Read an Excerpt
5 PATHS TO THE LOVE OF YOUR LIFE
By LAUREN F. WINNER DOUGLAS WILSON RICK HOLLAND JONATHAN LINDVAL JERAMY CLARK JERUSHA CLARK
NAVPRESSCopyright © 2005 NavPress Publishing
All right reserved.
Chapter OneTHE COUNTER CULTURAL PATH
Lauren F. Winner
IN HER RECENT NOVEL THE OUTSIDE WORLD, TOVA MIRVIS DESCRIBES the acquaintanceship, engagement, and marriage of two young New Yorkers, Tzippy and Baruch. I know acquaintanceship is an awkward noun, but I use it because no other word will do. What Tzippy and Baruch have is not quite a romance. They don't exactly date, but they don't quite court, either. The match they make is not quite arranged, nor can it be mistaken for the match Monica and Chandler made on Friends.
Tzippy and Baruch are orthodox Jews, straddling - as many real-life, nonfictional Christians straddle - two different schools of premarital sociability. There's modern-day romance on one hand, and then there's the traditional way of doing things.
In some corners of the orthodox Jewish world, the traditional way of doing things is called shidduch dating (shidduch literally means "match"). Shidduch dating is not entirely unlike contemporary Christian courtship; when one is of marriageable age, friends, relatives, and other folks in the community begin thinking up suitable mates. If the parents approve and the young man and woman themselves are willing, the couple goes out for a first date, the goal of which is not to flirt or practice coquetry but to get to know one another with the speed and precision of a laser so they can each ascertain whether the other might be an appropriate marriage partner. If things seem promising, there is a second date and a third, and after a fairly short time, a decision is made - either the couple gets engaged, or they call it quits.
Tzippy goes on an unusually long string of shidduch dates arranged by friends, relatives, and fellow synagogue-goers before she finally meets Baruch. Her dates are "arranged through an elaborate circuitry, transmitted by connections once, twice, thrice removed." (The dates generally comprise a Diet Coke and conversation in a hotel lobby, lobbies being popular orthodox dating spots because they are so public that something untowardly intimate or sexual couldn't possibly happen.) By her forty-second shidduch date, Tzippy
felt as if she were drowning.... It used to sound easy. How hard could it be to determine compatibility? ... The main objective was to discover if there was potential for marriage. Do you want to live in New York or in Israel? ... Would you allow a television in your home? Do you go to the movies? The yeses would be tabulated against the nos and a decision would be made as to whether the person sitting across the table was The One.
Date number forty-two is a bust, and Tzippy decides to leave New York for a year to study in Jerusalem. There, she spies the son of her mother's college roommate, a boy she hasn't seen since childhood. Baruch, too, is studying in Israel for a year. Tzippy begins, in very unorthodox fashion, to follow him around Jerusalem until they finally meet face-to-face. Instantly smitten, they know they can't simply start dating; they must recreate that "elaborate circuitry" post facto. So they contact friends and friends of friends who arrange a shidduch date, and that date is followed by a whirlwind courtship. Soon enough, Baruch and Tzippy are engaged, and not long after, married.
The Outside World, though set in a community of orthodox Jews, beautifully captures all that is appealing and all that is problematic about dating for a religious person in any religious community in contemporary America. There is something very compelling about the shidduch system. As Tzippy muses,
The rabbis assured them that their way of getting married was so much better than in the outside world. Here, people gave advice about which college to go to ... even which nursery school to choose.... But when it came to marriage - the most important decision of all - you were supposed to rely solely on your feelings.
Shidduch dating offers an attractive alternative to the unrealistic romanticism and palpable sexuality of modern American dating. And yet even for Baruch and Tzippy, a little modern-day romance creeps in. Even in their modest, regimented, almost cloistered world, Tzippy's and Baruch's feelings manage to dictate, or at least shape, their choice. Their eventual courtship can be called shidduch dating, but barely. After all, Tzippy pursued Baruch through the streets of Jerusalem. They chose each other.
The novel encapsulates many of the questions Christians are asking when they debate, analyze, and consider dating. What is the place of one's family and community in matchmaking? How can one date in a way that is conducive to chastity? And what about those pesky emotions?
Excerpted from 5 PATHS TO THE LOVE OF YOUR LIFE by LAUREN F. WINNER DOUGLAS WILSON RICK HOLLAND JONATHAN LINDVAL JERAMY CLARK JERUSHA CLARK Copyright © 2005 by NavPress Publishing.
Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.