Tishrei 5767 – Weighty Matters – Part II

Erev Rosh Hashana 5767
Weighty Matters: Part II

In the Elul article we spoke about this issue from the angle of health and hashkafa. Now we will deal with it concerning dating. I also received a letter that I will take several excerpts from which will address some topics that I would like to discuss. Here is the original question:

Dear Chana,

I am twenty years old and I was thinking of starting to date. I was appalled when numerous people informed me that I shouldn’t bother because I am somewhat overweight. I was told that guys have so many options in dating that they automatically discard anyone who is heavy. I find this quite disturbing. Is it true that all guys are so totally into a girls looks and weight? Should I really put off dating until I fit into the standards of society? [pun intended!]

Dear JemSem Reader,

In the last article we looked at being overweight from a health and hashkafa perspective. V’nishmartem me’od l’nafshosechem obligates us to take care of our bodies and do the best we can to maintain health. This is the starting point.

As far as dating goes, I think that there are some questions that need to be asked. What types of hishtadlus does a young woman need to make?

* Does she need to have a direction for her life?

* Does she need to get proper training in hashkafa and halacha?

* Does she need to work on herself and refine and hone those middos that are a bit rough around the edges?

* What about her physical appearance – is that part of her hishtadlus?

* Does she need to get nice dating clothes and experiment with makeup and hairstyles to help her make a presentable impression?

* Is fitting in with what young men find attractive part of her hishtadlus?

I would say yes to all of these question. I see all of these things as multi- faceted aspects of hishtadlus. It is interesting to note that the Talmud [Kiddushin 41a] obligates a man to meet his wife before marriage to make sure she is attractive in his eyes – based on the pasuk “V’ahavta L’rayacha Kmocha”. We see that Chazal appreciated that physical attraction is a natural glue for a marriage.

Looks and weight are certainly things that young men take into consideration. Whatever the reasons are, this is the reality. It is important in marriage that the couple be attracted to one another, and it is no secret that being physically fit can contribute to this.

Does this mean that girls who are on the heavy side should go on an unhealthy crash diet, starve themselves, throw up or exercise six hours a day? No, of course not! Everything must always be kept in a balance. That means perhaps seeing a nutritionist, going on a healthy diet and exercising regularly. Keeping in mind that first and foremost this is an issue of health and hashkafa and realizing that this can help you in the dating process and for life, a young woman should do something about it.

A reader raises several questions:

Why is it that yeshiva guys are looking for ‘trophy’ wives? They want the whole package: frum, spiritual, thin. beautiful, stylish, put together, fine middos, great personality, excellent mother and homemaker. How many women naturally fit this description?

I agree with you that some guys seem to have taken this too far. Sometimes the picture of what their wife should look like and be like comes from unhealthy places. When a boy goes out on a date, many of them are wrapped up in their dimyon. The Mashgichim in yeshivas truly have their work cut out for them! You should know that Rabbaim do try to deal with these issues and try to ease them into more of a balance and reality.

What about those girls who do fit that thin type because they somehow balance their exercise and eating. Do they really take time to build relationships with Hashem? Or do they think of more ways to enhance their appearance? How much time a day does a woman have to devote to Hashem if she is doing her hair, makeup, nails, toes, facials, tanning, waxing, laser, gym hours, shopping for that ‘stylish’ outfit, preparing diet meals, etc” What should be more emphasized in a person for a relationship, the external appearance or the internal personality and spirituality?

At the end of the day enhancing our relationship with Hashem is what matters most. But I do think that there is room for both in a life and in a relationship. Why must they be mutually exclusive? Why can’t a person find the proper balance in a day to devote to health and the physical as well as working on their avodas Hashem, yiras shamayim and middos? Yes, a woman can go overboard with the glorification of the body and many women do, as per your examples. But in hashkafa a woman is a mix of the physical and the spiritual, she is supposed to express in the world, but the trick of this is learning to make that expression in ways that can be connected to the spiritual. Not physical just for physical. A prime example of this idea is that it is a fine thing that a woman should look her best for her husband for a variety of reasons. By doing so she can add to the shalom bayis of her home. With all of these ideas, as in all things there has to be a balance a harmony. Our emphasis should be reaching for the ruchniyus by using the gashmiyus, after all, we as well as olam hazeh are a mixture of both.

In answer to your question about ‘all guys’ – no, not every boy is looking for a very thin girl, just like with everything, there are different things that appeal to different people, and not everyone has the same tastes. As this same reader points out:

I know of two girls who were very overweight and were told not to bother dating until they lost weight. They still went to shadchanim and asked others to set them up. They got a few dates. They also both lost some weight during that time. They didn’t become a size 6, and some might still have categorized them as being somewhat heavy. One found her bashert at 20 and the other at 21.

So while you are working on your health and weight and making a hishtadlus in all the areas that we have discussed, you can date, for as we see from this story there are girls of all sizes who do get engaged. Aside from all this discussion of weight, believe it or not there are alot of boys out there that truly find shining middos and yiras shamayim quite appealing! Many say that the most beautiful feature in a woman is her simchas hachaim.

Don’t forget that there is a G-d in this world and shidduchim are in His hands. 90% of hishtadlus is tefillah and all of the above is the remaining 10%.

Thanks for bringing up a touchy and tricky matter. I’m glad we were able to speak about it.

With Warmest Wishes,

P.S. If anyone has any comments or opinions about this or anything else, JemSem welcomes your input!!!!

K’siva V’chasima Tova to all of our readership. We wish you a year and a lifetime of health, endless brachos, arichus yamim v’shanim, and that kol mishalos leibchem should be fulfilled l’tova.