A Chassidic Princess Kate?

A Chassidic Princess Kate?

I went to the Belzer chuppah, but I couldn’t see the bride because she was covered with a thick white veil.

And then I went to the women’s celebration at Binyanei Hauma, but the chuppah had started late, so even when I left at 11:30 PM the bride still hadn’t arrived.

I was so disappointed…I desperately wanted to get a peek at the Kate Middleton of the Chassidic world. The “commoner” Belzer girl from a distinguished but not rebbishe family who had landed the shidduch of the generation and was marrying Chassidic royalty–the Belzer Rebbe-to-be, R. Shalom Rokeach.

So I was pretty psyched when a Belzer buddy offered to send me some photos of the kallah. But when I opened up her Email and finally saw some photos of the bride, I was surprised by what I saw.

Chana Basya Panat is a pretty young woman, but she is not a Jewish Princess Kate.
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Eight years ago I volunteered as a matchmaker for Saw You At Sinai (afterwards I actually wrote an article about what a pitiful failure of a shadchanit I had been called “The Bad Matchmaker.”)

The most infuriating conversation I had that year was with a yeshiva student in his late twenties. He was trying to describe what traits he was looking for in a spouse, and he explained:

“She’s got to be thin.”

“How thin?” I asked, mentally running through my rolodex of potential brides.

“I want to marry somebody who is the kind of thin that she could walk on a beach in a bathing suit, and she would look good. That kind of thin.”

Major yuck.

But the truth is that even though this guy expressed himself in a far more crass way than any other single guy I’ve ever encountered, over the course of that whole year of intense matchmaking I only met one guy who wasn’t obsessed with two things: very thin and very pretty and very pretty and very thin.
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So this morning I called a friend who is the niece of an important rebbe and married the grandson of another important rebbe to get the inside scoop on how Basya Chana Panat was chosen as a bride.

And she explained to me that in these circles, in general the groom’s parents are looking for a “top, top girl.” That means a young woman who is extremely refined with excellent character traits. A young woman who is modest and kind-hearted. A young woman who is able to let her esteemed husband take the lead, and who will enable him to pursue a life dedicated to serving Hashem and his community.

“When my mother-in-law is looking for a bride for one of her sons,” she said, “prettiness isn’t part of the equation. It’s just considered an added benefit. If a girl is everything on my mother-in-law’s list, and character traits are definitely at the top of her list, unless a girl is very ugly or obese or something extreme, then the physical traits are not so important.”
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Isn’t that amazing?

Every Friday night we frum Jews sing, “Charm is deceptive and beauty is vain, but a woman who fears God shall be praised.”

What a pleasant surprise to discover a group of Jews who don’t only sing these words; they live them.

Related posts:

Bless this Broken Road: Coping with Miscarriage by Sarah Bracha Davidson
Eva Sandler, 3 Months Later
Remembering Frida Mizrahi z"l

47 comments

  1. I dabble in shidduchim here and there, and I agree wholeheartedly with you. The guys only want two things, everything else is a bonus. In your articles it seems the reverse is true in the chassidish world. So glad to hear that. This is why there is no shidduch crisis in the chassidish world. ( Well – par tof the reason)

    • with the greatest respect to one and all, i think it is wildly unrealistic to expect men because of their religious affiliation to place little or no importance on a potential wife’s physical appearance given the fact that the role of “wife” comes with an important sexual component within a Torah marriage.

      as someone who has Baruch H-shem married off long-term-learner sons, i frequently encountered such head-in-the-clouds
      thinking from many well intended women redting ideas for my sons.

      my goal was to do everything i could to make sure my sons would remain happily married over many decades. consequently, the physical appearance of a potential wife played a significant part in my search for a bride for both of them, as did intelligence, personality compatibility, middos, shared priorities, etc. my goal wasn’t simply to see to it that they got married to someone i liked, or thought highly of.

      you are not doing anyone any favors by perpetuating the delusion that physical appearance in a Torah marriage is totally irrelevant. and, that it’s somehow “holier” “more spiritual” and “better” to completely ignore the role physical attraction & chemistry play in a happy, fulfilled Torah marriage.

      wake up ladies! men are men regardless of the fact that they may also be chassidishe, yeshivishe, litvishe or whatever variation of Torah yidden.

      there are gender differences that you are marginalizing and condemning at your own and other’s peril.

      PS- just for the record there is a very real shidduch crisis within the chassidishe world and it’s the boys that are having a rough go of it finding wives.

