Out Of The Mailbag – To YW Editor (A New Shidduch Question?)


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yw logo3.jpgDear YW Editor,

Recently, a woman called me to inquire about a close friend of mine as a prospective shidduch for her son. Expecting the typical questions, I was shocked to hear her ask me the following, “What animal does the girl remind you of?” Thinking this was a joke, I paused for her to start with the usual questions, but no, she was serious – she wanted an answer. The next question was even more absurd, “Can you please list me all of her chisronos?

Various thoughts were racing through my head, as I still tried to digest the “questions” that were posed to me just minutes before. Resisting the urge to say anything else, I just politely finished the conversation and hung up the phone.

After I calmed down somewhat, I put pen to paper, as I tried to express my thoughts:

Dear Mother, the first thing I should have told you is what animal YOU remind me of! The audacity to ask such a question!! Is this what the shidduch parshah has come to?  Am I, along with all of my single friends, considered an “ANIMAL”, instead of the fine Yiddishe girl that I really am.  Whatever happened to all that which we were taught in school – that every person, let alone a fine Jewish Bais Yaakov girl, has a tzelem elokim, and should never be compared to an animal?! Have we gotten carried away in our quest for that ideal “shidduch” – that “perfect” girl?! What happened to the ordinary questions about middos and tznius? Has the shidduch parshah become just one massive “auction” where people-or should I say animals – are put up “for sale”?

At all of my friends’ chasunahs that I attend, this is exactly how I feel – like someone (or something) that’s available for sale.  It’s not enough that my friend is getting married, and I am standing on the side, while my heart is aching, because I’m still waiting for the “right one”. I also have to deal with all those women staring at me with their eyes piercing my back with every step that I take.  I have to look and act “just so”, because there are women scrutinizing my every move as if I am worthless. Why shouldn’t we deserve the same respect that all of our married friends get?! The shidduch parshah is hard enough for us as it is, so why do women and people in general, have to make it harder for us with their looks, comments, and or advice?

Everyone wonders today why we have the so-called “shidduch crisis”. If this is what my friends are called – ANIMALS, then I’ve got my answer.

So dear mother, I would like to inform you that my friend is better off NOT marrying your son.  My friend is a person. A human being.  She’s a wonderful girl, a baalas chesed, with beautiful middos, and she is someone who I feel privileged to be friends with.  My friend is NOT an animal!  Yes, she does have chisronos, but guess what? Your son does too!!

A very hurt Single.


  1. Just to play devil’s advocate, and be dan lekaf zechus – Ya’akov avinu in six weeks will describe most of his sons as animals – and point out some of their chisronos.

  2. if someone would have asked me such a question I would simply hang up the phone.Obviously the mother has problems and I wouldn’t want any friend to get stuck with such a mother in law. My wife was asked the classic dumb shidduch question, where the grandparents are buried. If someone can please explain to me what possible reason someone would ask such a question. If the media would start posting all these dumb questions maybe people would stop asking them.

  3. The mother doesnt seem to deny that her son has chisronos. In fact, its possible that she just wanted to know if the faults the GIRL has might or might NOT be compatiable with her son’s. Ofcourse she should have been a little less primitive in the way she asked her questions….

  4. Shazam,

    When the mother in question reaches the level of nevuah of Yaakov Avinu, you will have a valid comparison.

    Until then, the very hurt single has every right to be outraged. Perhaps the mother didn’t mean the question to be demeaning. Nonetheless it is simply the latest in the escalating insanity gripping the way we approach shidduchim and many other areas of our lives.

    Unfortunately it is futile for the disgruntled to remain a silnet majority and simply vent on websites and blogs. If we really want to end the insanity we are going to have to be willing to confront it and call a spade a spade when and where we see it.

    I have a daughter entering the shidduch parsha and I for one intend to do so.

