Ah, this is all just getting me primed for a rant I'm going to do at some point on sexuality and Orthodox Judaism.Well, I'll leave that to her, and I'm now beating her to the other side of the so-called "shiddukh crisis", so nya nya nya. :P ;)
Here, Jesse Ackler complains about judgmentalism in Orthodoxy, specifically regarding shiddukhim. He writes,
I was encouraged to attend the upcoming SYAS Nachamu singles event by my own shadchanim. I submitted an application, only to have it quickly rejected, the reasons given being the personal biases of a person or persons on what was referred to as the Vetting Board.
The transcript of this email correspondence is below (all names have been removed other than my own to protect involved parties):
Thank you for taking interest in this year's Shabbat Nachamu Weekend. Unfortunately, we are not able to accept your application. This event is geared towards singles who are modern orthodox machmir or yeshivish/black hat.Saw You at Sinai/YU Connects Staff,(3)
Please have someone contact me about this, as I am listed as Modern Orthodox and this must be some kind of computer glitch.
This is not a glitch. Anyone that applies to the weekend has to be vetted by our matchmakers. According to the matchmakers, you are not appropriate for our weekend because you are not "Machmir." This is not based on the label that you chose for yourself, but rather based on your information in your profile. Using that information, the matchmakers felt that you were not appropriate for our event. Once they make a decision, they send out an email to advise the applicant, in this case, you.
I am sorry that this weekend will not work out for you, but there will be a "Back to Camp Weekend" run on Labor Day Weekend, which will be for a much broader range of people, which would be more appropriate for you.Saw You at Sinai/YU Connects Staff,(5)
This is hilarious. I know people who are attending the nachamu weekend I wouldn't even consider frum!
I would really like to know by what standards someone determines that someone else is machmir or liberal or whatever.
I guess davening 3 times a day, being shomer shabbos, shomer kashrus and shomer negiyah isn't enough.
I am definitely going to spread the word about this!
The fact that you would even consider threatening us proves how correct I was for not letting you onto the event: "I am definitely going to spread the word about this!"
Go ahead. You will merely be spreading around that WE do not consider YOU to be truly Machmir. Which for you, I guess, is ok, seeing as you don't really care about the things Machmir people care about (at least according to your profile):
In our humble opinion, someone who:
1. Doesn't care about his wife covering her hair
2. Doesn't care if his wife wears pants
3. Will date a CONSERVADOX girl
4. Doesn't care if his wife eats in non-Kosher restaurants
...We don't consider Machmir.
Maybe you have a different use of the term Machmir or more likely you should consider looking inside yourself (or at least your profile) before you get upset at how other people (who don't know you) judge who you are.
Oh, and by the way, about people being "Frum" or not: Does being "Frum" mean that you threaten someone else because you are unhappy with what the other person did?
Best of luck in finding whatever it is you are looking for.
Saw You at Sinai/YU Connects StaffYou had better believe I would tell everyone I can about these seemingly discriminatory and closed-minded practices based on subjective values from I don't know where! I want people to know where their money is going, and why they might not meet their bashert because of it.
What you and these shadchanim you mention don't seem to understand is that with the statements you list below below I was not judged on things that I myself am doing. These are things that my prospective spouse is doing. I don't know what your upbringing or what part of Brooklyn you or these shadchanim you are referring to are from. I am a baal teshuva for more than 15 years, and I have learned from dating for more than 10 years that if a woman currently considers herself conservadox or currently eats fish in a non-kosher restaurant that does not automatically disqualify her from dating me if I feel she wants to grow in her practice. Otherwise I would not go out with her in the first place!
Oh, and by the way, I was encouraged to come to the event by a few of my own SYAS shadchanim, all of whom I know personally for many years. It's funny that these nameless shadchanim on this "vetting board" who have probably never met me are so ready to disqualify me when my own shadchanim wanted me to come.
I've never interacted with SYAS personnel, so the following support of Jesse Ackler by me is rather one of general principle, not specifically regarding SYAS per se.
I've learned over the past three years of yeshiva that the biggest cause of intolerance is ignorance. There are things that a few years ago, or sometimes even a few months or days ago, I considered heretical, and which I have since learned have far more basis in halakhah than I ever dreamed of. I remember a few months ago reading Rabbi Marc Angel's new novel, The Search Committee, and being appalled at the justification Rebbetzin Sultana Mercado therein gives for her own lack of head covering - her justification sounded like straight Reform/Conservative Judaism. I then learned that Mahara"m Alakshar from 15th century Spain and Rabbi Yosef Messas of Morocco and Rabbi Isaac S. Hurewitz of America (who was unimpeachably Orthodox - his criticism of an opinion of Rabbi Louis Ginzberg's was limited to ad hominem attacks on the latter's being Conservative) would all fully endorse a woman's not covering her hair, notwithstanding the protests of the Arukh ha-Shulhan and Mishnah Berurah, who both explicitly reject the logic put forth by the first three authorities.
