Friday, October 12, 2018

The 25 Most Eligible Modern Orthodox Bachelors of 2011

(This post was originally written on 2/15/2011)

Well, it’s that time of year again! No, I’m not referring to the start of tax season or the opening days of the Yeshiva University seforim sale. Rather, it’s finally time for the release of the most anticipated list of the year: “The 25 Most Eligible Modern Orthodox Bachelors of 2011.” Since I didn’t have the time to release this list last year, I wanted to make sure I got the 2011 rankings out early for all those eagerly waiting meidluch who want to get this year’s shidduch dating season off to a running start. Since 2009, some top bachurim got married or have girlfriends, while others have slipped through the cracks and are still on the market. There are also some newcomers to this year’s list who have spent the past year and a half refining their middot and stepping up their game in order to earn a spot on this esteemed list.

Rather than describe what characteristics make up a quality bachur, as I did in my 2009 list, this year I will write a VERY brief description on how each bachur earned their way on to this list. In doing so I hope to give each meidel an idea of which bachur may be shayich for them. Let’s get started:

(Note: All bachelors are equally ranked and have been sorted in alphabetical order by last name).

Arfe, Moshe – A tremendous ba’al chesed, voted as both “The sweetest guy on the Upper West Side,” and “The King of the Upper West Side,” Moshe has ascended the UWS social ladder to become the most well-liked and well-respected bachur in the community.

Caplan, Adam – A journeyman after graduating Yeshiva University spending time in Highland Park, The Heights, and Queens. “Cap” is now back in the Washington Heights scene and is actively seeking a shayich mate. Cap’s good nature, brilliance in the field of real estate, and top shidduch credentials make him one of the hidden gems in the singles community.

Douek, Daniel – Douek comes to the table with many top qualities (good looks, chiseled physique, and a brilliant mathematical mind), but one of his most impressive traits has to be his height of 6 feet 4 inches and his 100% pure Jewish genes. Seeing him tower over goyim in the streets is enough to make any fellow yid proud.

Eis, David – With a BS from Cooper Union and working towards his PhD in Electrical Engineering from Princeton University, David Eis is as sweet and down to Earth as they come.

Eisenberg, Shlomo- Voted by many girls (and guys) to be the most eligible guy in Washington heights, Shlomo has the perfect blend of hotness (chiseled 6 ft 3 inch frame), smartness (Columbia Dental School), and athleticism (extreme bike rider, especially in the rain). With a strong love for the Holy Land, the Torah, and Taylor Swift, one wonders how this all-star bachur is still single?

Fischer, Benjamin – A refined Englishman with a law degree who spent time working in London, Hong Kong, and is currently finishing his LLM in NY. Mr. Fisher is fresh off the boat, but is in the States to stay, and is looking for a meidel to build that Bayi’s ne’eman with.

Frohlinger, Jordan – An observant Jew, a pilot, an out of towner, and an MBA candidate, JFro is the perfect combination for any meidel who isn’t looking for stereotypical Jewish Doctor, Lawyer, or Accountant. If you’re the kind of girl who is looking to spice things up, JFro just might be your bashert!

Frucht, Joey – Affectionately known as “The Rav” by his admirers, Joey’s naturally blonde hair, blue eyes, and out of town personality, make you forget that he is actually from the 5 towns.

Gabay, Elie – As a real estate mogul, a financier, and a part time model, Mr. Gabay came to YU from Vancouver as just another wide-eyed bachur looking to make his way. He has emerged as one of the most eligible Orthodox Jewish Canadian Bachelors in NYC.

Heller, Ben – With an MS in Computer Science and a champion cyclist, Ben’s out of town nature has led him to shun the limelight, but he still remains one of the topped ranked bachurim on the market.

Herschman, Yehuda – For all those Chicago girls that wish they lived in NY or the Chicago girls that long to move back home, Yehuda, a native NYer and a genuine sweetheart, flies below the radar as he works towards his medical degree in Illinois.

Horowtiz, Elie – A Rocket Scientist with an MBA who spent time working at NASA, shouldn’t overshadow the fact that Elie is a tremendous ba’al chesed and Talmud chacham. Did I mention that he worked at HASC?

Kaminetzky, Elliott – A marathon runner, a yoga instructor, and a health food enthusiast, “Combo”, as he is known amongst his followers, is currently embarking on his PhD studies in psychology. As sweet as a honeysuckle and as sharp as a tack, Combo is the type of bachur you just want to bring home to meet your Ima.

Kilstein, Yaakov – After spending time at several boutique investment firms, Yaakov is taking his 6 foot 2 inch frame to law school where he is looking to leverage his background on Wall Street to become a top M&A lawyer.

Lapin, Ari – Blonde hair, blue eyes, and a physique akin to a Greek god, Lapin has taken his talents to Baltimore as he pursues a career in medicine.

Leibowitz, Yoni – After spending some time at the prestigious Deloitte & Touche, “Leebs” decided to leave the corporate world for a short period of time to focus on Torah learning. He is currently transitioning to a role as an in-house auditor, where he plans to capitalize on his accounting background, while making more time for Hakadosh Baruchoo. A man that puts Hashem before his career, and refines his middot before his ego, is pretty hard to find.

Lerman, Noach – A supreme networker and a living legend, Noach is Vice President of a major North American Steel company, where he spends his time flying around the globe negotiating lucrative new contracts and searching for his bashert.

Lev, Michael – Often referred to as “The poseik of the UWS”, Mikey’s love for the state of Israel, and his passion for yiddishkite, along with his talents as a high powered finance executive have pushed Mr. Lev to the top of our rankings once again.

Lustiger, Elie – After going shana bet in Israel, Elie spent time in one of the most advanced shiurim at YU, followed by a stint as a researcher in Columbia University, which ultimately led him to medical school. However, all of Elie’s credentials should not overshadow the fact that he is in fact the undisputed sweetest guy in the world.

Raab, Yoni – After serving Eretz Yisroel for 3 years in an elite unit of the IDF, Yoni came to the States to pursue his degree at YU where he was instantly recognized as a world class cholent maker, internationally renowned hot tub builder, and legendary NCAA athlete.

Raskas, Jonah – From politics, to finance, to nonprofit organizations, Mr. Raskas has rose to the top of any organization he has affiliated himself with and has done so with class. Revered by many and respected by all, Jonah continues to inspire friends, colleagues, and adoring fans.

Rosenthal, Aaron – Whether it’s pumping iron, curing cancer, or watching chick flicks, this Philadelphia native has the word “shayich” written all over him!

Schnipper, Covey – Jake is well known as the “Tzadeik of Rutgers.” As the cornerstone of the Jewish community at Rutgers University for his 4 years on campus, Jake’s ability to bring yiddishkite to any environment is astounding. In addition to his commitment to Judiasm, kiruv work, and Torah study, Jake’s degree in Biomedical engineering, boyish good looks, and break dancing ability, leave most meidels that cross his path awestricken.

Small, Jamie – Pursuing an MBA in Real Estate and Finance, Mr. Small not only has incredible business intuition, but is also known for his respect for the meidels, his charm, and world class skills on the ski slope.

Westrich, Uri – Before “Westdawg” was interviewed by every major news station in the country and became a YouTube sensation, he was a medical student at one of the top schools in the country. Prior to that Westdawg received Valedictorian honors at Yeshiva University and, as if that wasn’t enough, he also served in the IDF. At the end of the day, none of the above accolades matter to me. Rather, what earned Uri a spot on this list is that he is the ultimate mench.

Meidels, as I leave you with this year’s list of top prospects, keep in mind that it is a fluke that these bachurim are still single. 10 bachurim from the 2009 list are either married or in a serious relationships. I’m willing to wager that by next year more than half of this year’s list will be off the market. As you take the opportunity to develop your approach for securing a date with one of these fine young men, I leave you with the following thought: “Holidays come and go. Clothes wear out. Bank accounts go up and down. But, a good husband lasts a lifetime.”* With that I wish you the best of luck, and of course happy stalking!

*Yes, this was partially taken from an ad I saw in the Subway.

