Aug 3, 2015
How Not to 'Sell' a Shidduch
Illustration photo by winnond

From the COLlive inbox: A single Lubavitch woman says the way shidduch offers are described most likely lead to their failure.

By Dini

So imagine this: You are single. You've been around shidduchim for just long enough to, maybe, perhaps, feel a little bit cynical about the process. And your friend, or your shadchan, or your aunt calls with any of the following questions:

"Are you open to dating someone who is divorced?"

"You're not dating now, right? How about a new baal teshuva who's not talking to his parents?"

"Maybe you want to date this bochur whose family has mental issues..."

How do you feel right now? I'll bet you are super psyched about this great prospect, right!? But more realistically you ask yourself, "Wow, has it really come to this? Is that what's in store for me?"

Well, that's a great starting point for a successful shidduch! I mean, who doesn't want to just jump in such a relationship on that kind of note?!

But if you've been around, this might be the first suggestion you've had in 6 months, or a year, or 3 years. And now you feel obliged to consider this suggestion. The truth though, despite the opening line of this suggestion, it might actually be a good suggestion.

The offer just wouldn't let you know it that because all you heard about that person is a stigma - divorced, baal teshuva, mental health issues. Or any other 'flaws' for that matter.

Everyone has their match out there. And we've all got ‘selling points' and we've all got baggage. We are human after all. But when someone starts off making a suggestion the sounds like "would you like to marry someone with issues," you want to scream "NO!"

And you should!

Because they've not given you even one reason to say yes. They said nothing endearing about that person. They said nothing that would even make that person even sound like a human being.

Now imagine this:

Your friend, who knows and cares about you, calls and says, "I met this guy/girl, and you know what, they remind me of you. Maybe it was the smile, or that comment they made at the shabbos table, or maybe it was just a feeling. He/she made me think of you. And from what I can tell, I think you might hit it off. I think it's worth your time. But I want to be upfront with you, he was married before, and he does have children. I don't know everything, but I'm happy to help you do research or put you in touch with someone who knows more. I think it's worth your time, and I think it's worth looking into."

Now how do you feel? Do you feel like a reject or do you actually feel hopeful?

I don't dare to suggest a solution for the so-called "Shidduch Crisis" when I'm in the midst of it. But I can tell you this is one small improvement that could have a huge impact.

Let's move away from defining people on paper. Let's get to know people more. Let's be open to seeing all the amazing good they have to offer. Let's make shidduchim more personal. Let's put ourselves in the position to vouch for other people. Not to lie, but to really see the good, and look for a good match. Let's not open conversations with the seemingly negative, especially when we actually think there is something positive here.

And if we are not sure if this is a good idea, let's try to find out more about this person, before making the suggestion and potentially starting a really good shidduch with a really bad first impression. If we do these things, we might see more of our dearest friends finally celebrating their own simchas.

So I leave it to you, to all of you. To us. Let's try.

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Opinions and Comments
A suggestion
It's all in the delivery, you're quite right. BUT.... all I see are great ideas in these columns but is anything changing? Has anyone implemented some of thoughtful ideas different people have put forward? What were the outcomes?

I think it might be useful to have a feature where readers can say I tried this & that happened, or this is an example of a great guy/girl, just not for me, or the ultimate: I tried some ideas I read on COL & I am a Kallah!!

