Shidduch references

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    At which stage in dating should a single check all of the other party’s references?
    Personally, I feel that checking all (or even any) of the references should not be done before a first date, as it takes away from both party’s abilities to get to know each other naturally.

    The little I know

    I beg to disagree.

    Matrimony is presumably the goal of dating. The date experience is hoped to serve as a sample of the other individual’s behavior, personality, etc. The date is a trial experience of spending time together, with variability of how this time is spent – i.e., walking around, eating at a restaurant, sitting in a single location and chatting, etc. Inasmuch as this is an incursion into a possible long term relationship, it needs to be something that is approached with the possibility of being the first step in the long road of marriage. As a lifetime decision, it should not be addressed casually. And because there is serious value to this first (baby) step, it needs to be built on a solid foundation of information that supports the likelihood of long term commitment.

    I do caution that the information obtained is sometimes of dubious value. There are references that frankly lie or cover up. Others give simple, pre-packaged descriptions that are non-specific to the individual, and basically convey nothing of substance. Yes, there is an art to giving info as well as how to obtain it so that there is more meaning to it.


    My rav suggests to do superficial checking before the first date and if you see it is getting serious do a complete inquiry.


    All references should be checked out and cleared BEFORE the first date.

    meir G

    as with all big questions ” it depends” there are so many variables & factors that affect the answer
    whats your ” market value” ( ugly term , but it is a market of sorts , & there are value markers)
    how perceptive are you on dates..
    bothers you very much, how many blanks are filled in on that question
    whom you ask info from & whom u just didnt call & missed is also min hashomayim
    you will hopefully KNOW your spouse within 5 years of marraige
    marriage is like krias yam suf in that it needs tefila, hishtadlus but the sea doesnt split UNTIL YOU JUMP ( a leap of faith)


    At the very least, have some idea that you are not going out with a dangerous or deeply misguided person. Though traditional references do not help much with that.

    After that, it is possible to skip checking out entirely, or to look into things at anytime. There is no such thing as looking into someone too much. Just most prospective matches, ask the wrong things. Think what really matters, That I would not find out from meeting them.

    I’m not really hearing why it has to be one way or the other.


    Many of these singles’ references have their own busy lives.

    During the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, many people who serve as references on resumes were overwhelmed with taking care of their own families as well as preparing for Yimei Tovim amid the horrific chaos. Many such people who serve as references became yesomim, while others who served as shidduch references were niftarim themselves. (Erroneously not removed from the resume.)
    In all three situations, the references fell off of the radar of the singles.


    Why would it matter how much you checked into the person as far as the issue of getting to know them naturally? This is part of your OP.

    People who are a reference will either have the time or not in order to answer questions and the person asking can get a feel whether it is inconvenient due to COVID or the person’s reluctance to answer questions about the single in question. COVID did not patur anybody from getting married and most people would be willing to help in that matter, so your latest point still is not relevant. Once the single finds out that those references are not valid, they should replace them with something appropriate. People who know how to ask questions will follow whatever trail is available for them to follow and many people do not even use the actual references very much, preferring instead to find out information from independent sources.


    Like what @meir-g said, it depends. If the shidduch is between two 30 year old people that are having a hard time finding shidduchim, I don’t think any checking is necessary before the first date. If it’s between two 21 year olds through a shadchan that met each of them once, you absolutely must call at least one reference before the date.

    The little I know

    As long as we are addressing the issue, I will pick up something in the earlier comment of n0m. Asking the wrong things.

    We have created a monster of fiction called the “learning boy”. One would expect that this refers to a bochur who is fully capable of becoming klai kodesh who has the desire to apply himself to full time learning. It should have nothing to do with the “flow”, the “image”, or the indoctrination by yeshivos. We need such klai kodesh, and kollelim provide such an opportunity.

    But we have many that enter the “learning boy” category to avoid responsibility, to follow the image and flow. These make up too large a percentage of the yungerleit sitting in kollel. And they do so at the expense of parents and in-laws, as well as a drain on the community. There is no such halacha that once married, a boy has to stay and learn. There is no halacha that a boy should be dependent long term on anyone. There is no halacha that women should work to provide parnosoh for the home. So information that a boy is not a bum is dressed up to make it sound like he is a budding Rabbi Akiva Eiger or Pnai Yehoshua. This has no moral standing, and our being complicit in this is shameful.

    We fail to explore the midos of prospective chassanim and kallos. Our tendency is to avoid detail, and pay far more attention to the erudition of one’s Torah study, appearance, the reputation of the family, and to money related issues. Should one not probe to learn about what the boy or girl does when they are angry? I bet that has greater impact on the viability of the marriage than whether the boy completed 5 masechtos or only 2. I bet it matters more than whether either side has money or yichus.