UWS vs. The Heights: A Battle of the Singles

(This post was originally written on 2/28/2010)

[Warning: This post includes many generalizations, assumptions and stereotypes. I will be extremely blunt and I have no intention of being politically correct. If you think that you may be offended by this, please save yourself both the time and aggravation, and don't read the rest of this post. Thank you!]

“The Heights or the Upper West Side?” This is the question facing every modern orthodox single Jew upon graduation from college. Whether you’re graduating from a college in New York City or outside the Tri-State area, whether you’re “machmir” or “modern”, most singles are ultimately confronted with the decision of where to spend their last remaining years of single-hood. While the Upper West Side (UWS) singles’ community used to be the “go to” place over the past several decades, Washington Heights has recently emerged as a large singles community in it’s own right. Located between Wadsworth Avenue and Ft. Washington Avenue and between 181street to 190th street, The Heights is a smaller version of the UWS with it’s own unique twist. Given these two great options, it leads many people to wonder what are some of the differences between these two communities on the West Side of Manhattan and which one is right for me? As a current resident of Washington Heights, and as someone who frequents the UWS quite often (some people actually think I live there), I feel like I am in a unique position to offer insight on both communities and what to expect within each.


Upper West Side – One of the main reasons that many Jewish singles consider moving to the UWS over the Heights is its phenomenal location. Located only a short train ride from midtown or downtown, it is a huge plus for the weekday commute to work. It is also only a short distance away from most kosher eateries in Manhattan. Whether your looking for meat or dairy, a fancy dinner place, or a take-out joint, the UWS is in close proximity to them all! If you’re into athletics or networking on Shabbos, Central Park is only a short distance away. A favorite gathering spot for Jews is “The Great Lawn” where you can find the more “modern” singles playing ball or laying out in shorts and a T-shirt, while the more”machmir” bunch can be seen sitting on the benches schmoozing, or walking along the paved path around the park. On the Judaism front, you have a plethora of different synagogues to choose from. From the Carlebach minyan, to the Chabad minyan, from Ohev Zedek to the Egalitarian minyan, and every small shtiebel or large Shul in between. With frequent shiurim and multiple minyanim, regardless if you’re “frum” or “crum”, given the UWS’s optimal location, it has the unique ability of catering to any level of Judaism. The only knock to what seems like a Jewish Singles’ paradise are the astronomical prices of apartments. The $1,500 per person/per month rent check (give or take a couple hundred dollars) brings you back to reality VERY quickly!

The Heights – “Well, we have Fort Tryon Park” is the most common defense used to anyone who criticizes the Washington Heights location. That being said, despite all of Ft. Tryon’s beauty and the fact that it is only a 20 minute train ride north of the UWS, The Heights feels like a different world…a third world to be exact! With the biggest Sky Scraper within view being Yeshiva University’s Belfer Hall, Spanish music blasting (at all hours of the day and night), and only a few signs that are actually written in English, many new comers wonder if they accidentally took a train to the Dominican Republic, rather than uptown Manhattan. While there aren’t many “date worthy” eateries in The Heights, it does have a few fast food restaurants to choose from including places to get Middle Eastern cuisine, pizza, eggs, or a hamburger. One of the best perks of living in the heights is it’s proximity to Yeshiva University. Many YU alumni take advantage of the the gym (Note: Gym is free for male alumni and there is a strict “no girls” policy that is enforced!), the infinite amount of shiurim, and the never ending minyanim that take place. It is also quite common for people (men and women) to take advantage of the YU library as a good place to do work. Moving a few blocks away towards the other side of the heights, where the heart of the single’s community exists, there is really only one shul to choose from, known as Mt. Sinai, unless you want to avoid the scene all together and go to the YU side or Beuers (but that pretty much defeats the purpose of moving into a singles community). In terms of aesthetics, The Heights doesn’t have much to offer unless you go to Fort Tryon Park, which is really one of the most beautiful places in Manhattan. Overlooking the Hudson River, the GW Bridge, and a beautiful view of the Bronx, Fort Tryon park is a great place to relax or go for a Shabbos walk (Note: The Eruv does not extend to Ft. Tryon Park). However, once you walk out of the park, you quickly realize that you are, in fact, in one of the most run down areas of Manhattan. If you are looking for reasonable rent, work on the other side of the George Washington Bridge, or enjoy a shtetle-like environment, then The Heights is for you!

Religious Level

Upper West Side – Known as the place where the “Teffilin date*” was born, the UWS is the MODERN orthodox singles capital of the world. Whether its eating dairy out**, pressing the elevator buttons on Shabbos, or hugging and kissing the opposite gender in shul, many singles choose to move to the UWS because they feel that they can observe Judaism on their own personal level without feeling like an outcast. While there may be plenty of “modern” things taking place on the UWS, it isn’t fair to say that everyone falls into this mold. There are people that do consider themselves more stringent in their religious observance, however, I find that the modern group is much more prominent.

Since one can get the best feel of a community on Shabbos, I will highlight the basic Shabbos events on the UWS. Every Shabbos feels like a Simchat Torah I remember from my high school years. Hundreds of guys and girls are standing outside in the hallway flirting instead of entering the the sanctuary to daven. After services and shmoozing, the Shabbos routine continues by going to your respective meals. The meals are often coed, with hugging and kissing the opposite gender upon arrival. The next day the scene in shul is the same as Friday night, although the shul of choice becomes The Jewish Center. After lunch, during the summer months, people spend the long Shabbos afternoons networking/shmoozing/bashert hunting/playing sports/tanning in Central Park on the Great Lawn. Since Mincha is not such a social scene, like Friday night or Shabbos day, a fraction of the people bother to make an appearance.

The Heights – It would be naive for anyone to claim that what happens on the UWS doesn’t also take place in The Heights, however, it takes place on a much smaller scale and is not done so overtly. It is rare to find people shmoozing in the hallway of Mt. Sinai during services. I have yet to go to a Shabbos meal where someone pushed the elevator button (granted, the buildings in The Heights are much smaller). I also rarely see kissing and hugging at meals upon the guests arrivals. Meals tend to be coed, like on the UWS, and people tend to hangout in the park on a nice Shabbos day, also like on the UWS. At Fort Tryon Park, some people play catch, some walk around by the the cloisters, and many people sit on benches staring across the Hudson River into New Jersey (probably envisioning themselves living in Teaneck sometime in the near future).

In The Heights, on the UWS, and everywhere elsewhere in the world, Jews ultimately lead their lives in a way that is most convenient for them. Some people ask shaylas to their Rebbeim, some people don’t, but at the end of the day most people pick and choose what they want to do in halacha. The major difference between the singles community in The Heights and the singles community on the UWS, is best summed up as a friend of mine put it: “It’s not that singles on the UWS and The Heights are so different from eachother, it’s just a difference in attitude towards religion. In general, many people in The Heights just seem to care more about halacha, where many people on the UWS are just indifferent.”


Upper West Side – Jews, WASPS, investment bankers, lawyers, therapists (OT, PT, ST, and anything else that’s good for the shidduch resume.), and some under privileged individuals who live in low income housing, are the primary groups that make up the UWS community. With upscale bars, fancy restaurants, lots of banks and clothing stores, the UWS is very much like every other nice part of Manhattan. The difference is there is a large concentration of single Jews living there opposed to, maybe, the Upper East Side or Midtown (plenty of Jews live there too, but these places don’t have the same large concentration of singles). Many single girls like moving there because they consider it relatively safe compared to other areas of the city (i.e. The Heights). All in all, the UWS is known for it’s convenience and safety, rather that its diversity or culture.

The Heights – The Heights possesses a diverse group of residents that will make the HR department at any large investment bank jealous! Dominicans and Jews, being the primary residence in this exclusive community, ensure that there is never a dull moment. Whether you’re walking back from the subway and praying that you don’t get mugged, watching a drug bust in the middle of St. Nich, or waking up from gun shots in the middle of the night, there is always something taking place in The Heights to keep you on your toes! Even as I sit here at 1am typing this post, I am exposed to one of the locals favorite minhagim, which is blasting loud, thumping, Spanish music in the streets for everyone to enjoy. A real treat is also taking a stroll through the streets during the day and observing the hustel and bustel of the locals as they engage in commerce. Whether its selling fake Lacoste shirts by the 1 train on 181st street, selling “sneakers” at the sneaker store by YU, selling “ice cream” in the winter from the ice cream truck that drives around town, or wondering what the heck is going on behind the tinted windows of the 24 hour fish place on 185th street (Who the heck wakes up at 3am and has a sudden craving for fish?). If you venture out of your apartment in the middle of the night (usually about 2am) during the summer months, you will see families sitting on the side walk BBQing, with there young children playing by their side.The Jews, a slightly less exciting group than the Dominicans, generally hang out at Key Food Thursday night, Mt. Sinai for singles events/shiurim or just sit in their apartments wondering why they are not married yet. The unique blend of ethnicity in The Heights offers exposure to various different cultures and customs, and always makes for a great story to tell your more wimpy friends that live on the UWS!

