click here to jump to start of article
  • Torah Reading: Naso
Join Our Newsletter

Get latest articles and videos with Jewish inspiration and insights​

Yeah, But What Is He Really Like?

Yeah, But What Is He Really Like?

Three keys to peering into the soul of the person you’re dating.


How can you tell the true nature of the person you’re dating well before the chuppah, and thereby avoid some unpleasant surprises down the line?

The Talmud gives us a short and pithy saying, a play on words of sorts, that assists us in knowing what someone is really like and thus "fast-tracking" our understanding of another so we can quickly see what makes someone tick and what they are really like. The three keys to peering into the soul of another are Kiso, Koso and Ka'aso which roughly translate as Wallet, Drinking Glass and Anger.

Kiso/Wallet. If you wish to see if someone has a generous spirit, note how they deal with money. Yes it's that simple. If you are on a dinner date and he whips out his Tip Calculator, puts his reading glasses on the end of his nose and begins calculations ("Let's see, it took them so long to bring me my water refill, that loses a percentage point. The server didn't smile – another percentage point...") that ought to tell you about how much of a nickel-and-dimer he might be. People will often talk of how kind and generous they are, but the proof is in the pudding when real cash is involved.

When it comes to money – and all three of these in fact – people drop their guard and you see them for what they are. They cannot fake it. So pay attention to how they deal with finances. Are they responsible, reasonable and generous or on the cheap side? It will become readily evident early on in a relationship.

Koso/Glass refers to how someone behaves when they imbibe a bit of booze. Once a person gets a bit tipsy, their inner selves are revealed and we can see them for who they are. Indeed the Talmud notes that "when wine goes in, secrets come out" and points out that the gematria (numerical equivalent) of the word for wine and secrets are the same. After a drink or two pay attention if they are happy, funny, flirty, morose, immature, obnoxious ... some interesting parts of another's personality show up when the glass of 2008 Yarden Merlot (Tel Phares Vineyard please) is empty.

Ka'aso/Anger. What a person says and does when they are angry is indeed a very meaningful telltale sign of who they are. The usual apology when someone says something hurtful is, "I didn't mean that, I said it in a moment of anger." Uh If one really didn't mean what they said, the idea wouldn't have been there in the recesses of their being in the first place to slip out. So the stuff folks say during those times of rage is a window into what is percolating deep down and not said in polite company until the fuse is lit.

Ka'aso also refers to passion, and here too you should pay very close attention to what makes his or her eyes light up. When does this person get animated and lively, what are they passionate about? Sports, injustice, success in business, children, wisdom – it is very easy to see what makes a person tick by what excites them. Are they passionate about meaningful things or the latest episode of Scandal?

And finally one more which is my own that I add to this list:

Waiter. How do they treat a server at a restaurant? If your date is considerate to the person who is seemingly in a lower socio-economic place, then you can see that they have a basic kindness and respect for all people regardless of their position. But if he or she is nice to you and other important people in their life but is dismissive and abrupt with people like a waiter or the bag boy at the supermarket, then this is a serious red flag regarding the basic goodness of that person.

All of these things can give us a window into what a person is really like and how they deal with everyday situations. Which brings me to one last point: Don't spend every date in Starbucks. That has nothing to do with reality. If you marry someone, your life is not going to be chitchat in coffee houses, long walks along the beach, and movies. Take him to your sister who has the runny-nose baby, plunk that baby on his lap and see how he reacts. Is it, "Ewww, this kid is messing up my Hugo Boss pants!" or "Cute kid. Got a tissue for him? There we go..." as he wipes the snot from him? You want to see him/her in real life situations not fake ones, because marriage isn’t that fake Hollywood movie nonsense.

So date with your eyes wide open and I hope these tools will help and make the decision easier when the Almighty brings you your bashert.

March 8, 2014

Give Tzedakah! Help create inspiring
articles, videos and blogs featuring timeless Jewish wisdom.
The opinions expressed in the comment section are the personal views of the commenters. Comments are moderated, so please keep it civil.

Visitor Comments: 11

(10) Helen Schwab (Chaiah), March 30, 2014 7:21 AM

Loved your article! Yet I could not have used any of these b/c...

... i met my beshert on a kibutz ulpan in 1969, and none of these could have applied! No money, no restaurants, no booze, nothing to get angry about! Guess I was darn lucky it worked out so well!

(9) scott, March 18, 2014 3:32 PM

Look around you.

I think these are all good indicators, especially how they treat the waiter. Believe me-you will spend plenty of time treating each other like servants during the course of a marriage. How he treats that waiter is how he will treat you when you're in that role.

The thing I caution people about is that dating is an unreal universe where the pressure is heightened and fear abounds. When I first started to work on dating I used to drink too much-I was just nervous and didn't eat-which made it worse.

I also spent like a drunken sailor. I was trying to create fun and probably seemed like a spendthrift.

And I was emotionally a little more up and down than I am in real life. I had a conversation with a woman I dated after we stopped seeing each other and she was surprised that I had married and was so content about life. She said the biggest turn off with me was that I seemed a little high strung. I liked her a lot and was nervous. This was a woman that should we have continued dating I probably would have married. I'm happy that I ended up with the family I've got-but you know i would have gotten there much earlier with her if she had seen the real me. And she's still single five years later.

You want to see how a man really is? Take down the pressure. Let him know you're interested. Plan some dates yourself. Maybe even pick up the check once or twice.

Even better idea...look around you. Try dating the men around you. They are the ones you already know. Perhaps one of them might be the guy and then you wouldn't have to take a chance on a stranger. Seriously the guy you end up with will have just as many irritating habits as the guy in the next cube-you just won't discover them all until after you decide to fall in love. The little tummy I have after five years of marriage is the same tummy for which my wife would eliminated me during dating. Now it's a little cute. Says I like her food.

(8) Helen, March 17, 2014 7:24 PM

One mor clue

I would add one more clue.. watch how they drive. I believe that often one's true personality is revealed by how they behave behind the wheel of a car. Will they allow another vehicle to merge in ahead of them in traffic, or will they fight for their "right of way". Do they tailgait or otherwise show impatience when traffic moves too slowly for their liking? These are strong indications of a person's real character -- heed the warning signs.

(7) Natasha, March 17, 2014 9:54 AM


There is nothing wrong with talking about Scandal.

(6) Gabriella, March 17, 2014 12:49 AM

Good stuff!!

I think this should be a guide for ALL people in my life,including me!

See All Comments

Submit Your Comment:

  • Display my name?

  • Your email address is kept private. Our editor needs it in case we have a question about your comment.

  • * required field 2000
Submit Comment