      • The point is that what is considered attractive is determined by society, it’s not absolute. There are societies that consider fuller women more attractive. In some societies, paleness is attractive, while in others, a “healthy tan” is preferred. So the fact that a yeshivish boy is interested in women based on the standards determined by secular society shows the measure of his exposure to that society.

        Finding a spouse has always had an element of status involved, and the fact that the status of a wife is determined by her looks (Western value) as opposed to her middos, lineage or level of observance also shows that a boy has adopted secular society’s value system.

        The more insular chassidishe world provides extra barriers to keep out secular society’s influences. A bochur safely ensconced inside that society will consider his wife attractive even if secular society does not.

        • yes, historically speaking, environment definitely influences ideas about what is beautiful. no one, not even highly insular chassidishe courts or remote Fiji-islanders for that matter, are totally immune to it.

          therefore, i take issue with the argument that quote “a bochur safely ensconced inside that society [chassidishe society] will consider his wife attractive even if secular society does not”.

          in my experience this is simply not true today. the chassidishe sub culture is finding it more and more difficult to keep out secular society’s influences.

          hence the series of asifas within chassidishe courts to address the growing problem of men being ensnared by technologically delivered porn.

          that having been said, there is truth in the aphorism “beauty is in the eye of the beholder”.

          people possess individualized notions about what is beautiful to them, irrespective of what is their society’s current reigning standard of beauty.

          and, that individualized internalized standard of beauty, irrespective of where it may have originated from, is much more absolute.

          which is why i am suggesting that instead of coming from a condemnatory place of quote “MAJOR YUCK”, castigating Torah-dik men as quote “shallow” and quote “having adopted secular society’s value system” because they want a pretty wife, or a thin wife, or a redheaded wife etc, it’s a kinder and more pragmatic approach to acknowledge and try to accommodate those individualized preferences that are hugely important to those men in order to feel loved and fulfilled as a man.

  2. Gail Lobel Rand

    And that, my friends, is probably the major reason why there is no “shidduch crisis” in the Chasidic community.

    • fyi: there is a large and growing shidduch crises in chassidishe communities. there are proportionately more single older boys than girls.

      in the non-chassidishe velt the large and growing shidduch crisis involves proportionately more single older girls

  3. kudos to you Chana Jenny for finding this one

    you find the most fantastic, eye-opening material for us to read

    THANK YOU

  4. Shulamis

    Can we see some more pictures of the girl with good middos?

    • JewishMom

      I would love to post the photos, but I think this kallah is a very modest person who probably wouldn’t feel comfortable with having her photo on the internet. Sorry…

  5. Kol kevuda bas melech pnima

    all that is honorable of a daughter of the king is within

    you can’t “see” good midos, but you can learn to recognize them when you meet them…

    if we raise our children to recognize and cherish good midos above physical traits, then our children will not grow up to be obsessed with “pretty and thin”

    as we encounter people, we can verbally praise their midos to our children. If we focus on describing only external traits, then our children will not learn to “see” good midos, but will become obsessed with the physical attributes of people they meet.

    my grandmother would describe her large and wonderful family to me. she spoke about their goodness, generosity, their kindness, their sense of humor. As an adolescent, i finally saw a photo taken of my grandmother’s family. I was surprised that they seemed “ordinary-looking”. my grandmother said, ” plain-looking? i think they are beautiful–mishpachat hayafim”

    from this i learned that having good midos is more important than having good looks.
    we are all capable of raising children who have the right priorities.

    • kweansmom

      Well said!

      Raising your kids right is everything.

      Amazing that the same people who decry the internet for peddling porn also think it’s okay to enable their children’s desires for surgically-enhanced Barbie Dolls because after all, how can we possibly counter the values taught by pornography?

      • faith in the power of chinuch is misplaced when it comes to the belief that it will prevent boys from being male.

        quote “raising your kids right” with quote “the right priorities” is not everything, because parents are not the only ones who are m’chanuch boys.

        yeshivos provide institutional chinuch to boys. and, yeshivos—including chassidishe yeshivos— do not inculcate boys with the “beautiful- middos- trump- physical-attractiveness” ideology touted on this blog.

        roshei yeshivos and rebbeim, who are men, are far more realistic than the ladies of this blog about what males need in marriage(hint: it’s not simply beautiful middos).

        every male has a need to have a wife who is physically attractive to him.

        what is physically attractive in the eyes of one male may repel another male. it is a highly subjective, personal matter in the final analysis. not a consequence of chinuch. and, not a consequence of how much or how little secular society exposure there has been either.

