Written by Rochele Haramati
“How old are you?” This innocent question is not meant to pressure anyone or make them uncomfortable, but Chana is embarrassed every time she has to respond. It comes up at farbrengens and when she’s on mivtzaim. She wants to feel young and free of worries, but how can she? The clock does not stop ticking and she hasn’t found a shidduch yet.
Her recent date was excellent, the conversation flowed, but to her consternation, at the end of it, the young man took out a Smartphone. She could see how he was up to date with every possible technological device. They call this a Chassidishe bachur?! she thought bitterly.
But maybe she was the problem? Maybe, today there are no bachurim who are yerei shamayim, Chassidish, who stand strong against that which is foreign to her? She had heard how people called her picky and unrealistic. Maybe she had to do what her friend Esther confided in her that she did. Esther said she had no choice but to concede a bit on her level of tznius so dating would work out for her.
“Today’s bachurim aren’t Chassidish as they once were,” she maintained. “We have no choice but to make accommodations.”
Well, she did not want to compromise on her values and did not know what to do.
In shidduchim (as in marriage), is it good advice “to be smart and not right?” Are yiras shamayim matters things we can be flexible about? What can be done when today, the reality is such that the girls’ level of yiras shamayim is usually higher than that of the bachurim?
Of course you should not be flexible. The men have to be motivated to rise up to the spiritual level of the women. On the contrary, you need to look at the current reality not as something negative, but as a taste of Yemos HaMoshiach when “a female will surround a male” and “a valorous woman is a crown for her husband.” It is this reality, in which the spiritual level of the woman is higher, that is the fully rectified reality for Yemos HaMoshiach. The woman has the power to bring the man up to her level, to influence the husband to have set times for learning Torah and to disconnect from inappropriate forms of entertainment.
Are you saying a woman can marry someone on a lower spiritual level and make him her project?
From the outset, a girl needs to look for someone suitable, who matches her spiritual level. Marriage is not a school. You don’t marry in order to teach. But in the event that they married and they see that her spiritual level is higher, it is very important to work on this, but it has to be done respectfully and not like an educater.
Likewise, she needs to consult with her mashpia about how to influence her husband without lowering herself, but of course, this is not a reason for divorce. The husband needs to be influenced in “ways of pleasantness and peace.” He needs to be raised up while not adversely affecting the shalom bayis.
Are you saying then, that on dates, a girl should not make accommodations on tznius and the use of technological gadgets?
As far as shidduchim, there could be a bachur who has gadgets he shouldn’t have, but in other respects he is a very Chassidishe boy. There isn’t a categorical answer to this, but there is no question that these phones endanger the institution of marriage to some degree and cause a lot of confusion and lack of proper familial communications. It’s important to address this issue. If the bachurim knew that the girls would reject them for these phones, it could cause many of them not to use them, knowing that it would adversely affect them in shidduchim. As to whether to pursue a certain shidduch when he uses a phone like this, a mashpia should be consulted.