Category Archives: Archives 5771


Elul 5771 – Being Engaged!!??

Being Engaged!!?? Elul 5771
Being Engaged!!??
by Mrs. Chana Silver


Dear Chana,

I am finally engaged! But it is quite a long engagement, altogether it will be 6 months.(we did try to make it shorter but it wasn’t possible) My choson and I are finding it difficult and stressful do you have any tips for us?

Plus is it normal to have doubts during engagement? (and like not be in ‘the clouds’ all the time)

Thank-you so much for your time.

p.s. I really like your chizuk, its great!

Dear JemSem Reader,

Mazal Tov!!! That is terrifically wonderful news that you are engaged!! All of our dating readership should be in that same boat bizman karov!!!

As wonderful as that is, as you are finding out first hand,the engagement time period can be a difficult one. The main reason for all the difficulty boils down to one thing, you are connected to each other in a certain way at this point, but you aren’t fully there yet. There are all the plans for the wedding and setting up what will be your shared life together, so many people and factors to keep in mind and deal with and emotions and thoughts that you have not had before. Put that all together and add a healthy dose of nerves as to how everything will come out, and you get a tremendous amount of stress!! [for all you still unattached girls out there – sounds great – doesn’t it!!] A long engagement certainly doesn’t make it any easier, but as you said, you tried to make it shorter and it just wasn’t in the cards.

Here are some pointers for weathering the engagement time:

1] You must get some advise from a Rav as to how to set gedarim. The time that you see each other should be limited, as well as how often and how long you speak on the phone. This is really very important. On the one hand, you can now mesh your relationship in a deeper way than you could while you were dating, because you have made the commitment of marriage and a few more of those “walls” can come down between the two of you, and you can get to know each other better. On the other hand, you are just as much of an ervah to your chossen as you were to him when you were dating. Engagement doesn’t change that status at all, and some say that the halachos of yichud are even more stringent one you are engaged, as you can well understand why. An engaged couple has to be careful not to say things that are intensely derech chibah to each other, and they do have to be cautious of how they act in each others company, because at the end of the day, the couple is not yet married. All this is fraught with spiritual dangers and you most definitely need hadracha in this area. It is important to remember that you want to start your new home in kedushah and taharah, your future and everything that that entails will be coming from this union.

2] Concerning all the plans for the wedding: Your job is to not be at odds with either your family or his. Even more than that, to forge a closer relationship with your family, and to start a healthy one with his. When things come up about the plans, really ask yourself how much this particular thing matters to you. You will discover that there are actually many things that don’t matter that much to you and you can let them slide. Of course, if something is vitally important to you, tactifully and respectfully let those that are involved know how important it is for you. There is so much hype about wedding plans today. Granted, it is a red letter day in a life, and it should be designed with some care and thought. But if one understands the reality that in five hours it will be over, This helps one gain the proper perspective for the attention of what the rest of life will need. This is an amazing opportunity to work on your skills of compromising – with your chosson, and your respective families. Rememer, now that you are a kallah, it doesn’t mean that your middos can go down the drain! If anything they can become more honed and refined.

If there are halachic issues about the wedding that come up between any of the parties, find a Rav that all agree to abide by and follow what he tells you.

3] Refering back to ‘the walls’ . Many of the walls come down between the two of you during the dating, some more after the commitment of marriage, but it is important to realize that the rest won’t come down until after you have been married awhile. This is the normal way of things and it cannot be forced. It is a process. So when it feels particularly frustrating and stressful between the two of you, understand that it is somewhat normal. You haven’t really started that shared life together yet. Living in the same house and really being that dynamic duo is yet to come. [Which has its vicissitudes as well, but that is for another time!]

4] Do read some books on marriage and shalom bayis. You will have to reread them once you are married and it is no longer in theory, but getting familiar with it all now will help you alot, and will allow you to go into all of this with the correct outlook.

5] A not so oft spoken of topic is that of getting on a great footing with your future mother in law when you are engaged. Ask her advise, invite her to come with you for gown fittings, go shopping with her for the many things that you need to set up your house, etc. You get the idea. Let her know that you aren’t taking her son away, but that she is gaining another child. This will go far in your future relationship.

6] Don’t forget about your single friends!!! Try to find the balance of bringing them into your life and your plans, but remembering and being sensitive to them that they haven’t yet found their bashert. They want to be included in your life and not forgotten about. I have unfortunately heard from many of them when this happens. It is sad and painful for them. Keep this in mind.

