Wednesday, May 16, 2012

BatMelech criticizes my approval of discrimination

[guest post] This was a comment on another post - Psak Choosing vs Avoiding error  which clearly crystallizes the divide between us. 

Batmelech  May 16, 2012 11:08 AM wrote:
I think that the blog author is not aware what discrimination means.

Discrimination is when a majority systematically excludes a minority, thereby keeping the minority from participating in the life of the society.

Your screening factors are a typical example of discrimination: As long as the shidduch candidates with divorced parents etc are a minority, it is very easy for the majority to forgo them and keep them from participating in majority culture. Of course, it could be that some majority candidates do not find their best bashert (who has divorced parents and was excluded by "screening", but only the second best (whose parents did not divorce and seemed acceptable). However, this is not a drama, he can live with second best instead of best.

For the excluded minority it is a drama, because they will be systematically rejected for facts that have nothing to do with their person.

You studied psychology, so I suppose it is important to you that Jews not be excluded from the University system as they often were in Europe.

So why do you want to do to your fellow Jew something you would not accept if a non-jew were to do it to you?


  1. Batmelech - do you view all discrimination as evil? If you don't then what we are disagreeing with is what factor can be legitimately used to determine when we discriminate. If you claim that you never discriminate - then you have a very serious problem which I can't help you with.

  2. Baalei teshuvah, gerim, short people, kohanim, divorced people, people whose families have a history of mental illness, etc. -- all these categories have a smaller pool of potential shidduchim. It may be unfair in some cases (such as BTs or gerim who are rejected for yichus reasons), but ultimately shidduchim are made by Hashem, and so in that sense I'm not sure it's true that there's such a thing as a second-best bashert. If the children of mothers who only obtained a get through some kind of social pressure, and thus are suspected of having questionable yichus or possibly being mamzerim by some people (hopefully not very many), that may be regrettable but it's not the worst thing in the world. Now if they were regarded by all as mamzerim, that really would be a big tragedy, because not only is their shidduch pool narrowed down to a miniscule fraction of the Jewish people, but so are all their descendants. At least we can avoid that situation (if R' Daniel Eidensohn's analysis is correct).

    1. I absolutely think that a social group who systematically discriminates upon criteria like: divorced parents, orphans, a family member with physical or psychic health problems, non-conformity of a family member, etc. does not deserve to be called "rachmanim beney rachmanim", because what they do is cruel.

      It is OK to choose the spouse best suited, but to screen and to exclude all those who present the criteria cited above is not in the spirit of the torah. Nor was it done after the war. It became a habit of arrogance since people feel that they can choose from 1000 of potential shidduchim, so they need criteria to reject some candidates for the job. In my view, the criteria should be strictly linked to the person and their caracteristics (middot, 'compatibility').

      Of course, the criteria that are really important in shidduchim are much more difficult to describe and to test. I suppose this is the reason why the cruel system is so en vogue.

      I agree that it is better not to marry two known carriers of the same recessive genetic disease (like tay Sachs), because this does benefit the children who will not be born with the disease and the parents who will not have to go through the heartbreak of loosing a child in early age.

    2. I agree that it is wrong. It is not only cruel, but it is playing G-d, because only G-d knows whether one's bashert is a ger, has a brother off the derech, etc. Even if the concept of a person having one bashert is invalid, then still, the person doesn't know what Hashem wants -- maybe He wants the person to marry someone with supposedly less than perfect yichus.

      I don't know if I would call it a social group that systematically discriminates -- it's up to each individual or family whether to arbitrarily exclude people as potential shidduchim.

      I'm not sure, but it seems that the Modern/Centrist Orthodox don't seem to have the same "discrimination" problem, at least not to the same degree. One could write an article about the various dimensions of the difference between MO and charedi and whether, for each dimension, one of the two groups is more consistent with underlying Torah values (or for that matter, specific halachic or hashkafic requirements.) I have a feeling that MO would score better on some and charedim would score better on some. Perhaps what we need to do is take the best from both worlds.

      It seems like the problem is caused by the shidduch system. It can be reformed or scrapped. Some public conversations have been going on about this, but I haven't been paying attention to them closely.

    3. >Baalei teshuvah, gerim, short people, kohanim, divorced people, people whose families have a history of mental illness, etc. -- all these categories have a smaller pool of potential shidduchim.<
      Of course the 'minority' might actually be a majority. Some food for thought.


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