Wednesday, November 01, 2006

"The Best"

A great comment by PsychoToddler on the "Are you prepared to lie to the shadchan about..." post below, after the thread went on some good tangents:'s very similar to "The Best" system that I wrote about last year. Everyone wants the best. Why should my daughter settle for third or second best when she can have The Best?! Why should I even consider spots 2 and 3 on the list. Only #1 is of interest.

The problem is, no one is "The Best". No one is perfect. We all have one flaw or another. And to reduce a person to a bunch of checkmarks is something that I find offensive.

When you meet someone, and decide whether it is someone you like, you don't base it on one or two things. You take the good, you counter balance with the bad, and decide how you feel. Yes, there may be a few deal breakers. But when you hear about what people in the shidduch system consider to be "deal breakers," you really have to wonder about where their priorities really are.

Take a look at your spouse (if you have one). I'm sure he/she has many wonderful qualities. Ignore them for the moment. List 3 bad qualities about them. Family history, their education, bad habits, physical imperfections. Write them down on a piece of paper. Now imagine someone had shown you this before you met him or her. Would you still consider meeting your future spouse? Or would you move on to the next one down the list. Be honest.

Now do the same for yourself.


  1. I'll get it started.

    Serach is 5'0, never stops talking, and is originally from Monsey. (I'm picking things that I'm less likely to get yelled at for.) She is by no means perfect or "the best". She's the best for me, though. Thank God we met on our own - as I was discussing with a friend today at lunch, there is not a soul in the world who'd have thought to set us up; more importantly, anyone who knew both of us would have thought it wasn't a match at all.

    I'm an extremely lazy procrastinator; I'm not exactly skinny (but I was!); and I'm not Mr. Shtark. [Never great about getting up for minyan, for example.] Or better, I 'could do so much more with my potential'. On paper, Serach probably wouldn't have even dated me. (Except that people always seem to look great on paper!)

  2. I already married the best over a decade ago. Sorry, girls! ;-)
    But to be precise, "the best" doesn't mean perfect. It denotes that the one in question outranks his/her rivals. So if the person in the yeshiva snores or has some such other "flaw," he could still be "the best bochur" in the yeshiva because he perceived as being stronger in learning than his peers.

  3. BTW: the one time I met Serach, she did not strike me as being overly talkative. Anyway, you didn't mention where you hail from. Why is Monsey a minus automatically? I mean it's not the 5 Towns, after all. ;-)

  4. Ariella - Granted, "the best" doesn't need to be "perfect". But by your measurements, there's only one "best", too. People need to be aware of what's "best" for them, and go for that. That may mean someone who has a number of flaws but is excellent at [pick skill] which is something the girl/guy who is looking needs in a spouse.

    Serach, not overly talkative?! Must've been a different Serach. :) I'm originally from Cleveland, OH. Anything that has the letters N and Y (or possibly even J) in caps after it is by definition the epitome of all evil, unless it's more than 3+ hours by car from Manhattan. Thankfully, Serach noted to me soon after we met that she "hates N** Y***". That and the quote at the top of this blog were pretty much what sold me on her. ;)

  5. Excellent comment! IYH i will be making this list about my husband, at the right time of course...

    But putting things in a different context are extremely helpful. Its all about how you look at something...

  6. First of all, I was being RHETORICAL when I said list bad things about your spouse ;-)

    But, essentially, isn't that what the current shidduch system is about? Weeding out people?

    When I hear people saying "get rid of the internet or your kids will never get a shidduch" it just makes my blood boil.

    The ideal shidduch system should function like a highly sophisticated matchmaking program. Trying to figure out who will get along with whom. Not a bunch of elitists jockying for who will get the most impressive son-in-law.

    On a related note, I was eating lunch with one of the nurses yesterday (she's not Jewish). She was telling me about this blind date she was set up on, and at the last minute backed out of. She said some doctor set her up with this guy that he knows and thought they'd be a great match (I don't know what he based it on). Then she went on to list all of the reasons why she decided to stand him up: He has a "head injury." He's divorced. He has small kids. His ex-wife is a nut job. He wants to go to Africa to be a missionary. He belongs to a different branch of her religion. yadda yadda yadda.

    She looked at me and said, "Do you think I was wrong?"

    I told her she was wrong to leave the guy waiting at the restaurant. And maybe she was a little wrong for prejudging a guy she never met. But given the list of "deficiencies," I couldn't say she was wrong not to want to get involved with this guy. He's got a lot of baggage! It's true! On paper he looks just awful!

    But maybe he's a great guy who had an unfortunate accident and married the wrong woman and wants to get on with his life. Maybe he doesn't deserve to be alone until he dies. Maybe if she had met him at work or at a party they would have hit it off, and these "issues" would have been things that she would have decided she could live with (OK, I admit the Africa bit would be a total turn-off for me). But he's been branded as a "reject." Too bad. Guess what? She's still alone too.

  7. Oh for the record, here are a few of my negatives:

    I snore.

    I have allergies.

    I'm overweight.

    I have a short attention span.

    I like Science Fiction.

    I play video games.

    I don't like sports.

    My father worked on Shabbos.

    I didn't spend a year in Israel.

    I own a TV and have the internets.

    I play loud music.

    I have a short attention span.

  8. what the heck, this could be fun.

    My husband--- doesn't give me ANY space. Wherever I am in the house, he has to yell out at random intervals: "where are you? what are you doing?". He farts and burps. And finally, he watches FAR too much television.

