Category Archives: Archives 5765


Tammuz 5765 – Maintaining Friendships With Ex-Dates

7 Tammuz 5765
Maintaining Friendships with Ex-Dates





Dear Chana,

I came across your column while stumbling upon the Jemsem website, which impressed me. I attended a Bais Yaacov Seminary in Israel a few years ago. [which I prefer not to name] After a few years of dating via shidduchim, I am left to wonder if one can maintain a friendship with a boy one has dated if things haven’t worked out between them. I have girlfriends who do have male friends, some whom they dated and some whom they just know. I personally grew up with a different mentality [in the Bais Yaacov system] – but it does seem so natural. Is it right or not?

Please respond to this letter, as I would highly regard your opinion.

Thank You!
Name and Seminary withheld upon request


Dear Jemsem Reader,

Thanks for bringing up an important issue. This is definitely something that many girls grapple with. What I find sad and interesting at the same time is that though you yourself did not grow up in the boy/girl framework, you are actually wondering if it is ok – because you see it happening around you. Also, I imagine it has been difficult and frustrating to still be dating several years after seminary. Perhaps this is where your question is really coming from. Loneliness is such a hard thing to deal with. Maybe you should put some thought into that.

You may want to look back on the site at the archives in my column from Iyar 5764, where I address this topic a bit.
No, it is not appropriate to have any sort of a relationship with a boy other than the one you are dating for marriage. If it doesn’t work out, it’s over, finished.The reason it seems so ‘natural’ is because Hashem has made the world with a healthy attraction to the opposite sex. But as everything in Judaism needs its balance, structure, and discipline, these strong feelings need to come out within the framework of marriage and nowhere else. The concept of a ‘friendship’ with someone of the opposite sex has been discussed many times in many places at length. There are so many sources which deal with the amount of distance and gedarim that need to be between the sexes. The idea of it being platonic on both of your parts is practically non existent. In the frum dating world there is really no room for it.

I have heard people say many times when a relationship doesn’t work out “In another life, we could have been best friends, but as far as marriage goes, we aren’t for each other.” This idea is very true. Obviously, when a couple is dating and it is getting serious, there are many things shared between them, ‘walls’ are broken down, and affection is formed. These emotions are real and truly there. Perhaps he isn’t your marriage partner, but you sure have alot of things in common and things that you liked about each other.

What are you supposed to do? Where do these emotions go? You have to give yourself some time and space to get through it. Acknowledge the pain and disappointment, admit to yourself the fear of never finding the right one. Realize that Hashem has tailored just exactly for you the people that you date. There is a reason for every single thing that happens, as well as every single person that you date. You are supposed to learn things about yourself and about the kind of person that will be mashlim you.
There is meaning in the fact that you went out with this or that boy, it is to help bring you to your goals, but there can be nisayon with this as well.

Because we aren’t robots, but very human emotional beings it is often times quite hard to just turn off the fondness and kinship that we felt for the guy. Knowing that this sort of friendship is wrong will go a long way in separating from it. Torah always gives us the guidelines, focus, and direction we need to go in, getting there is quite an effort. But, as always, l’fum tza’ara agra, according to the difficulty is the reward. You need to take lessons from what happened, analyze it, and perhaps look for similar qualities that you really liked, but to continue the relationship only mildly or at arms length does not fit in hashkafically or halachikly.

Another point to think about practically: How will a future guy you date or your husband feel about the fact that you are friendly and close to other guys? I can’t imagine that this would go over too well on any level!

I hope you find your one and only z’man b’karov!!

With Warmest Wishes,


Sivan 5765 – Falling in Love, Sparks…When Does It Happen?

10 Sivan 5765
Falling in Love, Sparks…When does it happen?

Dear Chana,
I just came back from an amazing and inspiring year in Israel. Right away I was suggested to go out with an amazing, shtark, well put together boy. I went out with him twice already. He is everything a girl would ever want. Hes smart, stable, comes from a good family and backround, and we share the same views on life. On paper he has it all!The only thing that’s not there is the excitement. I don’t get excited when he calls or when I see him. There are no “sparks”. I feel like he has more fun on our dates then I do. As of now I don’t care if I see him or don’t see him anymore. I’m not completely turned off from him—I guess I’m just indiffeernt to all this.

