Mar 26, 2009
What Infected Frum Dating?

OP-ED: Frum Jewish men, often spurred on by their imperial and see-no-imperfection mothers, are becoming increasingly shallow and vain. They may study Gemara and Chassidus but clearly the light of a G-dly life is not necessarily altering their world-views, writes Rabbi Shmuley Boteach.

By Rabbi Shmuley Boteach for COLlive.com

Not long ago I sat with ten young women, aged 19 to 24, to ask them about their dating experiences. The consensus was that the men who take them out seem interested mostly in their looks before everything else. The girls who are super-thin get asked out first. Being of good character is important but of secondary concern. And you would think that the mothers of these men, being women themselves, would push their sons to dig deeper and see a woman’s beauty as being something other than just her body. But no, they are accomplices in this shallowness. The girls explained that when the mother of a prospective date called one of them to get a reference on a friend with whom their son was about to go out, the first questions usually pertained not to the girls’ character but to her shape and size.

Perhaps most disheartening was hearing about the complete reversal in what once was the natural order of dating. It is no longer the men who pursue the women and ask them out. It is now the women who chase the men, making them appear desperate while the men get to appear dignified.

These conclusions may not surprise you. No doubt you are rolling your eyes even now and wondering why I even bothered to state the obvious. Until I disclose that the conversation was with ten very frum girls who were describing what the Chassidic dating scene has descended to.

We can no longer close our eyes to the serious dating crisis in the religious community wherein a man and woman’s most important decision may be based on values that are inimical to Judaism. King Solomon may have declared, ‘Beauty is misleading but a woman who fears G-d should be praised,’ but we clearly think that he was just kidding when he wrote it.

The purpose of a Torah education is the inner transformation of a human being away from the prevailing mores of the secular culture and toward the convictions of a G-d-centered life. And the only way to discern whether a Yeshiva education in general, and a Chassidic education in particular, is having any impact is whether its products make decisions that reflect the Torah values that are at the center of their education. But we now face a situation in which religious girls feel that putting more time into applying make-up and buying clothes than davening and learning will guarantee them a good shidduch. And that is a conclusion which can forever blight the integrity of Jewish orthodoxy.

Frum Jewish men, often spurred on by their imperial and see-no-imperfection mothers, are becoming increasingly shallow and vain. They may study Gemara and Chassidus for fifteen years but clearly the light of a G-dly life is not necessarily penetrating their souls or altering their world-views.

Every day I receive tens of emails from complete strangers in the religious community asking me if I can suggest a shidduch for them. But the increasing superficiality in the frum dating scene has me often feeling despair, like the story a year ago when I was going to introduce a young yeshiva scholar with a razor-sharp intellect to a brilliant frum intellectual woman who seemed perfect for him. The day before they were meant to go out he called me to tell me he was cancelling the date. He had seen her picture on Facebook and decided he was not attracted to her. I was shocked. First, even by the most objective standards the girl is highly attractive. Second, the bochur did not even feel any shame in telling me that with the glance of a single picture he had dismissed the entire idea. The great intellectual who had written to me of how the most important thing to him was a girl who had scholarly Torah pursuits turned out to be an empty suit and yet another religious charlatan.

And where are the Yeshiva educators throughout this crisis? Can we really be proud of having raised a generation of future Rabbis who see skin and shape in a woman but seem oblivious to personality, mind, and spirit? Yes, I know physical attraction is extremely important in a relationship. But beauty dare never be defined in so corrupt and limiting a fashion as to preclude anything other than body parts. The Torah’s view of a woman’s beauty is glorious because it is holistic. It incorporates the softness of her voice (kol isha), the nurturing of her soul, and the wisdom of her uniquely feminine view of life. So how can a religious man whose years of education revolves around seeing the hidden within the obvious, the G-d who lurks beneath the veneer of nature, be so utterly blind to a woman’s soul? How can we in the Jewish community who love learning suddenly look at a woman and see all cover and no book?

About three years ago a young girl died in a Jerusalem seminary from anorexia. I penned an article that lamented the tragic consequences of poor body image on the part of even frum girls and how the frum community must educate boys and girls to have a much more holistic, and uniquely Jewish, view about beauty and how attraction is a composite between the body’s form and the soul’s light. The head of the seminary later got in touch through an intermediary and demanded an apology. I hade made a Chillul Hashem by writing the article, he contended.