In the business world the phrase “you gatta dress to impress” is often heard amongst colleagues or superiors when offering advice to younger associates in order to help them attract new business. I think the same concept applies when trying to attract a mate. As someone who doesn’t always pay attention to what he wears, I take what I am about to say as mussur for myself specifically. I feel like it is of utmost importance to dress the part when searching for your bashert. Yes, it is true that we should be focused on one’s neshama, middot, and level of ruchneeus, but let’s call a spade a spade, none of us are on such a high madreigah that physical appearance doesn’t influence our decisions to at least some degree. That being said, both singles communities tend to take different approaches when it comes towards dress and appearance.

Upper West Side – Given the general lax attitude, on the UWS, towards some aspects of religion, it is no surprise that some people are dressed untzniusly.*** Leaving that aside, lets focus on the positive aspects of the way West Siders dress, because I think it can be a great piece of advice to many. When walking into the OZ Friday night or The Jewish Center on Shabbos day, you will run into hundreds of different young meidels and bachurim that range in age, religious level, and physical appearance. However, one thing that many of them have in common is the fact that most of them came to shul “dressed to impress.” I’m not saying everyone is wearing designer/expensive clothing (I wouldn’t know the difference if they were), rather I am focused on the effort that almost everyone on the UWS puts in to their appearance. It looks as if many Upper West Siders spent some time deciding what they are going to wear, determining if it fits, and making sure it matches. I think this effort demonstrates that an individual A) has their act together and B) is serious about finding their bashert. Taking pride in one’s physical appearance is one of the very critical steps in the Shidduch search.

The Heights – While many people in The Heights should be commended on their tznius garb, there is often much to be desired by the styles some bachurim and meidels choose to wear. Again, I am not talking about spending a lot of money on clothing, rather I am alluding to putting some time when deciding what to wear. Over the years I’ve had various guests for Shabbos, many of which comment to me saying that most of the girls look “frumpy” and the guys look “shlumpy.” While Mr. Webster probably doesn’t have an exact definition of either one of these two words, I think most people understand exactly what these terms mean if they spend a Shabbos in The Heights. Just because you attended all the right schools, the right camps, the right Yeshiva/Seminary, and have a flawless Shidduch Resume, does NOT absolve an individual from dressing and looking, looking like a mentch! It’s important to take pride in your appearance. Whether that means wearing clothes that fit, brushing your teeth, brushing your hair, or spending an extra 2 minutes shaving so you don’t look like a sociopathic lunatic with patches of hair on random parts of your face! It says in Mesechet Shabbos: “A Talmud-Chacham, upon whose clothes a stain can be found, deserves to be put to death.” While most of us might not be characterized as a Talmud Chacham, the fact of the matter is, Judaism takes ones appearance very seriously and one should keep that in mind, especially when searching for a shidduch.


As we all know, weirdness is all relative. One time a girl refused to date me because she said “uchh, he has too many friends. It’s so weird!” I personally think it’s weird that my friend, Jake, has a strict diet of eating ONLY peanut butter and pizza. Jake probably thinks it’s weird that some girl came up to him last Simchat Torah during hakafot, gave him her business card, and said “call me.” That girl probably DOESN’T think it’s weird that she is hitting on guys 10 years her junior! While there is no consistent definition of the words “weird” or “weirdo”, what is consistent is the fact that you will most definitely run into weirdos in whatever community you decide to join. There is no shortage of them in both the UWS or in the Heights. It will be silly for me to sit here and describe all the different weirdos I have encountered in both communities, because the truth of the matter is what I may think is super creepy, might be viewed as a perfectly normal social interaction by someone else. Weirdos come in all shapes and sizes, genders, background, and levels of religious observance. Some are older and have been around the community for years, while some are newbies who just moved into the community recently and are trying to find their chevra. Regardless of the type of weirdos you may run into, the fact of the matter is this: There is someone in this world for everyone. No matter how bizarre you find a particular individual, there is always someone equally bizarre that would love to be introduced to them! Instead of of whispering to your friends about your awkward encounter, introduce these people to each other and it will serve as a segulah in your search for your bashert (hey, it’s worth a shot…can’t be any less effective than the segulah wine)!


Let’s be honest, regardless of what singles community you live in or choose to join, we are all here for the exact same reason…to find a shidduch! No one moves to The Heights or the UWS for it’s location, or the religious/cultural diversity of the community. Jewish singles have been moving to singles communities in NYC for decades with the focus on finding their bashert and then moving out to greener pastures (Riverdale, Teaneck, or Queens) once they achieve this goal. The thing that’s interesting about this attitude is how so many people are focused on getting out, before actually moving in. I think a major problem that many singles face, is living in the future, instead of making the most of the present.

Like many people in either singles community, I am frequently looking towards the future. I look forward to not having to shlep to Long Island during rush hour traffic for a blind date or taking the subway back from a Brooklyn date at midnight. I look forward to being married to someone who likes me for me and not having to put on a show like I am accustomed to doing on many dates. I look forward to finding my bashert, getting married, moving to a suburb and going on some exotic get away for Pesach.I look forward to many things in life, and that is a good thing. The problem with this way of thinking, is my focus is TOO much on the future, and not enough on living and appreciating the present.

Several weeks ago I was in the YU library trying to study. Like my usual routine, I had a good 15 minutes of studying then my mind began to wander. First, my mind wandered to making cholent for Shabbos and what new ingredients I should incorporate into my existing recipe (making cholent has become a recent hobby of mine), then it inevitably wandered off to thinking about the Shidduch scene. While I was spacing out thinking about potential shidduchim, my married friend came up to me to shmooz. During the course of our discussion I mentioned to him that I can’t study because my mind keeps wandering. The conversation went like this:

Friend: “Are you thinking about dating as usual?”
Me: “Heck yeah!”
Friend: “Why?”
Me: “It’s just where my mind wanders. You’ve been married for like 2 years so you won’t understand! Stop giving me attitude and go find my bashert!”
Friend: “Bro, let me tell you something. Don’t ever take for granted the fact that you are single. You will get married to a nice meidel and I am sure of that, but right now never stop appreciating what you have going for you!”
Me: “What do you mean?”

Friend: “Don’t get me wrong. I am happily married, but there are definitely times that go by where I wonder what it would be like to still be single? You hang out with friends and don’t have that many other commitments that come with being married. Don’t take this part of your life for granted! I promise that one day you will miss it!”

I found my friends point very profound. As a Jew living in New York City, being single can sometimes be a very lonely road, especially after seeing many of your friends get married and move away. It’s important to remember to never forget how lucky you are to be in your current situation. We live in Manhattan, surrounded by friends, and are free from much responsibility that comes later in life and once we are married. The move to either the UWS or The Heights is a great experience to learn, grow, become independent, refine what we are looking for in life, and have fun, all while actively looking for a shidduch. In 20 years from now, most people will look at their single years and be able to laugh at some of the experiences that they’ve had, while also viewing those experiences as an essential transition period before marriage. Regardless of what community you live in or ultimately decide to move into, the key is to live in the moment, appreciate what you have, and to maintain a positive outlook, because things are just going to get better…especially if you haven’t found your bashert yet!

*Teffilin date = Is when a bachur brings his teffilin on a date, just in case he spends the night at the meidels apartment.
**In a traif restaurant.