Concerning your question of having doubts while you are engaged. It is quite normal. I think that even those girls who seem ‘in the clouds’ and constantly squeal how everything is soooo perrrrrfect, also have some doubts from time to time. I have heard from many girls that the morning after the engagement they wake up with the thought of “what have I done!?”

The bottom line is that this is a huge decision, one that will shape the rest of your future. I believe that it is impossible to be 100% sure that this is the right person for you. That is why the dating process should be taken so seriously, a person should have one or two key people who are older and married that they are talking everything through with every step of the way, and the dating girl should be constantly thinking, working things through, and listening to herself and her feelings.

So doubts from time to time would be natural, given the magnitude of the situation. But if things really aren’t going well between the two of you on a regular basis, or you are constantly finding fault with him, or you are much of the time wondering if this is right, or you find yourself thinking that there are other young men out there that would be better for you – you should certainly speak to someone about it, and see what is really going on with you. Perhaps you should then speak to him and work things out directly, or go together to a Rav or therapist for pre-marital counseling, or rethink your decision altogether. There is a commitment here, but it is not etched in stone, and as embarrassing as you may feel it is to end it now, sometimes it is the right thing to do. On the flip side, maybe this is just a case of pre- wedding jitters, and by talking it through with someone, you will clarify things that were going on in your head, and it can be okay. Real life, isn’t ‘in the clouds’ – we get those ideas from fairy tales, movies and books. Remember that life is full of challenging opportunities and encounters that help us grow!

The most enthusiastic of Mazal Tovs to you!!!!!!

With Warmest Wishes,

Kislev 5771 – Attraction & Affection

Attraction & Affection Kislev 5771
Attraction & Affection
by Mrs. Chana Silver


Dear Chana,

I feel so confused! I have heard so many different opinions about attraction in dating – and I just don’t know what to think! Can you please shed some light on this issue? Is it important? [There are those that say not.] If it’s not there – how should one go about it? Can it develop?

Thank you! And thanks for this incredible site!
Name and Seminary withheld upon request

Dear JemSem Reader,

Thanks for bringing up an important and much talked about issue. I hope I can give a bit of clarity to it. Of course, it is an important concept in dating. The problem is that everyone has conjured up in their imagination who their prince charming is going to be and what he is going to look like. And in walks your date and this doesn’t seem to fit in with what is going on in your head. What to do?

The truth is, you may have noticed that at school or work, when you meet people you may not think that they are so attractive, but as you get to know them they get nicer looking to you. This can happen in the dating world as well; it just may take a bit of time. Often attraction and affection grow through emotional connection, so the more you get to know each other, the better you look to each other.

So how does one navigate this? Emotion, attraction, excitement don’t usually increase by leaps and bounds. What you are looking for are small increments of change. If your feelings are even in a ‘baby step’ fashion heading in a positive direction, it’s worthwhile, to keep going out and see what happens. You may be utterly surprised to find your feeling of attraction and fondness for the person have changed [for the better!] as you begin to connect with and see the depth of the person you are dating.

If after three or four dates it doesn’t seem to be going anywhere – either there’s no change whatsoever or there are some things you are feeling negative about – then it’s time to end it. But you do want to feel that in each case you truly gave it the effort it deserves.

The general rule about many issues in dating when you are uncertain about things, is to go out a bit more, and it will usually bring some form of clarity. Either you will see that your gut instincts were right and now you feel more sure that whatever it is – is in fact an issue, or you will see that there is much more that meets the eye and you want to continue and pursue it and see what will develop.

I feel that in today’s frum dating world people discard others in a flippant and hasty fashion. We live in such an instant, impatient, and disposable world that often people just don’t give a relationship the proper time to unfold.

If, on the other hand, you are very attracted from the get go – so your work is to, as best as you can, put that on the back burner.You need to truly see who this person is on the emotional, intellectual and spiritual levels and build a real and dynamic relationship and not let the attraction overshadow everything. For as important as it is, there are so many other really important things that go into the creation of a deep relationship. One has to find the balance.

I hope this helps you in your journey in finding your bashert!
With Warmest Wishes,


Teves 5771 – Dating Queries

Dating Queries Teves 5771
Dating Queries
by Mrs. Chana Silver


Dear Chana,

Can you please give your opinion about several dating issues? I have been having debates with my friends about these important things – and we really need to get some clarity about it – because they come up all the time.

Is a second date a must – every time? What is considered normal as far as spacing the dates? How do you advise people about phone conversations during dating? What is your take about texting while dating?

