Category Archives: Dear Chana


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,


Adar II 5771 – Dating Life Issues: What To Factor In – What To Filter Out – Part 3

Dating Life Issues: What To Factor In  -  What To Filter Out - Part 3 Adar II 5771
Dating Life Issues: What To Factor In – What To Filter Out – Part 3
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,

Ok we are up to our 3rd part in this important all encompassing question. We have covered some info on family issues and psychological conditions and now we will discuss physical illness.

The person you are looking into may have been ill earlier in life or is currently ill, or perhaps there is an illness in the family. What is the proper way to deal with this?

Similar to psychological issues, you have to do your research. What is the nature of the illness? How does it affect the quality of a life? Is it genetic? If it is from the past, is there a chance of re-occurrence or did they receive a clean bill of health? Does it affect the persons future? See if you can get permission to speak to the actual doctors of the person, concerning their specific case.

Tzipporah contracted a certain physical illness when she was in her early teens. She is under the care of specialists, and she is extremely careful to maintain her health aside from and including this condition. For several years she was having serious problems with shidduchim. As soon as boys would find out [either before they started dating or during the dating] they would say no. Many times there was no checking out of the condition, just a flat out no. It was difficult and depressing. Finally along came the boy who was destined to be her husband. The family checked everything out, spoke to her doctors and were ultimately fine with what they heard. Tzipporah is a real gem of girl, and her husband is one lucky guy. They are currently building a beautiful relationship and family.

As always, talk it over with a Rav, as well as consider your personal feelings about all this. All of these things [ family issues / psychological and physical conditions] take a lot of thought and contemplation. They are certainly not decisions that are quickly and easily made.

With all of the above situations, the information that you find out should remain top secret and confidential, only spoken over with the key people who are helping you with the shidduch. In most cases the shadchan does not need to know the information unless they are directly involved with helping you through it. Whenever you are in doubt about whom to tell or not ask a Rav.

To flippantly abandon and thrust aside a shidduch suggestion because he or she isn’t perfect is not wise. No one is really perfect, but he may be perfect for you, and this may be a situation that you will be able to handle. Also, it is important to remember that his person may be even more special than average because of the nisyonos that he has been through. Difficulties in life can truly enhance, humble and deepen a person.

Life is certainly about choices for all of us, so be open- eyed and open- minded, do your research, speak to a Rav and key people, and see where it takes you.

Thanks so much for your special question that turned into a 3 part very important series on dating issues!

With warmest wishes,


Iyar 5771 – A Wonderful Non Frum Father…And Shidduchim

A Wonderful Non Frum Father...And Shidduchim Iyar 5771
A Wonderful Non Frum Father…And Shidduchim
by Mrs. Chana Silver


Dear Chana

I’m writing you this question knowing that there are many girls in situations similar to mine, and hopefully you can give us some insight. The question is – how does one not resent the fact that where they come from affects the kind of shidduch they get?

You see, my situation isn’t so bad , but I feel resentment, and need help.

I am a baalas teshuva, daughter of two happily married parents. Most of the family became religious over 7 years ago , but my father chose to stay the same. Not to say that he’s not religious at all. He goes to shul almost every shabbos (but drives-its too long of a walk), and gives plenty of tzdakah to those in need. He also learns in his spare time because it’s interesting, not because of religious reasons. My mom covers her hair, keeps all the laws and accepts the fact that my dad is the way he is. But I feel perhaps he is ruining my shidduchim. He is an amazing father and showers me with love and everything I need. However, I feel in the shidduch world those things don’t matter. It’s about who you come from and what great Rabbi’s you’re related to. No one seems to care about the person they may be getting matched up with. It’s all about how the dishes are taken away from the table, or what kind of yarmukah does the father wear?? (none!) I love my father, but I feel that the society we’re in makes me resent him for not being as religious as I want him to be. I came a very long way, and love everything about being Orthodox – except this!

How do I accept it all? How can I appreciate all the good I have ,and not focus on the level my father is at?

Thank You

Name and Seminary withheld upon request

Dear JemSem Reader,

It sounds like you have worked very hard to be the type of person that you are today. To change your entire life is a magnificent accomplishment! I have the highest admiration for you! This also tells me that you are a very strong person and that you have overcome many hurdles in your life. So here’s yet another one, but I am confident that with some effort and thought put into this, you will weather this one as well.

First of all, let me point out a few positive aspects of your situation. Your parents are happily married and most of your family, aside from your father, is frum. There are not so many ba’alei teshuva that even have that. There are so many different and difficult situations out there that are part of peoples lives, really vast and varied, illness in the family, [or with the dating person themselves] crazy dysfunctional family situations, divorce, and money issues.

