Friday, May 28, 2010

Pick YOUR Favorite Shidduch Blog Post

Ever read a post about Shidduchim/Dating and thought - "I wish they printed stuff like this in bookform!" Well, your input might now bring that to fruition!

After a round of discussion that I generated on this post at Bad For Shidduchim, Bad for Shidduchim, Frum N' Flipping and I are attempting to cull together the greatest posts related to shidduchim and hopefully create some sort of book for your reading enjoyment.

They really should get all the credit, though - especially Frum N' Flipping for setting this up. I'm just the idea man.

Where can you send in your nominations for what you think is print-worthy?

Right here: The Shidduch Anthology (title TBD).

Yes, you can suggest your own posts (why not, after all?), and *insert shameless self plug* any suggestions of things I've written are greatly appreciated.

We're trying this out to see if we can reach beyond the realm of cyberspace and spread ideas about shidduchim/dating to the general Jewish reading public, including those who may not have access to, or choose not to access, the internet for one reason or another.

One of the main reasons we write/read these things anyway is to give others out there an insight into how the dater "on the ground" thinks about his/her experiences, and how he/she relates to the whole system, with all it's zaniness.

As an avid reader of dating/marriage books, I know I've always wanted to read something like this, but all we really get are "how to guides" of sorts written by either a) shadchanim or b) psychologists/therapists - both of whom are already married and are dispensing the widsom of their positions/history. Granted that these things are wonderful to read about (mostly), it's always nice to have works that reach to you on the same level of existence. That sort of essay/story/expression of opinion/whatever connects more directly to you as a reader because the author is very similar to you and knows first-hand (and not in just the recollective sense) what you're going through.

Plus, there's the whole Shabbos thing and not being able to use my computer to read blogs about dating :)

So scour your favorite posts (I've recently added the search bar and subject tag listing on the ride-hand side of the blog for your browsing convenience) and make your suggestions!

Tell your friends, neighbors, and family! We want your input!

Have a great Shabbos!

P.S. With finals and graduation over (huzzah!), more posts should be forthcoming...

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Torah Tours + Shidduch Music Video + Preview Of Future Posts

I've been quite busy the past week. Finals and studying for finals definitely took their toll, as did Shavuos and participating in Torah Tours (in a good way, it was a lot of fun), so I haven't really had time to write/complete any posts. So while I still hammer away at the books for my remaining finals, I threw together a few interesting things to create this post.

First, Torah Tours was a blast! We ran a very successful program, with shiurim, kids activities and divrei Torah, and the community we were sent to absolutely loved us. I highly recommend participating in Torah Tours to any Yeshiva/Stern student, especially those currently dating. You might just meet your bashert, as one of my friends did a few years ago (and they weren't even in the same group, he just gave her a ride to the other shul near where he was stationed). Or, if you're otherwise occupied (like I was) you have the opportunity to meet some really great people of the opposite gender and can practice your social interaction skills. All, or I should say almost all, awkwardness of inter-gender communication, etc. was non-existent (or went away over the course of yom tov) and we all banded together to form a really cohesive team. Someone asked me toward the end of Thursday if we had ever met before a week or two ago when we had the big organizational meeting - and was shocked when I said no. They commented that it seemed like we were all best buddies since high school.

Oh, and there were a TON of in-jokes being born and flying back and forth all weekend, which was all part of the fun. A friend who also went on Torah Tours for Shavuos told me the following story:

Their plane had landed and he was busily texting his girlfriend as he approached the exit door. He thanked the stewardess (who was in her early 30's), and she promptly asked him "Why aren't you texting me?" He replied, innocently enough, "How could I text you when I don't have your number?" The stewardess thought this was a pick-up line and gave him a sassed-up response (complete with side-to-side neck motions).

In Summary: Torah Tours gets two big thumbs up from me.

While looking for a different shidduch-related video on Youtube, I came across this little gem: It's a parody of "Tik Tok" by Ke$ha called "Oy Vey (The Shidduch Crisis)." The lyrics are quite funny, and the overall production is a very on-target critique of "The System." The video has a fairly low number of hits - I'm surprised no one has discovered it before.