No, I said. The only Chillul Hashem was a girl walking around stick-thin and nobody noticing because we have become so accustomed to a girl’s looks being her primary virtue, even in the Jewish religious world, that there was no other voice to tell her that her real radiance came from her inner beauty which was lost to the world when her luminous soul was tragically snuffed out.

We can and must do better. The Yarmulkes we wear, the tzitzis which swings from our sides, the beards that adorn our faces, are all statements of a belief in a higher truth and more lofty values, values whose highest manifestation lies in qualities possessed by the soulmate with whom we choose to share our lives.

- Rabbi Shmuley Boteach is the international best-selling author of twenty books. He is the host of a weekly national TV show on TLC called 'Shalom in the Home' and is the founder of ‘This World: The Jewish Values Network.’ www.shmuley.com

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Opinions and Comments
1
He is 100% right
If I were a frum young lady right now, I would even consider waiting a few years to find someone who has some maturity, compassion, better developed middos, and time away from Mommy. Middos are more important (and harder to learn) than how much Gemara you can cram into your brain, and if you're doing it just for the sake of saying you're a "learning boy" and therefore "deserve" a skinny girl with a rich daddy, you may make your Momma happy, but HaShem is NOT!
(3/26/2009 3:40:56 AM)
2
why?
Why is he always writing about shidduchim? thats like 5th article in the last 2 years I've seen from him on this topic. Tell shmuly to get a life and write about more interesting topics. First of all I dont believe half of those stories. He makes them up for the article. I am a lubavitcher bochur and know many more bochrim than him and he is making this stuff up. Seems to me like he has some specific issue and is blaming the whole lubavich for it. Stop crying, while hiding it in these "very thought provoking articles". They are completely not true.
(3/26/2009 4:15:15 AM)
3
frist time i agree with boteach
Please, please, bochurim

Don’t let their high heel boots or extreme makeovers that some girls do, get hold of you.

It’s a trap. Plain and simple. All your life you will have to pay for your future wives addiction to the latest styles.

Will she be a caring and dedicated mother and wife that is what you have to ask deep down.
(3/26/2009 4:26:15 AM)
4
the solution
the problem, at least in Chabad since this is a Chabad site is in the Rabbonim mashpiim and big shots.

they have no clue on how to do their jobs right and they are afraid to open their mouths when the few who do know what to say don't say anything.

if there is anyone left in our communities who care they should demand more from the leaders - maybe just maybe this will encourage better direction and chinuch for the children
(3/26/2009 4:33:16 AM)
5
People take note
Hear Hear! Well written Rabbi Shmuely! Now what happens though? How can we change a persons view for the better. They might read this and think, he is right, and then go back to doing exactly what they used to do, as it is so ingrained in them.
(3/26/2009 4:33:31 AM)
6
no title
Hold on...did you never hear of a girl cancelling because the boy was on the heavier side??!! Dont tell me the boys are looking just for thin mates.
(3/26/2009 4:36:44 AM)
7
Chabad Divorcee
How true Shmuley, I agree.
BTW have you noticed whats going on in the second-time-round world?
I'de love to email you, could you publicize your email address?
(3/26/2009 4:54:31 AM)
8
great article
Hopefully this article will open up the guys eyes to the real world. Being that I myself am in the same boat as the other girls I myself have very similar stories to the ones mentioned. Some of them are actually so ridiculous its hard to believe that they are actually true. Trust me they are. Thank you Shmuly for your article. I think there needs to be more written on this topic so we can finally do something to change the current situation. If not things will just get worse. Thanks again for posting this!
(3/26/2009 4:56:26 AM)
9
pretty with personality
Pretty girls who have personality have it just as hard.
(3/26/2009 5:16:03 AM)
10
The Sad Truth is Spoken
Thank you for being so honest and telling people what they need to hear but don't want to.

P.S. To #9: Tell me about sister!
(3/26/2009 5:27:55 AM)
11
And so?
He's right, but as usual he just editorializes & doesn't come up with any concrete proposals. He just likes seeing his name in print. His bookcases must be full of Shmully albums.

