May 31, 2012 On Arranged Marriage
It’s wonderful that the young Hasidic boy or girl is asked: “do you like him/her” of the future spouse before an engagement is finalized. The couple spends on average half an hour together on their one and only date, mumbling about absolutely nothing important while the parents hover anxiously outside the door. Usually, the couple would not even be interacting with first-person pronouns out of respect for the stranger; they would be punctuating the formal Q&A with painfully awkward silences while unable to will their virgin eyes to make eye contact. And then they are to announce a liking for that to-be fiancé.
I spent more time deliberating if I like the pet frog we adopted than I did deliberating if I like the husband I started a Hasidic family with.
It’s a sly trap they got because it’s hard not to like someone you only shared a table with for half an hour, at age eighteen, fresh off the gender-separated boat. Girls are promised balloons and flowers and a fancy white gown and boys get to throw around pens and cigarettes and get released from yeshiva. So there’s some nebech sitting across the date table clacking teeth like a nervous wreck. What’s not to like in a poor person like that?