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Tuesday, July 12, 2011

It is the Way of Men to Pursue Women!

Rabbi Pruzansky of the Rabbi Pruzansky blog has written a column has simply blown me out of my seat: Dating Self-Help. While I do see many merits of 'shidduchim', I have long felt that the manifestations of such has simply emasculated the male population. And, I don't think it's done much for the fairer half either. The rejection of the natural, i.e. men pursuing women in hopes of marriage and building a family, along with any other practices designed to save children and adults from rejection, potential embarrassment, feelings of being different, what have you, have left us weakened when it comes to simply dealing with life and everything life hands to us.

The article is a must read, so head on over to the Rabbi's blog. Following are a few key quotes. I like that the Rabbi doesn't beat around bush and I like that in the concluding paragraph he connects the idea of molding more assertive men to more confident women. Such a cultural change would make forums like this obsolete!

The Gemara (Kiddushin 2b) cites the pasuk “When a man takes a woman [in marriage]” and explains “darko shel ish l’chazer al ha-isha,” it is the way of men to pursue women [in marriage]. It is not the way of men, or shouldn’t be, to enlist a band of agents, intermediaries, and attorneys to do the work for them. By infantilizing and emasculating our males, we have complicated a process that should be simpler and made a joyous time into one of relentless anguish and hardship for many women.

In the realm of dating and marriage, we are breeding Ohn [Korach's original co-conspirator whom was saved by his wife] by the thousands by freeing men from their obligation to pursue their potential spouses, and thereby relegating women to the dependent role of passively waiting to be the chosen one. Why do we do that, and is there a better option ?

Some will argue that the shidduch system spares our children the pain of rejection – but part of life, and a huge part of parenting, is preparing our children for a world in which they will experience rejection at some point. That is called maturity.

Something is not normal, and against human nature as Chazal perceived it, for men to be so diffident, so timid, so Ohn-like, and sit back comfortably relying on others to procure them dates. Young men who would not allow others to choose for them a lulav and etrog do not hesitate to delegate others to find them a spouse.

As well-meaning as the system intends, it must be demeaning and deflating – worse than even the rejection that happens after casual encounters.

As a community we have other options than the false choice of isolationism or promiscuity, and we need to strengthen our young men with the inner confidence to guide their own lives. There are too many people walking around with Y chromosomes who are not men

May Hashem bless with success the work of all shadchanim. But we need to shift the culture away from the passive indifference of the well-connected to the active pursuit of spouses by all, and thereby mold more assertive men and more confident women. That is because more is expected of us – as a nation that is called by G-d for greatness not mediocrity, to be active not passive, to be followers of G-d and leaders of mankind.

Readers, besides shidduchim, what other practices of modern day parenting and modern day chinuch do you see as emasculating men and creating wall flower women?


Anonymous said...

Nonetheless this post, I have noticed a subtle turn to chareidi-style mores in this blog recently. Given that viewpoint, how do you square rejection of the shidduch system with modesty and avoidance of sin?

There is not really a happy medium between the shidduch system and Upper-West-Side style singles scenes. I am not criticizing the UWS scene - far from it. But someone who identifies with chareidi-style religion would certainly find something to criticize.

Anonymous said...

When one's child begins dating it means the parents have been out of the dating world for at least 20 years, as I am starting this process I cannot believe how things have changed since my husband and I met in the late 80's. One aspect that bothers me to no end in the yeshivish world is the lack of communication between the man and the women (or what the shadchanim prefer to call them "boy and girl"). Even after both parties/families have agreed to meet the young man no longer calls the young lady to set up a time to get together, this is arranged by the shadchan. I have been told by many many people that the reason for this is to avoid "awkward" conversations. I feel that life is made up of awkward conversations that we all better learn to handle in order to be successful in all aspects of life. We have to let our kids grow up and what better time to learn these skills than when they are choosing who they will be spending the rest of their life with.

Orthonomics said...

Can you give an example of "Chareidi-style" mores? I'm usually reminded that I'm quite modern. Personally, I like to think I'm nuanced or selective (or just admit that in some areas of my personal observance I'm just plain lazy).

Orthonomics said...

I feel that life is made up of awkward conversations

Kol V'Chomer marriage. We've had some particularly important conversations in our marriage, nearly everyone is "awkward" to an extent!

Anonymous said...