Dump the colossal ego & come up with a plan if you're so smart. Personally, I'd rather hear from Manis Friedman on this issue. He someone with ethics & values, not someone who writes about personal behaviors to make a buck.
(3/26/2009 5:31:29 AM)
12
The frame of the sky (I love it)
The truth is behind the heart drawn on the sky but the firm staircase to it is the deep wisdom
(3/26/2009 5:34:02 AM)
13
I'd like to know...
1. Which frum people are asking, form all the shidduch experts out there, SHMULY BOTEACH from all people for his advice? That person needs to have his head examined.
2. To Shmuly: from the way your life has been so far (Michael Jackson, your books, etc.) it doesnt seem like you practice what you are preaching in this article - worldly pursuits seem to be all your after...
(3/26/2009 5:46:49 AM)
14
WallaWabba
I agree with And So?, Shmully makes some great points, but Shmully isn't who we should be getting this advice from.

How about some qualified Chabad leaders, we have some great talent out there now. I'd rather hear it from them then a wanna be hollywood dr phill
(3/26/2009 5:51:54 AM)
15
Ummm
Skinny? That is not pretty. In the real world guys don't want skinny girls who are sticks . It's only the mothers that want skinny pretty tall daughter in laws . Never mind that real skinny people are usually whiney and annoying . It's not their fault . They are hungry.
(3/26/2009 5:54:47 AM)
16
#7-What's going on?
Is it an improvement on the first time around?
(3/26/2009 5:57:31 AM)
17
Great article.
(3/26/2009 6:17:22 AM)
18
watching movies
if the bochrim would STOP watching movies, I promise you that they would stop fantasizing. They sit in their basements all thru the night watching. Maybe Rabbi Shmuly Boteach could address this problem, which I sincerely believe is the root to all evil, and convince the bochrim to STOP WATCHING MOVIES!!!!!!!!
(3/26/2009 7:22:26 AM)
19
dates
a generation ago, people were discreet, they did not discuss their dates with their friends. Today, the bochrim as well as the girls badmouth all the dates they went out with that didn't work, end of story: everybody badmouthing everybody
(3/26/2009 7:29:00 AM)
20
MOVIES
YES IT IS MOVIES AND BOOKS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! THATS CORRUPTING EVERYBODY'S MINDS- THE GIRLS TOO...
(3/26/2009 7:37:54 AM)
21
most people here (including shmuely) are very opiniated and critical BUT
what do you base it on? talking with 20 bochim out of 500? what kind of statistics is this?
ALL THE BOCHRIM I ENCOUNTER AND SUROUND MYSELF WITH ARE NOT AT ALL LIKE THIS!! THEY LOOK FOR FRUM GIRLS, NOT JUST CHASSIDISH (WHATEVER THAT MEANS) AND TOICHENDIGE GIRLS.
START USING RYOUR RIGHT EYE SHMUELY AND SOME OF YOU.
A BOCHUR IN THE SHIDUCH SCENE
(3/26/2009 7:54:00 AM)
22
Vise Versa...
Why do you think it is only men that turn down women b/c of looks etc. I think women are just as guilty.

Here is a story to illustrate:

Im male and 24 years of age, 5’5 and 185 pounds. One would say I was on the huskier side. A girl was mentioned for me that I was interested in pursuing.
The phone calls began back and forth, and after a few days it came back to me that I was to heavy for her small frame, they compared me to “Big Gedaliah Gumber.”
Anyways I asked the shaddchan to find out from the girls mother (she’s the one that said no) that if I hit the gym and loose a few pounds would she then allow me to date her
Daughter. it came back that she would indeed allow me to go out if I went down to a size 7 which after crunching the #s to find out what is a size 7, it came to about 149 ½ pounds…I had my work cut out.
I enrolled to my local gym and started to sweat away. 6 months in I was 3 pounds away from my goal. Coming home after that work out I went to check out col live and saw the girl that I was 3 pounds away from dating just got engaged! Needless to say I cancelled my gym membership and tried to chargeback my CC for not being satisfied with the results.

