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Why are traditional Jews so opposed to premarital casual dating?

by Rabbi Tzvi Shapiro

  

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Casual Dating 

If dating is merely "casual" why do we only call it a "date" when it is between members of the opposite gender and/or in a context of (future) intimacy? 

The reason is very obvious. A date might begin as something casual, but its purpose is to eventually lead to something intimate.

We only imply the term "casual dating" because we assume that it's just an innocent date right now and we will control the timing for the "eventual itimacy". But ha, how often do we really remain in control?

Reality is that one thing leads to the next, and when it's a done deal, you wonder how you ever got there in the first place. Not much written proof is needed to support this; the evidence is all around us in real life cases every day.

We only imply the term "casual dating" because we assume that it's just an innocent date right now and we will control the timing for the "eventual itimacy".
The problem is that it is very difficult to think rationally and objectively when emotions are very strongly involved, therefore, the Torah sees to it that we protect ourselves from our very own impulses. Jewish law reminds us from the onset that "dating" is for, and will lead to, intimacy. It should therefore only be engaged in when you are ready to reach its conclusions, i.e. when you are ready to get married.

Serious Dating

On a deeper level, you have to ask yourself,  "What's it all about?"

According to Judaism life is about serving G-d1; thus anything that furthers this objective is proper and good but any distracting factor is a deviation from the goal and purpose of our lives. You must ask yourself, "is this relationship beneficial to my service of G-d? Or is it only a distraction (abeit an ejoyable dsitraction) from life's main purpose and goal?" 

Serious loving relationships consume a lot of time and energy. A relationship between a man and woman in it's proper context, in the framework of marriage and building a Jewish home, provides a place for G-d to rest His presence. Hence all the time and energy is more than worthwhile; it is actually called for. But investing energy in a relationship that is not complete and is lacking the framework of marriage and building a Jewish home, is merely a distraction of time and energy from what one is supposed to be doing.

When you're focused on your life's mission (and marriage is not part of the plan yet), you are simply too busy for dating.

Footnotes

  • 1. Ethics of our Fathers 6:11

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Torah
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.
G-d
It is forbidden to erase or deface the name of G-d. It is therefore customary to insert a dash in middle of G-d's name, allowing us to erase or discard the paper it is written on if necessary.