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Why is the dating period so short amongst Orthodox Jews?

by Rabbi Shlomo Chein


Library » Life Cycle » Marriage » Courting | Subscribe | What is RSS?


Terms are a funny thing. Often the same word has drastically different connotations.

Let’s use the term “dating” as an example.

In a science lab dating refers to a procedure through which you determine the age of something, or time period it belonged to. It is focused, intensive, and (if you’re not a scientist) pretty dull.

On the social scene dating is when a boy and girl go out together in the hopes for, or as part of, a relationship. It is a very broad, undefined, and capricious experience.

Scientific dating is not social dating. And social dating is not marriage dating. In the Torah observant world dating takes place between a boy and girl, not in a lab. But it is marriage dating, not social dating.

Social dating is pretty casual. You see a guy somewhere, he is handsome, charismatic, and seems to be an all around cool guy. So you approach him. You don’t want to sound too desperate so you pretend there is nothing more than a casual interest. He too doesn’t want to appear eager, so he plays along. You decide to go out and do something nice together.

For much of the dating period the compatibility goes as far as the present. The past is very much a mystery, and the future has yet to be discussed.
No serious issues are discussed, no real questions are asked. You just have a nice time together. But going out to a movie or sitting at a bar has almost nothing to do with the two of you as a couple. You can see a movie or have a drink with just about anyone. It definitely has nothing to do with the real issues of life, and it offers you a very limited perspective of his personality.

For much of the dating period the compatibility goes as far as the present. The past is very much a mystery, and the future has yet to be discussed. Slowly and eventually, when you are around someone long enough, he opens up. Once in a while you get a peak into the real him. With time he will even begin to share his personal experiences. One day you might even discuss the future.

This type of dating could, should, and does, take a very long time.

Marriage dating begins intentionally, not randomly. You don't see a guy, you look for a guy.
Then there is marriage dating. Marriage dating begins intentionally, not randomly. You don’t see a guy, you look for a guy. A guy who fits into a specific picture you have envisioned for your future.

You begin with research (on your own, or with the help of some enlisted friends etc) to find out about a guy, his family history, level of education, temperament, drive, social skills, interests, hobbies, and what he envisions for his future.

This research consists of direct and pertinent questions asked of people who know him in various contexts. This pre-dating can take a week or even a month, and it is gathered from people who know him for years, or even his whole life.

This way, on your first date you are already at the ninety yard line.

At this point you want to know if in real life he lives up to everything you heard about him. You also want to know if there is chemistry between you. Are you attracted to him?

There are no facades here. You both know exactly why you are dating. If this dating period accomplishes the above goals, you want to marry him, and he wants to marry you. If it doesn’t, you both want to move on (as soon as possible) to seek out the person it will work with.

This well researched, upfront, and focused type of dating doesn’t take long at all. (And parenthetically, is statistically more efficient).

See also How do Orthodox Jews meet their future spouse without inter-gender mingling?


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Torah is G–d’s teaching to man. In general terms, we refer to the Five Books of Moses as “The Torah.” But in truth, all Jewish beliefs and laws are part of the Torah.