8th in a series
By Rabbi Yitschak Rudomin MA
Normally, I would wait a week before formulating a new article. But because of the strong debate surrounding my most recent article about “Sending Girls to Seminaries and the Shidduch Crisis,” which has garnered almost 250 comments here on Matzav, I feel it is important not to misunderstand me and to try to understand the subject and not lose focus by making personal attacks on me.
I would like to thank the editors at Matzav.com for being brave and wise enough to understand that we are trying to help the situation and not make it worse!
First of all, some commenters have made comments about my “MA” so I will clarify that first. Both my BA and MA were undertaken under the guidance and advice of major Rabbanim and Roshei Yeshiva. Anyone is free to read my comprehensive 250 Masters Thesis on “The Second World War and Jewish Education in America: The Fall and Rise of Orthodoxy” that I published in full and free of charge online at www.jpi.org/holocaust/ that was completed in 1983 at Teachers College – Columbia University to help me in my work in Kiruv and Chinuch working with secular Jews. Every single Rov and Rosh Yeshiva that has seen it has complimented me on it and has told me that is was a Kiddush HaShem. Readers are free to read my full MA thesis and let me know what there is “not” to like about it and I will be glad to respond to them as well.
Now I would like to post here a typical selection of 8 “questions” I received via Email and then the answers I gave them. Names have been omitted to protect privacy, while my answers commence with “Response“. Thank you so much!
“Rabbi, I read your article with great interest – the one pertaining to seminary for girls and its connection to the purported ‘shidduch crisis.’ Thank you for taking the Nachshon like leap and publishing thoughts that are on everyone’s minds, yet few – at least, those in positions of authority – are willing to speak on.”
Dear ____, Thanks for your Email. Thanks for getting where I am coming from! Keep Davening for me! Below are a few responses that I just wrote. I am sure you will appreciate the responses! All names have been removed to protect privacy.Be well and please stay in touch with me! Sincerely, Yitschak Rudomin.
“Subject: People like you are why I went off the derech. I read your article. It was disgusting. You talk of women in such a degrading way. As if they are a “crop” for men to pick before they “wither on the vine” at the age of 20. I understand the point of what you were attempting to make and perhaps it’s a fair point but the way you said it was disgusting. Very typical of the black hat frummies. You people are everything that’s wrong with Judaism.”
Hi ___, PLEASE call me! I would like to talk to you! Let’s talk. My number is 718 382 5610 You can also come to talk to me personally, I will be glad to meet with you. I do NOT charge for anything. I live in Flatbush. You may have valid complaints but it’s not against me, I can assure you of that. Fond Regards. By the way, I am a long-time Kiruv rabbi and I have personally Mekareved hundreds of people during my life. I have never pushed anyone away from Yiddishkeit, Baruch HaShem. True, that I wrote the latest article for the very Frum crowd, it is not meant for people like you in any way. As I say, please call me and we can talk some more, so you will see who I am and what I say. I can relate to what you are saying better than you can imagine. Sincerely, Yitschak Rudomin. See my Kiruv website at www.jpi.org .
“How would you look at a Sugya where a person, even if well intentioned, was promulgating an argument that caused Chilul Hashem on a massive scale?”
Dear ___, Thank you for your Email. You may be surprised but I have received many Emails from people who agree with me, and are telling me a few times over that I have “hit the nail on the head”! In life, nothing can be achieved without some level of risk. No pain, no gain. No teacher or rebbi can succeed without stirring debate. This was the 7th of a series of articles and it is not even scratching the surface of the situation. Until now virtually everyone was raving how great my articles were, so okay the 7th one caused a ripple, so what, the world is going to end, people will have heart attacks, or do we want to get to the bottom of this so-called “Shidduch Crisis”?
If you have better ideas please write up your own articles and let’s hear what you have to say, I will be glad to be the first to read them — and give you my criticism in more than one-liners. Just please don’t send me Yeshivisha Leitzonus style one-liners as if that is supposed to mean something! Can you explain what is the “chillul HaShem” EXACTLY that you are referring to because I just do not see it. I am a Kiruv rabbi, how do you suggest to people “politely” that they need to be Frum or Frummer?? Believe me my articles come from Ahavas Yisroel Lechumra. Maybe you have a better way? Or maybe you prefer that we all stay asleep and die a pleasant suicide???