        therefore, no amount of well intentioned head-in -the-clouds mothers’ chinuch about beautiful middos is going to eradicate male-ness.

        moreover, it will not have more lasting impact than the down-to-earth gemara and halacha based chinuch that boys receive daily from their rebbeim and roshei yeshivos.

        bottom line: boys will never marry heavy girls with beautiful middos if they are physically repelled by excessive body weight. it isnt in their male nature to do so. and, it isnt encouraged by their chinuch given via the yeshivos.

        that the grandson of the belzer rebbe married his non-princess kate plus size kallah for her beautiful middos because of the chinuch he received is an erroneous assumption.

        since he comes from a family of large people (and a chassidus known for it’s large people) it is more realistic to conclude that his plus-size kallah is physically attractive to him.

        • I come from Belzer’s. You just explained a lot for me…had no idea they were larger. I had heard Gerrer chassidim are very large stature.

  6. Rachel Aviner

    I’m also reallllllly curious what she looks like 🙂 Can you post some photos?

  7. And wilth this said it is still difficult to make Shidduchim for girls who are not thin…And many other Shachaniot agree with me on that..

  8. thank you Chana Jenny, for once again showing us where the emes (truth) is!
    but in this world where the “tarbout Zara” ie the foreign culture is everywhere and especially in our homes we have to struggle!

  9. i would add by the way that the fashion even in the religious world is somewhat contributing to the issue, when you meet “barbie- sheitl” the wig with long blond hair!!
    you showed us that the hassidic world is looking for autenticity far away from the goyish culture of beauty

  10. Mrs Belogski

    The Belz wedding attracted a lot of media attention even in the UK with the Daily Mail (a rather sensationalist tabloid paper) running a large report with lots of photos. The kallah was veiled in all of them, and in the video clips I found on YouTube. I have seen one photo of her without the veil and she is, as Chana Jenny says, a normal pleasant looking young girl. I think, if I had all those thousands of people looking at me, I’d also wear a veil! Worse still than asking if the girl is thin in shidduchim, is asking, as people apparently do, if her mother is thin! To be fair to Kate Middleton though, I think she is more than just a pretty face and a thin clothes horse – she seems to be a genuinely nice person too.

  11. Another great one, Chana Jenny- thanks so much.
    We have had many experiences with some great guys and many not all, say great personality, attractive and outgoing. Maybe its because we live in the Midwest, the guys here are more down to earth and there are no beaches…LOL

  12. Great piece. I couldn’t agree more. Ironically, this superficial value comes from the secular world, and has taken over the frum world to an unhealthy degree. I’ve found that in less frum circles, there are certain guys who are less obsessed with looks, and focus more on personality.

  13. Chaya Rivka Carasso

    My grandson was married in the Belz shul last Tevet to a Belz girl. During the dancing, the Belzer Rebbetzin appeared. She looked queenly in a high velvet hat. She walked forward and a hush came over the women’s section. We all were mesmorized. I walked towards her, a little in a daze and she took my hand and gave me a smile. I greeted her and then said that I was the savta of the chasan.

    The next night we davened in the Belz women’s section and the Belzer Rebbetzin was there sitting among the women. After davening, I moved towards her and she remarked “The savta of the chasan.”

    The Rebbetzin must meet thousands of people and attend hundreds of wedding, at least come for a few moments to each. I was amazed how she remembered and smiled as if I was very dear to her.

    Certainly this ability to love another Jew and greet her with such incredible warmth is more important than superficial beauty, being slim, and other socially accepted standards.

    I am sure they picked the future Rebbetzin for qualities we cannot see at the moment, but that will blossom very soon for all to be blessed by.

    Thank you,

    Chaya Rivka

  14. What a great article, Chana Jenny!
    A refreshing insight into the chassidish way of match-making.

  15. Menucha Chana Levin

    Fascinating article and I especially enjoyed your conclusion:

    Every Friday night we frum Jews sing, “Charm is deceptive and beauty is vain, but a woman who fears God shall be praised.”
    What a pleasant surprise to discover a group of Jews who don’t only sing these words; they live them.