Orthonomics - no one is describing your personal observance (of which readers have know way of knowing), but it often appears that you try to curry favor with chareidi commenters - by flattering them and by (somewhat prudishly) deleting comments containing no actual foul language, but which might offend chareidi readers.

Mighty Garnel Ironheart said...

I would suggest that in modern times mothers and fathers have become less involved with their kids.
The mothers are busy working to support the family.
The fathers are busy learning.
So the rebbes and Beis Yaakov teachers raise the kids and instill a prefab ideology into them.

JS said...

I'm glad Rabbi Pruzansky is speaking out against the shidduch system being a "l'chatchila" approach to dating and marriage, but his blog post is really poorly reasoned. His main arguments are that a gemara says "men chase women", a bizarre midrash about Ohn that is open to several interpretations, and antiquated notions about gender roles.

If it were me writing the article, I would have focused on all the needless heartache the system often causes and how in the name of tznius, we've turned young men and women into objects with certain "stats" - he went to such and such yeshiva so he's no good, she wears such and such a dress size so she's no good - instead of people.

I don't understand the approach he takes. It seems predicated on the notion that unless there's some midrash or chazal or some gadol that once made the same point, the point must be worthless. The shidduch system must be good, despite all evidence to the contrary (evidence anyone with eyes and ears can see or hear), unless some Rashi disagrees. It seems to stem from the same disdain for science (also based on observations of nature) - I don't care what your telescopes and microscopes say, Chazal said otherwise.

The problem with the shidduch system isn't that it emasculates males or whatever, it's that it doesn't allow boys and girls to become men and women - it infantalizes them. It gives them no control over the most important aspect of their lives. Further, it forces everyone into a cookie-cutter mold of having to go to the right yeshivas/seminaries, the right shul, etc. because anything different is severely punished. It also forces judgment on the individual for circumstances beyond their control - parents divorced, parents not wealthy, illness in the family, etc.

In short, I'm glad the article was written, but the crowd he's catering to with these types of arguments will never listen to a rabbi named "Steven" and will just shout back some combination of "pritzus" and "this is how it was always done!"

Other practices that prevent boys and girls from growing up (I don't prefer the emasculating/wall flower language) include: replacing parents with rebbes, antiquated gender roles, turning over decisions of when to have children to rabbis, and encouraging a system where nearly everyone is dependent on communal support.

A Muppet said...

It depends what you mean by emasculating (and I don't think the shidduch system, whatever its problems are, actually does that) but the entire Orthodox enterprise is about creating men who have no life skills beyond those required to either sit and learn or earn tremendous sums of money while their wives either work in anonymous jobs (the more anonymous the better) with no significant chance for career advancement or stay at home to raise the kids. Passivity isn't a side-effect, it's the goal.

JWS said...

Don't even get me started on this issue. I actually blogged about this issue in March.

I've been advocating this change for a while. I've never seen so many guys so affraid of pursuing a girl.

I understand the need to be modest, and approach things in a kosher way. That doesn't take away the fact that a man can't pursue a girl he may be interested in.

With everything in life, there's a way to do it, and then there's the torah/kosher way to do it.

If we've found ways being modest and 'kosher' in the work place and dealings with the nonjewish world, there is no reason for a man or woman to not find ways to doing the same in their jewish personal lives with regards to dating, and meeting the opposite gender.

As someone whose in my mid to late twenties it's shocking and appauling how many guys (and to a lesser extent girls) are not socialized normally. I'm a young professional/entrepreneur whose spent plenty of time in yeshiva institutions learning before going to work and it's refreshing to see someone finally speak out about this.

Anonymous said...

"In short, I'm glad the article was written, but the crowd he's catering to with these types of arguments will never listen to a rabbi named "Steven" and will just shout back some combination of "pritzus" and "this is how it was always done!"

Rabbi Pruzansky is also a lawyer who practiced for many years before becoming a full time Rabbi - yet another reason why "that crowd" would never listen to him. Oh well, there loss.

Anonymous said...

To answer your question - in what other ways are men being emasculated - in the field that once gave men independence and confidence, the field of parnossah. The chareidi population, guided by the yeshiva, mostly disdains earning a living while glorifying indefinite Torah study. Boys are taught secular studies in elementary school that omits any American history, civics, and science. I questioned my 13 year old nephew on a few simple subjects. He knew nothing of Jefferson, Lincoln, and did not know the function of the Senate. He was being prepared for a life alongside of the outide world, but with a high wall separating him from anything secular that might endanger his yiddishkeit, such as looking for parnossah.