It seems that COL really takes the shidduch crisis seriously (as you should!) & giving readers (inc shadchanim) a chance to share is much better than listening to so-called "experts." How about it?
(8/4/2015 12:19:20 AM)
(8/4/2015 12:29:59 AM)
Very perceptive and constructive! Thank you for your positive and thoughtful article. May all the "singalim" be successful in finding their besherts!
(8/4/2015 12:35:42 AM)
you have a really valid point
you're 100% right. the issue should still be mentioned but not as a selling point with no other virtues of the prospect mentioned
(8/4/2015 1:21:36 AM)
Thank you!
(8/4/2015 1:23:21 AM)
Dont judge a book by its cover, perhaps havenn been waiting around is also a stigma !?(in fact we ALL have stigmas,wer`e just good at hiding them..) where does this idea of stigma`s come from ?? who are we to judge people?lets leave that for the creator of the world!
We believe in Hashgocho Pratis,& if a name comes up ,do look into it,of course make all the necessary inquiries,but leave stigmas out they have no place.
(8/4/2015 1:36:31 AM)
No confidence in Shidduch system
I am a 22 year old who has Bipolar Disorder. I left yeshiva after just one year, which ended with admission into an acute mental health ward. In the past 3 years I have worked with professionals and I am much better than I ever was.
If you were to introduce me to someone as a guy who dropped out of Yeshiva or has Bipolar or worse, had psychosis, self harmed etc. you would likely scare them off. However if you were to meet me now you would only know because I talk about it.
It is time to stop stigmatising based on labels and look at a person on an individual basis.
(8/4/2015 2:22:25 AM)
Likrat Shiduch Matchmaking Service
Right on! This is why we have been interviewing prospects in person since our inception with the Rebbe's Bracha, to be able to add that kind of touch
(8/4/2015 2:50:45 AM)
should take your advice!
(8/4/2015 3:29:51 AM)
I detect moshiach in the air
This is Ahavas yisroel, Ahavas rayim at face value. This is a voice of redemption in the chaos, loneliness, and bitterness.Thank you for opening up our eyes to see what is good and what is right. No one is perfect and no situation is perfect.
(8/4/2015 7:34:45 AM)
divorced 31 year old male
i've been telling people this forever
(8/4/2015 8:15:28 AM)
I have only ever suggested ideas to one paricular friend in a very personal way... However upon looking into it, I would get comments from her mother "Did you know his parents were divorced? Is that what you think of us?" and on and on
(8/4/2015 8:58:13 AM)
you are so lucky!
Wow someone actually was honest with you? Maybe blunt but still honest. I wish someone told me that my husband has mental health issues before we were married. It's been a very hard marriage and even harder now that we have kids and they have to witness his cruel moods and when he needs to be institutionalized. Mental health is not a stigma but are things that will definitely add trauma to an unprepared kalla. Take it from me, from someone who walks on egg shells I wish I was warned instead of getting sold on his smile.
(8/4/2015 9:36:32 AM)
An excellent start!
As a corollary, I'd like to point out: Don't set people up based on their "issues", either. I came from a divorced home, and was only set up with guys who had lost a parent to death or divorce--which was pretty much all we had in common! The man I married, B"H, was suggested by a friend who looked at ME and MY qualities, rather than my "label" (thanks, Dvori!). Don't define people by their circumstances!
(8/4/2015 9:46:36 AM)
First article about shidduchim that actually makes sense!
So so true, I am so impressed with the writer.
(8/4/2015 10:38:35 AM)
# 13
there is help holistic way,you just need guidance because if you do not know you could get more lost or harmed along the way,contact me ,l will help you
(8/4/2015 10:39:36 AM)
Rules and exceptions
There are SOME things that should be asked right from the get go BEFORE suggesting the name.

Let's try a couple of "extreme" examples: Would you be interested in a guy who isn't shomer shabbos? You are 28 - would you be interested in a guy who is 58?

In such examples you do NOT want to start with saying, "I met this great guy and I think he is your type. I know he would be interested in you. He knows your father from Yeshiva. Oh, I hope you don't mind that he's a few years older than your father."

Or, "This guy is so interesting and engaging, you would love to spend time with him. He is always doing this that are so much fun. This past shabbos he went jet-skiing..."

So there are some things that MUST be put out there right at the start of the conversation, to know if you should even mention this potential shidduch.

Now what exactly are these "major issues" that need to be presented and what can wait until after you "sold" the guy?
Well, that is subjective to each situation. If this single ONLY looking for a Jewish mate - then don't even mention a "great" non-Jewish single!