  16. ok i’m obsessed
    i MUST see this girl’s face

  17. Hadassah

    I would never had made any sort of connection between Kate and the Belzer Kallah. But then again, I was not exposed to any media other than your article about the Chasunah. I am sure this particular kallah is not thrilled to be having all this media attention focused on her.
    What I have found is that a person’s midos shine through their face and eyes bringing Chein to their features. This has nothing to do with dress size or figure. The qualities for a future Rebbetzin of such a large Chassidic group have to be more than skin deep.
    Any husband has to feel proud of his wife, and happy to be her husband. That doesn’t mean that women all have to be magazine model thin. “Beauty is in the eyes of the beholder.” I see many brides have an uncanny resemblance to either sisters or the mother of the groom, maybe since this is what feels like family!

  18. oh, and there’s one more thing that ought to be squared up to when it comes to Torah-dik men lest you continue to labor under the delusion that physical attraction & chemistry “shouldn’t” play any part in frum dating and marriage: porn.

    that’s right, ladies. technology has provided many unsatisfied married Torah-dik men (and unmarried Torah-dik men) with very easy access to porn. and, it’s a big problem.

    can all of you really be unaware of the fact that here in the USA there have been several asifahs in the past two years devoted to this problem within chassidishe communities, in addition to separate asifas geared towards this problem within the yeshivishe, litvishe and modern orthodox communities??

    it’s not “holier”, “more spiritual”, “better”, or more authentically Torahdik— and it’s certainly not kind or rational either— to delegitimize the role of physical attraction & chemistry in a Torah-dik marriage. in point of fact it’s simply foolhardy and dangerous in today’s world when there are so many easily accessible distractions available.

    have none of you ever seen the borderline porn images on billboards, buses, taxis, and bus stops?? or, on the magazine covers at check-out registers everywhere?? or, in the ads on the margins of many websites??

    this is the world we live in, ladies. and, i guarantee you even very Torah-dik men who are extremely makpid on shmiras einayim can’t help but see these images which affect them in ways that do not affect us as women. it’s everywhere.

    it behooves us as Torah-dik women to get our heads out of the clouds and deal with reality as it is (not as we would prefer it to be).

    ladies, keep yourselves physically attractive for your husbands, and keep the spark of physical chemistry alive in your marriage. don’t rely exclusively on your “beautiful middos” to keep your marriage intact and humming along.

    and, instead of condemning him, endorse your son’s realism as well as honesty. be supportive and understanding when he expresses his unwillingness to date and marry a girl for her “beautiful middos” when he doesn’t find the girl to be physically attractive and/or feels no chemistry with her. your Torah-dik son, and other women’s Torah-dik sons too, are looking for a wife, not a female roommate.

    sholem bayis problems and divorce are growing in all Torah-dik communities, including chassidishe communities. and, the numerous asifas have made it only too clear that the numbers of Torah-dik men from all communities becoming ensnared by inappropriate images, especially in the technological context, is growing too.

    please be still and sit with this awhile.

    • Sharona

      Nobody is saying that a man shouldn’t be attracted to the woman he is going to marry. It is essential. It’s almost an obvious thing that doesn’t need to be said.
      But if the top priority on a guy’s list is that he be attracted to her, then he is being too shallow. How long does he think he will stay atracted to her, if they don’t share life goals and values.

      Another point that should be obvious is that what one guy thinks is attractive, another guy will think is not. I once saw a young kallah who was indeed glowing, but I didn’t think she was exactly pretty. The mother of the chosson told me that her son says she’s beautiful.
      So when a shidduch comes up, can’t a guy just meet the girl and decide on his own if she’s pretty and thin, or not.

      • there’s a thought provoking book called “His Needs, Her Needs” that has an interesting thesis: men and women have a hierarchy of needs that they’re looking to have met in marriage. it’s sold 3 million copies, and is not your average “you-need-to-engage-in-active-listening” psycho-babble relationship book.

        men’s top 5 needs are:
        1. sexual fulfillment
        2. recreational companionship/ playmate – engaging in activities together
        3. an attractive spouse
        4. peace and quiet /domestic support/ tranquil home
        5. admiration from wife
        (for purposes of this discussion i am omitting women’s top 5 needs.)

        like all relationship books, it necessarily generalises about MOST men and MOST women, and the author advocates discovering your personal hierarchy of top five from his basic list, and ensuring you get them met.

        notice that “loved” is missing here from the male list (it’s missing from the female list too). that’s because the author’s thesis is that the hierarchy of needs are the different ways in which each gender experiences the feeling of being loved. men experience feeling loved in very different ways than women do.

        and, “sexual fulfillment” is at the top of masculine needs in terms of feeling loved. a man who feels sexually deprived, unfulfilled, or rejected will feel deprived, unfulfilled and rejected—missing love— as a man.