I guess what im saying is that it is a two way street. I’ve come to learn that when going out with girls and getting past that pivotal first couple dates that you don’t look at their size, crooked nose or
Big head. I think it is up to the single men and women to make the change and get out there and date. Of course it needs to make sense and look good on paper, after that it is our job to take it to the next level
And not allow you’re parents or friends get in the way of you’re happiness.

Hatzlocha to all.
(3/26/2009 8:04:12 AM)
23
Very sad and very true...
As a lubavitch girl I've realized this is true, and it's so sad,really. Look how much the world has got into us yidden! If Shmuly is or is not the person you want to take it from take it any way,and take to heart.Besides,bochurim, do you think its so easy for us girls to stay so thin? if we ate the way you did...I dont think you would want to know what we would look like =)
(3/26/2009 8:06:23 AM)
24
To 22 - Vice Versa
I must say that I was shocked to read your story.

I find it really terrible that you would go through such lengths to get someone to agree to go on a date with you.

Anyone that shallow, to expect you to lose weight like that is totally not worthy of even a second glance.

And what happens if you gain that weight back?
Would you C"V get divorced?
(3/26/2009 8:08:03 AM)
25
bochur
While i definetly agree that its a bit sick but thats the way the world was made, men have tavais nashim, and to be very blunt the taivah is for pretty nashim! so if the girl really cared about her future potential match she'd realize that this in inevitable a part of him and do what she has to do to be pretty. not caring how you look, depriving your potential match of good looks shows that you dont really care about him and thats shows a problem with your "inside" as well.
(3/26/2009 8:14:44 AM)
26
GET YOUR FACTS RIGHT
the girl did not die because she was anorexic
she had other health issues
makes for a good story, shame its untrue
(3/26/2009 8:26:07 AM)
27
Been there...
My daughter was one of the top girls in Lubavitch. I thought she would be sought after. No, some mothers were scared, she was brilliant, chassidish, accomplished and had a "clean record" and good name. Way fewer people were interested than I could have imagined. A few mothers did see her worth. Her now husband, who was a very serious chassidish bochor, told her that he and his friends would only consider a "thin" girl (he wasn't a toothpick himself!). BH, my exceptional daughter was cute and thin enough. It's a"buyer's market" for the boys and their ever picky mothers.
(3/26/2009 8:26:27 AM)
28
Shadchan
To Rabbi Shmuley Boteach: My following suggestion is very serious, I am not being sarcastic. It doesn't matter what people think of you, and it doesn't matter what you are busy doing at the moment. You are a brilliant person. I read every single one of your books that you wrote over the years. You have been bemoaning the SHIDDUCH SCENE for quite some time. How about if you get involved, get to know all the girls and the boys. You are good at getting into any company of people . Make farbrengens, speeches, whatever, and start making shidduchim. You will have alot of success.
(3/26/2009 9:51:58 AM)
29
G-d creates the Chemistry between a husband and wife

The only purpose of this article is to remind us to include Hashem in our search for our spouse.
Hashem creates the chemistry between future husbands and wifes.
Thank g-d we all know there is someone for us .
I read a very moving article about a handicapped woman finding her shidduch.She is now happily married.
Until Mochiach comes we all have our handicaps, some are visible some are not.
Let's be respectful and decent human being while we are in the process of finding our spouse.
Let's remember that the greatest matchmaker of all is the one that creates the chemistry.May Hashem help our leaders, teachers, rabbis, mothers and fathers in guiding our children through the shidduch process.May our children remember that hashem creates the chemistry.
(3/26/2009 9:55:31 AM)
30
Looking good.
A bochur should not be "talked into" marrying someone whom he is not attracted to, it can only cause problems down the road. If bochrim today are only attracted to thin girls, then so be it.

There are lots of girls out there that have tremendous potential, but unfortunately they don't know how to dress or apply makeup.

In case you haven't yet noticed, the women portrayed in movies are mostly average or even ugly. Using Photoshop, lighting effects, shadow effects and professional makeup can make ANYONE look good.

Perhaps girls should be taught how to dress...
(3/26/2009 9:59:55 AM)
31
to #30
this is exacly the problem
girls shouldnt be just thought how to dress... the bochurim should be thought not to look only at it!!! the should look more at thier personalitly, midos chassidishkeit etc....
(3/26/2009 10:34:01 AM)
32
To number 30
You sound so shallow, i'm embarrassed for you.