If this single is only looking for a Chabad single - then maybe you SHOULD ask, "Are you open to a guy from Lakewood?" Because if the answer is no, why are you telling the single that this great guy "made me think of you"???

If you suspect that this single would not consider a divorced guy or someone with mental health issues, then you MUST ask up front if at this point would she or he consider such a person!

It is NOT up to you, the shaddchan, to decide that being Jewish, Chabad, Shomer Shabbos and within 10 year age difference IS important, but divorce or not getting aong with family - that isn't important to ask "up front".

The problem with this article is that it gives over-broad generalizations that some will apply to every situation. It truth, it really applies only to very few situations and even then, with great caution and common sense.

(8/4/2015 11:58:05 AM)
to # 13
As someone who worked as a professional I can tell you that mental health issues must be related.I admire number 7 for being up front.Meds do wonders and as a matter of fact many of my bipolar clients were exceptionally smart and very successful in their careers.Some had a lot of difficulties.But to not share this info is a sin in my book and that includes any illness etc.I'd like to know how do all these singles get a single shaddchan to answer calls or actually remember who you are or even try for you?My kids have zero success to even have a polite phonecall in return.
(8/4/2015 12:11:56 PM)
Number 13
Guess what. Your not the only one who went/& has this problem. So many others has that problem or similar. (It all starts from the Shiduch "crises") & reference was checked properly.....I know some one who went through that problem, & still married, with children. & just going through Tzoros. You just have to live with it.....I know it's a not normal life. You just have to live through this darkness. Its a sign that Moshiach is coming closer.
(8/4/2015 1:24:50 PM)
Selling 101
100% . I've said that in the past. When I hear someone say something like that ("would you consider someone who's over weight?" etc etc) I think, would you ever try to sell a car like that?!

"Hey, I have a car, the back right window button doesn't work, it has a small dent on the left side and has lots of miles on it, want to buy it? No, you wouldn't. You'd say "Hey, I have a car for sale, it rides well, good make, etc etc and of course you can be straight about the other details as well.
(8/4/2015 1:31:54 PM)
I've been saying this for years
(8/4/2015 1:34:22 PM)
Of course this article was good because it was common sense. Is THIS really the shidduch issue?? Of course not! Granted, we have some fools but most people don't present options in this ridiculous manner. This article was a mentchlech/common sense point, not a shidduchim point.
(8/4/2015 2:05:23 PM)
What did the Rebbe say?
Didn't the Rebbe write, that in the case of two, who
suffer from depression or share the same medical problems - "doctors warn about such marriages."

This seems to leave room for matches where, the two can have issues, as long as they are not the same issues. For example, I know of a couple where she is mentally bright, but he is, a little bit, the opposite. However, she has an obvious physical challenge.
(8/4/2015 3:14:31 PM)
but why should a regular girl settle with a guy that comes from a bad background.
(8/4/2015 3:20:27 PM)
being baal tshua is a stigma? CHOOSING hashem, is a stigma? OY VEY.
(8/4/2015 3:28:32 PM)
"Baal teshuva"
I think it's time to stop looking down to ppl just BC they are Baal teshuva, or "bt".
Just because he didn't grow up religious he is any worse, any lower?
He might be more frum, more chassidish, more mentshlich, nicer, more honest, lass arrogant, more emesdik, more caring for others, than many " ffb" out there. And generally, that's the case.
So why is he lower class? Why is that a defect?
Chabad mont pnimius. Start looking at ppls pnimius and not their last names, their pronunciation on how they read hebrew, or where he was 10 years ago.
The rebbe would write very strongly, that for a binyan (marriage) to be strong, what matters the least is how ppl outside look at it and what they say. The main thing is to have strong foundations, solid ppl.
Why mixing into such an important decision, that makes a difference for your son's / daughter's whole life, what your naibour will think? Or what the guy that seats next to u in shull will say?
(8/4/2015 3:56:25 PM)
This is what dating SHOULD look like!!
We need more "Dini's" in the Shidduch Scene... Trust me - so many more potential marriages will come to fruition with this type of attitude. Thank you Dini for giving me so much more hope! I really appreciate it!
(8/4/2015 4:36:59 PM)
Bravo #17
Here comes another article that solves all the problems. Next we will read the solution to achieve world peace. I like how #7 gently pointed out that life is more complex than simplified "one-liner" one one-dimensional quick fixes.

