Here’s the Ad that Set Off the Letter

Hat tip to Erlenmeyer for this link to the ad that set off the letter I posted on Monday.

The original is here. But in case that disappears, I’ve snipped it and pasted below:










52 thoughts on “Here’s the Ad that Set Off the Letter

  1. Thanks, B4. I wanted to see it.

    I like the part where every girl from a ‘Bnei Torah’ family in Israel gets married.

    I must go and let all the single girls I know here know… 🙂

    (Oh, and apparently there are no single guys in America, because they are all ‘inundated.’ )

    Seriously, the most legitimate point I see here is not sending boys to Israel “stam.” I am amazed how many bochurim come here to basically hang out, eat shawarma, drink (seriously) and occasionally go to shiur. For THOSE kind of boys, it’s true, it would be better for their neshamos if they stayed in America.

    (Apparently, the post-high-school-go-to-sem-in-Israel-so-you-can-get-a-shidduch is relevant for boys after a few years of beis medrash. Live and learn.)

  2. @Shira – I agree. I don’t see why girls are pushed into the dating world and feel like they must start dating by 19. There is no harm is getting a little more education or getting a little more secure in your job or maybe I don’t know (gasp now) enjoy being single. (I know, I know, I said the unthinkable). I think every girl should date when they feel ready and when they want to – not because they turn the magical number 19.

  3. I’ve also thought about why the solution of girls starting to date later has not been suggested. Presumably, whoever is behind this thinks it won’t work bc no girl will agree to do it, they’ll all try to get the jump on everyone else and start earlier, ie there’s no benefit to you individually to push it off (Prisoners dilemma.) The PD scenario doesn’t really apply to getting guys to date younger.

  4. Shira – spot on! Boys should start dating younger??? This is a disaster! I don’t know any of my friends who were ready to get married at 21, and the ones who did all suffered because of it. True some of my friends who got married older had marriage issues, but ALL the ones who got married young did.

    I started dating at almost 23 and that was too young I was just pressured into it.

    There are many more girls who are not ready for marriage at 19 than there are boys who are ready at 21.

  5. It doesn’t cause men to multiply, it would even the pools. If you have a set number of young women who are only looking to date a pool of guys which number smaller than they are, there will by definition be some left out. Shifting the mindset of girls to date a different pool in which the two pools are equal in number will remove that problem. I’m not sure what’s so hard to understand…

  6. They don’t want girls to start dating later because “of course girls are ready by 19”, as in it’s not even debatable to them. The fact that they think boys can date earlier shows how utterly wrong they are about marriage readiness as it is. What I don’t understand is why my community rag insists on publishing this ad month after month, even when there have been countless letters to the edtitor written decrying this ad for the agmat nefesh it causes girls who have are 22 or older by calling them agunot. Talk about melodramatic. This ad is being published for its shock value to cause a panic.

  7. People are paranoid that their girls will be in the small group who never get married, so they rush to marry them off. It’s a snowball effect.

  8. lol D. But they develop opinions starting earlier too, by gaining dating experience.

    This has been going on for thousands of years, and somehow it evens out. We don’t need to worry so much.

  9. Just curious,
    Bad4 and all the rest,
    Does anyone have any substantive criticism of the age gap theory? Whether or not the specific statistics are accurate, if you accept the assumptions that the “yeshivish” community is growing, that “yeshivish” girls want to marry “yeshivish” guys, and that shidduchim are usually made between older guys and younger girls, that will lead to a problem. You can ddress the problem by attacking numbers 2 or 3, which are the age gap and religiosity gap issues. But they both seem to be contributing factors. Any reason to disagree?

  10. sass, are there any hard numbers on growth of the annual growth rate of the relevant population, or is it conjecture based on “people are having more and more babies knaynahara”? There is no way the increase in the birth rate is 4-5% per year as has been claimed.

  11. Which is why I added “whether or not the specific statistics are accurate.” But common sense dictates that in a population in which the norm is to have 5+ children, there will be a rapid annual growth rate, which would cause this issue.

    Let me put it a different way – is the lack of a hard statistic on growth rate the only thing that’s preventing you from believing the age gap theory?

  12. In other words, if you assume any growth rate, this will be a problem. How much of a problem should depend on the growth rate. Agreed?

  13. If I understand it, it’s the CHANGE in growth rate that matters, not the growth rate itself. If there is a small change in the growth rate, other factors will be more important than the change in the growth rate. There is natural variation in the exact numbers of boys and girls born, the exact numbers with disabilities, the exact number leaving the community, etc.

    Having 5 kids per family does not cause an age gap, because the number of boys and girls born is roughly equal. But if today’s generation has 5 kids per family and tomorrow’s generation has 5.5 kids per family, that could cause an age gap. But anyway, it’s self-limiting. In 20 years, people won’t be having an AVERAGE of 15 or 18 kids per family. Not going to happen.

  14. IF there is a shidduch crisis, and if I had to specify one single cause, I’d say more boys go OTD than girls. I have no statistics. Does anyone want to take this further, agree or disagree?

  15. I don’t think what you’re saying is accurate. Change in growth rate is irrelevant. What matters is the growth rate itself. Any positive growth rate (first derivative) will cause a problem, even if the change in growth rate is constant (second derivative =0). As long as younger “grades” have more pople in them than older grades (which will be tru with any growth rate even if there is no change of growth rate), and older grades of guys (more or less) exclusively date younger grades of girls, there will be a problem.

  16. Edit that to “even if the growth rate is constant, meaning no change in growth rate/second derivative =0”

  17. You are actually talking about the change in the growth rate. The whole argument is based on the idea that “our cohort is having way more babies than last year’s cohort” (change in growth rate). Not just that everyone is having a lot of babies (growth rate).