Our first date -I wasn’t being myself at all. Being my first shidduch date, I was being painfully shy. There were a lot of awkward moments and I just wanted to dig a hole for myself to hide in. I decided to give it another try thinking it wasn’t fair that he didn’t get to see the real me! The second time I was more relaxed and myself–But still I felt nothing. I’m wondering if i go out with this boy enough times, will I eventually start liking him? My heart says that he’s not for me but my mind says that he has everything I would ever want in a guy. So basically I feel bad giving up on a perfectly good boy even though my insticts tell me I should. Chana, I feel like there aren’t so many genuinely good boys out there and once you get your hands on one then it would be foolish to let him go. Your advice and opinion would be highly appreciated.
I thank you for your time and patience.


Dear JemSem Reader,

Welcome to the world of dating! Being that this is the first boy that you are going out with, so far, you’ve done the right thing. First dates usually are somewhat awkward, being that you and the guy are actually strangers! The fact that you were shy is NORMAL. Many times people aren’t really themselves on the first date. That’s why it is almost always a good idea to go out a second time, unless the date was absolutely terrible. Even then, it would be important to call the shadchan and find out if the reason of why you had a bad date is really there or not. [Like maybe he was extremely quiet and you’re wondering if he actually has a personality or not! It could be that he was just very nervous and acted differently than usual.]

The question is if things are incredibly pareve, what to do? What I find is that another 1 or 2 dates will usually bring some form of clarity of whether to continue or not. The problem is that people have watched too many movies [in their former lives of course!] and think that it will be love at first sight and that they will be swept right off their feet by Prince Charming. Occasionally it may work like that – but it is definitely not the norm! It could take some time for things to grow and flourish. It is a process. By getting to know each other and learning how to open up and share of yourselves slowly – an affection may develop.

There usually isn’t emotion or excitement in leaps and bounds. What you are looking for is small increments of change. Was this date just a bit better than the last? Do you feel that you made a tad of headway and have started connecting some? Can you say that you had a ‘good’ date [ie: better than the last]? Were you somewhat looking forward to the next one? Were you happy to see him? If it seems to be coming along at a steady pace, it may be in order to keep going out and see what happens.

If after 3 or 4 dates, it doesn’t seem to be going anywhere at all – either no change whatsoever or some things that you really feel are negative, then you can end it. You want to feel that in each case you truly gave it the lions share of an effort. I feel that in todays frum dating world people discard others in a flippant and hasty fashion. We live in such an ‘instant’, impatient, and disposable world that often times people just don’t give a relationship the proper time to unfold.

On the other hand, I do not think that the attitude should be, that whether you actually like him or not, it doesn’t matter, just grab him because he’s a real find, is the way to go either. He may be a great catch, but, is he the right one for you? Let it play itself out over a few dates and you’ll see what occurs.

Wishing you clarity!

With Warmest Wishes,


Iyar 5765 – If My Husband Will Be in Chinuch Will I Miss Out on Being a Full Time Mom?

1 Iyar 5765
If My Husband Will Be in Chinuch Will I Miss Out on Being a Full Time Mom?

Dear Chana,

I really enjoy reading your articles, and I wanted to ask you a question.

I’ve always been the type of person that things seemed to come easy for me. Like I used to hear people talking about how hard it is not to get angry, and I thought that B’H it’s not such a nisayon for me. I rarely ever got angry, and I seemed like I was really just doing everything right. I seemed like I was exactly what everyone’s striving to be, except I didn’t have to work hard to get to that point. Does that sound good? Yes, I thought it also was. But at the same time, I almost felt like, why does it take people a lifetime to reach perfection, I seem to be doing things right already. I didn’t feel like I was better than people, I just thought that I had an easier time doing the right thing.