The men who come out of this yeshiva system are married to very capable women who have the children, have full time jobs, and tell their husbands which shoe to put on first. How can a man be a man when he can't even earn a living? When he is prevented from earning by the deliberate malteaching he is receiving from elementary school?

The women are valiant and overburdened. Their great goal and dream is to get on Section 8. Meanwhile they are struggling financially. Their husbands are unqualified for any remunerative work, and too gevaltig (important) to stack shelves in a supermarket, which incidentally, is honorable and useful work.

Ours is an American family and one of our children married into a Boro Park Hungarian family. We were surprised to see another symptom of emasculation of men, though at the time we did not realize it as such. My grandfather took one look at his prospective grandson in law and said succinctly, "He'll never earn a nickel." And so it was. My brother in law has always been supported by his brother. He does not support his wife, he gives her nary a penny, though he allows her to live under his roof (actually his niece's house for Section 8 purposes) and eat his food. The husband feels no responsibility to his wife - when she is sick he ignores her, his son brings her a cup of tea. This is the emasculation of the man.

The wife goes along with all this for the sake of sholom bayis.

When my father protested to his in-law that his daughter had no health insurance while her husband was fully covered, he was told, "You want Malka Chana to have insurance? You pay for insurance." We had never encountered such an attitude before, we were dealing with a European culture in which the husband and wife are not an independent unit, but each still "belonged" and was the responsibility of their birth family. They were not allowed to mature and take on maturity. Their parents were supposed to support them, or their brother or aunt or uncle.

The yeshiva system has led to great poverty where it has all-encompassing power. The only reason frum people in Baltimore are not destitute as they are in other frum communities is because of the Rosh Yeshiva's wisdom in allowing boys to go to college in the 60's and 70's so as to make a parnassah. You make a man not through arranged marriage, but through giving him the chance to shoulder responsibility for his family.

Anonymous said...

Some less reasonable writings of Rabbi Pruzansky:

Ariella said...

Way, way back shidduchim were simpler as described in the Gemara related in

But if you notice, the women were the ones who are more assertive in the vineyard, as they approached the men and spoke up directly. Oh, and no one promised X number of years of support for the match. When that system was in place -- much later -- the young couples were usually in their early teens and lived in the girl's (really still a girl in age) parents' home.

Anonymous said...

I am a new comer to your blog and hope you dont mind them.
Perhaps one should first explain the chasidic system (of which I am not part).
The parents meet their prospective in laws then they all meet together. If the parent dont know each other the shadchan goes with. They talk for a long time and the boy and girl are just waiting for them to stop. Then after at least half an hour the boy and girl who until now have been averting their gaze from each other are sent to a different room to 'talk'. They just look at each other not saying much knowing that most likely they are being listened to and not knowing what to talk about. After about ten minutes they are called back and go home. The shadchan asks them each and they usually say it was love at first sight but want to meet again. The next time they get to meet on their own but this is only a formality and get to talk to each other. They both have a positive outlook to make things work not to test each other. They trust their parents that have done all that.

Anonymous said...

Offf(o) carries on
Boys only go to meet girls when they are really interested in a shidduch
The way the Lakewood system of dating where boys go to have fun with girls really backfires. They both know especially today the girl that she really has to work hard to win over the boy. Boys dont like that. It is a mans job to win over the girl.

Anonymous said...

During the high school graduation ceremony at bais yaacov of Baltimore this year, one of the speakers (Rabbi Haur) spoke about how it is primarily the husband's responsibility to earn money (as written in ketubah). He spoke against long term kollel life. The audience was surprised and definitely listened. His speech was almost certainly approved by the high ups in the Bais Yaacov school.

I think he spoke about this because the lack of income among the parental body is causing significant financial problems for the school. Scholarships have become harder to obtain just as the percentage of the student body on scholarship increases. The leadership of the Bais Yaacov school understand that the situation is unsustainable.

Anonymous said...

I am amazed that the situation has gotten so dire in Baltimore that the unspeakable has finally been spoken in that most public forum, the Bais Yaakov graduation. The unspeakable being the responsibility of the man to earn a living. I'm relieved that the leadership of the Baltimore Bais Yaakov is realistic enough to recognize the problem of unemployment and underemployment and recognizes how it is endangering the school. When men assume their proper role as breadwinners, they will regain their self respect.

