"Hi. This is Mrs. Katz. I have a wonderful guy here that I have known for years. He is just starting to date again after his divorce. When I first met you I thought of him as a good shidduch for you and now that he has told me he is ready, I told him about you and he would like to take you for a cup of coffee. How long do you need to get ready?"
"Tonight?" I asked. "Well, I can try to get in touch with his references, but I'm not available to go out tonight."
'I'm all the reference you need" she argued, "what do you want to know?"
"I appreciate that you know him well, but I always check references other than the shadchan. That's what my Rabbi and I decided is the best way for me to go about dating. If he wants to provide me with references which will make me more comfortable, I'm happy to check them and get back to you. If he refuses to give me references, he is asking me to go against what my Rabbi and I are comfortable with which tells me he isn't for me."
Clearly angry, she asked me who my Rabbi was and I told her. "It isn't even Chanukah yet, why are you making a bedikas chametz*. I want you to call your Rabbi and tell him that Mrs. Katz has a shidduch for you and I think it is a great idea and that the guy is such high quality he doesn't want anyone calling references because he doesn't want word to get out that he is dating. He just isn't ready to be bombarded with suggestions yet. He wants to start slow. Is that so wrong?" I agreed to call my Rabbi who, it seemed from the tone in her voice, knew who she was.
So, I called my Rabbi immediately. When he answered, I told him my predicament. "Mrs. Katz has a great guy she wants me to meet."
"Great" he said with excitement. "What do his references say about him?"
He could no doubt hear the smile in my voice. "Well, that is why I am calling you. She won't give me references because he is such a great catch that he is nervous that if I call his references, word will get out that he is dating and he will be bombarded with ideas. I told her that my Rabbi told me I have to check references before I meet someone."
"Sounds like you are on the right track. What can I do for you?"
"Well, Mrs. Katz asked me who my Rabbi is and I told her you are and she told me to call you and you would be willing to bend your rule this one time because she is the person suggesting it."
He laughed. "She didn't say that."
Now, I was the one laughing, happy that I hadn't folded when she got strong with me. "Actually, what she said is, 'it isn't even Chanukah yet, why are you trying to make a bedikas chametz?"
I'm not sure if he was thinking or holding back his laughter at the absurdity of her suggestion. After a short pause, he said to me, "Call Mrs. Katz back and tell her you called me with your question. Tell her I said that Jewish Law decrees that if a person is going to leave their home before Chanukah and not return until after the time that they are obligated to do the bedikas chametz just before Passover, that the person is just as obligated to do a bedikas chametz before they leave as everyone else is the day before Passover starts. I believe that if this guy is half as great as she says, you, my dear, will be on vacation the minute you meet him. When he is ready to give references, you will check him out and maybe meet him."
When I called Mrs. Katz back and gave her that message from my Rabbi, she said, "Your loss. He is a great catch and he will be married in a few months."
She was right - he was married in a few months. But she was wrong - he was NOT AT ALL what I was looking for nor, if his wife was, was I what he was looking for in a wife.
That's really the end of the story. The point is, stick to your guns. You have a right to date the way you are comfortable dating. If someone really wants to get to know you, they will do whatever they can to make you more comfortable in the process.
We will have more posts on reference checking. In the meantime, if you need help figuring out what to ask, how to ask or if you need someone to check references for you, feel free to set up an appointment on the Scheduling and Fees page or email us through the Contact Us page on our website: www.BetterShidduchim.com.
*bedikas chometz is the final, very detailed search for leavened bread after Jews have spent many hours ridding their homes of all leaven in preparation for the Passover holiday. She was using it as a way of saying that I was searching too deep before a first date.