The problem was that I wasn’t happy. And B’H I realized after going to therapy that the problem was that I was trying too hard to do everything right. I wanted to make everyone happy. But that doesn’t work. Why? Because I wasn’t making myself happy. I realized that just like everyone else I have my strenghts and weeknesses. And I was only not getting angry because I wasn’t allowing myself to feel angry. I was supressing my emotions to the point where I didn’t even realize that I actually had them. I was even starting to lose my energy because I was trying so hard to do everything right and holding so many feelings inside that it was affecting my health. Now I’m working hard in therapy(and it’s not easy) to express the feelings I’ve been keeping inside for so long. I\’ so happy that I ‘m doing this now… before marriage so I can work things through and be able to discover who I really am when I’m not trying to please everyone. So B’H that’s working out well. Except that now there’s something that’s making me nervous. I always wanted a boy who was very into learning, and I wanted someone who was a true eved Hashem. I still want someone like that, but now I’m wondering, do I want someone like that because it’s something that people think is a good thing? Or is it what I really want? So much of my life was spent trying to please other people. I don’t want to do that anymore. I want to do what’s best for me and try to be the best person that I can be. But how can I know? And I’m the type of person who likes nice things, and I also want to be able to stay at home with my children and give them everything! I could. Realistically speaking, if my husband is learning or in chinuch for a long period of time, then I might not have the luxury of staying at home and having nice things. But at the same time it’s always been my dream to have a true Torah home and marry a Talmid Chacham who is reaching his potential.

I’ve been in Shidduchim for a reasonable amount of time, and I’ve been going out with boys who are very into learning. Many of them seemed like really good boys, and I know I want someone who wants to learn for at least around 5 years. But I’m wondering if I should be going out with people who want to go into Chinuch. That has always been my dream but I don’t want to end up taking my husband away from learning or chinuch because I don’t want to live on less. What should I do?? Thanks for your help!

Name and Seminary withheld upon request


Dear JemSem Reader

1st of all – I want to commend you for going into therapy when you realized that you might have some things to iron out. Many people may become aware that they can use some help in sorting out some problems, but to actually do something actively to help themselves – well, that, they may never get around to. It sounds like you were able to do some intense work on yourself and that you discovered alot about who you are and the way you were handling things. From what you wrote, you seem to be quite in touch with yourself now.

Which leads us to your question about marrying a longer term learner / chinuch person. You have to get to the roots of it. Is this truly something that you want deep inside yourself or is it because others have told you it is a great thing. Being that you have learned that much of your former actions were done to please others, to the point that you were supressing your own emotions, you need to see where this desire is really coming from. Some soul searching time on your part is what is needed now. Granted the life and shape of a household where the husband is learning or in chinuch is different than when the husband is working and being kovai’ah ittim. They can both be upstanding Emesdik homes, the thrust in each can be serving Hashem, but exactly the same, they are not. So what exactly is it that you envision for yourself and your future household? I would think that it would be benificial for you to talk to a Rabbi or teacher/ role model that you feel knows you and understands where you are coming from. Not that they should make the decision for you, but just talking it through, discussing the pros and cons etc. – can help you clarify what exactly it is that you want.

I also do not feel that it is such a cut and dry issue that if someone is learning for several years or eventually goes the chinuch route, that the family will be living in dire poverty. There are many many factors to all of this and each situation is basically quite individual. Sometimes family members from one or both sides are very willing to help for a time. Perhaps you will have a wonderful job, which may be part time and you will be able to be at home with your kids a considerable amount. Perhaps the Kollel that your husband is in will pay a handsome stipend per month. Maybe you and your husband will sign up with one of the wonderful chinuch/ kiruv training programs that actually pay you to take classes! Plus, chinuch today means lots of things, lots of possibilities with varied pay scales. Also you need to realize that the ultimate future is truly in the Hand of Hashem. As we said, you need to define what it is that you want and make sure to go out with boys that want the same things and whose focus is in the same place as yours. As always, we make the hishtadlus and Hashem runs the show. If you go with the guy who is learning – how long it will really be for – what will come up in life for both of you and what opportunities he will have afterwards are all not in our control. I know situations on both sides. That both parties wanted some learning for a medium amount of time and as they take things year to year – things fall into place – and lo and behold they have arrived in the ‘long term learning’ category. Where as others who wanted long term learning, things came up in varied ways, with health, life situations etc, and they weren’t able to learn for nearly as long as they had originally envisioned. The main thing is [in this area] for you and your spouse to be on the same page as far as your direction and goals. The rest will be Ratzon Hashem.