But, never no matter, the key to all of this is to remember that your chassan has already been hand picked by Hashem! There are certainly some things in the shidduch world of today that don’t appear to make so much sense or frankly, don’t even matter very much at all, [as per your example of the dishes!] and then there are the issues of family and lineage etc. and many people get all caught up in so much of this. A person can truly think that this or that thing will make such a difference in who they will eventually marry. It does seem this way. But, that is only when you look at the tevah side of things. We are leaving out one super important factor. Hashem is running the show. You have been placed in a gem of a situation to help you enhance your Emunah. Everything is all about choice and attitude. How you choose to see this episode in your life will make all the difference in how you feel about it. You can work through this and develop your relationship with Hashem in a more deep and meaningful way. You can use this as a special opportunity to daven with heightened kavanah and rely on Hashem.You can choose a positive attitude and outlook on things. Or, you can be upset and feel like you are in a no win situation and resent the dating process. It really is all up to you. Hashem has tailor made this situation specifically for your Neshama. So how are you going to handle it?

Every person gets the bashert that is really right for them, no matter how the circumstances appear. The person that Hashem has already chosen for you will not mind that your father is not frum.

A former student of mine came from a very strange and odd background. Her mother had been adopted by a Christian family, raised as a Christian, and married one. [this was my student’s father] This girl was going through her life as it was, until the mother found out that she was really Jewish. A whole long story unfolded after that, but the end of it was that my students parents are still married and this girl became really very frum. She is a wonderful emesdik young woman, and it did ‘seem’ that she would have major trouble getting a shidduch. But, Hashem had it all worked out and the terrific guy that she married was himself a ba’al teshuva, and he really didn’t care one bit about the interesting make up of her family. They have 2 kids now and are busily building a very beautiful Bayis Ne’eman.

It sounds like your father is a wonderful person and that you have a great relationship with him. This is certainly something to value and build on. So right now he isn’t really frum, but I often hear that things change after the grandchildren come along……… so you never know!

Also, don’t be afraid to open up and not be too narrow about the type of guys that you will date. Many ba’alei teshuva bring a depth and freshness to their marriages and homes.

So don’t get caught up in the tevah of what things ‘seem’ to be, but turn it all back to Hashem, daven, and intensify your Emunah and relationship with Him.

With Warmest Wishes,



Sivan 5771 – Trust Your Instincts – Abusive Relationships

Trust Your Instincts - Abusive Relationships Sivan 5771
Trust Your Instincts – Abusive Relationships
by Mrs. Chana Silver


Dear Chana

What I am about to share with you is probably the most bizarre experience that I have ever encountered.

Close to two years ago, I started going out with a boy who learns in Lakewood. Before going out, I had a very good impression of him. My mother knows his brother and likes him. From the way my cousin and others described him, he sounded like a sincerely frum, growing, nonmaterialistic guy with really good middos. I also knew that he’s very bright and tops in his learning, and nice looking too ( which never hurts!)

The truth is, it sounded a little too good to be true, and I admit I was a little dazzled by what I heard. I was also amazed to find the first few dates fun and interesting. He also seemed very honest, sincere and bright, and had a great sense of humor. (I do remember feeling that he seemed a little rough around the edges, but wasn’t overly concerned about that.) After the fourth date I was feeling very positive. But somehow things started changing by the fifth and sixth. I started getting mixed messages (at certain points he seemed interested, other times he spoke in ways that gave the impression he wasn’t interested) and at the sixth date he said a few things that astounded me. The only one I can remember was that we were sitting in some mall and he had just said something that disturbed me (cuz he was making fun of a guy he accidentally discovered I had gone out with.) When he saw my expression, apparently to stop me from saying something, he told me to get him a drink.

I can’t remember everything that was said, but I can remember at the end of this date feeling very confused and then coming up with a funny feeling that this guy wants some kind of dysfunctional relationship. I called the shadchan and said I didn’t think he was interested, and it was over. Then a couple days later she calls me back and tells me he was floored that I felt that way, he was very interested and she was quite pushy herself. So I told her I’d call someone. I decided to call a mechaneches who is also a social worker. (Unfortunately she didn’t know me.) But I figured if I told her the worst things that were said, she’d surely tell me to stay away and then the shadchan would leave me alone.

After each thing I described to the mechaneches, she practically attacked me. I was made to feel that I was being judgmental and That I should work on that. She felt that him telling me to get him a drink was being refreshingly playful, something she would personally appreciate. She didn’t acknowledge that his behavior was unusual, and didn’t seem interested in hearing more details or taking my concerns seriously. She said maybe I was too sensitive for him but she didn’t seem to have any problem with the things he said.

I was so surprised by her reaction that I started to doubt my own feelings. Maybe I was too sensitive and there was really nothing wrong with him. So I would try again. Maybe I can get used to the way he speaks like I have with other people when I get to know them, and if not, so I’ll end it. From this point and on, my parents were basically divided about this, (my father thought I should end it and my mother wasn’t sure.)