Similarly, I was flabbergasted when I saw that Rabbi Haim David Halevi, a scion of the traditional Judeo-Spanish Turkish Sephardic form of Judaism, says that Beit Hillel prevailed over Beit Shammai because the former was prone to leniency and making halakhah easier out of sympathy for the human condition - Reform and Conservative often say this, but Rabbi Halevi, the Chief Rabbi of Tel Aviv, said this as well!
So I've become far more open to women who do things like leave their hair uncovered, wear pants, are not shomer negiah, etc. It doesn't mean that I necessarily agree with everything they do and would do it myself or advocate its being done by others, but I understand that a lot of what they do does have real halakhic basis, even if it relies on minority opinions and the like. I may not rely on these things myself, but these women have real halakhic basis, and one cannot impugn their piety and religiosity; they DO have standards.
I'm sick of all this standards measurement. My rabbi tells me of when Ha-Gaon Rabbi Yehuda Herzl Henkin was asked about the hekhsher of the wedding he was at. He threw down his fork in anger and said, "Look, the bride and groom are frum Jews. Do you think they'd feed me treif? I don't care what the hekhsher is."
Rabbi Dr. Eliezer Berkovits made some very controversial rulings in his day, and his teacher, Ha-Gaon Rabbi Yehiel Weinberg was asked about whether Rabbi Berkovits was still Orthodox. Rabbi Weinberg said that frankly, Rabbi Berkovits's rulings concerned him greatly, but all the same, Rabbi Weinberg said, Rabbi Berkovits's yirat shamayim was second to none, and he was surely an Orthodox rabbi who made all his controversial rulings l'shem shamayim, and that he was an Orthodox rabbi in good standing. Remember that Rabbi Weinberg said that Rabbi Berkovits's rulings *greatly* disturbed him.
In the Judeo-Spanish world, no one was ever so concerned with judging others. Everyone, observant and not, coexisted in one community, and everyone was able to live with everyone else and accept the same rabbi. People weren't concerned with judging others; some were more observant than others, some were more pious than others, but everyone was a Jew, and most people still were mostly observant, and that was enough.
As Daniel Elazar writes in Can Sephardic Judaism be Reconstructed?,
Sephardic Judaism as it developed in Spain was not like the "post-Reformation" Judaism of modern Europe and the United States divided into Reform, Conservative or Orthodox. First of all, it did not involve the kind of rupture with tradition that characterized Reform. Nor did it turn tradition into something frozen, or worse, reshaped by a deliberate ideology of rigidity, as did ultra-Orthodoxy. Nor did it allow the kind of institutional divisions that ultimately led to more deep-seated ruptures as with Conservatism. In part this was because medieval conditions were different from modern ones and in part because the culture of the Mediterranean world is different from that of northern Europe. … [T]he fact of Sephardic Jewry being Mediterranean played a very important role. Thus we see today that in the Mediterranean countries the Protestant approach to religion with its search for consistency between belief and action continues to do poorly. As a rule, Mediterranean peoples believe that they must formally be faithful to the traditions of their fathers although reserving to themselves the right to determine how they individually will maintain those traditions. In contemporary times, this has become the way in which many Sephardim conduct their lives. Today there are more than a few Sephardim who eat every kind of halakhic abomination while providing support for the most ultra-Orthodox Sephardic yeshivot (rather than more "modern" institutions) and who regularly visit (with checkbook in hand) wonder-working rabbis of the old school to obtain their blessings.Whereas Ashkenazim will tend to form different congregations based on ideology and practice (for example, Hassidic and Litvish and Modern Orthodox and Reform, etc. etc.), Elazar further notes,
Contrast this with a typical Sephardic congregation. It will be composed of people of all levels of observance, from black-hatted yeshiva students to people who think of themselves as secular but enjoy attending services from time to time. In the congregation all are equal. No one is asked how much or how little he observes. Sephardim assume that all people want to be traditional, only some people need greater degrees of help. That Sephardic attitude, which is typically Mediterranean, runs against the grain of the Ashkenazi pattern where people have to declare their religious ideology and form of religious behavior to fit into one community or another within Orthodoxy as well as between Orthodox and non-Orthodox.Similarly, as Elazar notes elsewhere (The Special Character of Sephardi Tolerance),
Sephardim are noted for and pride themselves on being less fanatic than Ashkenazim in virtually all matters, especially religion. They certainly are not among the militant, black garbed Jews who throw stones at vehicles on the Sabbath and refuse to serve in the army. Sephardim are often bewildered by the Ashkenazic pursuit of humrot (new and more difficult halakhic refinements), because they have traditionally sought to balance the requirements of observance with those of living in order to achieve a form of religious expression that takes into consideration the whole human being, to encourage and cultivate the range of human attributes.
It is difficult for Sephardim to understand the isolationist trend that is dominant among so many Orthodox Ashkenazim, who see the salvation of Judaism only in separating it from those who do not meet current religious standards, which seem to be always moving to the right. Sephardim see no hope or virtue in isolation; to them, the result is a warping of Jews and a distortion of Judaism. Sephardim always have sought to balance their lives both as Jews and as a part of a larger human society. Isolation is not and was not a Sephardic goal -- that would have been a violation of their sense of proportion and balance. Rather, they seek to accept involvement with the larger world and its challenges. Historically, in the world in which most Sephardim lived, there was little occupation and segregation between Jews and non-Jews and often little residential segregation. Living and working together prevented the development of an isolationist spirit.