***This is not me being judgmental or overly opinionated, this is merely an observation.

A Case for Shomer Negiah

(This pot was originally written on 12/25/2009)

I recently received a Facebook message from a meidel in Los Angeles who asked me to write about the topic of Shomer Negiah. Shomer negiah, the concept in Jewish law that restricts physical contact with a member of the opposite gender, is a frequently discussed topic amongst shidduch daters. However, despite all the discussion that revolves around being shomer, there is really nothing to debate on the subject. The bottom line is it’s a halacha (Sources: Bible: Leviticus 18:6 , Babylonian Talmud: Sabbath 13a , Mishneh Torah: Kedushah (Holiness), Issurei Biah (forbidden sexual relations), 21:1-7, Shulchan Aruch: Even HaEzer 20-21). One can choose to either abide by this halacha or not. That’s the end of discussion. However, the interesting thing about Shomer Negiah compared to other areas of halacha, is the level of discipline that is required in order to not transgress this particular law. While eating traif and violating the Sabbath are both big time aveyras, I can’t honestly say that eating a cheese burger or igniting a fire on the Sabbath have the same appeal for the large majority of us, as does physical contact with the opposite gender. I think my friend, Mike, described this challenge best when he quoted his Rebbe from Netiv Aryeh, as saying “Oz anybody who says they are Shomer Negiah after dating someone for 30 days is either a liar or gay!” While I may not agree with every word of that statement or other things that this Rav has to say, I think this statement has some validity to it. For any straight bachur or meidel who interacts with the opposite gender on a regular basis, abiding by this halacha can be very challenging. Over the years I have noticed that there are 5 general approaches in the Modern Orthodox community when it comes to the observance of the laws of Shomer Negiah: The Ignorant Approach, the Indifferent Approach, the Shtark Approach, the Humanistic Approach, and the Shomer Negiah by Default Approach.

1) The Ignorant Approach: This is an extremely popular approach amongst most teenagers who grew up in a frum home, but are simply not aware that the concept of Shomer Negiah exists. With some Modern Orthodox Yeshiva High School’s priced at the same level as four year Universities, you would think that the Rabbanim would do a better job educating their students on practical halacha instead of focusing on the best way to raise tuition. Teens often act as if there are no restrictions on how bachrim and meidels should interact with eachother, primarily because they weren’t taught anything on the subject. After growing up with this ignorant attitude towards halacha, it is a common practice for bachurim and meidels to go to Israel for a year where they become more in tune with what Hashem expects of us regarding our relationships with the opposite gender. Once informed of God’s point of view, bachrim/meidels typically choose one of two paths: 1) The Indifferent Approach or 2) The Shtark Approach.

2) The Indifferent Approach: After studying for a year or two in either Seminary or Yeshiva you will almost definitely meet someone who just isn’t interested in what the Rabbis’ are trying to “sell” or is just too lazy to care. These people tend to adopt the Indifferent Approach towards Shomer Negiah. Some possibilities of what turned this group off from the halacha may include (but are not limited to) the reading of the book “The Magic Touch”, Rabbis who are not in touch with reality, or somewhere down the line they managed to convince themselves that this concept is a new and silly invention by the Yeshivaish community (who they abhor) and refuse to buy into such nonsense.

3) The Shtark Approach: On the other side of the coin, you will find people that come back from Yeshiva or Seminary, took what the Rabbanim taught to heart, completely stopped associating with the opposite gender, and surrounded themselves with like minded people who will help keep them shtark, or strong, in their spiritual commitment. This path takes a tremendous amount of discipline and passion for halacha in order to maintain this approach. It’s quite challenging, but doable if you put your mind and soul into it. Typically, a career as a kollenic, with limited interaction with anyone other than yeshivaish men who wear black and white can help you (but not guarantee) that you maintain your shomer negiah status. While there are mainstream people, that are not kollelnics, who do adopt this approach, it is extremely challenging.

4) The Humanistic Approach: This is the broad category of individuals that fall somewhere in the middle of the indifferent approach and the shtark approach. They are aware of the halacha and want to observe it, but tend to mess up from time to time. Typically, this group contains people who say they are Shomer to their friends and shaddchanim, but once they have a serious boyfriend/girlfriend they push this halacha aside because it is no longer convenient. This category also might include people who remained shomer for a long period of time, but caved due to the frustration with the shidduch scene, yet they still feel guilty about their change of heart. The overall theme of this category is people that understand the halacha, but stumble from time to time as humans tend to do.

5) The Shomer Negiah by Default Approach: A common approach taken by people who would love to have physical contact with the opposite gender, but either don’t have the social skills to make things happen, or can’t find anyone that they think is worthy of them breaking their “Shomer Negiah” status. Saying you are Shomer Negiah will often increase your value in the shiduch market, so despite being Shomer Negiah due to certain character flaws or being extremely selective, these individuals might find themselves with the most dates if they play their cards right.

Regardless of what category you fall into, I’m sure everyone can agree that abstaining from physical contact with the opposite gender is quite challenging. Although most of us are aware of the halachot by the time we reach our 20s, this isn’t always enough to deter us from engaging in non-shomer activities. I think the best way to help us control our natural human desire is by putting things into perspective. When you get married you are entering into a binding partnership for the rest of your life. This can be a very scary thought and putting yourself into a physical relationship can often blind us from other more important factors that will serve as a better indicator of long term compatibility.

Too illustrate my point I’d like to look at an example from Hollywood. Generally, I view anything that goes on in Hollywood as a good example of what NOT to do when it comes to relationships, but sometimes you find a diamond in the rough that can teach you a profound lesson. When legendary actor, Paul Newman, and his wife of 50 years, Joanne Woodward, were asked how they managed to stay together for so long, Paul responded: “Joanne has always given me unconditional support in all my choices and endeavors, and that includes my race car driving, which she deplores. To me, that’s love.” While Joanne responded “Sexiness wears thin after a while and beauty fades, but to be married to a man who makes you laugh every day, ah, now that’s a real treat.” Although I’m pretty sure that Paul and Joanne were not Shomer Negiah while they were courting, after looking back on many years of marriage, the things that kept them together were not the touching or even attraction. What made them spend 50 years of their lives together were the attributes and characteristics that can’t be touched. A good personality, a supportive attitude, and being flexible are what kept them going all those years. Looking for these characteristics can often be overlooked while engaged in a relationship that revolves around physicality. I am not a Rav, marriage counsler, or any type of poseik on long term relationships, nor am I in the business of judging fellow Jews (I leave that to the Netiv guys) but Shomer Negiah may be something worth considering as we try to maintain a clear mind on our search for someone that we can tolerate spending the next half century with!

Chag Sameyach!

Facebook Etiquette

(This post was originally written on 11/29/2009)

Thanksgiving, as the name implies, is a time to give thanks and recognition to those people and things that one is thankful for. So as Thanksgiving weekend comes to an end, it is only natural that I sit in my room reflecting on the many things in life that I am personally thankful for. I am thankful for my friends and family who support me through all of life’s challenges. I am thankful to live in a country that allows me to practice my religious beliefs openly and freely. And I am thankful to my super, Ghelfis, who took the time out of his busy schedule last week to stop toilet water from dripping into my bedroom from the ceiling. One individual whose work I have admired consistently throughout the years, and would like to thank specifically is Mark Zuckerberg, the Founder and CEO of Facebook. Since April 17th 2005*, when Yeshiva University was finally zoche to received this ground breaking tool, anytime I sign on to Facebook (multiple times a day) I feel a sense of hakarat hatov to the man who changed social networking forever. Facebook has become an invaluable resource for networking, keeping in touch with friends, and dating. When the Orthodox Jewish community caught wind of this brilliant invention, it also changed the shidduch dating world as we know it. Facebook instantly allows one to find pictures of people, find out someone’s interests, determine someone’s chevra, and gives the stalker; oops I meant the searcher, the ability to contact anyone instantly. With such a powerful tool at the finger tips of tons of Orthodox bachrim and meidluch, you would expect the shidduch “crisis” to fix itself. However, despite all the good that has come from Facebook, it has also caused a new subculture of socializing, especially within Orthodox singles community. Although Facebook has every tool on the planet for stalking people, Mr. Zuckerberg, in his infinite wisdom, neglected to put a section on his site that discusses “Facebook Etiquette.” Facebook has many components and if I wanted to discuss every feature and its social ramifications, I will be here for weeks. However, I’d like to take the opportunity to breakdown just several common practices relating to Facebook and how they impact the shidduch scene. Mark can thank me for my work later…

Friending – Let’s talk about Friending, the most basic element of Facebook. Common sense seems to dictate that one should friend somebody if they know them or have met them at some point in time. No one is saying this person needs to be your best buddy, but there should be SOME type of connection. Recently, various people, guys and girls, have asked me if I know why an individual of the opposite gender would friend them if they have never actually met. This is a valid shyla! I approached some of these “serial frienders” inquiring why they feel the need to do this to which I got several popular responses:

1) “We have over 200 mutual friends on Facebook! Doesn’t it make sense that I friend him/her?”