        feeling physically attracted to one’s wife is a huge part of sexual fulfillment for a man so i initially thought it redundant that “an attractive spouse” was a separate category, until i understood that it reflects not just the reality of male thoughts on a wife looking attractive to him, but the importance of her bothering to look attractive for him, and her reflecting on him in terms of her appearance since men judge themselves against other men and feel proud when their wife is physically attractive.

        so to blithely dismiss a Torah-dik male’s legitimate love need for an attractive wife (thin, pretty, blonde/brunette/redhead whatever) as quote “too shallow” or quote “MAJOR YUCK” borders on denying the reality of love for the opposite gender.

        attraction and appearance are huge priorities for guys. “prettiness” is a huge part of the feeling- loved equation for men. men are not women, they are men!

        additionally, i would like to point out for the record that shlomo ha melech wrote the words of aishes chayil that we sing on friday night.

        he was someone who chazal tell us had more than a thousand wives, many of whom he married for their beauty, a fact that ought to expose the myth of the quote “goyish culture of beauty”, as well as for their political significance.

        ladies, please notice that shlomo ha melech didn’t marry for “beautiful middos” across the board, or “yiras shomayim” for that matter either. he had over a thousand wives to meet his needs so he had the luxury of extolling these qualities as priorities.

        it’s much more difficult for a Torah-dik man with only one wife to reach the same conclusion as shlomo ha melech (with his thousand plus wives) about the superiority of these virtues when his needs in order to feel loved aren’t being addressed let alone being met.

        think about it ladies: our Torah-dik husbands and sons will only be able to have their love needs met by one woman. in this context it is cruel to de-legitimize how important their one wife’s physical attraction is to them.

        make an effort to be attractive to your husband. consider your son’s need(or another woman’s son’s need)and seek a girl who will find favor in his eyes, not yours.

        as to the subject of redting shidduchim, it’s a complete waste of everyone’s time to set a boy and girl up if you know in advance that the boy is seeking a different look.

        boys burn up time and money on these “no shikus” dates. and, girls waste emotional energy preparing and enduring these “no shikus” dates.

        it’s a lose/lose for everyone except the well intended shadchaneste who thinks she’s doing a big mitzvah by pressuring people into “no shikus” dates, hoping quixotically that lightening will somehow strike in the “no shikus” stike zone.

        • zahava miryam

          yes, shlomo hamelech had over a thousand wives. and look where that got him. he wrote shir hashirim to atone for the 3 sins that he committed, one of which was the violation of the torah’s restrictions on the amount of wives a king could have. each violation is punishable by 39 lashes so he composed shir hashirim to atone for those transgressions. he married his wives for their beauty, not their middot. major mistake on his part. when are people going to learn that beauty is in the eye of the beholder? so long as jews focus on the materialism of the world and the constant need for physicality, and not the torah’s values, there will continue to be a so-called shidduch crisis.

          • with all due respect, i think you are missing the point here.

            batsheva, shlomo hamelech’s mother, undoubtedly provided him with a superior chinuch, inculcating him with the Torah’s values.

            additionally, shlomo hamelech was the wisest man of all time.

            yet, despite his chinuch, despite his wisdom, despite the heavy price he knew in advance he would pay for multiplying wives, shlomo hamelech married for physical attraction hundreds of times.

            he was a man who may have immortalized the abstract ideal of yiras shomayim in aishes chayil, but he didnt choose wives according to that ideal.

            aishes chayil, according to some, was written about his mother batsheva.

            rare indeed is the man who wants to marry someone just like his mother. clearly, shlomo ha melech placed a higher priority on physical attractiveness than “marrying a girl just like the girl that married dear old dad” as the old song goes.

            please think about this: our Torah-dik husbands and sons have not had shlomo ha melech’s chinuch, nor do they possess his wisdom. and, they will only be able to have their love needs met by one woman.

            in this context it is cruel to de-legitimize how important their one wife’s physical attraction is to them with condemnations like “MAJOR YUCK” etc. and judgements about their shallowness while spouting pious platitudes about the superiority of beautiful middos.

  19. Sharon Botesazan

    Enjoyed the column, and the linked “Bad Matchmaker” column was very instructive. However, I think
    Yonah’s comments deserve serious thought, as well. I do believe, though, that most women considerate of their husbands’ needs for physical attractiveness can make themselves beautiful.

  20. zahava miryam

    The bride with beautiful eyes need not worry about her figure.

    – Talmud: Berakot, 54b

    If a man cannot control himself, then he’s not learning enough Torah.

