Archive for the ‘Judaism’ Category
I’m willing to venture a guess that most of us are on JDate to find dates who are “J.” In other words, it’s probably important for most of us to meet other Jewish people to date and ultimately marry. I think this is a pretty reasonable goal and assumption; after all, that’s why JDate exists as a separate site from one of the big, all-encompassing options. So imagine the dismay of someone (let’s call her Sarah) who meets a nice young man on a Jewish site (let’s call him Dan) who turns out to not be Jewish! And he didn’t have one Jewish parent or some distant Jewish relatives, or heck, even Jewish friends – he was not even familiar with Judaism.
It would be one thing if Dan had advertised his Christian status on the site and Sarah agreed to meet him with this knowledge, but he hadn’t. Plus, he even endorsed that he was conservative under the denomination category, which there was no reason to doubt. When it gradually became clear to Sarah that Dan wasn’t Jewish, Sarah asked why Dan would be on a Jewish dating site. The answer? It was just another way to meet girls – he just didn’t understand that Jews on the site were looking to meet each other, and he hadn’t realized that his presence might be deceitful.
This scenario actually occurred, with names and details changed, of course. And I can tell you that there was no malicious intent or hard feelings by either party involved – just disappointment, especially because the couple had been otherwise quite compatible. But this got me thinking… how does one treat a non-Jew on JDate? Do people who say they are willing to convert or not at all Jewish have any success on the site? Does JDate have any responsibility in preventing the above situation? I really have no answers here – just lots of questions!
I’ve always found it curious that “not willing to convert” and “not sure if I’m willing to convert” are profile options… there aren’t a ton of these profiles, but I’ve seen a few out there on the interwebs. If you happen to be reading this and you’re a non-Jew on JDate, please, enlighten me: I’m not judging – truly curious! And thank you for being upfront about your religious status. But what do you all think? If you are Jewish, have you met non-Jews on JDate? If you aren’t Jewish, are you actively seeking Jews? In the meantime, you can find me on Christian Mingle.com. Nothing like a [bad] joke to end a more serious post, right?
This coming weekend is Shavuot, the Jewish holiday that commemorates The Jews’ receipt of the Torah on Mount Sinai. This year, the holiday happens to start on a Saturday night, so I can think of no better way to celebrate than to bring a date to your local synagogue’s traditional all-night learning session. I mean, late night festivities, liquor, Torah? Whats not to love? Another way to celebrate is to think about what it means to be a member of the tribe that accepted the responsibility of the Torah, and in particular, because you’re a JBlog reader, how this responsibility relates to dating and relationships. Therefore, in honor of Shavuot, I present the Ten Commandments as they correspond to the laws of dating.
1) To thine own self be true.
The actual first commandment is about recognizing G-d’s role of Creator of the World and savior of the enslaved Jews. This is always true wherever you are in the world, and it may help you remember that YOU are not a god! But in the context of dating, it’s also important to remember that “I am my own person who takes responsibility for my behavior and feelings.” In other words, stay true to yourself, don’t be someone you aren’t, and own your actions.
2) Thou shalt have no other distractions before me.
While I totally condone seeing more than one person at a time during the early stages of dating, keep your focus on your present date! Don’t text, scan the room, or talk about other people when you’re on a date.
3) Thou shalt not take the name of anyone in vain.
Especially on the first few dates with someone new, be yourself, but try to avoid profanity or gossip. You don’t want to accidentally offend your date!
4) Remember the Sabbath day to keep it holy.
I won’t tell the rabbi if you want to plan a date for Friday night. But, this commandment is about taking time to step away from constant communication and social media. Take a break from texting every other minute. Don’t stalk your new boyfriend’s Instagram pics. Get some rest and relaxation without your date, whether it’s on Shabbat or not, and nurture your other hobbies and friendships.
5) Honor thy father and thy mother.
This is applicable at any age or situation.
6) Thou shalt not murder.
Um, don’t murder your date. Or anyone. Or rather, thou shalt not be mean, spiteful, or overly negative – this will murder your reputation!
7) Thou shalt not commit adultery or cheat.
This is pretty self-explanatory – once you have established your exclusivity with someone, remain faithful.
8) Thou shalt not steal.
Don’t steal things, like money from your date’s purse when she’s in the bathroom, obviously. But also, don’t steal time. If you know someone definitely isn’t for you, don’t lead him or her on.
