Shidduch Pictures, Rav Chaim Kanievsky, and a New Perspective


Kanievsky[By Rabbi Yair Hoffman]

Another question that was brought to Rav Chaim Kanievsky Shlita, this past Sunday by Mr. Larry Gordon, owner of the Five Towns Jewish Times, concerned Shidduchim.
A few weeks ago, the Five Towns Jewish Times ran an article about the tendency for young men and their mothers to ask for a picture of any potential Shidduch.

The article cited the Chebiner Rav who responded in writing to a shadchan who conveyed such a request with a message to the other side, “Lo y’aseh kain bimkomeinu, lasais haTzurah lifnei haBechira.. – This shall not be done in our place, to give the Tzurah [the appearance of the girl – i.e. a photograph = pronounced BTW in the Chasidish havarah as Tzirah] before the Bechira – (Chassidish pronounciation for Bachura) the young lady.” The Chebiner devised a clever play on words using Tzurah – photograph, instead of Tze’irah – younger one referencing Lavan’s response to Yaakov Avinu in Bereishis 29:26, however, he did respond with a very clear message: This is clearly not something that Jewish people should be doing and is very far from the Torah way of life.

The article further explained that such a request demeans and cheapens the young lady under discussion. Each human being was created in the Divine Image, and to debase a Bas Yisroel in such a fashion runs counter to many fundamental yesodos in Yiddishkeit.

Finally, the article cited a few contemporary Poskim: Rav Dovid Feinstein shlita, was not happy when he heard of this growing practice and responded, “Why are we making things more difficult? There is a certain chein that young ladies have that often does not come across in a photograph, and can only be seen in person. We are making the shidduch crisis worse with these new requirements.” He did not forbid it from a halachic perspective, but he was clearly very much against it. Rav Moshe Heinemann, Shlita of Baltimore, when consulted by this author on the question, responded, “I do not think that it is within the framework of tznius for a girl to give a picture out where others can possibly see it. This is not with the ruach of Torah.” Rav Shmuel Fuerst, a Dayan in Chicago stated, “This wasn’t the mehalech for doros, and I think it is lacking in tznius. I don’t think it is a proper hanhagah and, besides, a picture can be very deceiving.”

So what did Rav Chaim say?

1. האם ראוי לבן-תורה לפני שיוצא עם בחורה בשידוכים לשאול את השדכן בשביל תמונה של הבחורה שיכול לברר אם תמצא חן בעיניו מטעם היופי שלה? והחשבון של הבחור שזה יחסוך לו זמן. או האם זה דבר מכוער לבן תורה או בן ישיבה לעשות? וגם אולי אפשר שיש לבחורה חן שלא נמצא בתמונה?

Is it proper for a Ben Torah, before he dates a girl for shidduchim, to ask the shadchan for a picture of the girl so that he can determine whether he will find her attractive? His reasoning is so that it will save him time. Is this an inappropriate thing for a Ben Torah or Ben Yeshiva to do? Perhaps also a girl has a certain type of beauty that is not found in a picture.

שתויות! הוא לא יראה כלום – צריך לפגוש!

Rav Chaim responded, “This is nonsense! He will not see anything [through the picture]. One must meet [her]!

Rav Chaim is clearly characterizing such requests as foolishness.

After the article on the proliferation of picture requests first appeared, this author was approached by a number of young men who rationalized the practice by explaining how asking for a picture had saved them countless hours. They explained that the average date now costs some $150, to say nothing of the 3 and ½ hours spent in traffic – aside from the date itself. The bitul Torah is enormous.

In response to this valid point, I would like to humbly suggest a slightly different modality to the entire shidduch scene. Let us recall the Gemorah in Brachos (60b). Rabbi Akiva tells us to be accustomed to say, “kol d’avid rachmana l’tav avid – All that the Merciful One has done He has done for the good.”

Instead of looking at dating to be an utter waste of time and Bitul Torah, why don’t we look at dating as an opportunity to perform a DeOraisah Mitzvah – of V’ahavta l’rayacha Kamocha? Seriously, many, many shidduchim have been brought about through peer to peer initiation – through a shadchan, of course. So why not here as well? Every bochur has friends or acquaintances that might be a perfect fit for the young lady that is currently in the car with him on this “waste-of-time” date. Let us also remember that the Mitzvah of v’ahavta l’rayacha kamocha also applies to the young lady whose resume we have just perused and actually considered to be our spouse. We have here an opportunity to a] look out for a shidduch for our friends, b] look out for a shidduch for this young lady, c] do a chessed for her parents in finding their daughter someone and d] possibly, possibly, she may have someone for the the young man dating too. Let’s think about it. Purim, Chanukah, 7 out of 8 days of Lulav and Esrog, these are all Derabanan Mitzvos. There are four recipients of Chessed here. When else do we have an opportunity to fulfill four full-fledged Torah Mitzvos at one shot?

