Isn’t it wonderful how much time and effort Jewish women invest in their daughters’ wedding preparations? Everything is planned meticulously down to the smallest detail in order to make the evening a big success.
One “small” but highly important matter is often not given the amount of attention and consideration it deserves. This is the choice of Kalla teacher who will assume the awesome responsibility of preparing the bride for marriage and intimacy. In many cases the Kalla herself finds someone with whom to learn, having adopted the suggestion of one of her newly married friends. While friends are a wonderful source of help and support, in this case they often lack the information and perspective needed to make an accurate recommendation.
The ramifications of poor or inadequate preparation are many and varied. Some young women have the good fortune to learn with an excellent teacher who is able to give them what they need. Others, however, are not given adequate preparation; they may be taught about Halacha, but about not intimacy. Or they may have been taught about intimacy by a lady who feels uncomfortable and awkward discussing the matter. They may have been given little or no skills with which to tackle the everyday challenges of married life. Yet again they may have learned with someone whose approach to life and to Halacha is radically different from their own.
It is said in the name of Rabbi Shlomo Zalman Auerbach z”l that a prerequisite to teaching brides is to be happily married oneself. This may be because the formal teaching is accompanied by undercurrent attitudes which are transmitted from teacher to pupil. Thus I recommend that every mother actively make inquiries regarding the teacher and the course, and if possible, meet up with the teacher in person in order to assess whether she would be an appropriate teacher and role model for her daughter. If this level of involvement is inappropriate within the context of your relationship with your daughter, then at least share with her your concerns and give her parameters to help her make an informed decision. As her mother, not only do you have her best interest at heart but you also have the life experience and perspective that your daughter has not yet acquired.
I have compiled a list of questions which you and/or your daughter might find helpful when making your choice.
How long is she married?
Does her own marriage look like one you would like your daughter to emulate?
What is her general hashkafa on marriage?
Is she connected to a particular posek?
Is she available for consultation after the wedding?
What and how extensive is her training?
Does her resume include experience in related fields such as social work or counseling?
Is she able to spot potentially problematic issues?
How long has she been teaching brides?
Does the teacher feel comfortable discussing intimate matters?
Does she do so in a sensitive yet explicit manner?
Does she encourage the bride to ask questions?
Do you have references for the teacher? On which aspects of the course?
Have you yourself met the kalla teacher?
Is your daughter likely to bond with her?
Will your daughter feel free to voice any concerns she may have?
How long is the course? How many meetings? How long is each session?
What topics are covered?
What percentage of the course is Halacha?
Is a distinction made between Halachot d’Oriyta and d’rabanan and Chumrot?
What sources are used?
Are the Halachot presented in a clear, interesting and non-threatening manner?
What terminology is used?
REMEMBER: Although the fees kallah teachers take vary greatly, remember how much you are paying for makeup, flowers, food and the band and that choosing a suitable kalla teacher is an investment for life!
Please don’t hesitate to call me for guidance. Batya Loewenthal 02-6518106 / 052 5802435