Keepers of the Dating Chrestomathy

22 Nov

Deep within the bowels of the Orthodox community; hidden from commoners and simpletons assembles an underground society. They look like you and me, and act like us too. They smile with utmost gentility and converse in modest yet confident prose. Their appearances are rather ordinary– not too bland yet not too flashy. You would never guess the secrets they nestle. You would never surmise the information they contract and contain.

These are the Keepers of the  Dating Chrestomathy.

Have your ever wondered how news travels so fast? How did your friend know that the guy you’ve been hoping to go out with is interested in your friend? How did your friend have an answer as to if this person would give you a chance before the shadchan got back to you? What is the source? How does she know? And how is it that she always seems right?

Someone- whether it is your friend, her sister, her roommate or coworker – is part of this hush-hush upper crust congregation. The source can only be traced back so far. At a certain point the only answers to be obtained are silence and a nebulous umbra of ambiguity. The chrestomathy will never be mentioned, but it’s influence can be sensed even those by capering along in blithe oblivion.

Yes, the Dating Chrestomathy. That is what they pour over at their highly confidential symposiums, far into the night and hidden from even the keenest eye. Each is assigned a social quadrant and each is responsible to report their latest findings from that nook of our bubble of a world. Together they discuss, hypothesize and predict what will be in the social forecast in the coming days. Who will be introduced to who, who will conveniently miss who and who will “accidentally” bump into each other are all examined, plotted and decided. They are acutely aware of each individual’s social patterns; who they eat with, who they study with, who they casually chatter with and the precise dilation of their pupils when speaking with any of the given parties. Their emphasis is put on nonverbal communication. That which the average person leaves to the assumptions of the subconscious is what the Keepers thrive on. At the end of each meeting, they record that which they achieved that week. Who is interested in who? Who confided? Who confessed? Who answered in the affirmative and who answered with unrequited affections? Carefully they choose which stories to release and which to keep hidden within the depths of their coveted collection.

Their chrestomathy.

Our lives.

So many of us let these tidbits and tales define our decisions. Confidence and emunah which was present one day can be hindered the next, like in the following case:  Shimsy  just worked up the courage to pursue a date with Leah, who genuinely admires. However due to the reportage that she is interested in her brother’s chavruta, he loses his once sturdy confidence.  Though in reality her brother’s chavruta has happily been going out with someone else for 3 months,  is shaken. He was ready to do his histadlut. He was ready to risk the chance of rejection, but know he isn’t so sure. Why should he try with someone who is so madly in love with someone else? Why would he try to compete?

That’s what the Keepers want us to believe. They want us to believe we are in competition; that those with the most information will thrive and those without it will flop. They want you to believe that they are in charge; that they can determine who you get a chance with and who you will never be good enough for. Don’t listen to them. Don’t let your fate be just another passage in their chrestomathy of the shidduchsphere. You shape your own destiny. You leave your own impressions. G-d has a plan, and whether they believe it or not, His plans are above theirs. Their assemblage is merely foolishness and their argot is merely chatter. All those stories they pine and pour over is for naught, because one day, fate will be settled. Whoever is meant to marry who will be decided, with onlysimchas pictures long lost to the ever-moving world wide web and the bentchers scattered carelessly in a drawer. Do not fret and do not fear. G-d is in charge. And so are you. See beyond the rumors. See beyond the here and now. See beyond the chrestomathy.

In case you want a definition :


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