As a caveat, the video does feature women singing - though there are no pictures of the artist herself (themselves?). So that means there is a technical heter to view/listen, since the real issur is putting a voice together with a face, which could then produced bad thoughts (I learned an Igros Moshe that discussed this point with my madrich when I was on NCSY Kollel, though I can't seem to find it at the moment). Plus, it's also "auto-tuned" so it isn't exactly the artist's real voice at any rate...

Perhaps this should be included in Bad4's Shidduchim: The Musical?

Lastly, for a preview of posts yet to be completed/published:

A review of "I Only Want To Get Married Once" by Chana Levitan (a great book!). They even have a Kindle version (does anyone have one?).

A Dating Case Study of Barnes and Noble, akin to the one I did about Dave and Buster's.

Based on a post at Bad For Shidduchim, I'm going to write up a fake version of a realistically informative profile using a template a friend gave me (which also serves as the format for my own profile).

In short: The whole debate over the usefulness of "profiles" or *shudder* "resumes" is getting really annoying, in my opinion. If daters want profiles to be worthwhile, then WRITE SOMETHING on them!!! The same thing goes for the YUConnects/Saw You at Sinai profiles, where people write all of 2-3 sentences about who they are and what they're looking for. Everyone always complains how it's so hard to concisely write these things down, so I say: write MORE. Give the shadchan/friend/potential date something that is worth reading and will actually tell them something about you and what you want our of a marriage partner. I honestly never seriously consider someone who tells me so little about herself on her profile. Why even send me the profile when I can get the same information in a 5 minute phone conversation with your reference? In my view, the profile should be the best possible presentation of who you really are, with lots of details. After reading a profile, the interested party should legitimately know to a reasonable degree if a date is shayach or not, rather than Bad4's dilemma from the above post.

Anyway, that's all for now!

P.S. (added at 4:40 PM): It turns out that another girl I went out with got engaged recently! I think that's #3. Mazal Tov!

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Saying "NO," Now Available Without Artificial Sweetener

An anonymous female reader submitted a letter to that discusses her recent experiences with being led on by her dates, who gave off the impression that they were having a good time and wanted to continue going out, but then proceeded to give her "the talk" then dumped her, or just dropped her via the shadchan.

I am very much against the idea of giving false impressions of continued interest, building up a person's hopes and then dropping a bomb on them that shatters their expectations. It's not nice, it hurts, and people who do that need to develop a greater sense of being considerate of the feelings of others.

However, I also wrote about making sure the girl always has a good time, which created some discussion in the comments with points similar to this girl's letter on Matzav. I think the author of the letter is correct that a guy has no right to play with a girl's emotions on any level, especially if he is falsely projecting a positive, "I see this going somewhere" aura.

If you're going to go on a date, regardless of which number the date is, both guy and girl must be open minded about the possibility about continuing, but realizing that there may not be a future either. Going on a date with a foregone negative conclusion in mind is just wrong. It's a waste of time and energy. It drags on the emotions and really serves no constructive purpose whatsoever.

One of the most tenuous things about shidduch dating is that until you've had The State of The Union Address, the ongoing relationship is very "touch-and-go" and could literally end after that evening's date. It's a part of the system that is both good and bad. Good, because it shows you're dating l'toeles with the goal of marriage in mind, and not just to have fun with someone of the opposite gender. Bad, because this can be a bit nerve-wracking, given that there is no real guarantee of a future in the relationship until you've had that serious talk about where "we" are going. At that point, instead of simply thinking about your own perspective and perhaps discussing your feelings with the shadchan or a dating mentor there is a real "couple" of sorts that has potential. That's when the barriers begin to really break down, and the concept of "us" is even tangible.

However, as I wrote in that post, even a positive outcome from that conversation doesn't mean that this is it. Nothing is certain until he gives her an engagement ring, and even then, as many people are unfortunately/painfully aware, engagements can be broken (I won't go further and mention how divorce is always a possibility, because no one ever wants to experience that - better a broken engagement than a get).