  5. TVT: As I said, I was playing devil’s advocate. And, as my remaining unmarried child is not yet in the parsha (3 down, one to go), I am not yet (again) an expert on the shidduch scene. I would say however, that a parent should simply ignore these stupid approaches and questions and move on. There are “normal” people out there beyond the crazy “shidduch scene.”

    May Hashem grant your daughter her “richtiger zivvug” bekarov, ubeneikel.

  6. unfortunately this is the true sad state of shidduchim in our time. the shidduch “crisis” will come to an end only when people realize that yes even your son/daughter has faults lots of them too, no one is perfect.NOW STOP BEING SO PICKY THE ONLY ONE SUFFERING IS YOUR SON/DAUGHTER AND YOURSELF!!!! the meddling mother in law to be!!!!!

  7. I def think that there is room, to leave for dan lekaf zechus for this mother. i have no idea how she asked the question, but it seems she was only asking about the personality of the girl. i once saw in a kabbala sepher that traits can be learned from comparing people to an animal that they look like. it gave examples of how differernt civilizations around the world look like a specific animal, which can describe their personality. Like if someone resembles a monkey it may mean they are energetic, swift, cuddly…
    this is a way to be able to find a persons personality without ever talking to them.
    on the other hand to ask you of another person’s chisronos may actaully constitue lashon hara, and it never have been asked to you. but the idea of looking for a person’s chisronos is a great way of knowing who you are actually marrying. in our day and age so many people are deceived by who they are marrying just because they never saw their chisronos before hand and they perceive they are marring mr./ms. perfect. my rabbi actually told me before he got married, he sat down with his kallah and gave her all list of all his chisronos and she did the same. at least they know in advance what they are getting themselves into. anyone who doesnt see their own chisronos isnt living in reality and perceives the world only through their own minds and they dont know their own true identity. but i agree that question never should have been asked to you, but it’s something the chattan and kallah must work out on their own.

  8. I think that this Mother is right. For anyone that learned Chochmos HaPartzuf knows that every person resembles an animal or bird, and that person carries the traits of that animal, Which we all know that every person has Beheimios in himself. A person will also resemble some facial features of that animal.
    However the person asking this must resemble a dog since it’s brought down that a dog has the traits of Chutzpa.

  9. As having passed the shidduch parshah already B’H, I still wonder why there are so many people complaining about the questions asked. People complain about questions about THEIR OWN children but when it’s time for them to do the asking it’s like they have a one way mirror! Granted most people don’t ask such absurd questions like what animal does she/he remind you of (!!!!), but I find that even the simplest questions are often asked in a very brazen and disgusting way. Sort of like “I know the person I’m asking about is not worthy of my child, but hey they redt the shidduch so I need to find the reason why to say no.” I think all the questions being asked are representative of where we stand as a society. We need to examine ourselves and return to our roots of banim uvenai banim oskim batorah u’bamitzvos.

  10. Dear tvt,

    I congratulate you for offering to be the Nachshon ben Aminadav of the shidduch crisis. Just remember, Nachson did not take his children with him into the yam suf.

    The first qestion obviously needs clarification or perhaps a multiple choice, but the second question can be answered with “her biggest chisaron is that she may be a touch too sensitive about other people’s feelings” or something like that.

    That answer would provide more of the same kind of information (the kind that makes you feel good but tells very little) that is normally provided by the references, who are strangers to the one making the inquiry and friends of the one who is being inquired about.

    Unfortuately, we have a numbers problem. If mothers of boys did not have so many choices, they would not be asking these types of questions.

    Hatzlacha to all currently involved in this difficult parsha.

  11. Shazam, as a point of hypothetical inquiry, I don’t seem to recall Yaakov’s comparisons of his children to animals or his mentioning of their chisronos to be at all relating to their finding shidduchim.

    Why dont we look at how Eliezer determines that Rivka is correct for Yitzchak. He simply determines that she acts as a ba’alas chesed, even though her family and community are immoral and ovdei avoda zora. He doesn’t nitpick on her various middos and he doesn’t try and find any possible hole in her character, in fact he overlooks the serious flaws in her upbringing because of the one important thing, her good middos. I don’t seem to recall any comparisons to animals taking place, but who knows? I could have missed something..