    When are parents, especially mothers, going to understand that the prospective kallah/groom is marrying her child and NOT HER? The shallowness of people is amazing.

    Chana Batya may not be a supermodel, or Raquel Welch, but she doesn’t need to be – she is who HaSh-m created her to be and she is, by the way, pretty.

    If there is any shidduch crisis within the Jewish community, parents should start taking a look at themselves, and how they’re raising their children. Education begins in the home.

  21. OnlyScarves

    I don’t think anyone here is disregarding the fact that chemistry and physical attraction between husband and wife are crucial. They are meant to be attracted to each other and their physical needs met (at appropriate times).
    And there is something to be said for those who walk around home in stained clothes and crocs at home, and then put on makeup, a sheitel and high heels when they go out. In the laws of tsniut a woman needs to save her most beautiful clothing, jewelry, perfume, etc. for use WITHIN THE HOME – in order to be appealing and attractive to her husband.
    Don’t forget that in the Midbar the mirrors that Jewish wives used to beautify themselves for their husbands ended up being used for the Mishkan – so it is extremely important because Ha-Shem makes point of mentioning this in the Torah.

    However I question the use of non-Jewish-based literature that analyses relationships, lifestyles, etc. which is based on non-Jewish ways of thinking. It’s like using an encyclopedia to answer a question from the Talmud. For example, if I were to explain to any non-Jewish person about all the laws of modesty and taharat hamishpacha they would most likely think I am: (a.) crazy, (b.) oppressed, and (c.) living in a bubble with no connection to the outside world. Like if I were to try to explain how a man still has to pray 3 times a day, even when on vacation, it doesn’t make sense to the modern person (I know, I was one of them).

    That said, everyone has a yetzer hara, and in this day and age, unfortunately, people can see undesirable images absolutely everywhere. But that is WHY, as outlined in the laws of modesty, in order to prevent breaches in shmirat ha’aynayim we have to make sure that we are looking after ourselves (and in turn, our husbands). Yes, we all have laundry, cooking and cleaning to do (not to mention general running around after children), you don’t have to put on your best Shabbat clothing before he walks in the door, but make an effort. Choose a special perfume and only wear it at home, when he’s around. Make a point of wearing jewelry he gave you for your anniversary at home, etc. If your husband feels that you dress up and wear jewelry for him, and him only, he feels special and the bond between husband and wife is strengthened. It’s the little things that make a huge difference.

    • i totally agree with you onlyscarves that making an effort to appear physically attractive to your man, dressing well in items he likes which reflect well on him (jewelry he picked out for you) and smelling good (wear perfume he enjoys) makes a male feel loved and appreciated.

      it’s also 100% correct that hilchos tznius encourages wives to appear attractive to our husbands in our homes (as opposed to getting all gussied up to go out, usually without him in attendance.

      however, i think the ladies of the blog would benefit enormously from understanding that science and research clearly demonstrate unequivocal, physiological, hormonal, psychological differences between males and females that cut across time, culture, and religion.

      and, this is the great gift that reading a book like “his needs, her needs” can provide to the clueless and/or misinformed. it’s why i brought it up in this blog in the first place.

      these gender differences are hard-wired, ladies. it’s not about jewish or non-jewish ways of thinking. its about physiological and hormonal realities that result in differing emotional needs.

      male-ness is never going to be eradicated by abstract ideals, pious platitudes, the “right kind of chinuch”, negative judgements and condemnations from females.

  22. Hello? Doesn’t anyone out there want to be attractive for themselves? I make a special effort to put myself together nicely every day because it makes me feel good. I watch what I eat because I feel better. My husband benefits from this, but really I do it for myself. I suspect that most women who take care of themselves are doing just that, their spouses are the lucky beneficiaries. If someone is merely maintaining their outer (and inner) attractiveness only for the sake of someone else, there may be a deeper issue at play. And someone who makes no effort whatsoever may also be suffering.
    I’m talking about each of us, in her own way. We all know what out own efforts are, when we make the effort and when we don’t.
    I agree with Yona, only that it should come from our own desire to be kind to ourselves.

    • i am in complete agreement with you YL: if a woman is maintaining her outer and inner attractiveness solely to please her man something is definitely askew.

      and, a woman who completely neglects her appearance—-isnt trying to appear attractive to her husband or herself at all— is struggling with some serious issues in her life. (could be self worth issues, physical illness of self or loved one, tragedy and loss, financial problems etc.)