9) Thou shalt not lie.
Bearing false witness, the actual ninth commandment, is related to dishonesty. Lying is very unbecoming and hard to forgive – don’t do it! This includes false advertising on your profile, using deceitful photos, or otherwise misrepresenting yourself online.
10) Thou shalt not covet.
Someone else might look appealing to you, but remember that the grass is always greener on the other side, whichever side you’re on. If you can’t stop noticing other people, try to focus on your own insecurities. If you can’t be with the one you love, love the one you’re with.
Gluten-free, vegan, peanut allergy, lactose intolerant, plant-based, low carb, high carb, paleo, oreo, pescatarian, vegetarian… does anyone eat “normally” anymore? And what does this mean when you just want to take someone out to dinner without a list of food and health conditions to consider?
Eating habits are pretty personal, yet food plays such a big role in our social lives. So it’s inevitable that the strictly kosher girl will be invited to a treyf BBQ joint by an unknowing suitor. Or an otherwise awesome date leads to a stroll to the ice cream parlor, panicking the severely lactose intolerant guy. These things happen. And normally it’s not a big deal – people are generally accommodating and understanding these days about special diets or food considerations. But, how these gastronomic road blocks are handled says a lot about both the special eater and the accommodator.
I hate to break it to you, but broadcasting your food preferences can sound picky and annoying. Spending 20 minutes to explain to a waitress how you don’t like your food to touch, that you want all of your sauces served on the side, and that you want 7 substitutions doesn’t look attractive on a date.
Ok, these examples might sound silly, but what if you have a more common constraint, like you can’t eat anything with nuts, or you don’t like vegetables? You’ve agreed to meet someone for a first date, but you’re very aware of your unique diet – what do you do? In this case, quietly inform your server of your needs or just order something that you like. Unless you have a serious health concern, there is no need to announce your special case to anyone who is not preparing your food, and certainly not to someone you’re hoping to impress. Not a big drinker? It’s ok to order a coke at the bar. It’s not ok to explain that you aren’t drinking because you were sick for 2 days after last weekend’s bender. Keep kosher? This is one situation where it makes sense to inform your date of your dietary needs in advance. Same for other restrictions where you may not be able to find what you need at a typical restaurant. But don’t make a fuss about it – suggest meeting for coffee or a non-food event for your first meeting.
On the other hand, what if you’re the one who eats everything in sight, but find yourself sitting across from a really cute, funny vegan? Same advice here: Don’t make a big deal about it, especially if the vegan doesn’t. Try not to judge. And don’t belittle someone else for having different eating habits than you. Unless they have realllly ridiculous demands – then you can roll your eyes. Just kidding. Sort of.
Also, profiles exist for a reason – check them for clues! Before picking out a restaurant or place to meet, scan your date’s profile to get a feel for his level of kashrut or her favorite cuisine. When it doubt, ask.
Remember, differences of any kind involve a dance of accommodation, moderation, and compromise, and food is no exception. Eating habits may not initially seem like a huge deal in a budding relationship, but when you think about it, we all eat multiple times a day (except for fast days – but those are probably bad days for a date anyway).
How many times were you asked “Why are you still single?” by your friends and relatives during your Passover Seder? Was your head about to explode? And it’s not like anyone is going to answer anything other than: “Because I haven’t met the right person yet.” How awesome would it be to reply with the truth?
- “Because the last 3 guys I went out with were assholes“
- “Because my date yesterday clearly posted a picture from 10 years ago“
- “Because I have unrealistic expectations of what a partner is… and no one will ever be able to meet them“
- “Because I think I’m a 10 (when really I’m a 7), and I won’t settle for anyone who is less than a 9“
Or you can refer to this snarky — yet slightly true — article about why you’re still single using the Myers-Briggs Personality Test. Are you an extrovert or introvert? A thinker or a feeler? Figure out if you’re an ESTJ or an INTP to see why you may still be single. Then think about if it applies to you and, since you probably don’t like what it has to say, think about what you can do to make some adjustments so that at next year’s Seder you either have a date with you… or at the very least have an equally obnoxious comeback prepared!
This Passover my Facebook newsfeed was inundated with beautiful family photos… and many times I was confused. Many of these “friends” I hadn’t seen in awhile, and many of their siblings I hadn’t seen in even longer. In fact, I didn’t know if the person they were lovingly posing with was their sibling at all, or if it was their significant other. And sometimes there wasn’t a tag or it wasn’t clear who the tag belonged to.
