Letter: The Real Problem: A Response to ‘Why Isn’t “Good” Good Enough?’

It was with great dismay that I read the letter from the bochur who finds himself being admonished for making some income while continuing his learning schedule and was particularly disturbed by the fact that the number of potential dates being redt to him have “dwindled,” as he stated.

There are two points I would like to make in response to his letter.

I agree with him that the priorities in today’s shidduch market are, in many ways, upside down, but it seems that his frustration lies primarily with the shadchanim. I disagree with this perspective. It is undoubtedly extremely frustrating and hurtful to be told by shadchanim that you’re “shooting yourself in the foot” for making a responsible decision, but you also have to keep in mind that shadchanim are working within a system that they didn’t create.

Shadchanim telling you that you will get fewer dates are not wrong or malicious – they are stating a fact. The facts are that girls coming out of seminary have very idealized versions of marriage in their minds. Seminaries don’t teach much about the need for income to support a husband in kollel, they only teach that your highest priority should be that your husband is a “top guy” who is also a masmid learning every moment of every day  (somehow those are separate things, which is a separate issue that should be discussed on its own). So shadchanim are forced to look for guys who are only and exclusively learning, even if they don’t agree that it makes the most sense.

Which brings me to my main point. The struggle this bochur is dealing with is not indicative of bad shadchanim or even a broken dating system; It is indicative of a broken seminary system.

When a bochur has fewer girls interested in him because he is making some money outside of his learning schedule, we have a problem on our hands. And this boils down to what girls are being taught. Are they being taught what a marriage truly entails? Clearly not. Are they being taught that there is more to a husband – and more that is needed from a husband – than someone who is kol kulo torah? Obviously not.

I’m not knocking the ideal, I’m saying that it has to be clear that it’s only an ideal, not something everyone can or should be expecting to get.

I once asked a top Lakewood marriage counselor what issues he sees as being the greatest causes of marital strife. He mentioned several items, and finances was near the top of the pile. The amount of time the husband puts aside for learning was also an issue at times, but it didn’t even make the top ten causes for disharmony in marriage.

You know why that is? It’s because, at the end of the day, the number of hours your husband learns isn’t going to make or break your marriage. But you know what might? Not being able to keep the electricity on. You know what else might wreck your marriage? Your husband being so engrossed in his learning that he is never available to help you take care of the kids. That could really make you miserable.

What really matters in looking for a husband is finding someone with middos who will be there for you and support you as necessary. Getting a “top guy” is doing none of that for you. You will be a lot happier with a husband who is ehrlich, has the ability to provide for you and the family, treats you like a queen, and is koveah ittim latorah.

The issue isn’t shadchanim, the issue is the insane indoctrination of our girls into believing that a boy who isn’t learning 18 hours a day isn’t worth her time.

Sincerely,

A Happily Married Wife of a Baalebus

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34 COMMENTS

  1. It’s true. Seminaries are ruining our our girls education system and our shiduchim and marriages. It’s time to abolish seminaries.

  2. My pet peeve for a long while. And it starts in the Lakewood high schools where they bring these “inspiring” woman whose husbands have already been learning 7 years and it “just works” aka forgetting to mention that papa is conveniently footing the bill. Its such a disservice how there is no mention of the reality of supporting the family if parents cant help out. I attended high school here and can guarantee there is no mention of such realities. The real challenge starts when the husband is 30, with 3 kids, no more support and enters the workforce at a starting salary. I hope papa is buying them the “starter” house then for 800k!

  3. Very true. I don’t think this is the only cause but it is definitely one of them. People should impart to their kids the value of being a good yid, and not get caught up in measuring people by how many hours they learn. Seminaries offer classes on marriage that teach girls BOGUS of what marriage is about and instead tell them mostly about husband learning which not only skews the shidduch system but the shalom bayis system when the husband is valued by his learning exclusively not by his emunah, honesty, kindness, generosity, and other things that make the shalom bayis difference.

  4. Wow, finally finally finally someone is saying it out loud. I can attest that girls in the mainstream Bais Yaakov system are never once introduced to the realities of life and are made to feel less-than if they raise the question of how they are supposed to financially support a family on their own.

  5. I must say, that I agree with you 100 percent.

    I will not start to BASH the SEM or HS out there, because I think that its a waste of time, and nothing will be done about it.

    The parents have to take responsibility in teaching their girls what’s the most important thing in marriage, and no its not a learning husband, it’s a giving and caring husband.

    That said, I must tell you a story that happened with me.

    My daughter was read a great boy, and I asked two of his REBBYS about him, and they both said the same thing, his MIDOS are great, but he won’t be the next Rosh Hyeshiva.

    The reason that they told that to me was, because I come from a family, that my father is a Rosh Hyeshiva, and all my siblings are the top in learning.

    Well I told his two REBBYS, the most important thing in a marriage is MIDOS, and BH I took him as a son in law, and I have to say BH THEY ARE SO HAPPY TOGETHER.

    CHASDI HASHEM I HAD ENOUGH SACHEL NOT TO LISTEN TO THESE TWO REBBYS.