  12. My only kaf zechus is that in her attempts to come up with good questions (from my experience there’s a lot of fine tuning there) she consulted secular interview books and thought these questions would be revealing. I would try to engage her in conversation before hanging up on her. She might just be clueless, not malevolent, so might still be decent mother-in-law material.

    As far as a new choson and kallah revealing their chisronos, doesn’t sound like a good idea for the hamon am. Maybe you and your rav. (Imagine the first fight: “Hey, you sure missed one on your list!”)

  13. Hey Lo Yitzloch i totally agree with you- thats exactly what i meant- that mother may have had the right intentions, but approached it in a inappropiate way.

  14. Dear Single;

    I don’t understand why you were so hurt. If you were to visit a mental asylum with crazy individuals who give you crazy comments, would you be hurt? Why were you so hurt from this mother who asked you this question?

  15. I’m very tempted to say that the author of this letter thought it “fun” to write a letter and stir up some responses- this seems to be a new trend.In any case – yes ! the shidduch world is definitely in need of some serious help- so everyone TRY TO MAKE SOME SHIDDUCHIM!

  16. I saw this letter in HaModia; it’s not “just” on YW/Internet Sites.

    I sympathize and understand why this still-single girl took offense to the question, but it strikes me as a psychological question and not at all implying “which animal is she”, and so I understand where the mother MAY be coming from.

    We know that we learn midos from the animals (tznius from cats, zrizus from deer? et al), so the question is not without basis.

    I do agree, as I said, that the question sounds offensive, and may still be inappropriate, but it seems like a gross violation of being dan es kal adam likaf zichus to simply blast this mother for asking a likely innocent question.

    Has anyone heard their mother ask them, “So which of my friends does the girl resemble, Mrs. x, Mrs. Y?”

    Should that be offensive, too? After all, the girl must have her own personality and beauty and maalos, etc. and is not like Mrs. x or Mrs. Y. Still, it’s a way of trying to understand “ma tivo ahel adam”, and seems reasonable to me, particularly if one knows to take the question the right way.

  17. I am a bochur in the shidduch parsha. I am also a reference for a couple of good friends (boys). I have been on the receiving end of this narishkeit too much already. One of the reasons for the crisis are definately the parents. Nebech for this woman’s son, his mother is messing up any potential.
    PARENTS: Beware that you must put more thought into the type of questions you ask, and must definately be MUCH MUCH less picky!!!! YOU ARE PASSING UP GREAT BOYS AND GIRLS JUST BECAUSE OF YOUR MESHUGANEH ANTICS. PARENTS, YOU BETTER STOP THE MADNESS, and soon.
    Point #2: Anyone who is reading this post right now and can somehow help out in Shidduchim, leave your computer this moment and go make some phone calls, try to set someone up. It upsets me so much that every time when there is an article on shidduchim, there are about 125 commments. If the comments are from singles like me who are dying to get married, I understand. But most of the comments are from older people who really could affect shidduchim positively. SPEND LESS TIME READING AND COMMENTING ON YESHIVAWORLD.COM ARTICLES, AND INSTEAD GO AND MAKE SOME PHONE CALLS – THE TIME YOU SPEND ON THE INTERNET VENTING YOUR OPINIONS COULD BE USED FOR MUCH BETTER PURPOSES!!!!!
    Thanks – Hatzlacha to all my fellow singles – especially those who have suffered the wait for too long already!

  18. dear y.w
    i hope the fall didn’t hurt you too much.
    you first have a person, who is proud to be a mesachayk b’kolon chaveru.but what can you expect from #2.
    and then you have a person who is being an advocate for the devil.what does he think the yetzer hora will leave him be if he farenfers him?

