QUESTION: What should girls look for in a shidduch?
We live in a society that doesn't lack Torah institutions. A
high value is placed on Torah learning. There is no question
that Torah learning is a must for a bayis ne'eman. So
when I ask what the girls are looking for, I'm not surprised
that they answer: hasmodo -- diligence and yiras
The fathers very carefully check the candidate's dedication
to study, through inquiries made from roshei yeshiva and
mashgichim. Has he attended good yeshivos? Is he a
masmid? Is he regular and punctual in keeping to the
study times? Is he focused on the learning? Is he bright?
Sometimes the prospective father-in-law will even test the
candidate or engage him in learning.
What about good character traits? Some people who come to me
for shidduchim don't even mention it. Perhaps they
imagine that diligence goes together with good character. Is
this true? What do gedolim say about this?
A Torah scholar once went to talk-in-learning with the
Steipler. Incidentally, he mentioned that his granddaughter
was beginning shidduchim. What, he asked, should he
look for in a chosson? The Steipler answered that
three qualities are essential: diligence in study, clear
straightforward thinking and good character traits.
"But if he is so dedicated to learning, doesn't that imply
that he has a good character?"
The Steipler replied, "What's the definition of an
industrious student? He's been in yeshiva for years. Is
sitting by the stender and the gemora any
indication of a capacity for sholom bayis? They don't
require anything from him. Never did the stender ask
for help with the dishes, or to throw out the garbage, buy
groceries or run errands...
"The stender never looked at him with a sour face or
was in a bad mood. It never requested (or needed) to be
spoken to in a sweet, understanding and comforting way,
expressing consideration. It was never sick, never needed any
care. And all of a sudden, this student has to begin sharing
an apartment with a woman with whom all of the above could
happen. That certainly requires good middos, for the
great dedication to learning won't prepare him for the
But the visiting rabbi had a logical question: "Doesn't Torah
learning refine a person's character?"
Again, with the characteristic wisdom of a godol, the
answer was to the point. "Learning Torah doesn't make the
person good if he doesn't work on himself, check himself and
make a reckoning of his spiritual level. He must toil at
changing and breaking his very nature, desires and impulses
in order to become a man of good character."
In fact, the Chazon Ish said that to have bad traits is quite
easy. In Emuna u'Vitochon, Chapter 4, he asks, "What
would a person who wishes to excel in bad traits do?
Absolutely nothing! Nature takes its course. We all have an
evil inclination and if we don't work on ourselves, it will
I heard from an outstanding Rov that a talmid chochom
is not necessarily one who has covered a great many pages of
gemora nor one who produces quality novellae. That
title is only befitting those who understand and internalize
the information learned and integrate it into one's own
nature. In other words, Torah is not a theoretical,
intellectual exercise but a way of life.
We all know that although roshei yeshiva and gedolim
devote more time to their study, they will also make time for
their wives and children and they are concerned and involved
with their families. Moreover, they also find time to teach
and help whoever seeks them.
A wise rebbetzin with many years of experience in
counseling maintains that not every masmid is a
baal midos. But if the wife really builds up and
respects the value of her husband's learning, she might be
successful in helping a baal midos become a
I personally know a baal tshuva couple who met when
the husband's level of learning was very basic, but with her
help and encouragement, he became a very respected scholar
Someone told me that she was looking for someone who would
become a rosh yeshiva. No one is a finished product but if he
has potential and the wife helps him to keep growing, he will
When teaching avreichim, R' Ganz often brings
suggestions on how husbands can be menschen. For
example, when teaching about lighting candles, he suggests
that the husband prepare a refreshing (hot/cold) drink before
he leaves the house since that can help the wife relax after
a long day of preparations for Shabbos. A mensch can
be defined as someone who is thoughtful, considerate, caring,
In conclusion, while it is important that girls strive to
find a mate who is a Torah scholar, emphasis should also be
placed on his midos. Only through fine character
traits can a young man succeed in being a good husband and
Rebbetzin Travis is married to a Rosh Kollel who has
authored many seforim. She has many years of
experience and success in helping people through
shidduchim. Any questions, comments, etc. can be sent
to: travisdn@barak- online.net or at 02-656-3111.