Looking forward to hearing from you!

Thank you so much for Jemsem – it is such a valuable site!
Michlalah 5770

Dear JemSem Reader,

Thanks for bringing up these important issues! They certainly are part and parcel of dating situations – and do need clarity. What I write – is obviously my personal opinion based on my experience, you may hear other answers to these questions, as how to go about these things is not absolutely etched in stone.

A Second Date??
Here’s the basic outlook on this all important question: Do I go out with him again? If the first date was good, obviously you’ll go out again! If the 1st date was pareve, just okay, no great shakes, it wouldn’t bother you never to see him again, go out anyway!

If the 1st date didn’t go well, you need to analyze why. If it was because of something your date said that doesn’t jive with you, or an attitude, hashkafah, behavior, or language that was used, you need to speak to the shadchan and find out if that really reflects who the person is. If it does, don’t go out again. Otherwise, give it a second chance.

Many times people aren’t themselves on 1st dates. Let’s face it: a first date is a blind date. You’re strangers to each other. In most circumstances it takes people time to warm up and open up. Many make the mistake of feeling that they totally ‘know’ the person after the 1st date and that they are sure this person is not for them. As a matter of fact, most people tell me that they are shy when first meeting people and they when they feel more comfortable, they become more outgoing. So be careful not to nip a viable situation too quickly in the bud.

Spacing the Dates
Don’t let a lot of time elapse between your 1st and 2nd date; you don’t know the person yet and there isn’t all that much to consider. A day or two perhaps. After that, the usual is about twice a week or so.

There is a concept of momentum. Once the process starts to take off, you want to keep it rolling. Too much of a break could make it feel like you are starting over each time. On the other hand, you must have time to think in between the dates, this is also very important.

Ilana* and Chaim* had a whirlwind dating adventure that was very exciting and thrilling, and everything seemed great. They went out often, and when they weren’t together, they spent a lot of time of on the phone with each other.[more on this in the next section] The day soon came when Chaim popped the big question, and, of course, Ilana said yes. They had a l’chaim and a vort, set the date for the wedding, and began making life plans. It was then that Ilana started to notice certain things about Chaim that bothered her. Things he said and ways he acted that didn’t sit well with her. After some soul searching on her part and some meaningful talks with key people in her life, she broke the engagement.

Ilana openly tells people now that had she done all this in a more serious fashion when she was dating – speaking to key people and having time to think in-between dates – she would have seen these red flags more consciously and would not have gotten engaged. These things were in fact tugging on her somewhat, but she kept putting them on the back burner because things seemed so good. It was all happening so fast, and Chaim was always there, either in person or on the phone.

This is a decision that will have an impact on the rest of your life. So make sure to have the time you need to think things through and talk it over with that significant person who is helping you, while still keeping it at a good pace.

On the Phone
Stay away from long phone conversations. The phone should be used as a pleasant bridge between dates to keep the relationship running. The conversations should be on the shorter end; deep and important issues should be discussed in person. The reason for this is that a couple can develop a ‘phone relationship’ – and hide behind the phone or a computer for that matter, and this is quite different from relating to the person directly – face to face.

Though texting is ok for quick hellos or short messages, and it is quite convenient, too much texting daily is not emotionally healthy. It is short, choppy, and shallow. People today feel that they are building deep connections through texting and computers etc., but they are not. Perhaps several texts a day back and forth could be appropriate, more than this, is just silly, a waste of time, and foolish. There is nothing at all that can take the place of being with the person and getting to know them for real.

Thanks again for being the conduit for me bringing out these important and ubiquitous dating issue!

With Warmest Wishes,


Shevat 5771 – Dating Life Issues: What To Factor In – What To Filter Out – Part 1

Dating Life Issues: What To Factor In  -  What To Filter Out - Part 1 Shevat 5771
Dating Life Issues: What To Factor In – What To Filter Out – Part 1
by Mrs. Chana Silver


Dear Chana

I have heard so many differing and confusing opinions about family issues/ divorce/ shalom bayis problems / physchological conditions/ and physical illness concerning shidduchim. In your opinion how should one go about it all? It seems so daunting when there are issues! Can you break down some of the ideas and the how tos involved and give some advice about them? How important do you think these things are?

Jemsem is so full of great info! Thank you!
Midreshet Tehillah

Dear Jemsem Reader,

Wow what a whopping important question! There are many issues that transpire in the dating world and a myriad of questions that arise about how to travel the highways of shidduchim.