Incase you haven't noticed yet, the women portrayed in the movies are almost always tiny and pretty/attractive.

Yes, they do use photoshop and lighting and make-up to help the situation, but off-set too, these women all have their make-up artists, daily spa treatments, and personal trainers.
Only a man who is willing to provide all that for his wife, can expect her to look glamarous and pretty all the time.

Besides, is that the way were headed?

P.s. I can't say the streets of crown heights have the best lighting, maybe you should get the lights changed, and then everyone will look pretty. Seriously, if you really believe what you wrote, then we're living in a sad sad time.
(3/26/2009 10:43:20 AM)
33
Nothing to worry about.
I don’t understand what Shmuly is so worked up about, His daughters are good looking.
(3/26/2009 10:45:47 AM)
34
Its the Yechus
Hey Shmuly, the reason alot daughters are having a hard time is because of the father, not their looks. So stop giving Bocherim a bad name and check into your own actions. The girls cansel dates because of a picture/looks more often than the boys.
(3/26/2009 12:26:53 PM)
35
to 34
When your criticism is personal in nature it simply means that the person you are disagreeing with is a. correct and b. the shoe fits. Vida”l grow up.
(3/26/2009 1:04:58 PM)
36
rabbi shmuley tells the truth
AMAZING ARTICLE!!!! everything he says is true, its just that some people dont want to adress the issues and pretend they dont exist. The system must be fixed!!! We must practice as we preach
(3/26/2009 1:19:56 PM)
37
problems
when bochrim are "convinced" to merry someone that they don't find attractive, the wedding ends up in divorce. I have 2 friends that went through a divorce for this very reason. Its truth that Its a shame for the good girls that are not attractive but is better being not married than divorced...
(3/26/2009 2:12:09 PM)
38
Responce to # 25
I cant agree with you more!
While in concept its right that bochrim shouldn't care at all about looks and the only thing that really matters is whats in the inside etc. and I Could preach about it all day long...

BUT at the end of the day "I" want to marry someone pretty, and i think I'm a really awesome guy who can do really well and find a pretty wife with a pretty inside as well!!! I am not going to be the one to compromise!

This is whats going on in every bochurs mind and in their mothers minds as well!

So while the general concept is correct NO ONE is going to be the one to "compromise"

Just face it looks are important no matter how much we all preach they aren't.

Well said #25
(3/26/2009 2:25:02 PM)
39
no words!
G-d help us all!
(3/26/2009 3:24:53 PM)
40
painful
its painful..this community.
So rabbi shmuleywrites an article..
we have all this bored soulswith their ridiculous comments...
(3/26/2009 4:45:44 PM)
41
Biased
What's up with all the bochurim bashing??
The girls do the same thing...
(3/26/2009 6:29:19 PM)
42
the hell with pomegranets
You see that type of a title caught your attention so you look at the cover and it looks good now what? Now you got to open the dam book and read it! We can't just judge by the cover we gota see the whole story each page has lots of details! I love my pomegranet her seeds are beautiful and amazingly tasty! But when I took her off the shelf I thought she was a papaya. And then I thought this could be the most phenominal pomegranet ever and so it is. I read this article as a friend requested me to do so. So I figured it would be nesecary for me to leave a response. TEN YAD what a beautiful organization! Make a difference in a kallas life! They turned my papaya in to a pomegranet! Tiff(-:
(3/26/2009 6:59:49 PM)
43
a skinny girl
a skinny girl also deserved a good chassidishe boy, didn't she? she's not guilty she's skinny...
(3/27/2009 1:22:23 AM)
44
im a loser baby
i'm such a loser to put the 44th comment on a stupid story which is obvious to us all

anybody that posts after me is an even bigger loser than i am
(3/27/2009 4:34:53 AM)
45
from a flatbusher
Its evrywhere, if not a lot worse in communities like Flatbush, 5 towns and even borough park. Chabad is amazing, dont put yourselves down.
(3/27/2009 4:45:31 AM)
46
to #45
You are totally right. I am always thankful to that i am a lubavitch girl. But it's usually when you have something, you don't appreciate it. I think everyone in Chabad/Lubavitch should be thankful that at the end of the day we get to chose who we marry, and that it is not like 50 years ago where the 2 parents meet, trade a chicken and a cow and their children get married. Or even how it's still in some communities (not the trading cows, chicken part )
However, i am NOT putting them down. If it works for them, so be it.
(3/27/2009 9:09:24 AM)
47
LUBAVITCH BACHUR
ALL BACHURIM IN LUBAVITCH WANT A PRETTY / ATTRACTIVE GIRL.