Anonymous said...

I'm relieved that the leadership of the Baltimore Bais Yaakov is realistic enough to recognize the problem of unemployment and underemployment and recognizes how it is endangering the school.

There's nothing like enlightened self-interest.

AztecQueen2000 said...

While it's true that the shidduch system is found in the Torah, the same Torah also said that when Yaakov met Rachel, he kissed her, and then worked seven years for her. Would that we could only accept this model of dating and marriage.
The Torah also said that Adam (the man) was cursed to earn his bread by the sweat of his brow. Somehow, sitting in yeshiva, even with the A/C off, doesn't seem to be what this passage had in mind.

aaron from L.A. said...

I pursued the woman who became my wife for months and months before she we became engaged.Then again,I also went to YU and actually work for a living. Yeah,I know; that's three strikes already.

jewishwhiteguy said...

If I could 'like' the above comment I would.

Aharon Fischman said...

I have higher hopes for the current Royal wedding since the groom needed to fight for his bride - she was willing to walk away. He fought and will certainly fight to keep her. Shidduch process does not necessarily lead to that 'fight' emotion. Full disclosure, I had to fight too - I asked my wife out 6 months after she turned me down, so I hold by that emotion!

Avi can attest to this :)

anon426 said...

It is truly significant that Rabbi Hauer spoke as he did at the BY graducation.

However, what will really make a diffeerence is when the boy's schools stop making secular education a 2nd class citizen. They need to start preparing these young men for college and careers.

Mr. Cohen said...

Midrash Rabah, Seder Bereshit, Parshah 9, Paragraph 7:

Rabbi Nachman son of Shmuel son of Nachman taught in the name of Rabbi Shmuel son of Nachman:

If not for the evil inclination [Yetzer HaRa], no man would build a house or marry a woman or father children or engage in trade.

מדרש רבה בראשית פרשה ט פסקה ז
רבי נחמן בר שמואל בר נחמן בשם רב שמואל בר נחמן אמר הנה טוב מאד זה יצר טוב והנה טוב מאד זה יצר רע וכי יצר הרע טוב מאד אתמהא אלא שאלולי יצר הרע לא בנה אדם בית ולא נשא אשה ולא הוליד ולא נשא ונתן

Boxed Whine said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Avi said...

I saw R. Pruzansky's post but didn't expect to see it linked here. I'm finding it very interesting to consider the economic implications of the shidduch system in this way.

Nathan said...
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Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Nathan said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said...

Nathan, many heretics are actively part of the Orthodox Jewish community, pay tuition, and read this blog? Is there a litmus test for reading and commenting?

Start your own blog!

Anonymous said...

Mr. Cohen's posts seem to arouse an unusual amount of annoyance among this blog's readers, including many believing and practicing Jews.

Orthonomics said...

Vulgarity gets deleted.
Comments don't generally get deleted and I just ask that people use their persuasive debate skills.

As for Mr. Cohen, I think I'm going to remove the link for now. I didn't take note and don't see any good point in blasting converts who were not converted according to halacha as the opening dialogue to spreading Torah. Perhaps if Torah is spread in a positive way, those who really do want to be Jewish will continue their learning and reach this understanding without being blasted.

Now. . . . . back to the topic at hand. And excuse for not blogging this week. Too much to digest.

Orthonomics said...

A P.S. on vulgarity. . . my kids read and might be standing behind me when I'm typing. So, no taking vulgarity from one sight to another. Close call over here.

Refuting the Bible Critics said...

Boxed Whine, you seem to not understand that Mr. Cohen’s beliefs are standard for Orthodox and traditional Jews.

Since Orthonomics means the Economics of Orthodox Jews, your comments are in the wrong place, not his.

Sorry about that!

Anonymous said...

A recent comment with no foul language was recently deleted. And why do you have a "no deletions" policy, even if you don't follow it? Is a blog some kind of literary masterpiece to be preserved in totality? Many other bloggers delete comments for all kinds of reasons.

I think the 3:54 comment should be deleted. If a comment containing the word "sex" could be deleted last week, 3:54 is definitely worse.

Anonymous said...

Since Orthonomics means the Economics of Orthodox Jews

This is your definition, not the blogger's. Should all comments expressing skepticism about some aspects of Orthodox Judaism as it's currently practiced be deleted? If so, the blogger should moderate.