I am not the “Urim VeTumim” and neither are you! I wrote an article, after being asked to do so, and it went up, and now people are having discussions. I am also not a Shadchan and I am not being Mezaveg Zivvuggim for anyone! I am having a discussion via an article, all counter-arguments are welcome! I am an open-minded person as I hope you are too. No one ever died from a discussion. We have a problem in our American Yeshiva Velt (actually we have many, but this is the one we are focused on for now) and it’s called the “Shidduch Crisis” now the question is what is causing it?
There are all sorts of theories out there and all sorts of dei’os and you and anyone is free to give your opinions. Please do not start to take comments out of context that I am making in a convoluted discussion in the comments section where anonymous people are being very irrational and not talking with clear heads, and make that into a gantza tzimmes. You are not being fair.
Insulting me is also not an “argument” it just tells me you have nothing to saying so you use divrei hevel instead. I am not saying anything new, if you haven’t heard of Yehuda Ben Teima, and his “editor” Rebbi Yehuda HaNasi who both say without any Sofek “Ben Shemoneh Esrei Lechupa” and that goes for every Torah Jew! So far, Baruch HaShem Bizmaneinu the Chasidisha Velt and the Torahdikka Oilem in Eretz Yisroel has been successfully proving that both Heiliga Tannaim the Rebbi Yehudas, Yehuda Ben Teima and Rebbi Yehuda HaNasi knew what they were saying when they said “18 to the Chupa” for boys and girls. Sure if they want to get married earlier than that, as Yidden once did that’s also okay, and if they do not find their Basherts by 18 then Avadeh they will get married after 18 whenever their Basherts show up and they make a Shidduch.So not sure what you are saying.
Even the Gedolim are now calling on Bochurim to get married at 21, and that’s how this article got going, and all I am saying, if the Gedolim are asking Bochurim to get married at 21 then there have to be younger girls available for them to marry. It is not an “avleh” or an “eveirah” to say that a girl from a TORAH HOME at 18 or 19, or even 17 can and should get married. I know this is so “obvious” that it sounds like a “chiddush” to some people, some people say it sounds like a “chillul HaShem” to them — so my question is, again, do you think that what the Heiliga Tanna Yehuda Ben Teima and Rebbi HaKadosh Yehuda HaNasi the Mechaber of the Mishnayos is still causing a “chillul HaShem” Chas Vesholom, but saying up front “Ben Shemoneh Esrei Lechupa“???!!!
(I am not even going to go into what the Shulchan Aruch and Poskim would say, because they would for sure not tell us that what we are doing to our sons and daughters is “normal” by now, maybe after World War Two we needed everyone to be aShtikkel Ben Azzai, but B”H that emergency has passed us and we are now obligated to be normal Torah Jews and that means to try get married earlier as best we can.) Zai Gebentched and please be in touch with me. Kol Tuv,
Re: A 20-year-old has “withered?” Yikes. Thanks for the answer — I appreciate it. I read it and considered it closely, and what I would say is this: It’s true that the average American man finds a wife who’s two to three years younger than him. I work in child support enforcement, so I see a LOT of couples; the two-to-three-year age gap is almost universal. If you’d just said that and added, “So if we want to marry off a population of men aged roughly 21, the optimal age for their marriage partners will be 18-20,” you probably wouldn’t have inspired such a visceral “What? NO!” reaction from your readers.