    • You did listen to them, you took him because of his midos! You prioritized the midos over the kishron in learning, which was your and your daughter’s choice and obviously the right one. They were just saying that if you are looking for a Rosh Yeshiva he wont necessarily be one ( although people can grow and thrive in learning and all areas if they are in a pleasant marriage and dont have to deal with shalom bayis problems).

  6. Chevra, The girls are in seminary for one year. They are in our homes for 18 to 20+ years. Parents have the option to teach them any lessons they would like. And upon their return…

  7. Please don’t forget that for this great privilege of teaching your daughters this absurdity you get to pay 25k in tuition, forgetting about the other costs that also go along with it. If you have 5 or 6 daughters that does add up. Of course every parent should and must fight off the foolishness and nareshkeit that seminaries teach in order to save their child’s life from being a life of misery and emptiness. However, why should parents be doing all of that in addition to paying 25k for it? And if you say this is so foolish and buck the system and your daughter doesn’t go to seminary, whew… good luck with that shidduch process in the tristate area.

  8. I disagree. There are many girls out there who are open and willing to take a boy like the letter writer. Stop making a big fuss about seminary. If done right it can be the most amazing and inspiring year. At the end of the day its the values which the girl picks up at home. I remember my classes on preparing us for dating and what to look for in a boy. Not once did they mention that we need to make sure he is a huge masmid who learns 18 hrs a day. Our teacher told us to look for a boy with good middos who is healthy etc…….
    So chill everyone. If you’re trying to bash & put down a beautiful system where the husband is sitting and learning and the wife is the breadwinner, I can say personally there’s nothing in the world like it and Hashem helps in ways that you can’t imagine. As a mother of a growing family with a husband who sit and learns, this gives me the greatest pleasure and i hope and daven that we can continue for many more years. Yes I work very hard, but it so worth it. I wouldn’t trade this way of life for anything.

  9. Seminary is just one long year of sleep away camp. It’s fun and exciting and a way to get away from the very parents who are paying the bills. There is nothing there that couldn’t be taught in the 4 years of a Beis Yaakov high school. Cut out all the stupid play practices and productions and color wars and look at all the time that will free up for your one year of seminary education right there in high school. It’s a fantasy to think that you can only be inspired and grow in a place far away from home, and even if so then send the girls from New York to California and vice versa. This whole thing is all just so silly and a joke to think this is even remotely important in a girl’s development in life. It is a huge money making business for a bunch of rich American businessmen and if you don’t believe me just follow the money. Talk to the people here in America who do the books and process the credit card payments for these seminaries. They live among us and they know exactly the real cost per girl and how much of that tuition is just making rich people in this country much richer. It’s a business like any other business and we are the suckers who cannot get off this stupid hamster wheel of nothingness and foolishness
    and say enough is enough.

  10. To some extent the blame for perpetuating this broken system sits with the shadchanim.

    A person can have a list of all the maalos they are looking for, but at the end of the day you only meet a certain amount of people in your life – set up by the shadchanim – and will likely ‘compromise’ and marry one of them.

    Therefore, in order to change the system you also need to change the mindset of the shadchanim so they will redt these bochurim.

  11. This letter writer is 100% correct. However, the yeshiva system is only producing boys learning seriously after the age of 18 because the girls are interested in that, which is a major motivating factor. If girls stop caring about “learning” the yeshiva system as is will crumble almost totally. A success shidduch is the most motivating factor to a 20 year old boy today.

  12. Distorted facts.
    I teach and my husb works. Now a days most households are 2 salary ones. And all teachers arent rich kids who are bored and have papa’s cc.
    Its truly shocking how fast ppl are to blame others.
    This guy is probably a weirdo who is obsessed with the fact that if he doesnt work now he wont be able to pay his kids tutions(which he probably wont bec in his eyes he is raised poor and needs a break) the shadchanim told him his problem is the fact that he is working on the side…when really they wanted to say his problem is hes obsessed with money…a terrible trait in a husb …and all those comments about sem ….i feel for the commentors…you all sound bitter…what a way to live…always mad at unchangeable systems..and with so much anger and bitterness…nebuch on all of you.

  13. This letter is filled with so many things that are just plain wrong, I don’t know where to begin.

    First off, let’s take this one line
    The one about many marriage counselors won’t even put the amount of learning one does a s a top ten cause of strife . Really?
    And are marriage counselors a deah?
    Is that really a torah outlook?
    One who is learning properly will always hve peace and harmony in their home.

    Second off :
    A boy who starts working in 2021, albeit part time ,and is still in Yeshiva, is usually one foot out the door. There’s nothing wrong with that, you can still be an eved HaShem , but it’s a different boy. There are many girls who sacrificed their entire lives to keep themselves pure, only for the sake of marrying a boy who is Kulo Torah and this is not that type of boy!

    Third off :
    If I were to criticize the Shidduchim system
    I wouldn’t start at the High schools or Sems (although there’s what needs change)
    Rather , let’s look at the boys and the UNREALISTIC DEMANDS that parents of a boy make on the girls family, which makes it almost impossible for a simple girl to get a shidduch !

    • call yourself mark Levin but you are far from being a Great One….
      Marriage counselors shud be taken into account unless your someone who believes Metzius does not matter…
      its not a dayah its metzius…..

