What should a girl seek in a boy as far as shidduchim are concerned?
He has to be first of all, not a modern boy. And I mean that seriously. If he’s a modern boy then he’s a boy to whom divorce is an adventure. You need an old-fashioned boy. Old-fashioned means a boy who was brought up with the idea that marriage is for keeps. A ben Torah is the best bet.
And you have to look for a boy with sterling qualities. Now if you look for a dashing boy, a romantic boy, you’re making a big mistake. Because if you think he’s romantic, he knows it more than you do. It means he’s in front of the looking glass. He appreciates himself more than you do. And that’s a dangerous boy to marry.
It doesn’t mean you should marry an ugly boy, but you must look for sterling qualities. And you are going to be the last one to discover it. Love is blind. You won’t realize who he is at all. And so you have to have your brother get busy on the job. Your brother is the one who is least enamored of him. Your brother can see him more readily than you’ll ever see him in a hundred years.
Your father should call up the mashgiach of the yeshivah. I told you once how to work it. When your father calls up the mashgiach and the mashgiach says he’s a nice boy so forget about it. If the mashgiach is excited, if he sounds very excited, so subtract 75% and think, “Maybe I should consider it.” Ish lefi mehalalo — a person can be judged according to the way people get excited about him.
So the boy should have character. Now, the problem is that girls don’t marry for that. Girls don’t know about character. And boys don’t either. A boy wrote me a letter once from Eretz Yisrael. He’s going out with a girl. “Ah,” he said, “her middos! Ah! Ah! The best!” He married her. Six months later I got another letter. He said, “Ay yay yay, Rebbi, the tzaros I have from her!”
The answer is the middos he never saw; he’s not the judge. He can’t be the judge! For middos in a girl, ask your mother or your sister. They may not know either, but they can more easily discover.
Also he must be healthy. If he’s a sad fellow, watch out for him. A sad fellow; it could be he’s a pensive thinker but it could be he’s a mental case. And a sad girl, beware. Beware of sad girls. It could be they’re full of thought but you have to find out because there’s a lot of mental illness, chalilah, a lot of mental illness in the world. And you have to ascertain who the boy is and the history of the mental health of the family. It’s important.
You must also try to discover his level of intellect. It’s not easy for you, but that’s important too because the fellow who is of inferior intellectual ability will have to take inferior places in life.
If you want a ba’al kishron, you must make up your mind that you’re going to pressure your parents for big money. Because boys with abilities want to learn. They want to make progress in learning, and they must be supported to do so. You’re not marrying an old talmid chacham of forty. You’re marrying a youngster, and a youngster is not a talmid chacham yet. He can’t be yet. So he needs years and years of help. If you want anybody good, you must make up your mind that it’s going to cost money. Throw away the foolish old-fashioned ideas that you’ll marry for love. Because for love you’ll get a bum. A good boy costs money. And it’s not considered mercenary. Girls, don’t feel it’s beneath you to have to spend a lot of money on getting a good chosson.
Now sometimes you can spend a lot of money and get nothing. This happens frequently. But good things usually entail some sacrifices.
Now there’s a lot more to say on this subject, but I’ll sum up. You need someone who is solid in his attitude towards marriage, who is conservative, someone who is a ben Torah, who has good physical and mental health and also a family history of good physical and mental health. He should have good character – of which you cannot be the judge. You must have experts. You must inquire; not you – your brother or your father should inquire. And the mashgiach has to be very enthusiastic about him if he’s going to be worth anything at all. And you should be ready to sacrifice to get somebody of high caliber.
TAPE # 48 (January 1974)