Orthonomics, if this blog is off limits to skeptics, please make that clear!

Orthonomics said...

Have fun commenting all.
I'm going to cook a frugal dinner with all the kids underfoot.

Orthonomics said...

And the blog is not off limits for anyone interested in Ortho-nomics. Just use some judgement and be forgiving if you think I have censored not enough and/or too much. I like an active readership and have mostly chosen not to censor comments. I don't want that to change.

There is an interesting article by Rabbi Pruzansky. Comment on the topic at hand. It is a neat article that falls under the normal topics of my blog: economics/personal finance, employment, parenting/marriage.

Anonymous said...

Kollel is about cloistering young and not so young men in an environment away from outside "influences."
"Learning" really just provides a rationale. In the process, the men are emasculated and infantilized. While the men go to the Beth Medrash each day, their wives have the responsibility to support the family, and deal with all the outside "influences." Their husbands, playing the role of a child, evidently are to be trusted only to go back and forth to the Beth Medrash. Periodically, the bachur may be asked to give a Dvar Torah before the schver in order to demonstate his worthiness to receive payments. Receiving welfare checks and section 8 housing probably does not help one to have a feeling of adulthood and competence. Some may find these words strong, but what is going on strikes at the very heart of enabling one to be an independent, functioning adult.

Anonymous said...

'Some may find these words strong, but what is going on strikes at the very heart of enabling one to be an independent, functioning adult'

Its nothing strong at all. I would add also that a kollel is nowhere near like a university. No entrance exams no checks, no finals!

Anonymous said...

Agree with Anon. 8:04. Kollel though is merely the culmination of a system of education for boys that makes it impossible for them to function in the outside world as adults, so emasculation is inevitable. There is no state oversight of the secular education. The boys are not being taught history, certainly not American history, civics, how government works (to make the voting process simpler and to eliminate the ability to choose anything other than the yeshiva's slate), and most of all, they learn nothing of that most dangerous of fields, science. Several of my nephews are functionally illiterate in English as they went to Hasidic schools. Is it any wonder they are living in basements, their wives are struggling, and everyone is putting up a pretense that all is well in the chareidi environment? The recent tragedy demonstrates that all is not well. When women are exploited by overwork, when boys are raised to be helpless - but I often feel I am writing for my own ears only. Since you are all MO, you feel, what do chareidi education and poverty have to do with me?

Watch in one generation when your day school in the midwest is taken over by the chareidim and the secular department dismantled. Watch as your children are taught by young, energetic chareidi men, filled with the fire of belief. Your children as adults, having learned in chareidi yeshivas, will then convert the day school to a true cheder. There will be little demand for day school, as the birth rate of chareidim far outstrips that of modern orthodox as we all know. Their plan (and there is a plan) is to set up kollelim in cities that are currently modern orthodox and expand their numbers and influence, infiltrating the day school and making first reasonable, then increasingly radical requests to change the day school's character. They ignore the modern orthodox parents, and concentrate on the hearts and minds of the children.

I'd like to know whether any of your readers have knowledge of this in their communities?

The most chareidi element is spreading out to neutralize the modern orthodox.

Anonymous said...

I think that the orthodox lifestyle attracts a lot of people with dependent personalities. They have trouble thinking for themselves and turn their fate over to others who make decisions for them. I also think that in many ways today's orthodox Judaism would be unrecognizable to our great grandparents. This was tolerable when things were okay economically, but things are starting to breakdown and I fear for our kids' generation.

rosie said...

I see more of an open-mindedness among those who normally involve shadchanim, to be less judgmental of those who find shidduchim online or by meeting at someone's Shabbos table. So far, I have not seen any mixed tables of singles at chassunahs and I don't know anyone brave enough to do that. I wonder if Rabbi Pruzansky is really brave enough to do that. Every one must find the approach that works best for them.

Sam Zelasko said...

These men you speak of are living the curse of emasculation which God gave them and they hold up the world by there learning of Gods sweet Torah. The curse of working was specific amount of frustration to be endured and these men experience large amounts of it.

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Jon said...

If your man is pushing you away and acting distant

Or if the guy you’re after isn’t giving you the time of day...

Then it’s time to pull out all the stops.

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Once you say this to him, or even send this simple phrase in a text message...

It will flip his world upside down and you will suddenly find him chasing you-

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Thanks again.