Response: NO! What does one thing have to do with the other? I have 100s of friends in common with Michael Phelps, but it doesn’t mean that we are cronies! Similarly, if I see a smoking hot meidel in shul and find out her name from my friend who stalks her, and happens to be “friends” with her on Facebook, it doesn’t mean I have a heter or any concrete reason for friending her! This reason is: INVALID!

2) My friend told me that we have a lot in common so I friended him/her.

Response: Here’s a thought, why don’t you have your friend introduce you guys in shul next week. Just because your friend says that he/she likes to watch The Office, wants to make Aliyah, and also enjoys listening to The Beatles, and Facebook confirms all this information, does NOT mean that you are actually friends. KAL VECHOMER it doesn’t mean he/she is your long lost bashert. This NOT a valid reason to friend someone.

3) Facebook “suggested” we become friends.

Response: Facebook also suggested that I reconnect with my good friend who I speak with everyday, that I take a quiz suggested by my friends mother, and that I write on the wall of some guy I interned at the same firm with 4 summers ago and haven’t spoke to in years! Facebook “suggests” a lot of things, but it doesn’t mean I have to listen! Next time Facebook suggests that you friend the cute guy you have a crush on, but doesn’t actually know that you exist; my advice to you would be to ignore Facebook! Facebook is not Hashem, not a parent, not your Rav, or a good friend! It is OK to ignore something suggested by a social networking site! I promise!

These are not effective ways of getting yourself a date or getting a guy/girl interested in you! You are not using this valuable tool to your advantage; rather you are just putting more obstacles in your way to try to win this person over. Do yourself a favor and hold off on the friending until you actually establish some type of connection with the person.

Poking – What is a poke? What does it mean? Why did he/she poke me? Is this person some type of pervert? Why didn’t he/she just send me a message to tell me what he/she is thinking? Should I poke him/her back? These are the questions that come to the mind of anyone who receives a poke. Poking is an extremely risky move and it is not a recommended way of trying to build a relationship with somebody who you are looking to court. It comes across as creepy and triggers a myriad of questions in the pokee’s (the one who has received the poke) mind. It also make’s for a very poor story to tell the kids if you do happen to overcome the odds and tie the knot (Kid: “How did you and Aba meet?” Ima: “Well, Yitzy, Aba poked me on a regular basis and eventually I gave in and poked him back!”). My advice: Avoid the poke!

Messaging people you don’t know/coming on too strong – In business or the shidduch scene, coming on too strong is a huge turn off! In business if you are trying to pitch a service to a potential client and you bombard them everyday with e-mails, phone calls, and literature, you come off as sounding desperate. In the shidduch world if you start messaging people you don’t know on a regular basis, and the person isn’t responding in a timely manner, then do yourself a favor and ease up on the messaging. You are making yourself sound nebby AND creepy.

The other day a meidel messaged a friend of mine and they had the following correspondence:

“Hi Bachur,

You don’t know me, but my friend says we would probably have a lot in common and we should talk. I am from Woodmere. Where are you from?


Creepy Facebook Messager”

“Hi Creepy Facebook Messager,

I am from Englewood. Who is the friend?

Best, Bachur”

“Hi Bachur,

Haha your funny! My friend is just someone I know who knows you. So I go to Columbia now. Are you in YU. I see you went to YU. You still there? What are you majoring in? If you’re done what do you do now? I went to Moshava! Where did you go? You look familiar? Maybe we met at an NCSY shabbaton! I do Yachad too! Do you do Yachad? I like helping people. You have AIM or gchat? My AIM address is CreepyMessagerGirl and my gchat is It is much more conducive to chatting then this. Lol. I like Facebook, but FB chat is so impractical. Hehe. Want to get together sometime? I have a car.


Creepy Facebook Messager”

This e-mail, to which my friend obviously didn’t respond to, was followed up by a friend request, and a poke. Listen, messaging is a great tool to follow up with someone you have recently met, have known for a while, or would like to know, however, sending a message to someone on Facebook who you don’t know, with the sole purpose of hitting on them is not a recommended way of engaging someone in social dialogue. Don’t respond to the question of “Have we met?” with an entire megilah that contains your life story, struggles, deepest fears, and your hobbies. Chill out, take a breather, and take one step at a time! No one is going to fall in love with you strictly because of one Facebook message!

Pictures – Pictures on Facebook tell a lot about a person. You can determine someone’s hobbies, group of friends, where they hang out, if they are self conscious or not, etc. My recommendation to people is to put up pictures that accurately resemble who you are and what you’re about. So many people try to hide themselves by untagging pictures of themselves. Many meidels only want pictures up where they think they “look good.” This is rather obvious when 75% of the pictures are from weddings. If you are a shtark bachur, but made an appearance at your best friends birthday party that took place at some shady bar in the village and every picture is with you surrounded by drunk frat guys giving the camera the middle finger, then it doesn’t matter if you’re wearing strymel because you are going to come off as very sketchy! You can be in the Rosh Yeshiva’s shiur and have a chevrusa 23hrs a day and you still won’t get a Darchei Binah girl to go near you (yes Darchei Binah girls check Facebook. Don’t fool yourself, that’s exactly why they keep their pants wearing friends around…to utilize their Facebook account). Conversely, if you’re the type of person who likes bar hopping and clubbing, but every picture of you is from a tiyul in Yeshiva with your tzitzus flopping around, then maybe you should put some more recent photos up. Speaking of recent photos, do yourself a favor and put up a picture that resembles how you actually look. Some individuals think they are going to fool the world by making all their pictures from the head up. You can play all the games you want with your pictures, but at the end of the day you’re not fooling anyone. If the bachrim/meidels haven’t realized that you’re fat, lazy, or not frum from your pictures, they will figure it out as soon as they meet you! Don’t waste your time and everyone else’s time by cropping and editing your photos and embrace who you really are!

Facebook friends vs. Real Friends – Although this isn’t an option on Facebook yet, it is very important to differentiate between whom you are really friends with and who you are merely “Facebook friends” with. Last year, I was walking onto the A Train and some girl approached me and said “Great album! Looks like you had such a good time!” As I was searching for a response to this girl, whose name I couldn’t remember, I realized that she must have been talking about my skiing trip to Wyoming several months ago. I’m well aware that there are probably 100s of strangers checking out my profile and pictures everyday and I am fine with this. I think it’s fair to say that most people that are on Facebook, register for the site cognizant of the fact that plenty of people who they don’t know and will never meet are checking them out regularly. Most people probably don’t even think this is an issue unless; they are approached by one of these strangers who admit that they are checking out their pictures. It is an unspoken rule amongst all Facebook users that you don’t tell someone you do not know that you have been checking them out. Its muttur to do so, but not muttur to admit to doing it. That being said, using the phrases: “Sweet new album!,” “You looked great in that bikini from your Florida pics!”, and “I didn’t realize you liked going to concerts as much as I did.” and various other phrases that refer to a stranger’s pictures should NOT be used as a pick up line! This will result in an immediate nisht by that stranger, and any hope and dreams that you may have had of building a bayis ne’eman with this person will vanish within seconds!

In summation, Facebook is a powerful tool, but the line between being defined as creepy stalker as opposed to a smooth shidduch dater, is a very thin one. If you play your cards right you can use Facebook to your advantage to help solidify and build relationships with girls/guys you’d like to date. With the amount of tools that Facebook offers you can easily use it to sort through people to find the bashert of your dreams! However, if you practice some of the bad habits that have been mentioned above, not only will you blow all chances you may have had with a particular eligible bachur/meidel, but you may also develop the reputation of being the sketchy serial friender and poker, who comes on way too strong, misleads the Facebook community with via their picture albums, and has fell so deep into the Facebook abyss that he/she no longer knows who is their real friend vs. who are people that they you just stalk on a regular basis.