Now I will write the article about achieving world peace: "All You Need Is Love"...
(8/4/2015 6:50:33 PM)
to 27
"why is that a defect?" you asked.. because they are TOO GOOD! and the same applies to ben/bas baal teshuva too. It shows how the ffb should REALLY BE and they know they are perfectly not! WE are considered 2nd class while ffb is the top, when its really the opposite and the ffb are perfectly aware of this.
(8/4/2015 7:48:07 PM)
Bt married to ffb
I will answer the question. People are often a product of their experiences. In marriage it is important to have similar backgrounds. It is challenging for my spouse to have inlaws who drive on shabbas and eat unkosher food and dress untzniusly. It is challenging for me to not be able to share many aspects of my past that made me who I am. It is possible to do. But when two families are different there are many extra challenges that need to be brought into consideration.
(8/4/2015 7:58:40 PM)
29 was meant for 26
(8/4/2015 9:11:51 PM)
"Just because he didn't grow up religious he is any worse, any lower? He might be more frum, more chassidish, more mentshlich, nicer, more honest, lass arrogant, more emesdik, more caring for others, than many " ffb" out there. And generally, that's the case. So why is he lower class? Why is that a defect? Chabad mont pnimius"

For one thing, the BTs are the ones who reject their own and desperately try to get a FFB. They themselves stigmatize themselves by showing that they are lacking.

Secondly, true that chassidus mont pnimiyus, but that does not mean that chitzoniyus is meaningless. Chassidus mont pnimiyus BESIDES chitzoniyos. That chitzoniyus ALONE is not enough and requires the addition of pnimiyus.

Most mitzvos are chitoniyus. The yarmulka and tzniyus dressis chitzoniyus - but VITAL! Chassidus demands the ADDITION of meaning to the yarmulka, but all the meanings in the world does not replace the yarmulka.

Finally, "Just because he didn't grow up religious he is any worse, any lower?" True. Just as for an example: just because he is mentally ill, is he any worse, any lower? No, but he still has a mental illness. The BT is not any "lower" because he is a BT, but he DOES have a defect, that his family is not religious, that he lacked the earlier religious chinuch, that he was exposed to much of what is contrary to a Torah life. That is a fact. It is a defect that the BT tries to repair, but the defect remains.
(8/4/2015 9:22:19 PM)
#32 the defect of the bt, is actually a strength
A Bt becoming frum shows a strength which an ffb will never have.there is no defect, every thing is good.
(8/4/2015 10:23:01 PM)
to 32
Wrong! bt will only look for bt. if bt looks for ffb then the bt has faults. also dont judge a person till u stand in there place and a bt is higher then a tzaddik! second point: how come some ffb will ONLY look for bt? and will get highly INSULTED BEING REFUSED BY BT?! for the same reason ffb will look for bt, bt will NOT want to marry ffb and the ffb should NOT GET HIGHLY INSULTED!
(8/5/2015 12:33:57 AM)
34 - wrong
bt will look for best woman he can marry like any other human being. if ffb happens to be good candidate, why not? I hope the ffbs can wake up being they are too old to have children ...
(8/5/2015 9:45:12 AM)
Just like a former alcoholic shows strength by over coming his alcoholism, this is a strength over those who never had an alcohol problem, but remains a fact that he was/is an alcoholic and must for life be aware of his problem with alcohol.

