By Rabbi Hanoch Hecht
I frequently have bocherim visiting us to lend a hand in the outreach that we do. Recently the bocherim that came to help us were all older and in the dating scene. After meticulously discussing the system of dating within our communities, we came to the conclusion that it is not the system that is failing us, rather it is the people within the system that are failing.
Everyone always complains about the system, how it is incomplete, ineffective or an absolute malfunction. Although singles shift the blame to the shadchanim (both professional as well as the others like family and friends), the bigger issue lies with the daters.
There was no bigger shock to me than hearing the following: one of the bocherim I was speaking (although maybe not the norm) shared with me that these days, a guy must have at least three girls lined up for him before he travels to his destination in order to date. Otherwise “it is not worth the trip.”
How can one effectively date, and by date I mean look for one’s Bashert, with another two or more possible prospects in the back of their head?!
The answer is simple: one cannot. Not only is it completely futile, but it is an immense disrespect to all the people involved! If you plan on having one spouse, then you only have to date one person at a time with the intentions of a potential mate. Dating, much like marriage, needs to be monogamous. Having more than 1 person as an option inevitably triggers your mind to compare your options and that is utterly destructive to your dating experience.
It gets worse: imagine being on a date with someone and they start telling you all the virtues and qualities they liked about their previous shidduch.
Sadly this is happening on both sides of the aisle and then people wonder why they aren’t getting married. More and more singles are staying single despite their dating efforts. And the reason is simple: we do not know how to date.
What I think we need to make available in every single Jewish community is a Dating Course. It would teach the daters what to look for, how to act on a date, etc. This could have a huge impact on people in the dating world and bring about many more matches on a basis of Torah and Chassidus.
This is especially important for the more “chilled out” daters than the more chassidish /serious learners ones. The need to understand that dating isn’t a fun pastime, it is a means of starting your life with your Bashert and fulfilling your life to the fullest as a Jewish entity is a great one.
May Hashem help that parents continue to do their job and teachers their part and surely we will see many more matches that will bring up “a dor yeshorim yivoroch.”
Rabbi Hanoch Hecht is the Director of Chabad of Dutchess County and the Rhinebeck Jewish Center in Rhinebeck, NY.