May all of klal Yisroel use Facebook for only bracha and not as a klala! Amen!


* I remember this date because it was also my birthday. Yup, the anniversary of YU receiving Facebook is my birthday!

Simchat Torah: Strategy + Game Plan = Success

(This post was originally written on 11/3/2009)

Over the past few weeks I’ve had the opportunity to reflect back on the holiday of Simchat Torah and I’ve come to the conclusion that the Chag is important for two reasons: 1) it’s the celebration of the completion of the Torah and 2) it’s the kickoff event for a brand new dating season! Summer vacation is over, the Chagim have finally come to an end, and for singles it means that it is finally time to hop back on the Shidduch Dating train, and what better way to welcome in a new Shidduch Dating season than by having a holiday where tons of single guys and girls come to shul looking for a mate? Most people tend to focus on the first aspect of the holiday, however, I believe that for the majority of singles, from elementary school and beyond, Simchat Torah is about meeting people of the opposite gender and the fact that we have just completed The Five Books of Moses is really just a side point. Regardless of your level of religious observance or regularity of synagogue attendance, EVERYBODY who is single makes an appearance in shul on Simchat Torah. It is the prime time for bashert hunting, but the problem is that many people don’t come out with any dates. After celebrating Simchat Torah 24x in cities and universities that span the country, I have finally determined the appropriate steps that a modern orthodox yid must take in order to have a successful holiday. The key is to have a strategy and a game plan!

Before I jump into the specifics as to the strategy one should employ, I’d first like to describe the typical Simchat Torah. The Chag begins for most people when they walk into Temple sometime in the middle of services. I think it’s fair to say that many people don’t actually make it inside the actual sanctuary since all of the good schmoozing takes place outside in the social hall. Feeling slightly nervous and anxious, most singles search for familiar faces to talk to. Throughout hakafot, more and more people pile into shul. After a fair amount of schmoozing with friends, hakafot wind down and people go party hopping. Often, party hopping consists of going into someone’s apartment, standing there, watching people get drunk or getting drunk yourself, watching people puke or puking yourself, and talking to people you already know (who you’ve also been speaking with in shul for the past 2 hours). The following day consists of more of the same: Schmoozing with people you know, consuming alcohol, and occasionally warding off sketchy weirdoes. Two years ago, after an extremely eventful Simchat Torah on the Upper West Side, a bachur approaches me and told me proudly: “Dude, I got like 20 new Facebook friends this year and was soooo wasted last night! Coming here was totally worth it!” This line got me thinking that if we have begun measuring the level of success of our Simchat Torah experience based on the number of Facebook friends we have accumulated and our level of alcohol consumption, then we have really forgotten what the essence of the holiday is about.

The essence of the chag, if you are single, is to find someone to date. It’s as simple as that. In order to make this happen it is imperative that you go into the holiday with some type of game plan. Below I have outlined the 4 prong approach to having a successful Simchat Torah:

1) Do your research: Most people go into the Simchat Torah totally blind. They don’t know who will be there, so they have no plan as to who they want to schmooze with. Bad move! This will just lead to you hocking with the same individuals who you see on a daily basis. In the 21st century it is very easy to do some research in order to figure out who will be where for Simchat Torah and who might be a potential target to pursue. Utilize Facebook, AIM, Gchat, and old fashion networking to get a sense of eligible prospects at your Simchat Torah location. People might be asking themselves several questions right now:

Question: Well, isn’t this like stalking people?”

Answer: No. This is EXCACTLY like stalking people! Everybody does it anyway. Whether you spend hours on your own Facebook account or your “frum” and use your friend’s account, the difference is this is fortachlis reasons so it’s completely muttur!

Question: Isn’t this a bit nebby?

Answer: No. Spending a whole holiday schmoozing with the opposite gender and not getting a single date can be viewed as nebby. Doing some research and having a strategy that increases your chances of getting a date shows that you are marriage minded and want to make the most of your time.

Question: Shouldn’t I be researching dvrei Torah instead of researching for potential dates?

Answer: Let’s be honest! You are going to be looking over the mechitza the whole time anyway. You might as well be true to yourself and focus on what you’re really interested in. When next year comes around, you will be married (iy’h) or have a gf/bf so you will be able to focus all your kavana on preparing beautiful dvrei Torah.

Question: Doesn’t researching/strategizing like this take away from the real essence of the holiday?

Answer: The real essence of the holiday is to be happy and to find your bashert. Doing research and having a strategy will allow you to accomplish both goals.

Now that we understand the importance of doing research and having a strategy in place, let’s focus on the next step.

2) Have a wingman/woman: This is so important during any type of social gathering. At a business networking event it is great to have someone that you can play off of and who can get you out of dead end conversations. During a singles event (i.e. Simchat Torah) having a wingman/woman is essential to help you get out of sticky situations and to give you support when hocking with a potential date.

It is inevitable that through the course of Simchat Torah you will be approached by someone you really do not want to be speaking with. These type of people range from the super confident individuals who see something they want and go after it in an aggressive and often rude manner, to the socially challenged person who approaches a potential girl/guy with nothing really to say, which can make the entire encounter awkward for everyone involved. These types of situations are when the wingman/woman comes in handy. You need to flash a sign (which should be determined prior to the event) to your wing to come rescue you from this individual. A wing is as imperative to a single on Simchat Torah, as a Sherpa is to a climber of Mount Everest. If you don’ have one to give you support, you are asking for trouble!

3) Shrink the Social Scene: Very few people thrive in a large social atmosphere. It is very difficult to approach people, and it is even more difficult to actually meet someone and establish a connection with them. This is why I highly recommend you “shrink the social scene.” How does one do that? The best way is by hosting a meal or oneg type of shindig where you invite your friends and tell them each to invite someone that YOU DO NOT KNOW to the event. This greatly increases your chances of branching out into different circles and possibly meeting somebody new. If you have done your research before hand and know specifically which meideluch/bachrim you’d like to have in attendance, then you can invite them to what will be a low pressured atmosphere without any of the sketch balls or drunkards getting in your way. It is very important not to publicize this type of event to the olum or it will defeat the purpose of your shindig.

4) Follow up: Whether it’s by phone call or Facebook friendship, you have to step up and follow up with any potentials that you meet. Expecting things to just “work out” because it is “bashert” is not a recommended way of going through life. Several weeks ago a bachur mentioned a girl to me that he had a conversation with and told me he was very interested in her. I said I would be happy to set him up because I happened to be friendly with the girl. He responded by saying “Nah, maybe end up at a meal together hopefully!” Wow, talk about a man with a plan! Divine intervention brought the two of them together once and now this bachur’s strategy is to just pray to Hashem to make them magically end up at a meal together! Seems a bit chutzpadik! One needs to put in their own effort, and if things work out then great, but if they don’t at least you will be able to sleep at night knowing that you gave it your all. Following up is a crucial part to any networking event. If you don’t plan on following up, then don’t bother showing up. Both of those things are of equal importance.

Over the course of Simchat Torah you are bound to see a lot of interesting things. Whether its excessive drunkenness, a guy handing out business cards with his contact information (yes, this actually happened), being hit on by someone that is 15 years your senior, and various other things, all in an effort to attract the opposite gender. However, after years of Simchat Torah experience, I have finally come to the conclusion that the best technique is to have a plan. This will make things less overwhelming and more focused on what you are trying to accomplish. As the famous saying goes: “He who fails to plan, plans to fail.”

One of my senior shidduch advisors, Perel Sara, once explained to me, that the way you can determine if you had a successful Simchat Torah is if you get just ONE date by the end of yuntif. No matter how many appealing individuals you see in shul, and regardless of how good your social skills may be, it can still be very challenging to get a date at such a large social gathering. However, if you do your research, have a wingman/woman, shrink the social scene, and follow up with any singles that you have met, and end up with just ONE date because of it, than you have achieved the ultimate Simchat Torah experience!

