the panelists about my son’s response?
That a young woman would articulate davening with a minyan as a vital quality for her future husband to possess is just about as stereotypical as a young man commenting that he is looking for a counterpart with good middos. For some women, there is deep and true meaning to this expectation; for others, it is more about superficialities and appearances; and for yet others, it is merely a regurgitation of that which has been espoused by others or authority figures as an imperative male attribute. Whatever the cause may be, davening with a minyan three times a day being incorporated into a single woman’s checklist is exceedingly common – so much so, in fact, that I would personally view it as nearly boilerplate.
That said, I can certainly appreciate how this particular question being explicitly and deliberately posed on a date could be received quite poorly. It is the kind of data point that ought to be ascertained during one’s research, prior to saying “yes” to the shidduch, as opposed to being laid out on the table face-to-face in conversation, whilst out on a date. Indeed, doing so might be seen as akin to asking a young woman to her face, “Do you believe yourself to be a baalas middos tovos?” And, in that sense, it might be fairly conceived as “socially off.” Moreover, for one who is already unconditionally devoted to this endeavor, the query itself might be taken offensively, if it is perceived as an assumption of non-compliance, or as shrouding his known dedication under a cloud of doubt.
Nonetheless, I would not go so far as to label this incident a complete and objective sign of social maladaptation, or an indicator of someone who is overly forward or unnecessarily blunt. It could have emanated out of nervousness. It might have been an innocent, albeit misguided, attempt at keeping the conversation going. Or, perhaps, an impulsive faux-pas was made, one that is relatively minor, resultant of this trait being deemed fundamental and critical by the inquirer. Consequently, presuming the rest of the date went well, and the match appears overall to have credible potential, if this occurrence remains the sole source of disquiet, I would not consider it grounds alone to terminate a shidduch. Rather, I would temporarily set this episode aside, continue dating, and make a final assessment only after it can be determined whether there are, indeed, significant personality-related deficits at-hand, or if this was simply an aberration that emerged from an otherwise perfectly well-adjusted young woman.
Parenthetically, and fully acknowledging the delicate nature of that which is to follow, I believe it endures as a matter worthy of note. As time passes, and life becomes multi-layered, despite one’s best intentions and profound eagerness, there may be instances or periods when one is precluded from davening thrice daily with a minyan. This happens both to the renowned among us, and the ordinary man, as well. However, each person has their own unique set of circumstances to navigate at any given moment, and when forces beyond one’s control overtake ownership of their time, it should not infer a lack of yearning, or an absence of value, ascribed to this lofty and essential mission.
May the Rocheiv Ba’aravos guide all those in shidduchim b’derech hatov v’hayashar.