    Asking the right questions doesn’t guarantee an answer, and maybe even an accurate, truthful answer. And the Chofetz Chaim is clear that negative information provided here is NOT lashon horah.

    So, yes, do the research. And we should all daven that this research produces the right info that helps everybody find their zivug.


    Does anybody think a person would list a reference who would be fully honest and not just be mechanef the one requesting the reference? If I know someone isn’t going to sing my praises, why would I list them as a reference?

    from Long Island

    I never checked their references. I always found my own connections to their Shul, Yeshiva, Friends. I wanted honest, general information, not an in depth inquiry.


    Dear DovRosenbaum,

    A reference should be honest. But I will not give out details that are not solicited.


    Dear Yserbius,

    How about if that could be amended to two STABLE thirty year olds……

    yaakov doe

    Does anyone give references who aren’t expected to give positive information about the one in shiduchim? One who really wants to know should ask persons not listed on the resume who know the individual or the family.


    I agree – there is no reason to check references. I never checked them for any of my wives, and they all had wonderful personalities.


    TLIK > There is no halacha that a boy should be dependent long term on anyone
    > pay far more attention to … money related issues

    maybe these issues are connected? If the man is not capable (taught) to earn a living, then he has to rely on the shver. This might have been reasonable in the 19th century Pale, but, from basic principles, most people should be able to have a decent job or business and be able to learn without relying on family, community, or government welfare.

    Could it be an unintentional result of the success? Keeping community apart from society undoubtfully helped to keep Jewish community intact through European haskalah, American melting pot, and Israeli hiloniyut. But the closed communities lost a lot of basic Jewish values while trying to survive. This is akin to side effect of medicine.


    Dear Yaakov Doe,

    You want to hear positive things about the person your going out with. It is worse to not know the positive, than to not know the negative. You say that knowing the individual, is a minus?!?

    Any decent reference, wants the caller to realize what it is like to be with the person. You do not want your friend to be stuck with people who have a different image of what he/she is trying to project. Nobody ever said you have to believe the references a hundred percent. And I will not tell you if she/he has serious issues, as long as she/he is able to be married. Unless you specifically ask.

    Come to think of it, this thread explains a lot of the phone calls I get.


    Dear Always,

    Your theories just are not true. First, there is an ancient concept called the dowry. Very traditional communities are still over the top with that. It has nothing to do with learning, working, or being insulated. That is the original source of what is going on. In the post war era, learning boys usually got a smaller dowry than working boys.

    Now a short list.

    1) The Pale was short on resources and opportunities. Lack of education for the available jobs, was not the issue.

    2)A decent job is more about opportunities. Many educated people never work in the field they studied. And, almost all entry level jobs, offer training.

    3)Most small business owners (In the yeshiva community.) had no extra education. They figured out their business on their own.

    4)One of the big factors why young families struggle, is student debt.

    5)The yeshiva community creates way more opportunities than secular ones. Because it is insular, it creates the need for many of it’s own services.

    6)The major chessed organizations, create many jobs while filling cracks that society at large can not address.

    7)Keeping apart from society did very little to prevent European assimilation. It was mostly where the locals were drunks who beat their wives and kids, that the keys remained separate. All it took was for the locals to be enlightened, and the Jews slowly (Or not slowly.) followed.

    8)Back when America was a melting pot of immigrants, the Jews in America had absolutely on insulation. They struggled to maintain private Jewish schools. Sheesh.

    9)The closed communities that lost basic Jewish values in order to survive, were hundreds of years ago. They closed their communities, so they should not get massacred.

    10)Earning a livelihood, is not a basic Jewish value. It is a basic goal of human civilization.

    Sorry- it’s a long list.


    Dear The Little,

    I agree with your take on marriage and what is important for those who partake in it. The main generic issues are, how he handles responsibility, physical health, mental health, ability to be a father, perspective on being a husband, and Torah commitment. Yes, in that order. Most important first.

    Your outlook of the kolell scene, is not so accurate.

    ” a bochur who is fully capable of becoming klei kodesh who has the desire to apply himself to full time learning”

    Klei kodesh has to do with skills and integrity. Like, a teacher, mohel, shochet, kashrus, sofer, etc. Where does full time learning come in? I know boys that started in there fields before they married.

    There are two types of learning boys that are avoiding responsibility. One was raised with daddy’s cash and mommy’s food, and is scared to go on his own. Any decent shadchan knows that he is not a even a short term learner. But this is not a marriage issue. It is the way his parents raised him. This type is somewhat common among richer bachurim, but is almost never billed as a long term learner.