The Nisht!

(This post was originally written on 9/17/2009)

There are some things in life that just never seem to get any easier for me. I still have a hard time facing my parents when I get less than a B on an exam, just thinking about being chazzan in front of a large group of people makes my stomach turn, and I find it nearly impossible to restrain myself from discussing Tachlis for any extended period of time. However, the one thing that takes the cake in terms of being exceedingly difficult for me is nishting someone (Note: Nishting is the act of ending a potential relationship with someone after 5 or less dates.*). No matter how many times I’ve done the act of nishting, it still always manages to tear me up inside. I don’t know if it makes me less manly or more of a ba’al chesed, but it’s not a very pleasant feeling. Over the past week or so, I’ve been approached by many bachrim and meidels who have the same feelings about nishting as I do. People have asked me for tips and advice on this very sensitive issue. Thankfully, after about 2 years in the shidduch dating business, I’ve come up with a few rules that apply to both guys and girls regarding the ever so dreaded “Nisht.”
What NOT to do:
DO NOT waste someone’s time by having a long phone conversation when your intention is to nisht them! As much as I enjoy talking to someone who I have absolutely no future with, you need to keep the schmoozing to a minimum if you plan on ending the relationship. I remember calling a meidel several months ago about going on a 4th date. After a 20 minute discussion I popped the shyla “So would you like to get together sometime this week?” To which she responded: “Well actually, I’ve been thinking about it and I don’t think this is a shayich match, but I think you’re a great guy!” FABULOUS! You think I’m a great guy! If you thought I was such a great guy than you would give me the past 20 minutes of my life back! Listen, as much as I enjoy discussing the other person’s Shabbos plans, career goals, and the ever changing weather patterns in New York City, if you know you are going to nisht me from the onset, than having such a drawn out conversation is really unnecessary. Naturally, it’s very important to be polite when speaking to somebody, but, as I learned early on in the dating game, if you don’t intend to go out again, than say so within the first minute of the conversation. It’s not being rude, it’s called being considerate!
DO NOT keep going out with someone if you are not into them! I heard that some meidels keep going out with a guy because they either have nothing else going on or they could use a free dinner (I did not make this up). I’m no poseik, but going out with someone just to get a free meal might be considered theft. “Ahhh, but it’s for shidduch reasons! It’s muttur!” Sure it is! Once you know you aren’t into someone anymore then you should end it. Dating just for the sake of dating is a waste of everybody’s time and energy. Granted, sometimes it can take quite a few dates to determine if two people are a good match, and I strongly believe you should give someone another chance as long as you see some potential. However, once you know that the relationship is not going anywhere, speak up and let the other party know how you feel! There is no sense in delaying the inevitable.
DO NOT let things fizzle out without contacting anybody! Many bachrim have the tendency to go out with someone, and if it’s a bad date they literally do nothing. At the beginning of my shidduch dating career I also made this grave error. If you don’t think a relationship is going anywhere, you need to let someone know. Whether it’s the shaddchan or the person you dated, somebody needs to be contacted so neither party will be left in a state of limbo. People say you need to pick up the phone and call. I disagree. If you met the person once (i.e. “A one and done”) you don’t OWE them anything other then the courtesy to contact them or someone involved in the shidduch, to let them know that you are no longer interested in pursuing this relationship any further. (Although I wouldn’t recommend this method, I do think texting is muttur on a Bidee Eved level).
DO NOT ask the nishter why you are being nishted! Sometimes I am really dumbfounded why a certain meidel has nishted me. I’m sure this happens at some point to everybody. Meidels have told me that they called to nisht a bachur and he responded “Well, I’m not really sure why you are ending this. Can you elaborate?” NO SHE DOESN’T HAVE TO ELABORATE! You have been nishted! You have been axed! You have been voted off the Island! It’s over! This isn’t a debate! You aren’t entitled to a rebuttal! You can contact the shaddchan or a friend afterwards and find out the reason, but once this short relationship (5 dates and under) has been terminated, you are not entitled to any explanations. Many times a meidel or bachur will offer an explanation or suggestions that will help critique the other party’s dating style or perhaps help them refine what they are looking for in a shidduch. If this advice isn’t offered to you outright, then just accept the nisht and move on to the next highly eligible single meidel/bachur in your pipeline.
What TO DO:
DO keep the conversation short and sweet! As mentioned earlier, people have the tendency to keep the conversation going on forever, and feel it is necessary for a build up until you finally nisht a person. This is a big mistake and a huge waste of time. Just end it and move on! Recently, I did a role play with a meidel who was looking to nisht a bachur after 4 dates. This is how it went down and how I recommend people who have no shaddchan involved handle the nishting conversation:
Person being nishted: Hello?
Person doing the nishting: Hi (insert name here). How are you doing?**
Nishted: I’m doing well. How about yourself?
Nishter: I’m good. (insert name), I’ve been doing some thinking and although I had a very nice time with you, and can tell that you are obviously a great bachur/meidel, I don’t see this relationship going any further then just being friends, but thanks a lot for taking me out/allowing me to take you out!***
Nishted: Okay, have a great night/day and best of luck!
Nishter: Thanks! You too! (Maybe offer to set the individual up if you really respected them, but this is never necessary.)
Nishted: Umm, can you explain to me why?
Nishter: [You can choose to be polite] you’re a great guy/gal, but I just didn’t feel any chemistry, but I wish you the best of luck! [Or you can be brutally honest] Well, I didn’t find you remotely attractive, you have an attitude problem, your lazy, you’re a huge phony, you have no conversation skills at all, you’re not driven, and you are not exactly the sharpest tool in the shed! Oh, and I never went to HASC so I didn’t appreciate you speaking about it for ¾ of our date! See ya!
If this was a blind date the entire dialogue should not last more then 90 seconds unless you are trying to set the other person up. If you have a prior relationship with this person (i.e. are friends or she is your bosses daughter) then, naturally, the conversation will be a bit longer.
Bo Bennett, a motivational speaker once said “A rejection is nothing more than a necessary step in the pursuit of success.” This is true with business, life, and shidduch dating. If you allow me to rephrase this quote to make it slightly more relevant to our topic it should say: “A nisht is nothing more than a necessary step in the pursuit of your bashert.” As anyone can tell you, nishting is a very important part of the shidduch dating process and almost everyone will get nishted or do a nishting at some point during their dating career. It is imperative that you know how to end a relationship efficiently and effectively. It is also very important to be honest by giving the shaddchanim an idea of what you are looking for in a shidduch. However, one thing that shidduch daters MUST be cautious of is being labeled as an “extreme nishter.” An “extreme nishter” is someone who nishts virtually everyone that is suggested to them before they even go out or after only one date. Earning this title amongst the shidduch dating community is bad for several reasons: 1) People will stop trying to set you up, 2) You think way too highly of yourself and are in need of some serious introspection, 3) You are caught up on a specific individual you’ve dated or liked in the past and measure everyone up to him/her. Sometimes it is necessary to reject a string of meidels or bachrim from a particular shaddchan who continues to suggest people that are TOTALLY off the mark. However, more often then not, when we get into a funk where we are doing a lot of rejecting, then maybe we are the ones that are the problem. So often I hear people say to me “I am very picky”, or “I know exactly what I am looking for” or “(The name of your ex) was much different than her/him, and that’s what I am looking for.” These are very dangerous lines to be saying. It is reminiscent of a video that I saw on YouTube recently, that showed a bunch of singles in their mid to late 20s that live on the Upper West Side who used these exact lines as to why they are not married yet. It isn’t a tragedy to live on the Upper West Side or to not be married by your late 20s, but when you are saying the aforementioned lines as REASONS for why you are not married, than it might be a good time to take a look in the mirror and evaluate yourself and what you have to offer. Despite what your parents may have told you when you were growing up, you are really not that special! Every Yitzy, Moishe, Rivky and Leah brings the same qualities to the table that you do! If you are still comparing every potential date to your ex, then I can promise you this: You will never find anyone like him/her, because no two people are exactly the same. Everybody is different. You are chasing a figment of your imagination, not searching for a partner to spend the rest of you life with.
As Rosh Hashana rapidly approaches and we pray to Hashem for health, parnasa, happiness, and peace for all of Klal Yisroel, it is also of utmost importance to ask for chizzuk and seichel to succeed in this shidduch dating game. We must ask for the chizzuk to make the call and nisht a relationship that isn’t going anywhere and we must pray that we have the seichel to be true to ourselves with what we can expect from a shidduch.
May this year bring you health, happiness, mazal and your bashert! Amen!

