As a shadchan who has been involved in shidduchim for many years I feel deep empathy for the wonderful people who are waiting so long to find their bashertes. I think that the time has come to rethink what have become the “norms” in dating. It’s true that we’re in 2020 and the world we live in is light years away from “der heim.” However, the Torah values of tznius and kedusha should be with us nevertheless.
The number of dates, the venues that are used, and the late-night hours that have somehow become normal over the years perhaps need to reevaluated through the lens of Torah. In addition to halachic issues, are we maybe lacking the siyata diShmaya from the ultimate Shadchan due to His distaste for the way in which we go about our dating system?
As with any critical component of life that has become culturally mechanized and put into production-line form, the shidduch system of today is certainly not without flaw and fault. Nonetheless, from what I have seen, undignified and indecorous are not descriptors I would employ when discussing the drawbacks of how we go about shidduchim. And as far as siyata diShmaya is concerned, I am afraid that such assessments are in no way within my rights to make, as conjecturing that a matter which one views as distasteful is seen in the same light by the Borei Olam is not within the realm of standard human capacity. Accordingly, I do not believe it to be within the scope of anyone other than gadol b’Yisroel to proclaim the potential existence of a lacking thereof, and I gather that it would take nothing less than a novi b’Yisroel to accurately ascribe the cause of such a lacking to any specific human activity.
That said, by my estimation, on the whole of it, our dating men and women treat one another with exceptional mutual respect; exert themselves impressively to certify the continued comfort of their counterparts; and take great pains to avoid even a hint of indiscretion. Indeed, keeping oneself within these boundaries often comes at significant personal cost with regards to structuring and scheduling dates, and our single men and woman admirably endeavor to shoulder that burden so that they may hopefully fulfill the expectation of remaining beyond reproach in their deeds as frumYiddin.
True, half a century ago, a ninth date at Dave & Buster’s, extending for four hours, and ending after midnight, would be out of the question for countless reasons. However, the nature of what must be ascertained before one can responsibly commit to marriage in our generation – in terms of establishing a relationship that is properly prepared for the demands of matrimony, building a home, raising children, and securing financial solvency as a team – is vastly different than ever before. Thus, provided that all which transpires on a date is concordant with halacha, and the hadracha of a rov when called for, I believe we need to appreciate that matters which might appear askance when compared to yesteryear are, in fact, not only appropriate, but essential, for the couples of our times.
Ashrecha Yisroel, mi chamocha am nosha baShem. Who can be compared to the holy Jewish people? A nation that regularly sacrifices of itself, and relies on the strength of their Creator to grant them their needs, in recompense for setting aside their will in the name of His.