Rabbi Jacob Reischer was asked about some Jews who mostly kept kosher, but who relied on some questionable leniencies, and sometimes cut a few corners in kashrut. Rabbi Reischer, writing in a traditional Eastern European setting in 1719, three hundred years ago, said that it is more important to be lenient and let all Jews eat at each others' tables, than to be strict and divide ourselves via kashrut. To quote Professor Menachem Friedman (Life Tradition and Book Tradition in the Development of Ultra Orthodox Judaism; cf. his The Market Model and Religious Radicalism):
A good example of this is the incident cited by R. Jacob Reischer (1719, Yoreh De'ah, cap. 58). In one of the communities, the rabbis ruled that meat brought from the smaller communities of the surrounding villages was not kosher because the slaughterers in those places were thought not to know enough and/or not to be careful enough, by the stricter standards of the Jewish community. R. Reischer unequivocally rejects this approach, but not because he considered those slaughterers to be outstanding scholars. He admits that his position might be considered "lenient," but he defends it on the basis of the principle of the cohesion of the traditionally religious community, which might be adversely affected by the disqualification of the village slaughterers. "It is fitting that all the Jewish people be unified in the matter of eating and drinking so as not to cause in their own midst a rift like that which separates them from the others [the Gentiles]; we should not multiply separate groups." There is no doubt that R. Reischer's approach represents a deeply rooted Jewish tradition.This doesn't mean we have NO standards and eat ANYTHING, but it means we ought to be a bit lax and "go with the flow" a bit, have some tolerance.
I then saw Hard to Match:
[T]here is, I believe, a danger inherent in assessing the religiosity of others. Such deliberations often rely on the use of externalities and shorthand signifiers, while real metrics of religiosity—if this is indeed something that can be “measured”—are always more complicated and more contradictory than anything that can be checked off a list. Undoubtedly, there will be those who adhere to the social standards of strict religiosity but behave differently in private. There will be those whose practices and beliefs defy easy categorization; perhaps there will be two people whose observance might vary, but whose core inner values and desires align.
I also loved what I saw here, responding to Jesse Ackler:
Jesse - I completely agree with you and I am disgusted by this type of attitude in the Orthodox dating world. It's what actually led me to remove myself a little bit from the orthodox dating world and am now open to conservadox or traditional women. I believe this is a fight we must make as it is destroying our community.
CEO, Frumster LLC
Another matter (and here, I might very well be stepping on Naamah's feet, so nya nya nya):
Ms. Aliza Hausman points us to the documentary "Unattached".
Much of what I saw in that video was simply pathetic. There, you have young unmarried men and women commenting on how they already had all their criteria down pat (desired height, weight, hair and eye color, etc.), and they - both men and women - comment on how few marvelously attractive people there are to date. Is marriage really about getting the right eye color and number on the scale? This is pathetic.
My mother used to always tell my brother and me that whatever we do in life, she'll be proud, as long as we enjoy it. She'd add that "even if you become a car mechanic!", she'd be proud. And guess what? That's exactly what my brother became; he loved cars and car magazines, and so he became a car mechanic. He was offered education to become an airplane mechanic, and he was told that he'd make $100,000 entry-level, but he rejected the offer, saying that he loved cars, period. To my brother, money didn't matter.
I don't recall my brother ever dating an unattractive woman, so I cannot be sure, but as far as I can tell, he's similarly unjudgmental about looks. Before I became religious, my brother and I used to joke and comment all the time about how attractive various women were. We'd comment on Jennifer Lopez and Mariah Carey videos and oggle Vida Guera in the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Edition, and my brother will still tell me how awesome a given girlfriend of his looks, and he'll still try to get me to oggle swimsuit issues and women in music videos with him. Nevertheless, this was/is all in jest, a display of machismo and masculinity. I don't recall my brother ever truly judging a woman for being unattractive, and I don't recall his ever evincing the slightest bit of actual deep-seated materialism in this regard. When bragging about how hot his girlfriend was/is, his tone was/is always of the boasting vainglorious sort, that he was simply showing off almost humorously, the same way one might brag to his friend that he beat the friend in a given sports game or bet. I believe I have every reason to believe that in truth, he'd be just as happy to date a non-attractive woman, as long as her personality and interests were compatible with his, just as in truth, a friendship is not threatened when one is beaten in football, even though previously, one was boasting about how no one could beat him in that game. Similarly, I'm sure that if my brother were to suddenly become rich, he'd brag and show off, even though he rejected an offer to be able to earn three times what he presently earns. It is all for show, all a game; in truth, my mother raised my brother and me to know that neither money nor physical appearance were anything to be concerned with.
So any singles who are otherwise, I have only contempt for their pettiness and immaturity.