Young and Old

This week’s parsha covers the building of the Mishkan. At the center of the bustle is Bitzalel, the great-grandson of Calev.

“You remember the dvar Torah about Calev and Miriam, right?” Dear Dad asks me.

I fumble about in the old mental attic for a bit, finally surfacing with the right item. “He married her when he was eight and she was 55 because she was a chesed case and he needed to do a good deed for the day?”

Essentially. At 55, Miriam had an unhealthy complexion (acne, maybe?) or sickly pallor, or something like that, and nobody wanted to marry her. So Calev did.

“Maybe there’s a message in there for you,” my father jokes.

I ponder the matter. “You mean that I should find a worthy but desperate 55-year-old and marry him?”

It’s not a terrible idea. There are a number of benefits to marrying older men. For starters, they’re already mature. You don’t have to make the gamble that they’ll finally grow up when they hold their first child in their hands and feel this new thing called responsibility. Also, they’re usually settled and often financially secure. And finally, since you probably constitute their midlife crisis, you don’t have to worry about that one.

“No,” my father interrupts my calculations. “I meant find an eight-year-old boy and marry him.”

An eight-year-old boy? I tried to think of some benefits to marrying an eight-year-old, but come up blank. Eight is smack in the stage where those adorable round-faced boys start stretching out like rubber bands. It’s also that obnoxious age when they fervently believe that girls have cooties and are unspeakably gross. (Exactly how would I convince one to marry me?)  And then you have to live with him through his acne and teen angst, and attend his PTA. And, dear God, you have to throw his bar mitzvah. I can just imagine the embarrassment involved in that one. “You have to pretend to be my mother, okay? Nobody else in my class is married.”

No, definitely no.

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24 thoughts on “Young and Old

  1. Great post! And I am all for the older men, but unfortunately most of them are already taken. Are you sure you want to go for a 55 -never-been-married guy?? And the others will come with some baggage, obviously.

  2. I need to ask respectfully if everyone out there believes that Calev married 55-year-old Miriam when she was 8. Does everyone besides me take every Midrash literally? I am sure we can learn a lesson from every Midrash, but I don’t know if we have to believe they are Torah MiSinai.

  3. Marry an 8-year-old boy? Well, at least there would be a tax benefit. You could take off the child care deduction while you are out supporting the two of you (something you don’t get if the hubby is a bit older and still sitting and learning) and could take the marriage deduction as well. And hey, if you get into a disagreement you could always call a time out and send him to his room or put him in the corner.

  4. It sounds more like an adoption. Or you risk facing jail for a very long time. Or may be he meant to marry a boy who’s 8y/o today but wait till he’s actually 20 or so? Meaning to marry someone who’s 15 years younger than you.

  5. “And then you have to live with him through his acne and teen angst, and attend his PTA.”
    And then he’ll enter shidduchim.
    Oh…wait…

  6. LOL-It is not too far off from my mother’s suggestion. Dear old Mama:”Why don’t you marry at 13 yrs. old?”….”and, then you’ll be able to grow TOGETHER!”

  7. I think all he meant is you might want to be open to guys who are younger than you. My mother’s mother was seven years older than her husband..

    “It’s also that obnoxious age when they fervently believe that girls have cooties and are unspeakably gross”- I never understood that. Personally, I always liked girls! I had romantic interests in first grade, no joke! ..or was it second…either way, she’s still the hottest girl I’ve ever seen!

  8. 3. tesyaa: There’s a prevalent opinion (Ramchal, Gaon Mi’Vilna) which I subscribe to, which states that the purpose of Midrash is not to report obscure events in the lives of the biblical characters, but that the stories are cover-ups for deeper interpretation.

  9. Tesyaa: I don’t think the issue is whether the medrash is torah m’sinai or not, but whether it is meant to be interpreted literally.

  10. Tesyaa:
    Your hashkafah on Medrash is one thing… but how else would you explain the discrepancy in the pesukim?

  11. b4s, You’d get two deductions on your income taxes for marrying an 8 year old and it would be hard for him to boss you around, do you want me to look for you?

  12. Actually, Tamar married young boys — no older than 9 — when she married Yehudah’s first 2 sons. However, after mattan Torah a boy under 13 cannot be married. He has to be of legal age because, unlike a girl whose father and even mother and brother can offer her in marriage when she is a minor, he has to act on his own agency in doing kiddushin. So you cannot have kiddushin with an 8 year old. In any case, the general assumption was that 9 was the minimum age for a boy to arrive at a certain level of physical maturity.

    Miriam is never identified as Calev’s wife in Torah. It is derived from elsewhere with Miriam identified as Efrat.

  13. Two deductions? One for a husband and one for a kid? – Exactly. You could claim him as a dependant. Incidentally in halachic terms I’m 7 and a half (such a thing is possible).

  14. What about all that stuff you always hear about people aging differently in the times of Bereishis? I forgot which meforshim discuss it, I’m pretty sure it comes up by Yitzchak and Rivka (Ibn Ezra maybe?) how he’s forty and she’s three or maybe 12, and I always learned it wasn’t the same as in our day, the way people grew…I’m not sure exactly how that worked.

    But in today’s day and age- 8 year old? Nu-uh. Sorry, Rabbi Krohn but not interested.

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