    The other type is lazy to an unhealthy degree. Hi whole outlook is about having to do less. And in our society it compels him to be serious learner. He is rightly billed as a long term learner, but may not be so marriagable. And this type, is very uncommon. Less than one percent of boys on the market.

    Now some fact checking:

    1) Kollelim do not provide much support for those that are interested in Klei Kodesh.
    Though it is becoming more common.

    2) It is very clear that Talmud Torah applies to married men.

    3) There is no halachah that a learning any should be dependant on anyone even in the short term.

    4) There is a halachah that a married woman will work. Providing income is part of it.

    5) A boy that is devoted to learning should be talked up to his fuller potential. That was the way of our leaders, both from within the yeshiva world and out.

    6) If you are not asked, it is complicated to offer critical negative information. Maybe it will be noticed on the first date. Also many negative details are irrelevant. However, if the person is dangerous to be around, than one is obligated to offer that right away.

    I’m not really sure what your outlook on the kollel setup is. Obviously, you knew some or most of these facts that I posted. It was done so that we could uncover where we diverge on this topic.

    From what I see, the yeshiva world today is dedicated to the idea of learning because they value Torah. Young men are not trying to benefit from sitting over the gemara for years. Like seriously lishmah. [Maybe too much.]

    Going on dates is to check out personality. In all relationships, you work with the person’s best traits. And leave it to the responsible person to work on his/her faults. Looking too much into people’s failings could ruin even the perfect shidduch.

    For all those inquiring for the girl who is really interested in a learning boy, the question is how much does his learning mean to him? How much is it a part of who he is? Not if he comes on time. Or if he wants to finish shas.

    Actually this is a great question for a girl who is looking for solid working boy, too.


    n0, I agree on most points you are mentioning. Some comments:

    Lack of education in Pale: it was very attractive to get education. If you are a doctor or a merchant at certain level, you were even allowed to live in central cities. Whom do you think R Yitzele _Peterburger_ was a Rav of? (in truth, the only thing he liked there – streets are clean so it is possible to think Torah while walking there). At that time, education correlated heavily with conversion and assimilation.

    Value of education now: it is well possible to go study gender studies and then appeal to the government to forgive the debt. As any tool, it has to be used correctly. A lot of professions ensure comfortable life-long middle class employment – engineering, software, accounting, office management, nursing, therapists, technicians … Are there dangers here? I think they are less than in previous generation.. We have Jewish colleges in NY and NJ, we have online degrees. Maybe we need consultants within the community who can guide students towards right approaches. Of course, lack of necessary skills at high school level may be a problem.

    Businesses in the community: I am all for that. We do need more Jewish business interacting with each other. If our ethical/business values are strong, all Jews (and non-Jews) would love to sign up Jewish accountants with arbitration according to the local beit din. Trump said that, so some people see value… but when work opportunities in the community are limited, it is not healthy. A lot of people see chinuch as an only job venue. This seems to conform with halakha – make teachers numerous and poor but provide best value for teaching children. Except, the key halakhic instrument is missing – unrestricted competition between teachers. Instead, we mostly have schools that “sell” teachers as packages and partition the market between each other by hashkafos. So, we end up with (some) unworthy teachers who are not happy themselves and are not helpful to kids. Many of them would have been great accountants.

    Earning a living – It is not problem to be poor and learn Torah whole day. I don’t know – is it popular? Make your shabbat like chol – and Rabbi Akiva knew what it means to be poor … How many people skip shalosh seudos in order not to rely on charity? I think being an erliche Yid (old fashion value, I know) precludes relying on taking money from others, whether Jews or state.


    Dear Always,

    1. The correlation may have been reversedthe youth assimilated for higher opportunities in education and employment. It is not proven that separation was designed to prevent assimilation. It is also a guess if separation prevents assimilation, or enhances it.

    2. Few professions ensure anything. Nursing is not comfortable employment in the USA. And it is especially demanding on young families.

    3. There are plenty of job opportunities in the yeshiva world.

    4. How people see chinuch as ther only job venue, is ridiculous. But there are plenty of people like that. To me, one who thinks like that does not belong in chinuch.

    5. Taking money from the state, is viewed as a trade off of paying for public education and not using it. I’m not sure if the numbers work out. And even if they do, I’m not sure where I stand on that.

    6. There is no difference between student loans if one is in yeshiva or College.

    7. Health insurance is out of the question for the unemployed. It is in the best interest of the state to work out insurance with them.