  19. I am an animal (a crossbreed of a zebra and giraffe) and I don’t understand why everyone gets so offended by being compared to one.

    PS-We also have such a crisis, just no statistics.

  20. the world will always have crazy people,do not take it personal, obviously either she did not mean anything at all or she has a mental problem so do not waste your time on it

  21. Why get so hyped up about this. There are mishuganas in every field. 99% of people don’t ask these questions. Let’s just write this one off and get on with life.

  22. I am heavily involved in shidduchim & have heard every crazy question, so this letter is not such a chiddush to me.

    It is not only the boys’ mothers, I hear many crazy questions from girls’ mothers as well.

    The point of this letter should be taken to heart by anyone who reads it & perhaps parents will realize – yoou need to use a drop of saaychel when asking questions from references. Otherwise, you won’t get answers even for your normal questions.

  23. I think Barbara Walters onced asked in a celebrity interview. “If you could be a tree, what kind of tree would you be?” Turning the question around is a good way to handle these questions. Politely ask, I am not sure I understand what you are getting at, what kind of animal do you resemble? What are some of YOUR chisronos? It is possible that she is just an idiot, but it is possible that she had something in mind that she failed to communicate.

  24. dear single;
    i very much agree with #17,and would like to expound a bit.
    There seems to be two things bothering you(i’m sorry if this sounds like im learning a peice of gemorah).Firstly that mothers are very critical, and they think that noone is good enough for there super son(which you say you feel when they scrutinize you at weddings or other events)which you assume is the reason behind the shidduch crisis.Then there is the issue with this particular woman who thinks your comparable with animals.As far as the critical mothers you have my sympathy, im sure its very diffacult for you.HOWEVER, the animal woman..is obviously weird and represents noone but herself.Normal people DO NOT ask such questions, and therefore you should disregard everything she said as you would a derogatory comment from a drunkard laying on the street of manhattan.

  25. I wonder…

    …If there would be a shidduch crisis today if the parents of some of these fine young people had to go through what these young people are going through by their parents and potential in-laws. There probably would not be a crisis of young people (20s, 30s and yes 40s) because there would not be all these young people – instead we would have a crisis amongst 40s, 50s and 60s…

    Yes, of course check out the person, but why not use the same standards that your parents did?

    Do you think that your parents did it wrong? Do you think that your parents did not do a good job on helping you to pick the right partner for you? Are you that unhappy?

    I challenge all of you that are asking about table cloth colors, stacking vs. carrying separetly, plastic vs. glass and which animal… and the list goes on and on and on… to reflect back in time and see if you or your spouse would have passed the tests that you impose on your children and their future partners.

    I still have a few years to go before my children are in the scene so maybe I should not be making comments, however, if I had to go through the process at the exalted standards set for today… I would not be so close to having to go through the process with my children.

    May we all see nachas from our children, may we see success (quickly) amongst all those that are seeking their intended!

  26. I would laugh and in a relaxed tone say “you”and laugh. Relax these are B.P. types. Now go for descent out of toweners, with the righe vaue systems built in by descent parents.

  27. I generally don’t comment when I read letters, blogs, etc. but I felt that as someone who is in the same “parsha” for quite a long time, perhaps I actually have something to offer. Whether or not someone should ask these questions shouldn’t really be the issue. From my experience, the ridiculous questions are the minority–they are just much more interesting so people talk about them more and give them more hype. I just want to say that as a ‘single’ there is always SOMETHING to be hurt by, SOMEONE who upsets you, or SOMEWHERE you will feel uncomfortable. The key is to be dan l’kaf zechus, not take it personally, and understand that we must go on without building up resentment inside of us. The more we find to complain about, the harder we are to get along with and the less people will listen when there really is an issue to discuss (because they will just assume we are complaining, as usual). That doesn’t mean that the road is easy or that people will stop saying/doing hurtful things, but as someone on the receiving end, you have the choice of how to respond. Try to build yourself up (not put others down) and you will become happier in the long run regardless of the situations you find yourself in. Hatzlacha.