The author can be reached at [email protected]



  1. So is it rather to go meet the girl on assumption of good info and then say NO?? A picture speaks more Than 1000 words…Yes it won’t tell you everything but so much as to whether you should proceed or not…

  2. “In response to this valid point, I would like to humbly suggest a slightly different modality to the entire shidduch scene.”

    What a wasted opportunity. With a clear answer in hand from three of americas leading poskim, they asked the very same question to Rav Chaim (were they fishing for a different response?). They should have asked him how to address this claim by the bachurim instead. They did not, so we have the answer supplied by Rabbi Hoffman, who has a chezkas kashrus by me, but is no Rav Chaim Shlita.

  3. What is perhaps the most absurd and degrading comment in this article is that yungerleit would worry about “wasting” 3 or 4 hours of “bitul torah” in traffic going on a date when the large percentage of them find at least that much time for such important mitzvos as Thursday night chulent time etc. Do these “Princes” of the yiddeshe velt really believe their time is so valuable that it is wasted if the girl is not a 9.5 or better on their “attractiveness scale”. This would be absurd if we read about it in the context of some drunken fraternity guys looking at photos on Facebook and scoring them for invites to their next bar crawl but to have the same mindset among our Kollel Yungerleit is disgusting.

  4. These articles are getting sillier and sillier. It’s becoming a pashuta bizayon to our Gadol Hador, using him for one’s own publicity and agenda.

    Did 5TJN ask Reb Chaim if they can post the articles and pictures which they print in their paper? Just wondering…

  5. “a new perspective”? Did I miss something? It’s a unanimous perspective from all the Daas Torah that was asked. Tell a bochur that he is wrong. Period. End of Story.

  6. apushatayid – I think you are being a little to harsh here.

    Hotstick – 1) I’m sorry to say, but you are clearly wrong. Example at hand. I remember being shown a yearbook picture of a girl who let’s say had Maalos in other areas than beauty. Non-the-less, her yearbook picture was very flattering for a girl like her. I found out that her mother spent a significant sum at the salon and at makeup artists to have her look stunning. I think you’d be in for a big disappointment having met up with her after having agreed to meet her based on her picture.
    2) Many American boys have the false impression that the girl that they marry has to look “attractive”. I’m quite aware of numerous cases when Gedolim and/or Rabbonim advised young men to marry the girl despite her looks. They explained that what is important is that “you are NOT turned off by her looks” and not that you are very attracted to her. That being the case a picture may cause a very good shidduch to be discarded by a misguided and inexperienced young man.
    3) I have a question for you. If it is SO important for you to see a pic of her, why are you not sending a pic of you? Perhaps she’ll be unimpressed and save you time and money! (…and don’t start bringing in Chazal. They are talking B’deavad and not L’chatchila. Girls also want a guy they find attractive. It’s just that they are a little more bending and if necessary will suffice for a 2nd rate boy (you know… the kind that asks for pictures).

  7. $150 on an average date???! What are they doing already? It seems that these young men & women need an education in economics. Forget about the pictures.

  8. Listen to a Shiur in the car, you mite find yourself learning a lot!

    May a picture can be shown to a close relative, just to eliminate what’s totally not nogea, but not to the prospect himself – make sense?

  9. I never asked for a pic, and went on dates. When we were eating pizza on Avenue J, I just had two important questions.
    1. Is your kitchen double applianced, granite topped with a sub zero fridge.
    2. Is your china cabinet overflowing with lots of silver.
    What in the world else does a learning bochur need to know…really.

  10. This is all implying that if she is not attractive she will never get a date.

    All gedolei hador have clearly stated this is wrong.

    Newsflash for all these “bochrim”: she won’t look like this in 10 years after 3 children…

    This has turned so pritzusdik!!!

    They don’t even do this in the modern world!