    8. There exists a number of kollel families that skimp on all their meals.

    9. There are many working young families that take charity. Probably more than young learning families.

    10. The question comes when a learning family has a high standard of living.

    11. The yeshiva world can support the few learners that it has. It can not sustain a consistent increase in living standards, but who can?


    n0, seems like mods or internets cancelled my long response, or maybe I went over limit of allowed posts … I am all for (3), agree on 4,6,8. Some others sound like weak justifications for behaviors below high standard that Talmidei Chachamim are supposed to hold by:
    2 – everything can be, but if you get a reasonable degree, you would usually be better off.
    5 – I do not think it is our standard to take funds for poor people when you are capable of work and choose not to. Pub Ed is not discrimination against Jews, it is a public policy that we might not agree with and do not always use. Does not give us a license to grab something else. OK to advocate for public payments to private schools or use online public schools.
    7 – if something is “out of question” either don’t use it or try to find funds to use it by working or asking for donation.
    9 – Why is that? They can not find a job paying well enough? again, statistically not true and you know it.
    If you have sources from the Gemorah to support those points, I’ll eat my shtreimel.

    🍫Syag Lchochma

    “when you are capable of work and choose not to.”

    You display a lack of understanding of what kollel is.
    You display a lack of understanding of the value of staying in learning.


    Dear Always,

    Okay, okay. Maybe you are really hungry, so I will start with a source. Chazal tell us, that wealth and poverty do not come from the craft. If you need a page number to work up your appetite for your streimel, I’ll get it for you.

    Our discussion needs some parameters. I’m looking at it from the communal side. As in how a large kollel community operates. Public funds, is another conversation. The point on public school is, That that is where our tax dollars are largely suppose to be going. I’m not getting involved in this debate, but to point out that in some places the money kollel families take for food and utilities is a washout with the one they say in private tuition. Again, I am not saying it should be this was. It is a discussion of kollel finances.

    There really is no better option for States like NY and NJ to give health insurance to all those that do not have any insurance. It is basically subsidizing their healthcare system. In States where insurance is cheaper, the kolellim pay better. And some even offer insurance through the kollel. Now, why should insurance not be used, if that is what is preferable to the State? You know that that private health insurance is out of the question for many working families. And the funds for insurance could be greater than their current budget.

    On poorer working families, let me explain. Most newly married kollel families start off with some savings. Whether she worked for a year or two, their wedding money, etc. Those that run out of money, will most likely need the husband to go to work and collect charity until he makes a living wage. Families that start off working, i. e. both spouses, probably had very little or serious debt (credit card or student) from before marriage. Where as a learning couple could skip vacations and so on, a young working couple may have no other chance to spend time together. Young non learning couples that have real one are not working yet. They may live in Israel for a year or two. Or they could be in school. I never tried looking for real numbers, but from the many young couples I know of in Lakewood, it is a hard and fast rule.


    Syag > You display a lack of understanding of the value of staying in learning

    close! let me fix it for you:
    I display a lack of understanding of the value of staying in learning at someone else’s expense.
    So do some Tannaim. Back to my class. To paraphrase, “some of my friends are in kollel”.


    > Chazal tell us, that wealth and poverty do not come from the craft. If you need a page number to work up your appetite for your streimel

    let me help you: Kiddushin ~30 – teach you kid a craft so that he will not become a gazlan.

    > There really is no better option for States like NY and NJ to give health insurance to all those that do not have any insurance. It is basically subsidizing their healthcare system.

    I had a question – why gazlan, and not genivah? Thanks for the illustration. Gemora knew better – gazlanut, you openly explain that it is “good for others” to give you money …

    I have no idea how families in Lakewood are worse off than families anywhere else in the world, except by choice. Insurances, vacations, school are all part of human condition … please point me to the Gemorah that suggests going asking a Poretz to help out. Oh, found you one – “make your Sbabbat hol, but do not ask for (Jewish!) charity”. Maybe the Tanna did not know how difficult Lakewood life is, he lived much more comfortable, he had a rich father-in-law!

    🍫Syag Lchochma

    So in finishing it off you proved that you are lacking an understanding of the value of staying in learning AND
    You are not quite clear on the definition of “someone else’s expense”


    Syag, “someone else’s expense” (aka OPM, other people’s money) means in this case accepting non-Jewish government, or even Jewish, charity funds designated for poor. Accepting community funds for learning, teaching, being a Rabbi is less problematic.

    Many people avoided taking. Chafetz Chaim, for example, had a store and sold his own books, personally verifying that printing is correct and travelling to sell them. When and if accepting OPM, feeling responsibility of that.