(8/5/2015 10:17:37 AM)
I agree with #17 and #32
Wise words No simple answer. No generalities. A shaddchan isn't a used car salesman trying to sell a lemon to an unsuspecting buyer. Honesty. Integrity. Compassion. Not a sales job to get the commission! #17 said it like it is. Just as #32 said it.
(8/5/2015 10:46:26 AM)
our sages say "Where Baalei Tshuva stand, not even the tzaddikim cannot stand".

(perek zayin tanya)
(8/5/2015 4:17:15 PM)
Beauty, Wealth, Yichus
On Tu B'Av the girls would promote themselves for a shidduh. The pretty ones would tell the boys to seek out beauty. The wealthy would promote the advantage of rich girls. Those who had yichus would implore the advantage of yichus and family. Each would take their advantage and use it to "sell themselves" on the shidduch market.

Is beauty, wealth or yichus a REAL advantage? Certainly! Conversely, the lack of these advantages is a defect.

Is looks, riches or family THE reason to marry a spouse? Of course not, but it is a CONSIDERATION and part of the equation.

I am not trying to offend those who are ugly, poor, lack yichus or have other defects (bt included), but that is the reality.

Are gerim or bt's sometimes wonderful people? Yes and they may excel ahead of others who were born Jewish or ffb, but they still have that defect, and that is part of the equation.

Some people would not consider a very poor or ugly or ...(fill in blank) shidduch, while others would.

What is wrong asking the single, "Is looks important to you because I know someone with wonderful qualities but has a shortcoming in appearance (his looks frighten children and makes babies cry)"?

There is nothing wrong asking a girl, "Would you consider someone shorter than you (by 12 inches)?", so why is it wrong to ask if he or she would consider a divorced person (with 6 children) or a bt (who just became shomer shabbos last week) or any other "chisoron" (shortcoming)???

So here is how I pitch it:

Oh, I am looking for a shidduch for a wonderful person but he isn't the brightest bulb in the chandelier, you see his elevator doesn't reach the top floor, and to put it nicely, he isn't the sharpest knife in the drawer because he is a few sandwiches short of a picnic - but if you know someone for whom intelligence isn't that important (- single digit IQ when he's having a good day), then this guy is just perfect, except he is also a bt...

(8/5/2015 5:51:33 PM)
Excuse me??
To say that the person doesn't even sound human?? A Bal Teshuvah who can't even talk to his parents can be an unbelievable person who is giving up more for what he thinks is true then any other other person out there, it need not be a stigma it is a sure sign of virtue and strong principals.
Someone who is divorced can be incredibly determined to work on a marriage and be expetionally life smart with experience why the need to stigmatize? Mental issues? Why condone stigma to a common issue that can easily be taken care of? People have medical issues personality issues all sorts of issues that make them incredibly strong and sensitive people.
If people wouldn't look at real people with struggles as non humans maybe then people can be appreciated for who they are along with their issue without the need to be ashamed of their issues and can creat beautiful human homes where honesty and caring are what matters, not being non about trying to become a human and in the process lose touch with the struggles that make us so human.
(8/6/2015 2:15:52 AM)
Finding out more information
I alway thought a shadchan is someone who looks into both plp and considers if they might match. Today I'm shocked to be asked to pay 1000 dolars to get a name and go do your homework answer, plus pay a few hundred to anyone who says yes he's a nice bocher...
(8/6/2015 10:38:21 AM)
one ugly truth came out, other realities are still ignored
the hatred spewed in the comments reveals that the chabad "ffb" community has not come to accept neither the tanya from 200+ years ago nor the 50+ years of baal teshuvah movement initiated by none other than the rebbe zt"l himself.

as of this posting, there were 40 comments before mine. the vast majority proves "logically" that being a baal teshuva is a defect.

just like being born without major looks, or to a family that (like the majority of jews) has no illustrious yichus, or through no fault of the person (who most likely has been in school until now) the family is not rich, being a baal teshuva is a defect.