Life is filled with uncertainties of all sorts, but we should all make an effort to lesson the anxiety that is often part and parcel of the dating process. True, a lot is on the line when it comes to shidduchim, but that doesn't mean we have to be uptight about every aspect. Nor should we go to the other extreme and make believe that things are always so amazingly positive that we can give off a false impression to the other person. As Rambam is often quoted as saying, the shvil zahav, or golden mean is the objective means to properly conduct a successful shidduch campaign, causing as little hurt as possible (though no doubt any rejection causes pain) and G-d willing you too will come out at the end of the journey with a travel buddy for life.

Down With Vorts! recently posted an article about Rav Aharon Leib Shteinman's call to discontinue the practice of expensive, showy vorts. Aside from the unnecessary financial burdern these events cause (which are added on top of the wedding, getting an apartment, etc), two other reasons are given:

"A letter released from the gedolim states that in addition to the unnecessary expenses of a vort, there is an issue of ayin harah as well when making a vort gathering. The event falls under the category of “Kol dovor sheyeish lo pirsum, ein lo hatzlacha - Anything that has exposure does not see success,” wrote Rav Shteinman.

A final reason for discontinuing vorts, said Rav Shteinman, is the unnecessary bittul Torah it causes for the friends of the chosson, who leave their yeshivos to attend the celebration, wasting precious hours of Torah learning to be mesameiach their friend."

The first of these other two reasons seems to say that a vort should be assur, or at least highly inadvisable, which is interesting and something that had never crossed my mind. It would seem to me that this would give the kol koreh some halachic weight to it as a means to convince people to stop having vorts.

The second makes a lot of sense, particularly from my own perspective and the recent spate of friend's engagements (there was another 5 or so in the past week) that have a vort in some far away location, necessitating lengthy travel time. It's not just bittul Torah, but bittul zman as well to schlep out here and there. At YU, the solution is pretty easy - just have an engagement party in Rubin Shul on the Wilf Campus as many people do. It's inexpensive, easy accessible and makes life easier for everyone (except perhaps the parents/immediate family who have to come in to attend - but better a dozen people at most than a hundred friends in my view).

I know this isn't exactly a new issue, since there have been previous kol koreh that talk about reducing the financial burden of weddings by eliminating vorts among other things, but what do the readers think?

NY Times Articles Chronicling Yerushalayim's Reunification

As a very interesting addendum to yesterday's post:

I just came across this very neat collection of reproduced articles that were printed in the New York Times that talk about the IDF's capture of The Old City of Yerushalayim.

Thanks to DovBear for posting them!

! הר הבית בידינו

Today was the anniversary of the momentous occasion of Israel’s unexpected and arguably, miraculous capture of the Old City of Yerushalayim and Har Habayis (the Temple Mount) during the 6 Day War.

For me, Yom Yerushalayim was another unknown holiday, akin to Yom Ha’atzma’ut that I first encountered while in yeshiva in Israel. However, I have fully embraced the day as one of religious significance, more so than Yom Ha’atzma’ut. Why, might you ask? There two main reasons.

First, the immediate conflicts of religious practice that exist by the establishment of Yom Ha’atzma’ut and its celebration are mostly or entirely removed with regard to Yom Yerushalayim. We’re no longer in the “primary” mourning period practiced during Sefiras Ha’Omer, so any issues of acting in a manner counterintuitive to observing halachic mourning-type behavior is moot. (This is arguably true, since most people I know observe the first set of 33 days of mourning that conclude with Lag B’Omer).

Second and related to that, the miraculous nature of the victory and achievement attained on Yom Yerushalayim far surpasses those that are recognized on Yom Ha’atzma’ut. As I mentioned in my post discussing that day, the miraculous or spiritually significant nature of signing the declaration of statehood was not so impactful, rather it was the triumphant victory in war that followed shortly thereafter which was of greater import. No one can doubt that hand of G-d was clearly involved in a major fashion with the decision, planning, and successful capture of Har HaBayis. Though I shouldn’t say no one, since the Satmar Rav wrote his big protest of Zionism, etc right afterward.

At any rate, having lived in and around Yerushalayim for two years, with many days spent in the Old City and many tefillos prayed at the Kotel, I cannot be thankful enough for the opportunity that I tremendously benefitted from. As most anyone can attest to, a visit to the Old City, and especially the Kotel causes some internal stirrings, both emotional and spiritual. Something is simply different when you’re standing there in front of the ancient stone, thinking about the millennia of history that have transpired in that location.

