The Rabbinical Alliance of America — Igud HaRabbonim, with a membership of over 950 Orthodox Rabbis — calls for greater vigilance of community members in encouraging, and refraining from discouraging, proposed shidduchim (blind dates). The very word “shidduchim” can send shivers down the spine of a loving parent and a nervous single. The complex process of finding a mate, and thereby continuing the millennia-old chain of Jewish families, can be daunting. People rightly pray for help in finding a spouse, perform acts of kindness and charity in the merit of finding their match, seek advice and blessings from righteous people, and explore many possible avenues for finding the right person. All of this is important. The Almighty expects us to look toward Heaven for help. However, at the same time as we pray and search we have to be careful to avoid hurting others carelessly.
The challenge facing singles has been called a “crisis.” In recent years, a number of proposals have been suggested to lighten the burden. Some leading rabbis have encouraged young men to expand their sights by considering women slightly older than them, if they are not already doing so. Others have encouraged age parity regarding when young men and women start looking for their matches. Even if no single idea solves the problem, each can be taken as sound advice to make the shidduch search a little easier for many people.
On encouragement from leading educators, RAA/Igud offers the following proposal as a supplement to the many different ideas circulating. A young man or woman often finds that a friend is suggested to date someone whom that person has already dated. A well-intentioned person will want to share with a friend the information he or she has gathered during those unsuccessful dates. RAA/Igud strongly urges people not to share dating experiences. Doing so hurts your friend by inserting prejudgment into the equation. Your judgment is tainted by uncontrollable bias, placing a permanent stamp on someone based on your opinions. By inserting your views and experiences, you can be destroying a match made in Heaven. No two people respond the same to an experience and a potential spouse may interact differently with your friend than with you. A disastrous date with one person should not ruin shidduch chances with all of that person’s friends.
Every person whom you date has hopes and dreams. They have loving parents who deeply care about their child’s shidduch prospects. Every word you utter should be said while keeping in mind that you are discussing someone beloved by family and by the Almighty. If you have any questions on whether to share your dating experiences, ask an objective rabbi. Saying the wrong thing could prevent the start of a beautiful Jewish family.
No individual can solve the “shidduch crisis” but you can help a few people start a Torah home by refraining from sharing your dating stories. If someone has a bad date, their response should be to think of a friend for whom this person might be a good match. Helping others helps you. The Almighty will give to you as you give to others. Pray for others, give to others, suggest dates to others and the Almighty will respond in kind.
The many community and shul rabbis of RAA/Igud call on educators and rabbis — roshei yeshiva, mashgichim, and mechanchim — to encourage those who are dating to take extra care in discussing their experiences. Every Jew deserves a fair chance at finding a shidduch. We pray that in the merit of greater care with our words and greater sensitivity for others we will see many more families sprout in happiness as people find their matches. May the “shidduch crisis” turn into the “shidduch kindness” speedily in our days.