*Yes, this is my definition.
** Do NOT ask how your day was, that will lead to a long unnecessary dialogue about the person day, which you are NOT interested in.
***If the date went very poorly and the person lacked basic social skills and wasn’t nice or sincere, you may want to use harsher phraseology such as “Thanks for taking me out, but I don’t see this going anywhere” or “I would appreciate it if you didn’t call or speak to me ever again” or “If you ever make an effort to contact me again and I’m calling the police” depending on how bad the date went.

500 Days of Summer: Two Important Lessons for Everyone in the “Parsha”

(This post was originally written on 9/7/2009)

It takes a bachur with a tremendous amount of self confidence to admit to liking chick flicks. It takes an extra layer of confidence to admit liking chick flicks on a blog where all his male friends can verify this information and make fun of him profusely! I am comfortable declaring, loudly and proudly, that I like chick flicks! I absolutely LOVED Titanic, I thought You’ve Got Mail was amazing, and The Notebook was extremely touching. However, sometimes you see a movie that is head and shoulders above all the others. A movie that not only has a well thought out story line that the viewers can relate to, but also a message that can be taken with you long after you leave the theater. Last week my friend, Jake, and I saw 500 Days of Summer, which is undoubtedly the best chick flick I have ever seen. The messages that the movie conveys touched on two topics that always cross my mind during the shidduch hunt: 1) The “Build Up” and 2) Fate.

(Warning: Spoiler) A basic synopsis of the film is as follows: Tom is an aspiring architect who currently earns his living as a greeting card writer. Upon encountering his boss’ new secretary Summer, he discovers that the pair have plenty in common despite the fact that she’s seemingly out of his league. Before long Tom is obsessed. All he can think about is Summer. Tom believes deeply in the concept of soul mates, and he’s finally found his. Unfortunately for Tom, Summer sees true love as the stuff of fairy tales, and isn’t looking for romance. Undaunted and undeterred by Summer’s casual stance on relationships, Tom summons all of his might and courage to pursue Summer and convince her that their love is real. Through their tumultuous relationship there are many ups and downs. At the beginning they are blissfully happy, but as time goes by they fight and at one point Summer breaks down crying and says that she doesn’t think they should see each other anymore. Tom does not take this well and despite everyone’s advice to let her go, he is still adamant about winning Summer back.

Several months go by without Tom seeing Summer and he finds out that she is engaged. He becomes extremely depressed and enters a catatonic state where all he does is sleep and consume Twinkies and Jack Daniel’s whiskey. As the movie winds down the lessons of the movie become clear. At one point Tom is shown talking to his little sister, Rachel, about Summer. Rachel turns to him and says “Tom, I know you think she was the one, but I don’t. Next time you look back, I think you should look again.” Tom begins to think back on all the signs where it was obvious that Summer was not nice to him or not appreciative of him. Tom blinded himself to these hints because he BUILT HER UP in his mind to be something she wasn’t (Lesson #1).

Tom decides to try to turn his life around and removes all reminisce in his apartment that reminded him of Summer. He begins to assemble a portfolio and makes a list of architecture firms to interview at. After getting rejected one by one he goes to sit on a bench at his favorite part of the city. He’s gazing down at some of the buildings when Summer calls out to him. She is now married. Tom confesses that he now realizes that all his ideas about love were wrong. She points out that while he might have been wrong about her, she believes him to be right about love and fate. Tom tells her that he can’t believe that Summer, the girl who didn’t want to be anyone’s girlfriend, was now someone’s wife. Summer tells him that with her husband, she knew what she was never sure of with Tom: that she was in love with him and wanted to spend the rest of her life with him. She also tells Tom that if there’s no destiny, she might have easily never met her husband in a coffeehouse. She explains that she could have decided to stay in her apartment that night, or could have arrived at the coffeehouse ten minutes later, but the fact that she came at the exact time to that specific place was in fact fate (Lesson #2).

Lesson #1 – The Build Up: Tom blinded himself to the way Summer treated him and the lack of appreciation she had for him by focusing ONLY on the good times they shared and disregarding the poor way she treated him. In life, we are all guilty of the same attitude that Tom displayed. We meet a bachur/meidel who we think is “The One.” We build the person up in our minds to the point where we absolutely and undoubtedly know that we are made for each other! However, as many friends, family or outside sources can tell you, we have blinded ourselves from the real person. We don’t pay attention to the negative way this individual treats us, or the lack of interest this person takes in us. We ignore all their rudeness and mistreatment and assume that they are just having a bad day, but in fact we have built up someone in our mind who doesn’t appreciate us. We are, in a sense, chasing an illusion that we have created! I’m sure many people have been in relationships like this or had similar feelings about a particular individual. It’s important to take a step back from the fairy tale you think you live in and get feedback from friends and family about the person that we put on a pedestal and treat like a prince/princess. It’s nearly impossible to make an accurate assessment of a person when such strong emotions are involved.

Lesson #2 – Fate: Summer mentioned how she could have been anywhere else in the world, but that coffeehouse. She could have arrived just a couple minutes later and she would have never met her bashert, but it was because of “fate” that she ended up where she did when she did. Fate is a Jewish concept. It’s called hashgacha pratis, or divine providence. We often find ourselves saying “man did I luck out” or lines of similar meaning. The concept of luck is goyish. Yiddim believe that Hakadosh Baruchoo is keeping an eye out for them! We see this in many areas of life, but none is quite as remarkable as finding your bashert. In order for two people to find each other there is an almost infinite amount of variables that must fall into place. The timing must work out, they must be in the same place, they must notice one another, they must somehow end up interacting with each other, the two people must be receptive to each others remarks, they must remain in touch, etc. The amount of timing and planning that must go on for two people to meet and ultimately get married leaves no doubt in my mind that Hashem is actively involved in the shidduch process.

Summer also mentioned that she got engaged and married so quickly because she woke up one morning and just “knew” what she never felt through the many months she was with Tom. I have personally heard numerous stories of how people ultimately find each other. People have met on a train, at a Shabbos meal, on Facebook, at a job interview, etc. But one thing is for sure, when you ultimately meet your bashert…you just know! You can be dating someone for several years and have a bitter break up and then begin dating someone else and within 2 months you can have a stronger bond with that person then with your previous boyfriend/girlfriend who you’ve been seeing for years!

Conclusion: What was so powerful about 500 Days of Summer is how it accurately depicted ones’ quest for ones’ bashert. Most Hollywood movies have the same unrealistic/silly/obvious plot line: Guy meets girl, guy flirts with her, she turns him down, guy flirts some more, girl falls deeply in love with him, there are a few steamy smooching scenes, something threatens their relationship, they overcome this obstacle, they smooch some more, and BOOM…they build a bayis ne’eman together! This is not reality, rather it’s silliness that we are taught to believe at a young age. No one falls in love that way! Most of us will meet quite a few people that we THINK are our basherts. We build them up in our minds to be “The One” and the ONLY one we can ever love. Then we get our hearts broken!

One important point that the film neglected to state specifically was the following: What can one do in order to avoid the “build up” and the inevitable heartache that ensues? After all, we are distracted by so many other important issues like looks, personality, religious level, mishpacha, and what size skirt a person’s mother wears, that we have lost touch with what is really important. Some of the best advice I have ever received about what to look for in a mate came from a meidel who I was trying to set up. I asked her the typical first question: “What are you looking for?” Instead of receiving the typical answer (“I want someone who is nice, who likes to learn, but also wants to make a parnasa, who likes playing sports, and wants to make aliyah, yada yada yada) she said quite simply “Before anything, I’m looking for someone who will appreciate me for me!” I think if we keep this point in mind it will help ground us when our emotions try to take over. We can truly believe that we have found “The One”, but all we need to answer is one simple question, which is the real litmus test when determining if this person is in fact our bashert: “Does this individual appreciate me for me?”