    Me--- I'm LOUD. I spend too much time on the internet. And by choosing a field in which I'm not using my post bac in Hebrew lit, my Hebrew abilities have gone down the toilet while my husband is still fluent.

    Such a positive comment. Guess I'll be Mrs. Anon here.... :)

  9. First of all, I was being RHETORICAL when I said list bad things about your spouse ;-)

    I know, but it's so much fun!! :P

    I'm with Pobody's Nerfect, who noted below that there needs to be a balance. (And as you said, as well.) I *do* think people need to know what is important for them. But anytime I hear that a person needs to change "for shidduch purposes", I get annoyed. If a person needs to change for themselves, that's fine - but nobody should ever be changing "for shidduch purposes". That's just plain old lying - both to the people they date and to themselves.

    Oh, I can go on a whole list of my own faults... especially if we're going by "shadchan" standards. :)

  10. Well, the only way I see this Loshon Hora fest being useful is if you're counseling a young single to "not follow so-and-so's example and date someone who's already married" or something!!

    LOL... kinda...

  11. "Serach is 5'0, never stops talking, and is originally from Monsey."

    Yeah, that Monsey thing... that is a pretty big negative. ;)

    (yes, I'm from Monsey)

  12. PT: Err, how exactly are those negative points about you exactly?

    Science Fiction? That's a PLUS!

  13. I think the problem with all this is that you are comparing everyone. In life, you shouldn't compare yourself to anyone else, because inevitably, you will find some aspect in which you are lacking. The same in dating - don't go around comparing the potential date to everyone else - base your judgment on what you know about that one person, standing alone. Maybe he's not the "best" learner, but maybe he also balances that by having interests somewhere else, making him well-rounded. Maybe he's not the "most" religious guy around, but maybe he's really worked on himself and has a ton of respect for others, and has done a lot of growing as a person. A person must be compared only to themselves to find their inherent worth. If you attempt to compare, you'll always find someone better to chase.

  14. PT:

    "I own a TV"

    and apparently one that you can't hide in the closet.

  15. ezzie:

    "Thank God we met on our own"

    the best way to meet. i always say that the only good thing i ever got at the kosher cafeteria in brooklyn college is my wife.

  16. Shoshana - I'd tweak that slightly. You shouldn't compare anyone to anyone else (something we've tried to explain to a few friends), but you should compare to them to an objective standard of what you need for yourself. Sure, a person may be improving drastically, but that doesn't mean they're at the level you need. (Say, an angry person who has been controlling himself much better, but still has outbursts.)

  17. Ezzie -
    I totally agree. You should make your best attempts to figure out what is good for you in a relationship and look for those qualities. My point was simply that you shouldn't put one person up against the next and try to figure out who is "better."

  18. Ez,

    How is being 5'0 a "negative"?
    (p.s. My wife is also 5'0 and I'm 6'2.)


    How is liking SciFi and not liking sports a "negative"? (I fall into those categories as well, BTW.)

  19. So much to say...

    Ezzie, you are totally right that when people look at things on paper, they will reject someone based on a lot of unimportant things. The whole current "shidduch system" is so flawed. You & Serach are great together. :D

    Without going into a lot of detail, I set up 2 people who are now happily married, and when they got engaged many people were so surprised that I would have put them together. I also know many couples who would never have gotten married if they would have gone through the "shidduch system" where everything is analyzed on paper before the first date.

  20. Avrom - Clearly, I don't think it is. I'm 6'0. But many people would never set it up simply for that reason: "She's short, she can't marry a tall guy" or "He's tall, he needs a tall girl" or even better "Oh, save him for a tall girl!"

    Shoshana - Agreed.

    SaraK - Thanks! :)

    "On paper", certainly one if not both of the couples we've set up wouldn't match up well.

    I wonder if that's another one of the issues - people looking for "strikes" to knock people off the list rather than looking at the positives why they *should* be a match. I'm not sure how people usually focus their attention, though... and I hear that from the positives everyone ends up sounding the same anyway.

    PT, Avrom, Jameel - Sports can be positive OR negative. My SIL informed Serach that she will be a "Sunday widow" for all eternity when we got engaged.

  21. Whenever we try to set up our friends, it winds up disastrous - but they are always grateful for being thought of. It's really hard to know whether two people are right for each other. Most of the things that attract two people to each other are not the things that can be delineated "on paper" anyway - I know that's true for RaggedyDad and me. Luckily we met on our own at a friend's house. If someone had enumerated a list of each of our faults, who knows? Even though RD (and me too, to some extent) have a lot of background points that would come across as minuses via a shadchan, I have never met someone kinder or as well-suited to deal with my minuses. Unromantically put, you have to be able to tolerate the things that are annoying about one another. But usually the total picture turns out to be better than you could have expected. Like the way perfume in the bottle smells different than perfume on your skin.

  22. i agree that a person needs to have their own standards and not really compare to others. (alonng the lines of what shoshana and ezzie said)

    on paper things can look promising but turn out disastrous or vice versa. i think it's just a matter of people taking a chance or two and just saying yes to meet (if there is any sort of chance/ fits the major standards one is looking for) rather than making excuses for silly reasons. you just don't know until you meet. (if someone has taken the time and effort to think of a potential match, it is nicer to not just turn down each suggestion without truly considering it.