      B”H like you YL i am blessed to consistently eat nutritiously, exercise, and maintain my inner and outer appearance. it is: a) a mitzvoh to do so; b)it contributes to my happiness and well being; c) it is hishtadlus for a health filled life now and as i age in the future; d) because it is an expression of love for my husband; and e) because it models good habits to my kids.

      i thank G-d that He enabled me to do these things before i got married, after i got married, while i raised my kids, and now after marrying off my kids…

      G-d is good

  23. I am a Holistic health coach so I have an obvious basis for my thinking here.
    Women all have intrinsically beautiful bodies. If we stop focusing on thin, as mothers and women we can focus on health. We all want the inner beauty of our girls to shine through and be seen be appearance driven men.
    That is the focus, if a girl is healthy and active. whether she is naturally voluptuous or slim she will be beautiful reflection of her soul when we stop looking at women as sexual objects. The body should reflect the soul and we need to remember that. Taking care of our body by not dieting, not binging, not starving ourselves and instead feeding our selves nutritious food and engaging in activity will stop the thin or not problem. We as women have that power. Men should be sexually attracted to their wife, but life is long and the physical strain of having and raising children effect us all differently. We need to support each other to develop healthy habits and recreation and not feed our children food that is exacerbating this problem.
    It doesn’t matter if a man thinks his wife should look good in a swimsuit or not. To me that says he wants her to have a beautiful body. Why not? The truth is that we are the ones who, like miriam to her father, have to wake up our sons to see that all healthy women look beautiful. Now how to pick the right one? Middos, shared values, humour ?

    1-5 Jewish girls has a borderline eating disorder this is double the percentages in the general population. According to a dear friend and child psychologist. Thin is just not IN!!!!

    • lily, i hear you loud and clear.

      i agree with everything you say, with one significant disclaimer: each man is the beholder so to speak. each man determines what constitutes beauty in his eyes.

      women can be empowered to engage in the mitzvoh of taking good care of themselves with consistently good nutrition, exercise, skin care etc. but, i think it is unrealistic to think that women can be empowered to change what a male determines is attractive to him.

      one man sees thin as beautiful, but another man sees voluptuous bordering on chunky as beautiful. one man sees petite as beautiful, another man sees tall, big boned and athletic as beautiful. etc. etc.

      this is how reality works, ladies.

      physical attractiveness matters to every man. but, every man’s definition of physical attractiveness is not the same. it isnt a “one-size-fits-all” world

      let’s stop fighting reality, and start working with reality instead.

      • Yonah, you sound like you’re blaming porn watching on ugly wives. That is not the reason men look at porn!! Men with beautiful wives have a porn problem too and men with ugly wives learn to like them and do not have a porn problem.

        • no, sara. that’s coming from you.

          it’s what you’re hearing. it’s not what i actually wrote.

          in point of fact i never used the word “ugly” on this blog. you used the word “ugly”.

          i didn’t make the reductionist argument that assessed “blame” for male porn problems. but, you made an assessment, came to a conclusion, and attributed both to me.

          i merely pointed out that there is a porn problem, and it is a growing problem in all communities, including chassidishe communities.

          in truth, i never used the word “blame” on this blog. you used the word “blame”.

          i simply, and repeatedly, have pointed out the obvious truth: men are not women.

          i have also tried to make the point that it is unrealistic and cruel to condemn men for being male, to delegitimize their needs, and persist in the delusion that with the “right chinuch” their male-ness can be successfully eradicated.

          if you are able, please take the time to read what i wrote on this blog more carefully so it will become clearer to you.

  24. One more point, I am not saying we can change what a man finds attractive,( though media does it everyday)what i am saying is that what they find attractive is not our problem. Hashem created our bodies, all we have to do is nurture them well be fit and healthy while we work on our midot and observance. Is part of Hashem’s full time job to make sure that he gave the right build to the right women to attract her beshert. I trust He can figure that part out. In terms of porn, it is an addiction like any other, and just as we face alcoholism in our community we can face this as well. We can only do that if we support each other as women and love each other up. It is no women’s fault if her husband watches porn it is his. Just like any addiction we need to support those who suffer in seeking help and take care of their victim’s. the wives and children left to suffer. I hope we can support women who silently suffer feelings of blame or think they were not “thin” or attractive enough since their husband fell prey. They are not to blame.
    Men are men and no chinuch can change that, but what chiuch is supposed to do is refine them. So that the physical is not paramount since it fades. No matter how attractive a 70 year old women is she is not a porn star, nor should she be and her 70 year old husband dis still a man. We cannot excuse sexual misbehaviour in our husbands or sons. we need to show them that when they feel that yetzer hara they need support and help early. That need is natural but pursuing it outside the prescribed ways is not o.k.
    It is not boys being boys. It is is boy’s being let down by their chinch.