  28. lets get back to basics

    middos….. middos…..middos

    everything else one can grow, develop and even change
    but middos is the key

    for the woman who asked the question she really doesn’t represent the general population just a nebech deranged person who is looking for problems not information

    let us all stay shtark and build together bnai obnos torah who are sterling character examples
    we can make a differance

  29. I have BH married off 5 daughters and 2 sons the tricked that worked for me was that i went to a R yonah carlebach on simchas torah or purim of that year and never fail the child that was ready to get married got engaged during that year .Untill about two years ago he lived in boro park he now lives in Lakewood . everybody else from our area that went to him also always had the same results

  30. I would simply respond as follows:

    “Unfortunately, my friend does not remind me of a pig. Therefore, I cannot recommend her for any son of yours!”

  31. #1-Why are we focusing on NARISHKEIT and not the main problem? The main problem is that there are WAY TOO FEW professional SHADCHANIM in the Litvish Oilem,and non-professionals most often RED SHIDUCHIM for their relatives and close friends only.

    #2- About R Yonah Carlebach- do people offer him money? Does he let strangers come into his house without appointments? What do the Roshei Yeshiva have to say about this?

  32. #31 mirboy -please don’t use this forum to send “shout outs”.This is a serious issue !!
    If jealousy is fueling your bitterness please be in touch and I will give you some lessons.
    BTW #4 today….

  33. People forget that what may be a chesoron for one person may be a maala for someone else. Every coin has two sides, depending how you look at it. So to list someone’s chesronos is counterproductive and ineffective. Every match should be looked at as matching two individuals, like two pieces of a puzzle – not just a calculation of pluses and minuses.

  34. Dear hurt single and others,
    When the pain from this woman’s obviously idiotic way of posing the question abates, and it will, and you will laugh about it, perhaps you can find it in your heart to think- maybe she was trying to put the words of Pirkei Avos to work for her- Az kanomer, Rutz katzvi, are you eager to do HaShem’s calling? Or perhaps you posses the qualities of a cat who cleans herself in a modest manner, or a bulldog who has a tenacious demeanor, or a dog who is loyal and is ‘man’s best friend’. You’ll find some phrases in Shir HaShirim, ‘Domeh dodi l’tzvi’, or “l’susasi b’richvei Pharoh dimisich, rayusi”- that don’t necessarily sound very complimentary. Could be (?) she meant well and it just came out sounding lousy, hurtful and disgusting.
    A shadchan called me once and asked, in the name of the mother of a boy: being that her parents are aging and frail, and she would NEVER THINK of making a wedding without them, would i consider making a wedding in NY? (I live out of NY). This was even before the couple went out! I told the shadchan to send this response to the mother of the boy: “nor would I EVEN DREAM of making a wedding without my parents- would she consider making a wedding in the cemetery?”
    Be strong, keep your bitachon, and you will surely find your bashert! Hatzlocho, and may we hear b’suros tovos from you and all singles bimhaira!

  35. # 37 about R yonah carlebach i never offered him any money nor did he ask for any money nor did i give him any money. people do come to all the time ..Rav Chaim Kanievsky has sent people to himfor brachos

  36. I saw this revolting article just yesterday. It reminded me of the time my daughter was called to supply info regarding a friend. The boy’s mother wanted to know “what kind of nose” the girl had. When my daughter replied it was nice and she was a pretty girl, the mother went on to ask “But how long would you say it is?”. I encouraged my daughter to hang up on her. I would have. My daughter is too aydel.
    As to the mother who inquired as to what animal the girl was similar to, I know what animal she is akin to- a CHAZAR!!