The only major problem is that I’ve had a dearth of Yom Yerushalayim spirit since I left Israel. Unlike Yom Ha’atzma’ut, Yom Yerushalayim typically falls out after the school year has ended at YU. I’ve even been on a plane back to my hometown, wearing a white shirt in honor of the day, and experienced no more celebration than listening to my Yom Yerushalayim mix of Jewish music on my iPod. On the occasions that I’ve been in my hometown, the more religious elements don’t know or care, and even the secular JCC folk basically say “What’s this Jerusalem Day? We just had a big program with speakers and everything for Israel Independence Day!”

So this year, despite the extreme annoyance of having finals that go through Shavuos (which also typically occurs after I leave New York), it was such a pleasure to experience a festive Shacharis (including Hallel with a bracha), followed by breakfast and inspirational shiurim given by Rav Schachter and Rav Goldvicht. The combination of the two Roshei Yeshiva was perfect! Unfortunately, I cannot find either on YU Torah at the moment…

Rav Shachter spoke from the American historical perspective, how the Catholic church has always been antagonistic toward the Jews ever possessing Israel again (because of their religious beliefs that they are now the am hanivchar – the chosen people), how the declaration of the state confounded them, and the capture of Har HaBayis really threw them for a loop. Rav Shachter emphasized how we, the younger generations, who grew up with an Israel that always existed and always included the Old City of Yerushalayim and Har HaBayis, need to be especially appreciative and recognize what a gift we have.

Rav Goldvicht spoke from the Israeli perspective, and told the story of from the time of the 6 Day War where 10,000 coffins were constructed and kept in the Old City in preparation for the massive death toll on the Israeli side that was taken as a given outcome of the conflict. When the IDF turned things around, won the war and captured our holiest city and site, those very caskets were turned into Sukkos! He spoke about Yerushalayim and Har HaBayis as a central, unifying place where all members of Bnei Yisrael are welcome.

So I wish everyone a slightly belated Chag Sameach!

I was swamped today with exam review classes and paper writing, and that trend could potentially continue through the next two weeks with final exams, Shavuos (Torah Tours, woo!), and the end of the semester… I am still writing stories and posts and have several in various states of progress at the moment. So if I can manage to write a bit here and there, I hope to have something worth posting. Stay tuned…

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Shtick It To 'Em

Now that we’ve passed Lag B’omer, wedding season has begun yet again. One of the most exciting parts of any wedding, aside from the expansive smorgasbords, blasting bands, and over-the-top ruach, is of course the shtick that friends and family perform for the entertainment of the chosson and kallah.

For me, shtick is a double-edged sword. It’s always fun to concoct some hilarious in-jokey thing to do, and even more fun to plan and bring the idea to life, especially if you’re with a group of friends. However, while such personally designed shtick may be more meaningful for your friend (the chosson or kallah, take your pick), everyone knows it’s always the crazy, flashy shtick that is sure to amaze.

So guys will go all out to discover some new, inventive, or simply jaw-dropping stunt/feat to perform. Whether this may include juggling flaming torches, fanciful dance moves such as the moonwalk or break dancing, or elaborate handstand undulations, guys tend push themselves to their limits to impress.

One major “problem” with all of this is the fact that shtick basically lasts all of 30 seconds if you’re lucky, and perhaps less than that if you’re not. The rush of adrenaline takes over as the orchestra swells into that infamous “it’s time to bring the kallah over for shtick” music, the crowd stops dancing and begins to circle around, while a pair of chairs (or more, depending if parents and/or grandparents want front row seats) are pulled up for the guests of honor.

It’s a lot of pressure to make sure elaborate shtick goes well. Aside from hoping not to disappoint the chosson and kallah, depending on just what you’ve planned, you have to make sure it goes according to plan and make sure that you nor anyone else (especially the chosson, kallah and/or grandparents) get injured in any fashion. This is why there are usually a pair of guys who run up and grab each other’s hands, extending their locked arms across the front of the chosson and kallah to make sure no stray objects, be they juggled items or swinging feet, cause any harm.