The reason you’re getting that reaction is that you make it *sound* like — well, look. Here’s what it sounds like you believe: women are mostly good for breeding, so you should get them out there in the market while they’re “ripe” and before they become “withered.” The obvious implication is that women are valuable only for their wombs and maaaaaybe their earning potential. There’s no sign that you think women have any intrinsic value outside of their role in the family. Now, I would guess that’s not what you really believe (after all, you’ve been married long enough to raise three daughters — and congratulations on both parts of that!), but it really is how you sounded. You gotta find a way to talk about young women that acknowledges them as *real human people*, who are valuable in their own right — not just as a prospective wife or mother; not just as adjuncts or adornments to a man’s life; but as real people who are *worth something* whether or not they’re attached to a man. I’m talking about acknowledging the basic human dignity of women, here, and I think your article fell pretty far short of that. None of this means I think you’re a horrible person (or that you should care if I did!), but it WAS how your article came across and I thought I should flag you down and say, “Hey, your basic observation is accurate! But the wording, oh boy, it’s a problem — and it maybe reveals some assumptions you’ve been making.”… oh! And good shabbos. 🙂
Dear _____, Well put! And I hear you! You know it was hard to know who would read that article. It was written for a very Frum crowd that runs Matzav, but then it got posted around by various readers on Facebook and other places all the frustrated people came out of the woodwork. It was the seventh in a series and so far my “poetic license” was getting huge compliments. I did not even intend to write this article about seminaries but the editors of Matzav asked me to after they saw another minor comment I had written in response to a reader about seminaries, so I wrote this one up the same way with my inner muse and poetic license in full flow, and the words came into my mind, I thought about them, and I thought to myself how best to create a “poetic image” of what I am trying to convey. If you have ever studied English literature you will know that at the heart of all good creative writing, such as novels, poems, plays, the most important tool at the writer’s disposal is the “poetic image” that conveys the idea, and judging from the Emails I am getting I hit the nail on the head, and for others they hear something else, something they don’t like, and they then project a million and one things that are lurking and they want to gripe about all the time and out come all the jack in the boxes. Be well and please stay in touch with me! Sincerely, Yitschak Rudomin.
“Dear Rabbi Rudomin, My wife and I recently read your article on Matzav titled “Sending Girls to Seminary and the Shidduch Crisis” and were debating as the whether or not it was intended to be satire. Would you be willing to clarify Respectfully.”
Hi ____, Thanks for your Email. It is not satire, it is a deadly serious subject, that has to do with the fate of our Frum daughters, but my style of writing is to use a sardonic semi-humorous turn of phrase and style. I believe that the first rule of writing is “be readable”! I think I usually succeed with that! You know it was hard to know who would read that article. It was written for a very Frum crowd that runs Matzav, but then it got posted around by various readers on Facebook and other places all the frustrated people came out of the woodwork. It was the seventh in a series and so far my “poetic license” was getting huge compliments. I did not even intend to write this article about seminaries but the editors of Matzav asked me to after they saw another minor comment I had written in response to a reader about seminaries, so I wrote this one up the same way with my inner muse and poetic license in full flow, and the words came into my mind, I thought about them, and I thought to myself how best to create a “poetic image” of what I am trying to convey. If you have ever studied English literature you will know that at the heart of all good creative writing, such as novels, poems, plays, the most important tool at the writer’s disposal is the “poetic image” that conveys the idea, and judging from the Emails I am getting I hit the nail on the head, and for others they hear something else, something they don’t like, and they then project a million and one things that are lurking and they want to gripe about all the time and out come all the jack in the boxes. Be well and please stay in touch with me! Sincerely, Yitschak Rudomin.
“Subject: Shidduch crisis Rabbi: I read your article (matzah.com) and find myself very much in agreement that even from the get go shidduchin should be in process. The (American?) concept of finding yourself (seminary, travel, fun etc) before looking for someone else can be a delaying factor. The truest journey of self discovery requires a partner. Still, comment please on the “checklist.” That of the singles and those of the parents-family. Such as: Money, FFB-BT, MO, Yeshivish, Chasidish, Looks, college diploma, Money, learning (yeshiva) history, family history- civil e.g. Marriage-divorce and yichis, Money, medical history (heritable disease), height and weight, siblings and their history, Money, shul affiliations, head covering -including type and color of hat etc. etc. and of course Money. By money I believe it usually means ‘Daddy’s'”
Hi ____, and thank you for your kind and wise words! Much appreciated! Your “check list” is spot on, not sure what you would like me to add, but unfortunately people now have the time to focus on all the nonsense and superficialities and then they wonder why they are stuck in a “shidduch crisis” of their own making because they are not plugged into reality!Please stay in touch with me and let me have feedback, it is very important to me when navigating such a volatile social issue.
Best wishes, Yitschak Rudomin.”
RE: Seminary in Israel. You have said it so well, you did hit the nail right on its head. Let me just add thing.I do have two daughters within a few short years they are going to marry of their own fruits of hard labor. With God willing. When they were of marriage age. My father let him be well (not a youngster at all) taught me something very valuable. Give them away when they are coming after them and they are interested in grabbing your daughter and not when you decide to give them away, as there may be no TAKERS. This is the real issue today and much more Bigger point. Does it really matter if the girl has a big resume with lots of degrees????? NO not at all. Does it matter if they boy has a law degree??? or is finishing up medical school??? Of course you have to plan how to make a living. But most important BELIEVE in GOD. I have no degrees and thank God I don’t, otherwise I would be sitting at a desk and counting the hours and adding up what am I making on hour. Forcing myself to work overtime. And would long be burned out. Now I am very much relaxed as I set my own hours and time. That same god gave me a talent and I sell. I don’t count hours. I would much rather count commission. Need I say more.”