I went out some more and again, I had fun, it was interesting, but there was always at least one or two things that he said on the date that troubled me. It actually felt a little verbally abusive. We’d make a little progress but it would be 2 steps forward and then 3 steps back.

I didn’t feel comfortable or feel that I could trust him. On the other hand, there was a lot I could appreciate and respect, which is something that usually deteriorates as I continue going out with guys. But I was feeling that time was going by and we weren’t getting anywhere. Around this time, I was a tutor in a kiruv program for girls. So I took advantage of some of the frum staff that was there. After speaking with the younger less experienced one, she didn’t like what she was hearing, she asked me if he was kind and caring and when I couldn’t answer “yes”, that clinched it for her. And I was very ready to take her advice. But then when I spoke to an older person who was much more experienced with giving advice to girls about shidduchim, she encouraged it. She said guys are very immature, especially when in yeshiva and older, and that he is an unfinished product. She also gave me an excellent piece of advice. She said I should speak to a rebbe who knows him well and speaks with him about his shidduchim. She felt it would be a good idea especially at this time, that a rebbe could give very valuable information and shed some light on things. After that, I went out once more and there was something he said that was extremely disrespectful and not tsniusdik, and I told him so. His reaction was the same as usual when I let him know something he said bothered me, which was to laugh. (Letting him know something bothered me didn’t stop him from repeating the behavior soon after.) After that date, I told him I would need a number of a rebbe he speaks to about shidduchim, and he gave me the number of a rav from one of his yeshivas in Eretz Yisroel. This rebbe spent a half-hour on the phone with me, telling me he could tell this guy likes me more than the others and that he has a problem with dating but that he was a really good boy and would make a wonderful husband. He urged me to help him get through his problem.

What this rav said definitely put his puzzling behavior into focus for me but I still didn’t want to go out with him again. (I didn’t exactly relish the idea or consider it normal to become the guy’s therapist and take such a chance with a guy who treated me this way.) Finally my mother spoke to our rav. He didn’t even have a chance to hear about some of the craziness, because after hearing how long we were going out he felt strongly that I should end it. And I did. The day after I ended it, the shadchan called asking me to reconsider because the boy had called her and was very upset. I have to say that being conscious of shmiras halashon particularly with shidduchim made things extremely difficult. She wouldn’t let me off the hook, and wanted detailed explanations. Then when I finally gave into the pressure a little, she said we probably shouldn’t speak lashon hara, and I agreed,but she refused to give up on this shidduch. She called again about 5 or 6 times during the following months. I kept insisting that it’s over each time, but she wouldn’t let it go. She would call my mother and try to convince her how nice he is. This past summer after I came back from Neve, I received a call from my cousin’s wife on the boy’s behalf, trying to convince me to go out again. As if that wasn’t embarrassing and annoying enough, right after that he had the wife of a good friend of his call my mother. This wife grew up on my block She likes him a lot, said he eats by her all the time and she feels he’s such a good person etc. My mother became convinced that maybe I SHOULD reconsider and go out again. She couldn’t understand that even if he’s very interested, it won’t change his behavior, no matter how many times I tried to explain it to her. (I also argued that people don’t just change so easily with such problems.) This unfortunately created a lot of stress and arguing. I can’t totally blame her, it’s not a normal way to behave. (And she is emotionally involved in getting me married.) This kind of thing is hard to believe or understand unless one has personally experienced it. When our former neighbor started calling it made matters worse, since we know her and she was pretty convincing with my mother. I’m convinced that he acts like a really nice good solid person when he’s not on a date. I’m only grateful that Hashem spared me from getting engaged or Chas V’shalom married before becoming aware of this serious problem.

After several more calls from his friend’s wife and the shadchan, my mother mentioned that he said he was sorry for things he shouldn’t have said. This was the first apology I ever heard from him. But I still wouldn’t consider it. However, I was so sick of this constant calling and pressuring, I figured maybe there’s a reason I’m constantly harassed about this. Maybe there’s some unfinished business that I didn’t take care of. So I made an appointment with a woman who I trust who’s shiurim I’ve been going to this year. I felt she got to know me a bit and she might have some ideas.

I spent 2 hours describing everything, and at the end of it she told me she thinks I should try going out with him again. I could tell she really seemed to understand, she acknowledged the strange behaviors but felt there might be something to work with. I figured at this point that it can’t hurt to go out on one or two dates and see if anything changed. At least then he won’t harass me anymore. So we went out and he acted even more crazy than before! I think his problem has become worse, if anything.

