Here is where I reveal myself to be a narrow-minded misnaged. I expose myself because I have a feeling that there are many more like me out there, and I’m trying to help the naive newcomers who don’t seem to have a feel for the topography.
To: All BTs who want to date smart and interesting centrist Orthodox women but who include a photo of themselves wearing a bekesher with their profile
Subject: How you are narrowing your dating pool
A conversation I had not so long ago while perusing a fellow’s profile:
Me: He looks really interesting—look, he’s been to Cambodia with the Peace Corps after he became religious. But what’s up with the bekesher in the photo? Think it’s Purim?
Father: No, it looks like a wedding. And you see he mentions Chabad further down.
Me: Yeah—he became religious through them and he likes their ideas. But what’s that got to do with the wrap-around tapestry?
Father: It seems he’s got chassidish leanings. Maybe he’s not for you.
A conversation I had not so long ago with a friend:
Me: So why don’t you want to go out with him?
Her: Well, he’s gone a little weird. He started wearing a bekesher. Tsupwithat?
Another conversation with another friend:
Her: You’d like him. He’s really into lots of stuff. Plays seven instruments. Invented a new golf shot. But… he wears a bekesher. I don’t know why. He’s totally normal otherwise.
Look, I get it. You became frum in college through the campus Chabad, and you have a soft spot for the sect. (We all do. They’re the indispensable if adorably odd sibling.) But do you sit on your hat before you wear it? Do you grow a bushy beard? Do you walk around with your shirt untucked? No. So why the 16th-century Polish costume?
A bekesher doesn’t just represent chassidus, an ultra-orthodox sect. It represents the irrational part of chassidus—the part where they can’t tell the difference between an anachronism and a custom. Or, it sometimes seems, between an anachronism and a Torah commandment.
It makes the average over-educated woman uneasy. She begins to wonder about your BT motivations. She wonders at your opaque rational processes. She wonders if you’ve finished your BTing, or if you’re still travelling across sects, and might wake up in Satmer one day. Or maybe Bat Ayin. Or someplace else she’d rather (in her admittedly narrow-minded way) not be.
So, if you’re trying to weed us out, you’re doing a great job. Just keep posting those bekesher pics.
But if you want to broaden your dating circles, and you can’t figure out why otherwise intelligent and charming women are making the unintelligent choice of not dating you, take this suggestion: shock her with the bekesher on your Shabbos sheva brachos.