  11. I never coment here on this forum for torah haters and the like which hate the yeshiva world. However miss godalhadorah comments are so vile and disgusting something must be said. Starters shame on theyrshivaworld for publishing her garbage. Also what are you talking about these “princes” dont hang out for thursday night chulent that is the bums that hang out. The ones that learn dont!! They may go out every now and then but they are people too who need outlets. Mind you they dont have movies and the like tp waste there time. I want to also know from you why you preach love to all jews yet never miss an opportunity to bash bnie torah. I dont know who your rolemodels are in the “yeshivish” world but try looking for the real ones, your only association seems to be with low class. Maybe you might get an apriciation if you saw the real thing. Either way shame on you for how you talk about the people who hashem loves. (Bnie torah) how can you compare even the lowest yeshiva bachur to college frat low lives. Such sick speach please yeshiva worl kick this peice of dirt off the forum
    Btw it costs just 35$ on tolls plus gas and whereever you go plus a car rental dont forget they dont usually have cars adds up fast w/o any fancy frills
    Ps i am no way condoning looking at pictures before just know who and what you are talking about
    Last thing all the not “yeshivish” people thst post here please keep coments about your reformed judiasm to yourselves if you want to aspouse mizrachi MO or reformed shitus stick to your sites so we dont have to view your drivel

  12. To No. 5

    Questions regarding the kashruth of insects in OJ and whether its OK to demand selfies from your prospective beschert prior to a first date are considerably more important to frum yidden than some new inyan regarding shor shenagach shor or other abstract halachic issues with little relevance to contemporary day to day life.

  13. Again gedolhadorah you speak nonsense and against the torah
    Just learn something about judiasim(orthodox brand)
    U are wrong and plenty of our great sages to back up

  14. Just wanted to share one thing that’s always been bothering me. Rav Chaim shlit”a is known to strongly promote boys getting married at 18 in line with Chaza”l. He also strongly advocates against shaving beards. When American bochurim hear this directly from Rav Chaim shlit”a they laugh it off since it offends their American sensibilities although they will claim they need to make a kinyan on a derech in learning first. In this article we are touting Rav Chaim’s shitta as authoritative when it comes to the predate picture viewing shaila.

    How do we draw the line? Do we follow Rav Chaim shlit”a as daas Torah or not?
    What about when Rav Chaim told Rav Mattisyahu Salomon that if Lakewood bochurim use cell phones (before smart phone days) than he retracts his previous psak that absolved them from hiring security guards in a time of danger? Did we follow the implied directive? What about Rav Elyashiv’s by now famous comment in his gemarah shiur dismissing shaitels as adequate hair covering for ladies?

    Just wondering what the following-daas-Torah-when-convenient guidelines were.

  15. Lakewoodmankollel

    Is GadolHadorah a female? Sounds like a male writer… Either or there are ways to find out how a prospective shidduch looks without asking for a personal pic, yearbook photos, camp pics, yeshiva siyum pics, Ask a few people. Remember looks are in the EYE of the beholder anyway!

  16. I assume female b/c hadorah sounds like in lashon nekeva but either way i am sick of that persons hatered and bashing and yeshivaworld should put an end to this sickness

  17. Listen Yidden! Rav Chaim gave a psak and yet we have the audacity to rationalize.

    I was not raised in your yeshivos, but I live comfortably among all of you. At 31 years of age, I can say with clarity that most of my peers have very limited life knowledge of adulthood.

    They were infantilized by their parents, and by their rabbanim. And you think I don’t know? I taught your children at your schools for years. When English subjects are devalued, children learn to cut corners. Yeshivas teach them how to lie, steal, and cheat.

    Ever try to build up a business in Brooklyn as an out-of-towner? Do we realize where the pniminius of Klal Yisroel is today?

    The shallowness of bachorim is due to their lack of real life exposure. Shut down the current model. Demand more of yourself.

    End learning culture.

    Support Kovea Itim culture.

    Support real colleges. Support real ways for men to be men.

  18. #20: The real way for men to be men is with a 100% Limud Torah lifestyle that eschews all and any secular values.

    #17: You have your facts wrong when misquoting supposed previous psakim from Rav Chaim and Rav Eliashev.

    As as others have said regarding Gadolhadorah, he is a vile and malicious hater of Torah and Torah Judaism who coaches his poison pen in words to fool readers into thinking he is a member of the Orthodox community.

  19. Back to basics do you have the audacity to contradict r chaim he doesnt support “real ” college yet to bash bnie torah you have no problem taking from his words.
    Yeshiva world stop publishing these coments that are keneged our torah

  20. Speaking for myself as a girl in the paraha of shidduchim. any girl who is turned off about sending a picture it’s because they are afraid that they aren’t that attractive
    Any normal beautiful girl would jump to offer her picture. To be very attractive is something to be proud of not something to be offended about