Welcome To The Dating World… One Yeshiva Bochur’s Purim Perspective

Eli M. writes for The Jewish Press:

When you are “frozen,” you are being chained to a state of “bochurhood” in which you are suspended between the life you had and the new life that awaits you. Tu B’Shevat is not only the “New Year for the Trees,” but it also marks the day of emancipation for dozens of yeshiva guys who have been shackled to this condition of limbo.

Now that I’ve captured your attention with my dramatic opening, it’s time to clarify my message. In truth, my story has nothing to do with “the freezer” itself, but the difficulties, which I’ve encountered in the aftermath of its thaw.

For those not familiar with “yeshivish” lingo, let me digress for a moment and explain. The “freezer” is a three-month period in which a new student at BMG (a.k.a. Lakewood) is restricted from “shidduch dating.”

Delving into the rules and regulations of BMG is not my concern; what I am interested in is gathering ideas from you, the reader, regarding an issue related to my post-freezer status.

As I have already said…. the day of opportunity has befallen us and I am now free to become a player in the high-stakes market of shidduchim. So, of course my mother has been working the phones, putting my name out there and hearing offers for potential dates. But unfortunately, I have been stumped by an echoing question, which I have heard from many shadchanim: “What is your plan?”

At first I responded to these inquiries with humor: “I get free nights and weekends and 500 anytime minutes.”

These were some of the lines I had heard from experienced daters, but they worked to no avail. These people were serious; they wanted to hear some sort of account of how I planned on spending the first couple of years of marriage (“learning of course!”) and how I would support myself after the initial period of kollel life.

Stumped is not really the appropriate word to explain what goes on in my head every time I hear this question; perplexed is more appropriate. You see, my problem is not in answering the question; my problem is the question itself. As a serious yeshiva bochur, I cannot even begin to comprehend the basis of such a foolish question nor the audacity of the people who spew such heresy.

What’s my plan, they ask?! My plan is what every frum Yid’s plan should be: emunah and bitachon! Would it really make a difference if I had a Masters in Business, was almost done in accounting, or got a great mark on my LSAT’s? Would any of those things secure my future financial success? No, of course not. It all depends on what Hashem wants, doesn’t it? Whether or not we succeed at anything on this planet is all up to the One Above; it’s not determined by a piece of paper you receive from some college or program.

So what if I have no degree or experience or developed talent in any field but Torah? So what if I have no idea as to how I will support my family, and more specifically, the extravagant lifestyle my prospective wife and I may have developed as children of privilege? I’m ready to be moser nefesh and abandon my indulgent lifestyle to some extent (if it is really necessary) to keep me in a Torah environment. And when the time comes to leave that environment, am I not better equipped to tackle the adversities of secular everyday life being that I have totally immersed in spirituality for past several years? Wouldn’t you naturally have more faith in the possibilities of a kollel yungerman – who has been dedicated to self-growth – making it in the outside world over someone who has a background in business? Of course, you would!

So what about hishtadlus, you ask? Besides the fact that the whole concept of hishtadlus is under debate, I have already done mine: seeking a wife who will have a degree in some lucrative field, as well as a mechuten who is capable of supporting me. The credentials I am seeking in a spouse might offend some people. People might call me shallow and unrealistic, but I think that I’m being quite reasonable and logical. If you would be capable of looking beyond the surface of my actions, you would see that I am actually constructing the foundation for a bayis ne’eman b’Yisroel: that a person must seek the physical in order to attain the spiritual. Because, in truth, they go hand in hand. The very fact that a girl is investing time and effort into acquiring a viable profession demonstrates her hashkafah; that she herself is machshiv Torah and wants to facilitate her husband’s growth in learning, which conveniently coincides with my need for financial funding.

And is it wrong for me to believe that due to the affluence in our community, the probability of finding a wealthy father in-law is not far fetched? Do I sound unreasonable? I understand that my shidduch criteria (i.e. a girl with a degree and a shver with gelt) eliminate a large pool of eligible bachelorettes. But such are the harsh realities of a yeshiva bochur’s life.

The very fact that I must defend my opinion is infuriating; why do I need to justify my rationale for wanting to live a Torahdik lifestyle? I am fed up with the lack of understanding by critics of the kollel lifestyle; surely you can see the insanity behind their reasoning. Unfortunately, the reality for us yeshiva guys is that the people redding our shidduchim don’t necessarily subscribe to our points of view. We therefore (in this case, me) must come up with a response to these issues, specifically the issue of “what is your plan?”

I would greatly appreciate your sharing your thoughts and insights with me. My e-mail address is Iconoclast613@aol.com.

P.S. I hope you understand that I can’t sign my real name: its bad for shidduchim.

About Luke Ford

I've written five books (see Amazon.com). My work has been followed by the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, and 60 Minutes. I teach Alexander Technique in Beverly Hills (Alexander90210.com).
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