Being a bit straight-laced and a stickler for safety, I’m usually one of those protector guys, and run to become the human shield the moment I see any potentially dangerous shtick about to start.

On top of all that, there is a second major “problem,” and that “problem” is of the female persuasion.

Of course, as soon as the kallah is brought over to join her brand-new-out-of-breath husband, all activity on the other side of the mechitza stops instantly. Suddenly, the entire population that formerly occupied the other half of the dance floor is standing and cheering alongside all your previous dance partners. In a matter of moments all eyes are on you, and unexpectedly, your job is no longer just to be mesamayach chosson v’kallah anymore…

I’m sure girls get a huge kick out of watching guys make fools of themselves and/or show off their talents. I know this is true because I’ve heard girls in passing as they talked about a friend’s shtick routine as “having made their night,” which certainly caused me to raise an inquisitive eyebrow.

Everyone knows that girls and guys check each other out during weddings; during the shmorg, as everyone is sitting and waiting for the chuppah to start, during the chuppah, while the newlyweds are being danced back to the yichud room, while the guests chow down on the first course, during dancing, when desert is served, as well as during bentsching, sheva berachos, and let’s not forget the lines that form in anticipation of brachos from the chosson and kallah along with a sampling of segulah wine.

However, I feel obliged to make a small protest that it simply isn’t fair that we have to be put in the spotlight while the girls hang back and gawk. I’m not in any way protesting the standards of tzniyus and gedarim of halacha and suggesting that we get to watch the girls do whatever it is they do on their side of the mechitza. I’m merely bringing to light the double standard.

I’d be willing to bet there are guys that plan their shtick accordingly, bearing in mind that they know girls, or perhaps a certain girl they’ve had their eye on, will be watching them. Although, most typical guys are probably like me and are not such fans of the unexpected scrutiny.

Either way, I think that the whole thing negatively impacts on the kavana of what the guys are trying to do – or at least the ones who are serious about being mekayaim their mitzvah or bringing happiness to the bride and groom (that IS why we go to weddings, at any rate, not because of the food or to have a good time, there is a daf in Kiddushin that talks about this – someone please supply the reference if you know it). At least I know I’m much more self conscious when this sort of thing happens, not that I’ve ever had anyone ever request to go out with me (directly or indirectly) based on some fantastic shtick I did…

So, dear readers of both the female and male variety, what are your thoughts?

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

The Mighty Morphin' YU Rangers: Day of the Rappeller

As promised, here is the full episode. Because of Youtube's 10-minute limit, the guys had to split it into two parts:

Part 1

Part Two

Or simply watch them both in a row on this convenient little playlist.

The premiere party was a blast! I've got to hand it to the guys for putting together a really hilarious and fantastic video.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

It's Finally Here!!!

Well, they've finally done it.

After months of unfulfilled promises and over 2 years of production, the world premiere of the full episode of the Mighty Morphin' YU Rangers is tonight at 10:30 PM in Glueck 308.

I have to say I'm a bit excited to see the finished product, especially after all the hoopla that the guys who are making it have been talking about all school year.

In case you don't know what I'm referring to, the preview/theme song was posted on Youtube around Purim time. An insider source tells me that the voice you hear portraying Rita in this video has actually been replaced by the talented voice of world-famous blogger Chana from The Curious Jew.

So if you're a guy (girls not allowed, apparently) join me along with everyone else in attending the premiere! For those unable to make it, the guys told me it will be posted on Youtube shortly thereafter.

It's Morphin' Time!

I feel like I'm in 2nd grade again...

Sunday, May 2, 2010

The Mixed Mazal Tov

A comment on Chana's engagement story/post got me thinking about a topic that crops up every now and then that always causes mixed emotions, though generally for the better.

"Anonymous" April 27th, 2010 8:01 AM remarked that he is no longer a secret admirer, which is quite understandable, given the circumstances that Chana is taken.

This particular person (whoever he is) reminded me of that bittersweet feeling that arises whenever you find out someone you like(d) and considered a potential date/spouse has been snatched up by some lucky other person. This hasn't happened in a while for me, though I have had this experience a handful of times over my dating career.

