Isaac Kaplan

"Is it any wonder I've got too much time on my hands?"

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Seminaries and the Shidduch Crisis

I think I have the solution to the shidduch crisis. Where's Pinny Lipschutz of the Yated? This is front-page material.

Close down the sems. Lock 'em up. Send everyone home.

Many times, girls come back from sem with all sorts of ideals. Their heads are in the clouds, and there's a lot they want to accomplish. And let's forget the girls who want learning guys for now -- even the ones that want working guys, they'll want someone who will learn two hours a night, never miss a minyan, talks to his rebbi all the time, be "spiritual," (whatever that means) and someone who will say divrei torah at the Shabbos table for two hours. And he must never, ever want to walk into a movie theater.

Sounds lovely. Problem is, who are these 19-year-old girls getting set up with? 22-23 year old guys who aren't idealists anymore. And many people change a lot from 19 to 23.

Very often, the guys have been in America for a few years. If the guy plans on working, chances are he's doing the yeshiva/college thing. When I was in Israel, I also left feeling very idealistic. At one point, I wanted to learn three hours a day, no matter what I was doing. When you get to college, though, and you see what the real world is all about, you start seeing what a struggle it is. And those ideals get tempered by reality. They get tempered by the fact that, in the frum world in 2006, there is no 9-5 job that will earn you a decent living (and we're not even talking about having a mansion with a Lexus in the driveway). And unfortunately, between work, a wife, a family, and simply, exhaustion, it's not always so easy to put in those two hours a night.

So the girls go out with a guy whose views are such, and they think he's a shaygetz. So forget it. A few years later, she starts coming around with her hashkafos, but by that time, the bitterness and frustration of shidduchim have set in, which make finding the zivug all the more difficult. The propoganda of the sems is causing a lot of trouble and frustration.

Is it important to be idealistic? Absolutely. You've gotta have goals in life, and something you want to accomplish. But like everything else in life, moderation is key. And the sems have to tell the girls what a struggle raising a family and making a living can be, and how to have appropriate ideals in that context.

And as I've said many times, in the long run, hashkafos aren't that important. I think midos are much more important, because people's views change. And someone with good midos will probably be more amenable to change and compromise than a jerk who happens to have the "perfect" hashkafos.

Two alternate suggestions:

- There are some girls that are more intellectual, and have a strong interest in learning. I think sem should be limited to those groups, and the classes should be more text-based and intellectual (works better for that crowd, anyway) than full of propaganda.

- It may make sense for girls to wait a year or two after sem before dating, simply to get a bearing of what they really want in life and in a zivug. But with communal pressures as they are, this will never happen.


Anonymous Gary said...

This is one of your top 5 pieces ever.

1:04 PM  
Blogger Michelle said...

Hmm, a lot to think about. I think that the Bais Yaakovs prime the girls for the seminaries. They make them feel like thinking is the worst thing they can do, and that Seminary is important because it will prepare them for real life. So they're sent to these brainwashers with the bleach already on. All they got to do is soak it and wash it over and over.

ANd, yes, they make them idealistic. Their pathetic defense? "If you reach for the moon, you might just come back with some stars" they set the goals loftily high hoping that most will end up on a step down from the unrealistic image they portray. Instead, you have cluelesss chunyuks and girls off the d. Go figure.

10:14 PM  
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