Obviously there is nothing wrong with showing affection with your siblings, but if you’re single, then you should not only tag photos but caption them as well: “love hanging out with my brother/sister!” The same goes for any of those photos that you use on JDate as well — make sure you add the description of who is in photos with you. You don’t want any prospects to be confused and think you’re dating someone seriously enough to post a photo on social media, or to think you’re using photos with an ex on JDate — because without a doubt your matches will then compare themselves to your ex!
Happy Passover! I’m willing to bet that many of you attended a seder or two this past weekend. And if yours were anything like mine, the food was delicious and plentiful, there was only one major wine spill, and only one person forgot her reading glasses, which might be a record. Despite the unspoken battle of wills between those who were engaged in lively discussion and those who looked at their watches every 5 minutes, hoping to eat and run, my family and I had lovely seders, and I hope you did too!
You’ve probably noticed that the number four has significance in the seder: four sons, four cups of wine, four questions (incidentally, our “kids table” was the end of the table with all unmarrieds under 40. I’m in my early thirties and sang the four questions!) While reading about the four sons, my likes-to-categorize brain wondered: are there four kinds of daters? I’m sure there are more, but in the Passover sprit, here are some of my insights on the top four as they relate to the four sons:
1. The Wise One
What does he say? In the story of Passover, the wise child wants to know all about the laws and mitzvot that Hashem has commanded you. In dating, the Wise Child wants to know all about you! In other words, a Wise Dater is attentive, selfless, and aware of G-d (meaning that when it comes to dating, what is meant to be will be). I read some commentary on the Wise Son indicating that his wisdom makes him pure (read: good intentions) and allows him to foresee the consequences of his actions, which, in my opinion are really good qualities in a dater.
2. The Wicked One
He asks, “What is this service of yours? Why do you go to the trouble?” According to some commentary, the Wicked Child is basically kind of selfish. He excludes himself from the rest of the group and thinks the rules don’t apply to him, denying his Jewish engagement. A Wicked Dater acts selfishly and rudely. Obvious signs of this type: texting at the table, making demands of the waiter, or saying things like “MUST BE THIN. SEEKING 21-24 ONLY. NO GAMES OR DRAMA” in his/her profile. The Haggadah says you should blunt the teeth of the Wicked Son, which sounds violent like an old-school punishment, but one interpretation of this phrase is that we should teach the Wicked Son to control his desire for self-indulgence. Luckily, this means the Wicked Son, or Dater, in this case, is correctable, offering hope for even the most selfish daters among us.
3. The Simple One
What does he say? “What is this all about?” The Simple Child doesn’t know what’s going on but expresses an interest in learning. Similarly, there are some daters who are out of practice or maybe new to the playing field, often identified by their empty or generic profiles. But they are here, ready to look for love! Just as we are to help the Simple Son by explaining the story to him, so too can we help new daters by proofreading profiles or coaching them before dates.
4. The One Who Doesn’t Know Enough to Ask
We have to start him off. This is akin to the person who wants a relationship but doesn’t know how to go about finding one. So start him off – tell him to leave the house and get out there! Introduce him to friends and help him set up a JDate profile.
Do you recognize yourself as one of these four daters? In the tradition of Passover, I offer no concrete answers here – just fodder for discussion and debate that may keep you up past midnight. Don’t forget to end with the afikoman!
You can buy a bouquet of roses from the market, or you can purchase the seeds of your girlfriend’s favorite flower along with soil and a pot so that she has an ongoing reminder of your thoughtfulness.
You can suggest a local brewery for date night, or you can get your boyfriend that online deal to learn how to make craft beer at home.
Oftentimes we overlook those subtle hints which could really help make your significant other feel special, loved, and appreciated. Listen for the things that your partner won’t ask for, but you know they like — whether that be a specific food or drink, an outfit (A man in a suit? Always hot!), a location (The peak of a mountain at sunset? So romantic!), and of course there’s also gift-giving.
This holiday season, make the effort to give the special someone in your life a gift that’s just as special. It doesn’t have to be expensive, or even store-bought, just something to let the person know that you are listening.
