by Devora Krasnianski, founder of Adai Ad Institute
Understand the role of ‘research,’ i.e. why research is done on the prospective bochur/girl.
Understand your objective of the research. You are trying to ascertain that this bochur or young lady has the potential to be a good spouse for your child and parent to their children.
Of course, you care deeply for your child’s future and you want the perfect spouse for her or him. And of course, you know in your gut that nobody’s perfect. This is a time that you should actually live that! Don’t expect perfection from any one. You are seeking to find out about the whole person to get a sense if s/he is someone with whom your child can be willing to make a life. You should be coming from a positive approach, and not seeking to uncover the negative about the person or their family.
There are generally 2 perspectives to how much information that parents or advocates find out before and how much to leave for the young people to find out own their own. It is important to understand the rationale behind each and then determine what is best for your family – at this time. Your research will follow that accordingly. This is all assuming that you and your child are really on the same exact page about what they are looking for.
- The parents try to find out a lot, and leave little for the bochur and girl to find out about each other. After all, why waste the children’s time and frustration of going out with people who are not ‘perfectly’ suited for each other. This also runs the risk that the parents filter too much and the children don’t get a chance to meet their bashert. Especially if the parents’ filter is too specific.
- The parents try to find out the important basics (what these are is a separate article) and then let the children meet and make their own decisions. After all, people never really know exactly who they will really find compatible. The parents may have thought that their child needed or wanted a chevraman, but the bochur she ended up marrying is more quiet and pensive. This runs the risk that the children won’t really do enough discussing and might commit to someone who is not really right for them.
Those who are in the second camp, will not bother finding out things that the young people can figure out on their own, like physical appearance, style of dress, details of personality and interests. After all, it is the young person herself who should be the filter in those regards.
In either case, the daters themselves should verify whatever it is that was uncovered during the research. Those points are great discussion starters; they certainly cannot be taken as given.
You heard that she is well onto her track to becoming a CPA. Confirm that by speaking about that. You found out that he writes articles about Chasidus. Ask to read several and talk about his plans for that in the future. His uncle said that he is so kind that he’d give the shirt off his back. She needs to verify what that actually means and how that feels to her.
The role of the resume/ profile
In the last several years, shadchanim have been highly suggesting or insisting on resumes or profiles. These generally include a bit about the young person’s background and some references.
Don’t nix a potential shiduch on the resume. Use it to give you some direction or at least a basis for what questions to ask.
Don’t read into the resume; take it for what it is – a shortcut for you so you don’t have to write down all the phone numbers that the shadchen gives you. Find out about him as a person. Just because a bochur went to X yeshiva does not mean that much about him; he could have been the best bochur in a ‘mediocre’ yeshiva or a drop out of the ‘best’ yeshiva. And certainly height, weight and age are not indicators of who he is as a person. Give up the status parts like the “right” schools and camps, height, size, possibly age, etc.
Many, perhaps most people, don’t really look as they do in pictures. The little smile in eyes may not come out in the picture, the glow of personal fulfillment and simchas hachaim may not come out in the pictures. It is highly recommended that you do not make any judgments of compatibility based on photos or even fleeting glance at a person. You can only get to know the person when you get to know them. He may actually really like her a lot, even though at first, he is not particularly fond of her looks. So ask yourself, why do you really need to see a picture first? Are you afraid that your child will be upset with you for suggesting someone who is not drop dead gorgeous?
Researching on the internet
Some parents will run to the internet to begin their research. They’ll Google for pictures or check out Facebook. Generally, this is not a good indicator. The pictures and the write-ups can be old. They are one-sided so you really can’t clarify what you are reading or seeing. If the only picture you see online is of him 5 years ago at a class barbecue, how can that help you know about the whole person?
Think back to what is really important for the success of your child’s marriage and then think about how much of that you can really learn from the internet. You might find what you read on the internet somewhat useful as basis for your further research. Usually, it is not in your best interest to nix a possible shiduch based on what you found on the internet.