THATS THE WAY BACHURIM ARE THESE DAYS.

LIVE WITH THE TIMES.
(3/27/2009 10:10:03 AM)
48
Astonishing!!!!!
Shocking how people validate such idiocy with comments...the distinct buzzing of dung beetles come to mind when reading this "concerned article".
but seriously folks this ranks amongst the most purile and sophmoric concoctions of a diassociative mind, enriched with all the profundity of a flattened teaspoon!
although i deem this unworthy of the ascerbic wit of my quill, nevertheless i will deign to the abyssmal depths of your amatuer attempts to vilify mother nature in all her superlative glory.
(3/27/2009 1:46:22 PM)
49
# 48
in english now...
(3/28/2009 1:40:26 PM)
50
In Defense of Images, or, It's Not So Black and White
In Defense of Images , or, It’s Not So Black and White

Having painted portraits for many years, I know that there is something to be said about emotional response to a one dimensional image, a photograph. I’m no Kabbalist, however, there is specific text in the Zohar which equates particular personality characteristics to the measurement of/and between facial features, as well as information to be gleaned from such particulars as hair color, texture, etc. Although the actual information can only truly be understood by those who are granted these insights, the fact remains that certain sensibilities are evoked by physical features. This is independent of descriptions such as beautiful, plain, ugly, etc.
It is not clearly understood why, just as one cannot account for certain preference in regards to color or flavor, for example. Often, one is inspired by factors not necessarily understood at a conscious level, hence the well known adage, “There is no accounting for taste.”
It is true that basing what could turn out to be a life altering decision on a photographic image is ‘shallow,” however, can you honestly say you are on the level of appreciating G-d’s Creation in non-physical terms? It is said that Ha-Shem spends 1/3 of his time making shiddduchim. It’s clearly a daunting task. So if a photographic image is readily available, it is the rarified holy soul which would refuse to take a look at a prospective life partner.
Also, a person could see an image, and for whatever reason, it is just not the right time to have an effect. Having many married children, I know that some things we try to engineer as parents do not come to pass. It becomes clear that there is a greater force at work, and one can only hope to get out of the way so as not to be a witless obstacle to the Divine Plan.
A mother can only do her best in regards to steering her grown up sons in what she feels to be the most proper course of action. Whether the seeds of those ideas and thoughts take root is not in her hands, but if one humbly steps aside, one gets to see that usually, they do.
(3/28/2009 2:35:27 PM)
51
to # 38
thanks for being honest and realistic,
i would like to add another point,
im a girl you could date, im pretty and slim and have a caring and kind personality. however you are not interested, because you want only a loud girl, from crown heights or somewhere local, with a very outgoing and flamboyant personality - a 'cute' person!
you are not looking at the inside, into what makes someone into a good person, or what will make a good marriage partner in the long run! you are not neccessarily looking for a considerate, kind and giving person.
I think thats what we are really talking about here - looking a little deeper!
(3/28/2009 3:26:34 PM)
52
LET IT BE KNOWN... ITS VERY SIMPLE !!!!!!
SOMEONE SAID NO TO HIS DAUGHTER.(AND HE CANT HACK IT)
END OF DISCUSSION!

AN INSIDER...
(3/28/2009 5:12:53 PM)
53
h
about skinny girls:
AND IF IM A BIT HEAVIER, I WILL NEVER GET MARRIED?
-(a girl)

and anyway, listening to shmuely boteach abt one thing, and then disgracing him abt the other? hes all 'off the derech' for TV and all that, but suddenly for talking abt dating, hes Kosher? what hipocrisy!
(3/29/2009 10:33:15 AM)
54
confused
what if a girl is skinny and pretty, but not the brightest? does she get a date fatster?
(4/1/2009 10:20:33 AM)
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