  25. lily, so much of what you wrote resonates strongly with me.

    i loved this quote”: Is part of Hashem’s full time job to make sure that he gave the right build to the right women to attract her beshert. I trust He can figure that part out.”

    contrary to the popular belief expressed on this blog, every man does not find thin to be the penultimate in terms of attraction. even if it appears that many men have this preference, there are other men that prefer curvy and generously endowed.

    G-d isn’t running a one- size fits- all- world! trusting that G-d knows better than we do helps us to accept reality as it is (instead of being at constant war with it, believing it’s its our job to force it to change).

    think about it, ladies: what approach builds emunah, is less stressful, acknowledges legitimate individual preferences, and is more loving and kind to all parties (including oneself)??

    a) “boy X should want to date this girl i think he should date because she has beautiful middos even if she isn’t skinny enough for him according to him. major yuck. he really is so superficial! what happened with his chinuch!?” lots of judgements, condemnations, and frustration here.

    or, b) “boy x is honest enough to admit he needs a thin girl. the girl i had in mind for him wont suit his needs. and she will never receive the admiration she deserves from this guy. she needs a guy who’s going to appreciate her big boned curvy-ness. H-shem obviously has someone else in mind for each of them. i’ll keep trying for both of them.” lots of acceptance, respect, pragmatism, and zero frustration here.

    solutions arise easier when there is a mindset of acceptance of G-d’s wise and benevolent running of His world.

    lily, i also loved this statement of truth: “In terms of porn, it is an addiction like any other, and just as we face alcoholism in our community we can face this as well”.

    and, quote: “It is no women’s fault if her husband watches porn it is his. Just like any addiction we need to support those who suffer in seeking help and take care of their victim’s. the wives and children left to suffer. I hope we can support women who silently suffer feelings of blame or think they were not “thin” or attractive enough since their husband fell prey. They are not to blame.”

    beautiful!! well said!

    i also loved the way you addressed the issue we all face (if we are blessed to live long enough): attractiveness in the context of aging.

    generally speaking, a males need for an attractive wife never goes away, but as a male ages priorities frequently shift as testosterone levels drop.

    thank you, lily, for making this essential point: “We cannot excuse sexual misbehaviour in our husbands or sons. we need to show them that when they feel that yetzer hara they need support and help early. That need is natural but pursuing it outside the prescribed ways is not o.k.”.

    right on!! there is so much pragmatism and kindness in this approach.

    lastly, i must respectfully disagree with this statement: “It is boy’s being let dowm by their chinuch”.

    in truth, we can’t point the finger at chinuch. the same gemaras and halachos have been learned for centuries in yeshivos, battei medrashim, and shteiblach. mothers’ well intentioned, head-in-the-clouds “beautiful-middos-trump-physical-attractiveness” isn’t the main message of mesechtas kiddushin.

    chinuch plays an important role in the formation of individuals, but it is not a universal panacea for every predisposition.

    in this world people must contend with their hard-wired natures, and all the chinuch, wisdom and foresight may still be inadequate when it comes to withstanding a nisoyon. (that isnt to say we shouldnt try to fortify ourselves, our children, and people we care about with good chinuch, wisdom and foresight, since doing this is mandatory)

    as was pointed out in an earlier posting, shlomo ha melech received a superior chinuch from his mother batsheva, he was endowed with superior wisdom, he foresaw that punishment would befall him for multiplying wives, and yet he still married hundreds of women because of their attractiveness to him.

  26. well said Yonah. We are all vulnerable and no chinuch can change that, only help us to arm ourselves against delaying repentance and change.

  27. I think your argument fell apart at the end when your friend addeed, “unless she is very ugly or obese.” Did she mean very obese or just obese and very ugly. So in that sense they are factoring in looks. A girl could be close to an angel, but if she is has the build of a russian farm hand (as many of us gals w/ eastern european genes do) she’s out. The kallah in question looks pretty lovely to me, even with her face covered up. I imagine they chose someone lovely inside and out.

  28. You know, there was such intriguing comments here, but like the potential bride who is a wonderful person but turned down because of her looks, it is hard to read through the comments because of the skinny margins. Any plans to correct the situation?

    Thanks for your inspirational site!!

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