The moment you hear the news, two emotions immediately well up: 1) A sense of happiness for the other person, which is certainly appropriate and 2) A sense of loss or sadness for what might have been. The latter feeling is particularly poignant if you were admiring the other person for some period of time and never got the chance to act on your feelings through dating, or perhaps were rebuffed at some point and intended to give it another try in the future.

True, the sense of loss is really nothing more than a door slammed shut on a fantasy/infatuation that may have been developing for quite some time, which sort of makes it akin to being dumped after really liking a person - except for the fact that it was all in your head to begin with.

However, I think the cathartic process of realizing - realistically, that is - that this other person for whom you've been harboring affections and potentially planning to go out with is no longer available does wonders for mental clarity. I know from personal experience that since high school I've always had a few girls in mind whom I've known from different experiences in life, whether I grew up with them, met them on NCSY Shabbatonim, was introduced to them in Israel or at YU that I considered potentially worth dating. That curiosity always piqued whenever I spent time around them, though it would fade in the subsequent days afterward.

I did make an attempt to finagle a shidduch with a one or two such girls, utilizing a mutual friend who was "in" on the fact that I was interested in the person to make the suggestion. I was rebuffed (via the intermediary) each time, which was certainly disappointing at that moment. Such refusals don't quite remove that little voice in the back of your head that the possibility still exists since they aren't "taken" as of yet. Often enough, you can sit, biding your time, go out with other people, but still have this other individual in mind for comparison. Also, the fact that the person her/himself has no clue that you were the one behind the attempted suggestion can build up a false hope of sorts that there may be another way to make the connection happen.

Suffice it to say such mental delusions are not healthy by any means, and that's why it is so beneficial to finally hear that these individuals are "taken." Aside from no longer being plagued by these feelings, which drain energy from one's psyche and can make dating in general difficult (as in distractedly thinking about them instead of the person you're going out with), I find that sense of having a window of opportunity closed to be uniquely satisfying. I don't understand why people get particularly upset (or legitimately upset) when such a person they've had their eye on is now engaged. In my mind, this in fact makes life easier! Be happy for the person, and realize that this means they weren't meant for you. That means one less wasted date, one less emotional upheaval, and one less source of agitation.

I sometimes find it hard to make choices when there are several good suggestions presented to me. This includes dating (such as the overwhelming feeling I've gotten from YUConnects at times) as well as something like having too many good shiurim to attend that are scheduled at the same time (such as during tomorrow's Yom Iyun on Women in Tanach and Talmud). I'm not an incredibly indecisive person, for example, I can easily make a choice at a restaurant of what I'd like to eat, but sometimes it can be a little too much to choose what is best in a particular situation (such as dating) when many legitimate options present themselves. That's why it's good, in my mind, to have girls on YUConnects turn me down after I've said yes to 7-8 suggestions. I'd much prefer to focus one person and have all other distractions removed from even the remotest possibility of consideration in my mind.

In my own case, when these particular girls I've known and been interested in have gotten engaged and married, I felt a bit saddened by the lost chance for a shidduch, but I am always equally elated for both the person and myself for having achieved a greater sense of where I'm really headed (or not headed) in my quest for my soulmate. These ideas could also easily apply to someone who has gone out with a particular person, been dumped, and hopes for a second chance. In either case, a healthy sense of closure allows you to move on with life as a whole, which is always a good thing.

So, be happy for the other person! That twinge of sadness/disappointment is also a good feeling to have, but it is far more important to use the simcha generated by the good news for your friend/acquaintance as fuel to further your own dating ambitions. This is how we all should properly keep a level-headed perspective as we go about dating on the road to marriage.

Don't be discouraged by the fact that someone you know (or were interested in) has made that next step. You're not being "left out" at all. Instead, view these announcements as another piece in the puzzle that provides clarity of vision in your own dating life that will steer you in the right direction toward that special someone.

May all the puzzle pieces that compose the greater mosaic of the Jewish people fall properly into place, forming a beautiful unified image of klal Yisrael. And may we all, each in our own time, find that perfectly sized spot where we belong - soon!