Since I am an out-of-town girl in shidduchim, the following question has come up several times.
I usually make the effort to go in to the Tri-State area for the first two dates, as I know it is difficult for the boy to travel, miss yeshiva, etc. The means of transportation are either taking a bus or flying. Both options do not bring me straight to Lakewood, where most of the male dating population is located. Very often, it is much more convenient if the boy either picks me up or drops me off at the airport or where the bus arrives and leaves from.
For example, if I’m in Lakewood for a Shabbos and plan on taking the Sunday night bus back from Monsey, I would need the boy to bring me to Monsey after the date and go to a hotel that is on the way.
I was told by more than one person that requesting something like that prior to the date (through the shadchan, of course) is not mentchlech, as the boy isn’t the girls “taxi driver.” I am wondering what the panelists feel about this.
To put it bluntly, that such sentiments would be voiced to a single woman brings me deep despondency and disappointment, and represents what I believe to be a severe perversion of our yiddeshe values. As such, in order to prevent the essential message from becoming obscured in an elaborate explication, I will endeavor to make the following as plain as possible.
Chazal tell us in no uncertain terms that “darco shel eish lachzor al eisha, v’ein darcah shel eisha lachzor al eish” (Kiddushin, 2b). That our Chazal took such pains to not only state what should be done, but that they then repeated the phrase in the inverse to emphasize that which should not be done, quite clearly underscores who should be shouldering the burden of traveling with respect to hishtadlus in shidduchim (hint – it is the man). More simply summarized, not only is it the proper, nay, natural order of things, for the man to seek out his wife, it is, in actuality, unnatural for the woman to seek out her husband. Our divrei Chazal make this exceedingly unambiguous.
With that in mind, we must understand and appreciate that the newly crafted cultural mechanisms which have led myriad single women to travel for dates with ever greater frequency is both despite, and flies in the face of, that which our revered Sages envisioned, rather than being even remotely in concert with the Chochmas HaTorah. And while there is neither time nor space in this particular forum to expound on the causation of the societal shift that has resulted in the turning of an ancient paradigm on its head, we should at least be cognizant of the reality that what we now have come to expect in no way mirrors that which the Torah itself expects.
Consequently, when a single woman agrees to make a noteworthy and momentous compromise, and steps onto a plane, train, or automobile for the sake of going out on a date, it is rarely, if ever, out of a sincere desire to embark on such a journey. On the contrary, it is but an inescapable outcome of her recognizing that in our generation such is often necessary to maximize one’s opportunities in shidduchim.
Accordingly, if a woman has encumbered herself with a lengthy and/or expensive voyage in order to secure a date – when it really ought to be her counterpart who assumes this expedition – the absolute least a single man can do is pick her up and drop her off at her place of arrival and departure. And if the excursion will be of a somewhat prolonged duration, and may thus be perceived as awkward or indecorous, a man can just as well opt to arrange and compensate for said passage. The point being, whatever method is selected to practically fulfill the appeal, it is the man’s responsibility to ensure that it is carried out comfortably and efficiently.
In short, I would strongly and unequivocally assert that the analogy of the “taxi-driver” is highly unsuitable and distasteful in this scenario, and that for a woman to tender the request at hand is perfectly mentchlech, in my book. In fact, for anyone to pressure her otherwise – that, as far as I can tell, is where any modicum of an absence or lack of mentchlechkeit lies.
May the Chasid B’chol Maasav infuse the panorama of shidduchim with a profound degree of its presently diminished derech eretz and dignity.