It’s important to know that seldom does a person find a ‘storybook’ situation to marry into. There is always something in one area or another, a skeleton here, a predicament there.

I have found that in the shidduch world people are too quick to reject, abandon, and discard a potential idea because of these situations, and this should not necessarily be so.


Unfortunately, in today’s world there are divorces, families with much discord, dysfunctional relationships within the clan, and problems that take on many different shapes and forms in the household.

For some, these kind of family issues are not what they want; others can make peace with them.

Here are some steps to take:


Ask about it from all angles. Speak to the Rabbanim who have been involved with the family. Find out the particulars and what exactly has gone on and what is currently going on. Make sure you speak with people who truly know the facts. Talk specifically with the boy’s Rebbi who knows him well. Find out about their emotional history and if the Rebbi feels that the boy is emotionally stable. Ask them if they see any manifestations of deeper issues going on, in general, and based on the particular family issue that you are checking into.


Tell him the details of the situation and hear what he has to say. Listen carefully to the advice that he has for you. Rabbanim have much experience in these matters, and they are certainly there to guide us.

3] THINK!!

You have to figure out if you feel you can handle a circumstance like this. Think about the future. Whatever the nature of the problem, what will Shabbos, Yom Tov, family simchas be like? Will you be able to be supportive of your spouse? How will this issue possibly affect your children? Obviously, you can’t fully know the answers to these questions, but how do you feel about it now?

What if someone went to therapy to help them iron out family difficulties and life events? That’s a terrific thing! After all, think of the alternative! These people were trying to help themselves and move past their issues. It really shouldn’t be such a stigma.

Tamar* grew up in a highly dysfunctional family. When she was fifteen, her parents got divorced and she had to face the additional difficulties and stresses that came with that. When she was eighteen and in seminary in Israel, Tamar decided that not only did she want to get her hashkafic and Jewsh self together, but that she needed to complete the circle and deal with her emotional and personal self. She was in therapy for awhile and she made great headway. Today she is an emotionally healthy and stable young woman who is married and functionally raising a beautiful family. Where would she be without the therapy?

Perhaps you can reframe that fairytale image that you had conjured up and decide that this will work for you, or you may feel that this situation is just not what you want to be part of.

If you have thought this all out and done your checking etc – and you are already dating the person, one of the most important concepts is to analyze deeply about this person and your budding relationship with him. If he is stable, and you are building a great foundation and connection, and if you respect him and are communicating well with him – well, these things count a lot.

Thanks for allowing me to bring out these very important ideas!


With Warmest Wishes,


Adar I 5771 – Dating Life Issues: What To Factor In – What To Filter Out – Part 2

Dating Life Issues: What To Factor In  -  What To Filter Out - Part 2 Adar I 5771
Dating Life Issues: What To Factor In – What To Filter Out – Part 2
by Mrs. Chana Silver


Dear Chana

I have heard so many differing and confusing opinions about family issues / divorce / shalom bayis problems / psychological conditions / and physical illness concerning shidduchim. In your opinion how should one go about it all? It seems so daunting when there are issues! Can you break down some of the ideas and the how tos involved and give some advice about them? How important do you think these things are?

Jemsem is so full of great info! Thank you!
Midreshet Tehillah

Dear Jemsem Reader,

Last month we dealt with family issues which included divorce and shalom bayis, and now we will speak about psychological condition.

Psychological Conditions:

There are many different forms and degrees of psychological conditions – depression, bipolar, ADD, and ADHD, to name a few. What are the guidelines with some of these things?

You need to find out the following:

– Does the person have a therapist?

– Is he currently dealing with the problem?

– Is the psychological condition chronic or episodic?

– Was the person on medication in the past? Is he currently taking medication?

– Is the medication long- term? What are the side affects? Will this medication affect the future?

– Is this person willing for you to talk with his therapist?

– Where mild or severe is his case?

– How does it manifest and affect his life?

You may want to talk to a psychologist or psychiatrist to help you understand the problem better, or perhaps, to research it yourself. Each case is individual and very different. Some situations may be quite serious and significant – and be a no go. Other situations may not be as big a deal and with the availability of medications and treatments, the person may be highly functional and very capable of carrying a meaningful, deep, and fulfilling relationship. It’s possible that because of his difficulties, he is an even deeper and more sensitive person, maybe even more emotionally aware than other might me.

As before, speak to a Rav about your finding, and get in touch with your own feelings regarding this.

Next month – we’ll deal with physical illness.

Continued thanks for bringing out these all important things!

With Warmest Wishes,