This time, he didn’t even hide his issues from the shadchan. After it was over the shadchan told me he left some crazy message on her machine, complaining about some stupid thing about me and claiming that I was responsible for what happened. She finally decided that she’s not setting him up anymore. His friend’s wife spoke to my mother after that, and she said the same thing. From what he said to her, she realized he had sabotaged things. She told my mother she felt bad that I had to go through all of that. Also, the mentor I had spoken to told me she felt bad for advising me the way she had. She had spoken to someone else about this recently and that woman had said these problems tend to repeat themselves. The main reason I wrote you about this is that I think it’s crucial that girls, especially younger ones, be made aware that while it’s very important to speak with people for aitzah about their shidduchim, they MUST trust their own instincts. Shidduchim can be VERY confusing, and during this vulnerable time, people’s well-meaning opinions and pushing have a way of messing with your brain. Ignoring your own feelings can sometimes be dangerous. Even if the mentor knows you extremely well, they can’t possibly have a complete picture of what is going on during the dates. Only the person going out does. Also, dating is a very individual thing, it’s important for the person and the mentor to remember that every feeling is valid and should be taken seriously. It’s also important to articulate specifically what is making you uncomfortable about the person and perhaps if the feeling persists to make notes of these things after each date while the details are fresh in your mind. I’m not saying it’s not important to ask aitzah, or that people shouldn’t pay attention to pushing. I can think of at least 2 examples of girls who needed to be pushed and they are B’H very happy. On the other hand, I can think of at least 2 examples of girls who were pushed and ended up with very messy divorces. Interestingly, the girls who were pushed and are happy were 25 and 35, and the girls who were pushed and got divorced were both 19. But I think a girl’s personality plays a role as well. Another reason I wrote about this parsha is because it brought up something that I think everyone in shidduchim struggles with, and that is Shmiras Halashon. It’s a very tough thing to know how to deal with the sensitive issues that come up. Before a shidduch, but especially during a parsha. Many people in shidduchim, shadchanim and others involved aren’t knowledgeable about halachos of shmiras halashon, which makes it that much tougher. (For example, through my own shaalos I’ve discovered that the only time a person can say anything at all negative about a person they went out with to a shadchan is if they are convinced that anyone this person marries will end up getting divorced. As a rav said to me, if Hashem makes one like that, he can make another! ) I think it would be a great subject for discussion on JemSem.

Thanks so much for reading this… I know it’s lengthy, but it is such an important topic.

Kol Tuv,
Name and Seminary withheld

Dear JemSem Reader,

WOW!!!!!!! A frightening situation indeed. Thanks so much for sharing it, there’s alot here to learn from.

Much of what I would say, you summed up beautifully in the paragraph ” The main reason I wrote you”.

It is very good that you did seek out advice from people, a person can’t do it alone, but what is interesting in this case is that you really did ask several qualified people and they came up with different answers. At the end of the day, they are not on the dates with you and may misinterpret information. It doesn’t mean not to ask but one must give over info as clearly as possible. It is also very important to have some time in between the dates to have time to process what is really going on – Think!!!!

Most importantly – trust yourself and your own gut feelings. Do aspects of the date leave you with a ‘choking feeling’ or a knot in your stomach? Is something going on that is making you uncomfortable? Do you feel safe to be able to bring it up? When you are having a discussion, do you feel validated or put down? Is he hearing you? If you do have a feeling of discomfort- how often does it come up? Analyze this feeling – are there patterns? If there was conflict between the 2 of you [which certainly is normal at times], how did the conflict feel? How did he react to your not agreeing? How was it resolved? Did you feel safe? A woman’s home is supposed to be THE safest place for her.

You mentioned that you were pulled in 2 different directions – on the one hand you didn’t feel comfortable or feel that you could trust him, but you did respect him in certain ways. Yes, it can be very confusing! But, the 1st sentence here is a bit of a red flag to me. If after several dates and the natural process of opening up and trust can truly begin to take root – and you have feelings of discomfort .. well, that certainly needs to be figured out. By talking it out with that mentor or 2, thinking things through on your own and looking for patterns.

You can take an active role in the dating and decision making process! There’s not any ONE thing that will necessarily tip you off, again you are looking for patterns, and also really trying to get in touch with your inner self – about how he makes you feel. Communication plays a big role in dating [and in marriage for that matter!] and there are of course many times when there is a misunderstanding and he didn’t mean what you thought, and you totally took it in the wrong way – or you misinterpreted his reasoning for doing something etc. That is why over a bit of time you can see if certain things repeat themselves.

There a many types of abusive patterns and some may be quite subtle. It would be nice if we could say it doesn’t exist in the frum world – but we can’t say that. If anyone is going through a situation and wants a great listening ear, advice or perhaps to be put intouch with a counselor, therapist, or Rav, The Shalom Taskforce Hotline is the place to call. 1888-883-2323 or in the NY area 718-337-3700.

As far as the Lashon Horah aspect in shiddchim- we will try to do a future column on Jemsem.

Hashem should allow to you find your bashert Zman B’karov and I hope he will be a caring, sensitive and warm Ben Torah.

With Warmest Wishes,