HaBucher HaChushev Ploni ben Nistar here for shtick, news and fun. You know, a Chassidic life isn't as boring and heavy as most people might think! ;-)
מצוה גדולה להיות בשמחה תמיד
Remember you can always easily stop the playlist at the bottom of this page. Also don't hesitate to send me an 'ask' if you have any questions. I don't bite at the first time.
DISCLAIMER: Questions on Jewish Law (Halacha), I will try to answer to the best of my ability. Note that my understanding may not be accurate nor be the final word on asked topic. One should consult an Orthodox Rabbi before drawing any conclusions.
“How does shidduch / dating work in your community? What sort of things do you do when you go on a date? How well can you get to know someone (do you already have to decide after only a few dates, or can you date someone for several months) before you decide if you want to share your life together? Do you have to marry someone of the same chassidus?”
First of all, let me copy/paste what I said about this before.
“Parents look for the ‘perfect’ match for their children. Once they’ve found one (often through a shadchan - matchmaker) they do a LOT of research about the potential marriage prospect. They more or less interrogate his/her rabbis, family members, friends, etc. And when everything sounds okay they set up a meeting between the guy and girl.
Then they will meet and see if it ‘clicks’. If it does, they will meet each other another few times. And if they both agree, they will engage.
However, if either one of them (that is, the guy or girl) doesn’t want they are not forced to. So it’s not completely ‘arranged’. The free will is still there. :)”
The shidduch (match) doesn’t have to come from an official shadchan (matchmaker). It can also be through a friend or even a relative; basically anyone who knows both sides.
How it works
If both sides agree on the shidduch, the boy and girl will have a bishow (date) and meet at someone’s living room. Not in a park or hotel lounge like the Litvishers; but in a modest living room. Needless to say, they won’t be alone in the house. Their hosts (often the parents) will still be there, just not in the room.
Going out, as in going to a bar/cafe, is not done in our community. Even walking in a park is strongly frowned upon. For, a Chassidishe bucher shouldn’t walk down the street with a girl (who’s not his sister), and vice-versa. The modesty customs and minhogim are very important in the Chassidic world.
What do we do?
We talk. That’s basically all we do on a bishow. Talk about our similar background, about our similar goals in life, about our similar plans for a future home, etc. Because, usually, Chassidic parents only allow their children to see someone when they are sure they are a ‘good match’. That is, that they are truly Chassidish, come from a good family, that they have similar goals and hashkofes (ideologies), etc.
Keep in mind, though, that both the boy and girl usually never spoke to someone from the opposite gender before (or outside of Shidduchim). Which makes the whole conversation a lot more awkward.
In most cases these dates don’t last very long. 45 minutes to max 1.5 hours (and that’s already considered very long).
Duration of dating
If both sides decide to continue, they will usually see each other another 1 or 2 times, which makes it three dates in total. Sometimes it’s more, but in general it’s up to three bishows.
Basically if there is one after the second, it is already more or less set. After the final date when the boy and girl decide to marry, they will have a small l’chayim with both families and shortly after will be the engagement.
We don’t go out for several months. Because we believe that’s not good for both the boy and girl. “Hollywood love doesn’t exist.” True love will come later. First you have to use your rationale and see if the person you’re dating is truly the one you’d like to spend your life with.
The advantage of the Chassidishe way of Shidduchim, is that most of this checking is already done by your parents. As said above, you already know you have a lot in common, that the other side has good middos (character traits), etc, etc. The few dates you have with him/her is to see this for yourself as well. If a boy/girl would date for several months they would become too close while still not being anything of each other. Their minds would dwindle and their focus wouldn’t be just on marriage anymore. They wouldn’t be able to think logically. Plus, that the boy would have to mess up his seder (learning schedule) in yeshive.
A Chassidishe bucher/meidel trusts his/her parents and Rebbe to make the right decisions. And most of all, they trust in Hashem. The Ribono Shel Olam is the One who runs the world and who makes the true shidduchim.
Getting to know each other
The Shidduchim chapter is to find someone with a similar background, goals, etc. It’s a major step of trust, using ones mind (instead of phases which people often mistake for love - they don’t truly love; they lust), and it’s a major step of Emunah Peshutah (faith in G-d).
After your wedding, or for some after the engagement, it is time to really get to know each other. After all, you’ll have a whole lifetime to get to know your spouse.
We don’t have to marry within the same Chassidus. Many people do, but it’s by far not obligated, nor is it frowned upon to marry someone of another similar Chassidus.
I hope this answered your questions.