I hope this sheds some light upon some of what’s involved with your question.

With Warmest Wishes,


Adar II 5765 – Influencing…vs Being Influenced

5 Adar 2 5765
Influencing … vs. Being Influenced

Dear Chana,

I would like to thank you for your continued chizuk and aytzas for post seminary girls. I’ve been out of seminary for 4 years now and I would just like to say that one of the things that came across strongly in my seminary for coming back to Chutz la’aretz was “Asay licha rav, v’kana licha chaver.” While I tried extremely hard to adhere to that as my recipe for success, I would like to comment that I know the Rav I became close to was a life saver for me and something I needed and continue to need tremendously. However there are times when finding a rebbetzin would be more appropriate. There are questions that I feel while I worked so hard to maintain a relationship with a rav that I really do need a rebbetzin, whether in shidduchim, friends, family, or general hashkafos. I just thought I would put that out there.

My question really is, is that like I said I’ve tried very hard to keep to my recipe for success and more so recently due to B”H many of my friends being married, my chevra has become more limited and select. There is one girl in particular who when I came back from seminary really was cautious of becoming friends with due to her attitude and perspective on shidduchim and in general.

Well, four years have passed and recently we’ve become much closer. I entered into the relationship knowing she needed alot of help, and it would take work on my part, but I felt she would benefit tremendously from my upbeat and optimistic outlook on life. Well, she has benefited and I know she’s doing better and this relationship is good for her. However, I am scared for myself. I am a tremendously influenced person and while I’m working hard on helping her, I know she has affected me in many ways and it scares me.

My question is, while I know this relationship benefits her and is extremely healthy for her, I am scared what it is doing to me.
What should I do?
Thank you so much for all that you do for all of us out there!

Dear JemSem Reader,

Firstly, I’d like to comment on the issue that you mentioned before your question. You are absolutely correct! Obviously every girl must have a Rav, certainly for halachic questions and possibly for aitzah questions. But, for this second category, a woman who is a Rebbetzin, teacher or role model can be very helpful as well. Sometimes, woman to woman is just more beneficial, and each can more easily understand each other. As you said there are many things that are simply more appropriate to consult with a woman about. If there is something that you are uncomfortable discussing with a Rav for Tzynius reasons and the like, you can speak to a woman and perhaps she can ask the question for you. So, it is surely important to find both a Rav and a woman to help you with all of the different shaiylos, aitzahs, and life situations that come up. In seminary you did that, so it makes a lot of sense do to that post seminary as well!

Now, onto the question about befriending this girl. The general guidelines about these things is that your surroundings and friends most definitely affect you. This is why there is so much emphasis on choosing carefully what you are doing [post seminary and any time] and who you’ll be doing it with etc. It sounds like you have been keeping the right kind of company and have worked hard to ensure what types of people you hang out with. In the bein adam l’chavero aspect, helping another person, [bringing them closer to Hashem, being supportive emotionally, giving to them in various ways etc] is obviously a huge mitzvah, but each situation has to be weighed carefully as to how it penetrates and works on you. Perhaps you are the right person to befriend her or perhaps not.

Because of the many factors that I do not know, it is therefore difficult for me to guide you specifically about this. You say that you are a ‘tremendously influenced’ person, which can mean alot of things about your personality and emotional make up. You mention that she has affected you in many ways, but I’m not sure exactly what that means. You were hesitant to get involved in the first place because of her ‘attitude and perspective on shidduchim and in general’, again, this can mean a variety of things.

