What is the most important question to ask?
by Devora Krasnianski, founder of Adai Ad Institute
The ‘research stage’. What to find out? What are you trying to learn about the prospective shiduch?
In no particular order: A little about what he is doing now. His values. His hashkafa. Some about his family and upbringing. Personality. Maturity. Disposition. How he envisions his life, his family, his involvement in the community. Health.
Formulating powerful questions
Once you truly know your child and what she wants, you can formulate your questions. Good questions get better answers. Word them well to get useful answers.
As applicable, do not word your questions as yes/ no; ask for examples.
Ask for examples or stories in the past; don’t ask hypothetical questions. For example: “Can you please share about a time that things didn’t go her way” rather than “What would she do if things didn’t go her way?”
Do not ask leading questions. Rather ask: “Can you please share an example of when he had an idea that others didn’t like?” Instead of “Does he get along with other people?”
As applicable, allow for a broad-range of choices. “On a scale of 1 to 10, how much emphasis would you say she puts on spending time with friends?”
You can most definitely ask questions that directly question compatibility. For example: “Can she relate to someone who is not as intellectually stimulating as she is?”
Always end with “Is there anything else I should know that I didn’t ask?” You never know what you didn’t know to ask.
Some more thoughts about formulating your list of questions:
Ask yourself what is really important for marriage, and if what you are trying to find out is really important.
Review your list and determine if this particular detail would really matter if your child was an older single. If you would have changed your priorities at that point, why not reprioritize at this earlier stage?
And here it is. The #1 question you should ask when doing research for shiduchim is … “What do you mean by that?”
By that, I mean: Gain clarity. We all view the world from our own perspectives. And words mean different things to different people. What does ‘outgoing’ mean to you? What does ‘independent’ mean to you? What does ‘serious’ mean to you?
And we know people in different contexts. One bochur may be a serious learner and come across as a quieter type. But when he’s on the ball field in camp, a whole different side shows. If you ask his mashgiach, he may only know him from yeshiva. A co-counselor may only know him from camp.
Ask for examples. Find out the context in which the other person knows him.
Ask for ‘word slashes’. “When you say ‘independent’ what other words might you use to mean the same thing?” You might get ‘independent/ reliable/ responsible’ or ‘independent/ doesn’t need anyone in his life/ loves his freedom”.
You are looking for a true full picture. So clarity is very important. Ask for it.