Sunday, August 23, 2009

Duped Again

I got referred to a family for Shabbos lunch, and it turned out to be yet another "singles" affair, complete with two dozen or so older singles. GRRR.

To be fair, the hostess was a wonderful, warm lady, as evidenced by the fact that when I first arrived and went to the kitchen to introduce myself, the other ladies were all in there too. I find that such grouping tends to only occur when the hostess has truly opened her home and heart to her guests.

In any event, the food was delicious, but the problem was that there was no talking during the meal (save when the women cleared and congregated in the kitchen between courses). Instead, the talking during the meal consisted of the host giving over divrei Torah, complete with the constant, "subtle" focus of reminding us singles that it is our shortcomings that have prevented us from getting married. Of course, if we just apply the advice from his divrei Torah, he'll have the joy of attending all of our vorts and chuppahs!

But it didn't stop there. It seems that the host also has a minhag of going around the table, and giving each guest an individualized beracha. Very nice, except he again throws in a bit of mussar. He even told the woman to my left that she should learn to be flexible and listen more- in front of everyone. I cringed internally,, wondering how he could justify embarrassing someone in public like that. When it got to me, I told him before he started that I didn't need a beracha for a shidduch. He managed to alter his beracha formula for me in time. When I was taking my leave after the meal however, he felt the need to raise the question: Why had I asked him to refrain from a beracha for a shidduch? I found the question inappropriate, but since that was evidently the law of the land in that house, I decided that honesty was the best policy. So I explained my situation to him, and he remarked "Smart woman". I managed to refrain from the almost automatic eye-roll, cordially thanked him, and managed to escape without giving any confirmation concerning a repeat visit.

Now, I can certainly appreciate a host who opens his door wide for singles, and sincerely wants to help his guests find their bashert. However, it's about time that some Rav puts a stop to this condescending down talk. Just because some one is married does not mean that they are qualified to speak on shidduchim or that they themselves are perfect spouses. So let's refrain in future from this New York-wide phenomenon of marrieds feeling justified in passing mussar on to their single guests. It is simply offensive. Obviously, if one knows a guest well, is on good terms, and the guest initiates the topic during private conversation, a host may (I repeat, may) have an opening to gently point out certain behaviour that is preventing the guest from finding their bashert. But most of the time,the delicate topic of shidduchim should be left to the given man or woman, their Rav, and their shadchan.

Because in the end, humiliating one's guests in front of each other, even with the best of intentions, is simply unacceptable.


  1. I'll refrain from writing a whole megilla peppered with non-printable words, and will only allow myself to point out that it is basically a Brooklyn, not New York garbage.

  2. I do agree that such behavior on behalf of your host is not just unacceptable, it's assur. On the other hand, I don't think it's limited to the frum in Brooklyn. Just think about Bridget Jones and myriad other novels. I myself had witnessed this over and over between my collegues of all denominations. The minute someone becomes engaged, they feel they are qualified to give advice on relationships.

  3. Daaaaamn! I would've told the guy off. Would never happen in my crib. Unfortunately don't know any normal and available 40+ guys.

  4. Btw, here's how a brocha for singles goes down by my friends.
    Lechaim for wife, lechaim for guests, lechaim for singles to get married soon, another lechaim, another lechaim. 5 tequila, 6 tequila, 7 tequila, floor. Only with whiskey. And everyone's talking and enjoying themselves.

  5. Moshe, I prefer your version. With beer, of course. ;)