  37. I have a great uncle who was called about an einekle of Rav Gifter zt”l. They wanted to know, “what were Rav Gifter’s parents like?” What kind of mishpocha was it? …

  38. Hey Rachmo-
    You Rav sat down with his KALLAH and made a list of chesronos.
    That is exactly the point. First they got engaged. Then as part of their COMMITMENT to one another, traded lists of chesronos to FURTHER THEIR COMMITMENT TO EACH OTHER and work on making marriage work for themselves as a team project. In this case the mother is taking an ADVERSARIAL approach.

  39. #41-“A shadchan called me once and asked, in the name of the mother of a boy: being that her parents are aging and frail, and she would NEVER THINK of making a wedding without them, would i consider making a wedding in NY? (I live out of NY). This was even before the couple went out! I told the shadchan to send this response to the mother of the boy: “nor would I EVEN DREAM of making a wedding without my parents- would she consider making a wedding in the cemetery?”
    Im not sure what your point is! What compairon are you trying to draw? I think all will agree that that was a reasonable question to be asked-would you consider making the wedding in NY- they just wanted to know if you would consider it-

  40. WOW!!

    When I read this article in Hamodia I too was horrified.

    #41…sorry, but I also miss your point. I had the same problem, however; the Shadchan asked if I would make the wedding overseas (different reasons than yours)& I said no. I thought it was very clear. They went out, got engaged & then the “other side” started the pressure the day after the vort!!

    With much nastiness, agmos nefesh, intevention by Rabbonim who suggested to call off the Shidduch because of his family (my daughter wouldn’t), stress (I was ill afterwards with heart problems) the wedding was here. Had I known what we were getting I would never have let them go out.

    This was MANY years ago. B”H they are very happy. We’re not. We get on very well with all our other Machatonim B”H, but these…we don’t speak. EVER. Not for Simchos or anything else. No one can fix what they broke. Do we like our son-in-law? Not much. Are we good to him? You bet!! We probably are “better” to him than to our other sons & daughters in law whom we love dearly. The reward is the darling eineklach!! To see their happy faces, have them stay for Shabbos, enjoy their Bar Mitzvas & shep nachas we’ll “forget” the garbage from the past. But privately, my husband & I still wonder if someone else would have been a better fit for our very close family.

    So, my dear correspondent, your friend had a very lucky escape. I advise everyone look into the family VERY CAREFULLY. And go with your gut instinct. Obviously, my daughter’s Shidduch was bashert, but still….

    The Ribboneh Shel Olam should help all those who need a Shidduch find their bashert with much simcha.

  41. I agree with #47. Parents have a right to ask. You have a right to say no. Very simple…did you have to answer in such an unpleasant way? Why didn’t you just say no, I’m sorry. Maybe you need to tone it down somewhat. This attitude only gets you & your family a bad name.

  42. It should be noted that these sorts of questions are only asked in circles that purport to be frummer than everyone else, supposedly live a “ruchniyusdik” lifestyle, and supposedly won’t scratch an itch before consulting “da’as Torah”. Consequently, I’d like to ask which gedolim endorse asking these questions. (That dripping sound you hear is the sarcasm oozing from my words.)

    I’m also kind of curious what the “right answer” to these question is supposed to be.

    But what do I know? If the idiots in the self-proclaimed “yeshiva world” are doing something that seems perverse to the uninitiated, it must be right and holy, and who am I to criticize?

  43. # 37 about R’ Yonah Carlebach- do you know how to contact him? I know someone who would very much like to follow your lead. I did a search on his name – there are two, one with unlisted #, one on Lapsley Lane

  44. I would suggest that at this delicate stage in your life to remember the good in everyone.

    I have been to job interviews where they have asked similar questions in an attempt to understand how I viewed the world.

    You could have easily said that your friend reminded you of a dog, always there when you needed you, very loving and caring.

    I would suggest that to take your self out of the gullut of depression you have entered (hey our system isn’t perfect but I won’t get in to the anthropology of the female society in this discussion) you could divest yourself and read some literature or psychology texts that will give you some perspective. At this point, all I hear is pain and suffering and the only way out is faking a smile and learning a new way to understand your situation.