  14. The shidduch crisis has nothing on the years that follow. The realty is that pursuing a full time job while raising several small children, including tuitions and playgroup, and caring for a house on a single income (that stipend is not a salary), while glamorizing the husband learning can bring a good woman to her limit.

    The beauty of the Torah is how well haShem has kept it in each person’s heart after thousands of years. Our ancestors worked all day and still kept time to study by candlelight. We know it worked, or we wouldn’t have kollels today. But rather than learn from those laws that haven’t changed, we push for new methods and glorify students, teaching our children that it’s good to try and figure out if we can afford tuition, or a car, or even a little meat, as long as there’s a learning boy at the end.

  15. Just a quick notation of a massive mistake this letter writer wrote in reply to the bachur.
    If you noticed the bachur in the first letter said he comes from a family of little means. If anybody knows anything about seminaries the first thing that comes to mind is the cost. So add the two together and you realize this bachur, in all likelihood will NOT marry a girl who went to seminary in E”Y!!!
    (Yes there is a whole world out there, of people who do not send their daughters to seminary in E”Y, because they can’t afford it. And yes most marriages come from the boy and girl coming from similar backgrounds.

  16. My daughter is in a top Lakewood high school. She is not indoctrinated to believe that she must marry an 18 hour a day learning boy. Forget about it… She sees her brothers, some are serious learners some aren’t. She sees me going to work after 10 years in kollel & still keeping serious sedarim. The premise of this writer is absolutely false.
    Stop looking to blame one aspect of our society for all the shidduch troubles. It’s a narishkeit.
    Our society is as complex as the many types of people who are part of it. Our chinuch system is doing a heroic job & we should thank the people so dedicated to our children.
    A person that ignores societal norms & hurts his chances for a good shidduch just to make a few dollars is a big nebach. There are ways for a bachur to make some money without hurting his shidduch prospects. This boy needs a rebbi to set him straight.

  17. # Mark Levin.

    I don’t agree with everything you said, but I surely agree with what you said regarding the boy’s demand for support.

    I call it life support with a respirator!!

    I must tell you a true story that happened with my landlord about 20 years ago.

    His daughter was going out with a so called top boy, and he offered him life support and a house where ever they would like to live. The SHIDUCH was holding by closing, but the boy came back with one more demand, he needs a car as well!!!

    Well the girls father had it, and said no to the SHIDUCH.

    The girls father told me the story and said, you don’t think that I would have gotten them a car? Of course I was, but that the boy had the CHUTZPAH to ask for one after I am offering life support and a house, such a boy is not for me.

    Well guess what.

    That girl got engaged to a different boy, and a few weeks before the CHASUNA, there was a car waiting in the girls driveway for after she gets married.

    This story is 100 percent true.

    I also had someone call me up regarding my sister, for his brother.

    The first question was, does my father give life support.

    I told him, if that’s your first question, then your brother is not for my sister.

    It’s a crazy world.

  18. How many good bochurim now need to travel during bein hazmanim? It’s not ok to be a counselor anymore. The young generation is being spoiled rotten by the older generation and we only have ourselves to blame.

    30 yrs ago, a young kollel couple did not live on the level most couples do today and had zero hasagos.

  19. 1. the morahs of today are teaching what their morahs taught them then.

    2. if the morahs begin teaching different hashkafos [ than what theyre teaching now] , will the school continue to have applicants, or will they be called the “modern” school, and be considered not so good for shiduchim?!

  20. For all those who don’t like Bais Yaakov, go join Satmar they teach girls how too sew, cook, bake and raise a Yidishe family.
    However, the Yeshivish society has always been, and will continue to, prioritize learning as the most important thing for a Jew (or to some, the only thing that’s important).
    Eilu Vaeilu…..

  21. Kollel Judaism is a form of racism.

    Except for the top, top students, 2 years and out – that is what the policy should be.

    And the top students should be chosen by examination, not by how much money their parents and in-laws “donate” to the Kollels and Yeshivas.

  22. The boy should get on the Turnpike and head a few hours south. There’s a wonderful city where the Bais Yaakov girls are highly educated with university degrees and appreciate a boy who will work (& the more degrees the better).

  23. I really do not like the tone of this letter. The author writes “I’m not knocking the ideal, I’m saying that it’s just not something that everyone should aspire for.”

    No problem.

    However, she goes on to promote her lifestyle as ideal, and denounces the kollel lifestyle as inducing marital strife as per one anonymous counselor, due to financial struggle and husband not being available due to unfortunately being too busy learning.

    Can you and your anonymous counselor take a step back and realize that some people actually want their husband to be learning, and proud that their husband is learning?

    Is it for everybody? No. Is it ideal? Yes, anonymous counselor, it is. As long as the couple are able to manage it, it’s wonderful to have a lifestyle based around Torah learning.
    And some people actually appreciate it.

  24. Thank you ng, very well said.
    And if I may add, no, not kollel families are not living off their parents cc… They’re probably getting less support than those families who hubby ends up going to work after a year or 2, or the ones who’s parents are helping out with college tuition.

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