Hi ____ and thank you! You are on the right Derech, Baruch HaShem, just keep on going and doing the right thing! Your father was a 1,000% right, he knew more than the modern geniuses who have created a so-called “shidduch crisis”! Wishing you all the best! Yitschak Rudomin.
“Subject: issues with seminary. Thank you for addressing girls seminary’s in a public forum, so many issues with this it’s hard to know where to begin. Although you have addressed an angle that I have never even thought of(how seminary affects shidduchim) I offer the below thoughts. Before we get into the issues of whether seminary is a good thing or not , I think we need to take issue with the marketing presented by the seminary’s. Its gotten to the point where all of our daughters are given the impression that life will not go on without spending a year in Israel. Unfortunately not only have our girls bought into this but all the educators and administrators in our girls high schools have been completely convinced themselves of this, to point where countless hours upon hours are invested in managing this process of getting into a seminary. What kind of undo financial pressures is this burdening our families with? Middle class individuals from our communities are going around privately raising money to send their daughters to seminary. It’s hard enough to get thru 12 years of education tuitions but to throw another 25K burden on each girl in Klal Yisroel ? I know girls who work themselves ragged throughout their entire high school years just to pay for seminary. Is that what we want to burden our kids with? for what ?Are the seminary’s making money or not? Who knows and who cares! The point is that we need not feel the pressure of attending. (I will say that I have never seen anybody going around collecting funds for a seminary).
Let’s continue now on whether seminary is a good idea or not. You have made a good argument against and I completely agree. Additionally I offer the following thoughts. Girls running around the country hefker – bad idea. Girls brainwashed into ignoring all family values they have been raised with and embracing the Israel seminary ideology. I have nothing against a learning guy or kollel and actually promote that lifestyle , but many families embrace a torah/balabus lifestyle which is 100% ideal as well. Girls wasting a year or 2 before going on to college education? Unfortunately we live in an era where a family needs 2 income earners to survive. Imagine taking the money you would spend on seminary and applying it to a down payment for your daughter’s new home – good idea. Please help change the mindset- it’s a terrible thing. Thank you (wish to remain anonymous).”
Dear ____, Thank you for your Email. You are 1,000% correct!!! Anyhow, as for why you never see them collecting for seminaries that is because they have you over a barrel. Just figure, 100 girls @ $30,000 per year = $3,000,000, now if someone owned 4 seminaries, then if each seminary has 100 girls that makes it $12,000,000 a year!!! That’s a lot of money. Let’s say he only has 50 girls per year per seminary, that makes it $6,000,000 per year and even at only 25 girls per seminary per year times 4 seminaries that makes it $3,000,000 per year!! So you see it is an easy kind of business. Say expenses would be 2 thirds, then even from $3,000,000 he’s making a cool $1,000,000 a year, now if he owns them for many years, then say for 10 years on a small scale with 4 seminaries he makes $10,000,000, and if he has the seminaries packed with 100 girls each, then over ten years he made $60,000,000, yes that’s SIXTY MILLION DOLLARS, now imagine if they have sweet-heart deals and give kick-backs to people who refer them girls from America then the ones sending the girls to the seminaries are also on the take and making good money. Let’s say there is a commission of a $1,000 for every girl you send to a seminary, then if you send 50 girls a year, you are making a clean $50,000 commission. So you see it’s a HUGE racket and a great money-spinner and that’s why they push it!!! As a Frum lawyer friend of mine says who works for Standard and Poors, “it’s all about the money!” Now that’s real “chinuch” for you, right?? Wrong!!! Be well and let’s Daven we can get the message across! Best wishes, Yitschak Rudomin.
Rabbi Yitschak Rudomin lives in Flatbush and is the Director of the Jewish Professionals Institute www.jpi.org and his wife Zahava, although they are not Shadchanim, have counseled many in the area of Shidduchim and dating. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 718 382 5610 and 718 382 8058.