Nowadays, men and women take a longer time to settle down and build a family. It can be caused by several factors such as financial stability, sexual preference, educational background, and economic status. Even religious beliefs and morals play a significant role in marriage longevity and family formation.
In Judaism, marriage is considered as a mitzvah to procreate and build a family. Jewish people are not exempt from the challenge of finding the right partner to spend the rest of their lives with. Even in modern times, some still resort to shidduch for dating, and ultimately, marriage.
What Is Shidduch?
In simple terms, shidduch is the arrangement of meeting between a Jewish man and woman for marriage. It is the single individuals themselves, or their parents, who decide to arrange a shidduch. A shidduch is said to be similar to modern-day dating. However, both have notable differences from each other. In shidduch, the end goal is to find a suitable life partner. In dating, that’s not necessarily the case. One can go on a date solely to have a good time or to pass the time.
“With the rates of divorce and eating disorders rising, complaints regarding the shortage of men and the move away from socializing activities to the extensive use of third-party matchmakers, a true crisis exists and may be worsening,” Michael J. Salamon, PH.D. wrote.
Who To Approach?
To arrange a shidduch, the individual must approach a shadchan. A shadchan can either be a relative or a friend. There are also professional shadchans available who offer their services especially in areas where there are large Jewish populations. It is common practice to give honorarium, especially if the shadchan is successful in finding a lifetime partner. The honorarium is determined by the local customary fee.
“If someone is suggesting a shidduch, and we are called upon to serve as a reference for a friend or a relative, we should share the actual information and hold back judgment as to whether we think it is a good idea or not,” Efrat Sobolofsky, MSW, Ph.D. says.
After finding your match, you should not be afraid to ask about him/her around the community – neighbors, common friends, or workmates. It is important to determine his reputation with his colleagues and to help you decide whether he is indeed a “good” person and match for you.
Where Will Shidduch Take Place?
Eventually, date and place are set for your shidduch. In a more conservative Jewish community, a sit-in with the parents will take place. Parents of both parties will talk and get to know each other. When the setting is more relaxed, they will leave their children and go to another room. The single individuals will have more time to talk by themselves. It is the right time to talk about their views and opinions openly and honestly.
Having the sit-in in a neutral place, where communication with the other individual is the primary activity, is essential in a shidduch. Typical venues for shidduch is a hotel lobby, restaurant or park. Physical contact which can lead to more intimate actions is highly discouraged. Judaism teaches that intimacy outside the framework of marriage is considered selfish. Therefore, intimate acts such as kissing, hugging, and coitus are all to be done under the sanctity of marriage.
What If We’re Incompatible?
There are times (or numerous times) that the pair will be incompatible with each other. When either party feels this, it is the role of the shadchan to say this to the other individual. “Based on my experience, if indeed there is an emotional-depth mismatch, this gap tends to grow wider over time and so does its impact on the marriage,” Gill Heart, PhD tells. Both should not be discouraged because one day, you’ll be able to find your bashert, or “destiny.”