    Now, you can do proper heshbonos and take money responsibly, of course. And I do not doubt that many in Kollel do. R Salanter did not hold by pas isroel when travelling to a resort to restore his health, because someone donated him funds to eat healthy, not keep his humros. As R Dessler explains, world most fundamental difference is between givers and takers. But, you can give as a taker (grudgingly), and you can take as a giver, with appreciation, responsibly, etc.

    So, when Meir is suggesting that $1800 for a poor person is not much as it barely sends one kid away, you can see that he is not taking all scholarship about the issue seriously. The irony of dedicating yourself to learning while disregarding the percepts you are learning is breathtaking.

    When such a kid learns a gemora that father is obligated to teach a child a craft so that he will not become a gazlan – does he ask a father? what is the tirutz? genuine question – did anyone’s kid ask that?


    Dear Always,

    You have to set a bar somewhere, before you can accuse people of stealing. There is a lot of use of public funds that I (assume I would not use. But how do I know what I would do if I was in their circumstances? Or better question, what would I do if I had their they of public funds? Digression: in your opinion what is the Torah’s view of government money?) when I set myself on a different track on purpose? How do you feel about millionaires lining up for the public to cover their business expenses? Or the uber rich thinking that every time they lose money, someone else should pay for it?

    On the source, I was quoting the end of Kiddushin. That the wealth is not in the profession. I know people that poured their youth into getting a degree that they never used. There is plenty of jobs for one who has no need for a career. I have no interest in the hishtadlus versus bitachon debate, but it does not take years or even days of planning, to be able to support one’s self. And to make it an argument against full time learning, is just forced thinking.

    In the Talmud, taking what is not yours is naturally called gezeila. I could explain it more if your interested. But without looking it up, I think your source uses a different word.

    Now, for the punchline. Are you ready? Whew there is some reason that the State operates a certain way, is it theft to go along and not pay? Can I use public beaches and parks without paying? Are the good people in Lakewood allowed to use route 9 instead of the parkway? Would they have to mail in the toll money that they saved? If the people in Lakewood – young working families included – would stop taking Jerseycare and prefer to be uninsured, they get a call from the State to convince them to take the insurance. And if they would take your advice en masse, the State would come to Lakewood and set up insurance workshops in CHEMED and Dr. Shanik’s office for at least a month. That is how vital it is to the State, That people be insured.


    n0, you are right, listut, not gezela. seems to come from Greek “robber”, as in Rashi on Ber 1:1 – taking something openly by force, as an organized group.

    Yevamot 25b mentions first gazlanim are believed for edut to allow a woman remarry and then brings as a proof a baraita about listim. The argument seems to be that gazlanim/listim are not the same as murderers. Listim seem to be more armed/violent/maybe being an organized group. So, I did not quote correctly, but I think the point stands, even amplifies – not teaching a trade is “as if” making an organized armed robber. Maybe because they will all band together and insist on their right to take something.

    I don’t think we disagree on greatness of full-time learning. It is a question, practically speaking, which part is holy and which part is getting a free ride, but this is a case with any holiness – it creates a danger (Nadav, Avihu) or one can claim, the holy part is so important that it is ok to have the side effects. I believe someone argued during the growth of yeshivot, that we need to teach 1,000 people to make sure we have one Gaon coming out and 900 people who made their life hard is the price to pay. And this may have been justified at a time. In normal circumstances, many tried to follow R Shimon (learn without work) and failed, and many followed Rabbanim (learn and work) and succeeded. I don’t remember the page for it, but I don’t think it was declared void.

    it is a good question about using public funds. I think we first need to separate halakha and hasidut.
    I am arguing for the latter standard, as we are discussing people trying to be Talmidei Chachamim, not just play one on TV. Example of Rebbe’s student in Bava Basra who refused to take money on account of his learning seems to be hasidut…

    re:beaches. I think we need to look at what the funds are appropriated for. Going to a beach is fine, but building a house there probably not. Is it ok, for example, to use a bathroom in a store on a highway? I asked several people and everyone would, as hasidut, think whether it is maris ayn that they are entering the non-kosher store. Rarely that someone suggests, as R Yaakov Kamentesky does, that you should buy something in the store, as the free bathroom is intended to attract customers.

    Jerseycare is a need-based program for people who do not earn much. It is charity. It sounds like moral hazard is at work here – people who could get low-paying jobs (“young working families”) are worse off than those who earn below Jerseycare threshold. People who take it because it is financially beneficial for them to work less are, indeed, listim, and not gazlanim, again, thanks for correction: a group of people whose votes induce politicians to take money from others by force.

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