Every now again I reserve the right to play the “Rabbi” card and interject some religion in my dating posts. Today, I’d like to talk about the religious pressures one faces in dating, particularly pertaining to marriage and family life, which has been on my mind since this past week in Daf Yomi, we actually covered some of the Rabbinic sources stressing the importance of the Jewish family, getting married and having children (B. Yevamot 61b – B. Yevamot 64a). For two examples, “R. Tanhum stated in the name of R. Hanilai: Any man who has no wife lives without joy, without blessing, and without goodness. ‘Without joy,’ for it is written. And thou shalt rejoice, thou and thy house” (B. Yevamot 62b) and, “R. Eleazar said: Any man who has no wife is no proper man; for it is said, Male and female created He them, and called their name Adam” (B. Yevamot 63a). Later on in the same trachtate we find, “More than the man desires to marry does the woman desire to be taken in marriage” (B. Yevamot 113a) and “It is preferable to live in grief [in a bad marriage] than to dwell in widowhood” (B. Yevamot 118b).
On top of these sorts of homiletic statements, there’s a debate as to whether or not there is a mitzvah to get married (Rambam), or if marriage is only a prerequisite for properly performing the obligation of having procreation (Ramban) (See this class by R. Aharon Lichtenstein).
It’s bad enough when we have to deal with pressure from family and annoying friends, but how do we deal with letting down our Creator?
One approach could be to simply get married to the first willing person, regardless of your feelings, but this is not always particularly healthy, and other Rabbinic teachings admonish those who marry people unsuitable for them. As an alternative, I’d like to suggest my own approach, with full awareness of my own bias as someone who has never been married.
By tradition, Jewish law has 613 commandments, 248 of which are “positive” commandments which we must perform, and innumerable Rabbinic laws and enactments on top of those. The reality is that not everyone will be able to perform all of those commandments, sometimes not by their own choice. For example, not every Jew lives in Israel or makes aliyah, which I should note may affect dating prospects. I know few people who have the skill to write a Torah scroll, and fewer who have actually done so (Deut. 31:19).
Not everyone has the same opportunity to perform the same commandments, and the Talmud also teaches that one is religiously exempt when forced into a situation (B. Avoda Zara 54a). Unless someone’s parents pre-arranged their marriage, we’re born into this world single… and single we stay until we find a willing partner with whom we can change our status. This is not always a matter of our choice, but even if it were, I do not believe that one ought to get married to someone inappropriate just for the sake of checking off a religious achievement. After all, the Torah also commands that when a man wishes to divorce his wife, he must give her a get; and we do not encourage men to find fault with their spouses just so that they can fulfill this religious obligation.
I would frequently tell my congregation that I’m just a Rabbi, I’m not the Judge. I’m only qualified to teach what I think Jewish law dictates and what civil penalties there may be for violations. What I cannot do is tell you with any certainty what “spiritual consequences” your actions may have or how God will judge your actions against any mitigating factors (I would also suggest ignoring anyone who claims to do so).
As Jews we have obligations which we must fulfill. Though we can try our best, we’re never going to be perfect (Ecc. 7:20). Maybe God is a vengeful deity who will smite you for your indolence,l or maybe God is a forgiving one who understands your collective experience. There’s enough uncertainty in dating and marriage, we don’t need to add theological questions to our anxieties.
Jewish Geography can become an issue when you’re single and seemingly connected to nearly every other single Jew that you know in some way — either you hooked up with their friend, or your friend dated them seriously, or your cousin broke their friend’s heart — and suddenly you feel like there’s no one left to date! But really, very few single Jews are truly “off-limits,” and even then, someone can usually become fair game with a simple conversation.
Ex-spouses of your friends are off-limits… unless it’s been years and they’re now friendly and your friend, in fact, set you two up. If it’s an acquaintance’s ex-spouse then it’s perhaps a good idea to run the idea past your acquaintance before pursuing a relationship. For example: my fiance and I were set-up by a mutual friend who is also good friends with his ex-wife. Our shadchan asked the ex-wife’s permission before making the shidduch.
If one of your friends has never recovered from getting dumped by someone, then that person is probably off-limits. If one of your friends contracted an STD from someone, then that person is, well, need I say more? But if your friend simply casually dated the person, then a simple phone call asking for your friend’s blessing should suffice. And if there was no drama and yet your friend won’t give you permission, then perhaps you need to take a deeper look at both the prospect as well as the friendship.