just like having been born with, or accidentally gotten physical disabilities, mental illnesses, chronic disorders, genetic issues, being a baal teshuva is a defect.

just like being part of a family where the parents (not the individual) divorced being a baal teshuva is a defect.

just like having gone through a bad marriage that did not work, something for which even the written torah provides room and a solution, being a baal teshuva is a defect.

just like all that, for which the person is almost never at fault, we now prove that even when the person can and will fix it by distancing from the wrong ways, absorbing from role models how to do it properly, and doing it so to the jealousy of those who should have done it right by being born in the right, being a baal teshuva is a defect.

however, if the frum-from-birth family does have criminal issues such as a financial or tax fraud, abuse, workers' abuse, etc. as long as they give tzedakah they are fine and praiseworthy.

the ugly truth has been said: the chabad frum from birth community does not accept, other than begrudgingly, baalei teshuvah.

look at the engagements announced on this very site: yichus marries yichus, foreigners marry foreigners, with few exceptions

atop it all, many shadchonim are worse than used car salespersons and the most crooked lawyers.
(8/6/2015 10:44:18 AM)
All that matters is whether the person has a sense of humor. It don't matter if he or she is a bt, ger, bi-polar, chabad-lite, short, fat or ugly (with a stutter and a hunch back). All that really matters is having a sense of humor. So shaddchan, NEVER ever say up front, "Would you consider someone that lacks a sense of humor?" - that is the one thing that must never be mentioned till after the sale is made. (For those who do not appreciate satire - you shouldn't be reading this, in fact close down the computer before you have a melt down).
(8/6/2015 10:47:43 AM)
A Balas Tshuva Responds
When I committed to being frum, I sacrificed my family and relatives. It was hard and lonely. Now that I am ready for marriage, I want a family and relatives to adopt me as their daughter (in-law). I want a FFB who has frum parents that will appreciate me. I struggled many years without family and I earned this right. Do not deny me the right to a FFB just because I am a Balas Tshuva. I sacrificed but why shouldn't my children have at least one set of frum grandparents? I worked hard to be part of the frum community and now I should be fully accepted.
(8/6/2015 7:31:24 PM)
older and single
The author sounds mature to myself being single and older (and Bt for the record), I feel it is important to marry a quality person, which seemingly should go without saying. We are not really that big of a group of people, over age 35 and single. It is really too small of a group to make generalizations about. I never really got too many dates living here in crown heights. I am aware of about 5 women I perceive to be high quality, but ffb, whom will not meet me in a shidduch.
(8/6/2015 8:25:51 PM)
To all those who comment about BTs vs. FFBs
As a BT marrying off my own children, I didn't worry about it. It's a self-selecting process. Those who are focused on the chitzoniyus, and don't appreciate the values our family brings, really DO have different values from us, and really would NOT be a good fit. If an FFB family DOES appreciate the chayus and ehrlichkeit that a baal teshuva (or child of) can bring to the marriage , ( to the extent that the other issues are less important.), these are the ones we wanted anyway.
(8/6/2015 11:06:03 PM)
The BT/FFB situation
An FFB Bochur. Shidduch age:
I spent a few years working with Baalei Teshuva, both as a shliach in Mayanot and while doing Semicha in Morristown I hung around Tiferes. I have the utmost respect for them and their sacrifice and appreciate their sincerity and chayus. Yet, shidduchim is a different matter. When you marry someone, you want them to have the same background as you. Someone who had a similar upbringing to yours so you can properly relate to that person.
I Ch"v don't think that being a Baal Teshuva is a defect and I condemn all those who think so. At the same time, when it comes to shidduchim I would prefer to marry someone with a similar upbringing
(8/9/2015 11:11:23 PM)
Thank you
Firstly, I think this was a well thought out, well written article, making a lot of sense.
And I would like to acknowledge and thank some of the comments that made much sense: #30, #38, #46, #47,
(11/16/2015 1:11:05 AM)
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