Recently I was at a neighbor’s house and found an Artscroll (or Feldheim, what’s the difference?) volume entitled something startling like “The ultimate guide to shidduchim” lying on their coffee table.
“Oh that’s an amazing book!” glowed the neighbor’s just post-seminary daughter.
“Oh yeah?” I asked. “So why are you single?”
She gave a theatrical sigh. “I guess Hashem hasn’t sent me my bashert yet.”
I skimmed the book. I don’t really remember it much except that it was tediously serious. It really was a 400-page guide to dating. And that it advised you to make a list.
I have never in all my dating career (okay, it’s not the longest) had a list. The idea of being able to check a guy off against a list of traits to decide whether or not to go out with him again is laughable. It’s just never come down to that. And also, should it really be that academic? “Hm, he checks off 9 out of 10, I guess I’ll take him. Too bad his pert little nose drives me batty. I should have listed ‘Roman nose’ as item 11.”
But this book suggested making an entire exercise of it. Here’s the basic outline (as I remember it):
You make up your list. Presumably there are twenty or so items on this list. (The mind boggles.)
Then you start crossing off items one at a time until you only have a handful. This forces you to prioritize and realize what is truly important to you.
This brought back a flood of fond memories. Specifically of a high school shabbaton game. You were dealt a hand of cards with things ranging from “good health” t0 “being happy with what you have.” In each round you had to give away one card. The idea was to make you think about your priorities.
It probably did. Mostly what I remember was sitting there trying to decide if I’d rather live long, be healthy, or be happy. On the one hand, I didn’t want to be a healthy old grump. But neither did I want to be a very happy terminally ill gomer…
But, back to dating: I don’t think I have more than five items on any list I could make up, anyway. Not that smallness in numbers makes them any less hefty. Requiring someone to “be a mentch” or be religiously and generally compatible with oneself is really quite demanding, when you think about it. If you want to eliminate most of the world there’s no need to start adding specifications about his nose.
And the funny thing is that some people have told me that my problem is that I have so few items. After all, there are a gazillion mentchen out there, can I please narrow it down by preferred tie color or something? If I don’t have a clear idea of who I want to marry, how will I recognize him when I meet him?
An excellent question. I’ll let you know the answer when I find out.