I would suggest that you take this important question to the Rav or Rebbetzin [that we were just talking about in the first section of the letter!] and truly fill them in about who you are and what is going on with this girl. The answer as to how you should conduct yourself can go really either way. If you have a strong base of friends who are heading in the same direction as you and you are m’chazeik each other and personality wise you can take it, then you should go for it. But if your situation isn’t the above, or if her influences are really in a bad direction, it might be correct to get someone else to help her. The concept of caring for another in a bein adam l’chavero realm does not always mean that it has to be you do it. You can also give assistance to her by being a middle person to connect her to the right people that can help her in a more direct way. In other words, truly tending to another persons needs can mean that you are really watching out for them by giving them others who can better deal with the situation. V’ahavta L’rei’acha Kamocha isn’t ‘if I can’t help them, so let me just move onto the next person that I can help’. True concern for another means going that extra mile. So, by going and getting clear cut and personal aitzah, you will see which path you should take, for this is definitely a weighty question.

With Warmest Wishes,


Adar I 5765 – Sharing Family Information in Shidduchim

5 Adar 1 5765
Sharing Family Information in Shidduchim

Dear Chana,

Thank you so much for this wonderful website. It gives me much chizuk. I appreciate your time.

A non-hereditary health disorder is present in my family.
My question is: When is it appropriate to inform the boys I date? On the one hand, I want to be open and forthright, and show him that it’s ok. On the other hand, I want him to give me a chance (I can’t say I’d want to date someone in my situation) and also, it is obviously an emotional issue, which I don’t think is appropriate for the first or second dates.

Is it ok to leave it for the third or fourth date, after which I know we have an interest in each other without him feeling like he’s being pulled into a situation that he wouldn’t have wanted to be in? Or is it better to let him know the first or second date, but not go into detail, but if the shidduch isn’t shayach anyway, why bring it up? I don’t like bringing up the subject, once someone knows I have no problem talking about it, but I don’t like telling people, I feel bad telling them “not-such-good news.”

Any hadracha would be most appreciated.

Thank you.
Name and Seminary withheld upon request


Dear JemSem Reader,

Your family must be quite exceptional indeed because they have been chosen twice over to take care of very special Neshamos. As nice as it is to know this hashkafically, it must still be quite a nisayon, and could be an issue for shidduchim, even though you said it is not genetic which I suppose you mean that it is not hereditary.

The real answer to your question needs to come through Da’as Torah. It is a Sha’ayala. In Shidduchim every case is individual and unique and does very much need the input of a Rav.

I can however mention how it works in a general fashion. Most of the time there are 2 possibilities of how the Rabbanim handle the many issues that are involved in peoples’ lives, such as an illness or former illness of the dating person, an illness in the family, family difficulties [divorce, hardships, problems], and personal and delicate topics. Either they say that the particular thing should be told to the prospective party initially, before the couple meets [during the checking out time] or that the matter should be brought up around the 4th date. This would be for the reason that you said, in order to be given a chance, and let the guy get to know you a bit, [give wonderful you a boosted start -in light of the difficult circumstance] but would be before a very strong emotional connection would have taken root. As to how they figure out in which case to do what – well, that we will leave to the Rav and work on our Emunas Chachamim.

So take your question to the Rav and follow the derech that he maps out for you. I have seen amazing things in shidduchim- how situations ended up working out unbelievably smoothly [when it didn’t seem possible that they could have, given the magnitude of the issue] all because the advice of a Rav was followed exactly. I think there is real Siyata Dishmaiya that one receives when one listens to the Rabbanim, for they are so to speak the ‘mouthpiece’ of Hashem.

It is also crucially important to remember that Hashem already has your bashert set aside for you, and the family situation that you find yourself in will be just fine with this guy, he’ll be able to accept it, see the incident in a positive light and marry you! It is yet another chance to work on your Bitachon and relationship with the Ribbono Shel Olam.

With Warm Wishes,