Saturday, August 11, 2012

Tu be'Av and today's Shidduchim System

Seen in Jerusalem

Photo: Miriam Woelke

Yes, I know, the Jewish "Valentines Day" Tu be'Av  already took place a week ago, but I still would like to discuss a rather critical thought of mine. 

The background of Tu be'Av can be found in the Talmud Tractate Ta'anit 26b where Rabban Gamliel states that there are no more joyful days in Judaism than Yom Kippur and Tu be'Av. 

The three weeks before Tisha be'Av and the 9th of Av itself were days of mourning and fasting. Not necessarily mourning about the destruction of the two Temples but that there hasn't been built the Third Temple yet. Meshiach has not yet arrived and we all should remember and pray for the speedy Meshiach's arrival and the Ge'ulah (Redemption). 

On Tu be'Av (15th day in the Jewish month of Av), young single women and men used to go out into the fields / vineyards and meet. The women would dress up in white and the men usually couldn't see who is rich or poor, as every woman was dressed up in similar clothes. This is basically what the Talmud states.Today we would probably call it a huge blind date where single Jews meet but where men don't know whether the woman has money or not, but just make their choice by looking at them. Maybe this also doesn't sound too fair, as there are beautiful women and less gorgeous ones. 

However, this wasn't too much of my thought but rather today's reality. Can you really imagine that, today, single Jewish men would just go to a huge meeting and choose their future spouse ? Lets have a look at Shidduchim reality:

Is it, realistically speaking, possible that a son or a daughter of a Rebbe or Rabbi would go out and look for a simple woman / man as a marriage partner ? For someone not coming from a rabbinic family ?

Could it be that a concert marries a great Posek or that a simple Yeshiva student marries into a distinguished frum family ? That someone handicapped doesn't get an also handicapped Shidduch ?

Lets assume that, on Tu be'Av, everyone goes out in the woods in order to find his spouse. That would be just great but I don't really believe in that kind of a dream. There may be exceptions but the majority is mingling with each other. Too much reputation is at stake. Let alone all those DNA tests in haredi society. 

But don't make the mistake that it is only haredi society going according to strict society rules. The national religious are widely the same when it comes to Shidduchim.

Conclusion: Equality would be wonderful but still remains a dream ! And, by the way, I learned that even in the days of King David, Jerusalem was divided into a rich part and the lower part of town used to be the quarter where the poor lived. They even had their own market.

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