  18. Regarding OTD, I don’t thinkk you need to go that far. I think the religiosity gap that Yudkowsky mentioned makes sense. IOW, it’s much easier to be a “yeshivish” girl and want a learning guy, than it is to actually be a learning guy.

  19. Incorrect. Our cohort is having more babies than last year’s cohort because our cohort is larger than last year’s cohort. (Constant growth rate.)

  20. If you’re correct, I have misunderstood the age gap theory. But there has always been population growth. Why a shidduch crisis now? After the war there was a huge increase in births. Why not a shidduch crisis in the 60s or 70s? Why not a shidduch crisis in the general population, where men also tend to marry younger women?

  21. I went to a frum high school. There were no lectures about how we should marry learning boys. The classmates who started dating have gone on dates with working boys, or boys in school to work. People in my parents’ generation who started marriage learning full-time are now working, and have been for years. Where are all the full-time learners for life hiding?

  22. I would say a few things – first, as the Rav used to say “You don’t die from a kashya.” In other words, that’s a historical question that we may or may not have an answer to, but such a question doesn’t invalidate a workable theory. There is probably some answer, we just have to find it.

    That said, I would suggest that 1-it probably did exist to some extent (I think my wife read in a book about pre-war Europe that there was a similar shidduch problem there as well. Second, the rigidity of the shadchan/dating system in the “yeshivishe” velt, coupled with the fact that going to Israel after Beis Medrash barely existed 40-50 years ago …I think you can find answers.

  23. So the solution might be to simply relax the rigidity, rather than try to engineer a solution, which is adding rigidity.

  24. I do still believe the OTD phenomenon has an impact, as does the fact that more boys than girls have “differences” that don’t even qualify as disabilities, but eliminate them from the “100% normal” pool. Assuming the rate of homosexuality is the same for males or females, this trait shouldn’t have an impact, but the rates might not be the same. (In the long ago past of the 60s and earlier, men were more likely to marry as a way to cover their homosexuality, a practice that is thankfully going out of style).

  25. These are just my thoughts, I don’t know what the answer really is. But I think they’ve been trying to relax the rigidity somewhat over the last several years by making it more acceptable for guys to date girls older than them, which is a step in the right direction. I agree that engineering a solution will probably not help.

  26. Somehow, I don’t see Aspergers as being a significant driver of the problem. But that said, these explanations are not all mutually exclusive. Which is why I was scratching my head that the guy tried to take down the age gap theory by promoting the religiosity gap theory. It could be that all these reasons have some impact. I guess the question si which ahs the most impact.

  27. I think the reason the guy got fed up with the age gap theory is that someone is throwing a huge amount of $$$ marketing it, when it’s not clear that it’s the main cause of the problem. No one is spending huge $$$ marketing to the seminaries that they should relax what they teach about marrying a learner (for example).

  28. And about Asperger’s, I don’t know. If a girl is evaluating a prospective date without meeting the person first, would she choose a guy with known Asperger’s? Not all Asperger’s guys are super-genii who are going to run a hedge fund or be the top learner in Lakewood. Some have average intelligence and poor social skills. What girl is going to be charmed by that description?

  29. Regarding your question as to why the problem did not exist 40 years ago –
    The answer to that could be the change in growth rate. IOW, it could be that the problem did exist 40 years ago, but was less pronounced because the growth rate back then, although positive, was smaller than it is now. (So if growth rate remains constant at what it is now, we will still have the same problem in 20 years as we do now.) I would guess that the growth rate back then was smaller, bu that’s just speculation.

  30. Sure she won’t be charmed, bu are there enough guys with Aspergers that this is a significant part of the problem?

  31. Probably not enough guys with Aspergers to make a difference 🙂 There are additional neurological issues that are more common in males. People are pickier too, now that it’s a “disorder” and not “quirkiness”. Girls are thinking about their future children, when in the past, people didn’t know some traits are genetic. Finally, in the past a girl could meet a guy in college or at a singles event and be charmed by the quirkiness. It’s hard to be charmed by a quirky guy you only see on paper.

  32. I have a great idea. How about we just kill all the newborn girls, Pharaoh style, until the imaginary age gap is gone? Or we could just all daven to have sons.

  33. MCP don’t jest like that. In all seriousness.

    To age gap problem, IMO it is a) simply wrong to prevent a person from wanting to date once they mature; and b)dictate who they can and can’t marry because of age. c) Hashgachat Pratit needs to be practiced and lived by. That means being taught to widen your blinkers as to what is a feasible option and to give wider options a try. Many married people like myself will tell you the person they thought they wanted to marry and the person thy actually married were different…for me I never dreamed of marrying a vegetarian…but after you are married for some time you begin to realise your spouse had all these different qualities that you SHOULD have looked for! d) Don’t be afraid to go out with disabled, even wheelchair bound people. Even if u are an intellectual, some are extremely smart…my wife’s friend wheelchair bound from birth won the law medal at uni and is highly sought out…and very witty…even though it takes a while to understand her. And if I make but 1 person reconsider because of my post then I would be happy! /End rant.

  34. tesyaa, I absolutely agree that the OTD rate has a huge effect on the shidduch world. Not even OTD specifically, there are many guys who are much more modern than their families. So when people throw it out that girls should simply look for somebody who isn’t learning, it’s not so simple. I do believe there are a lot of BY girls who would be happy with a “yeshivish” working boy, but guys like that are few and far between. These girls are still very frum, want a husband who will go to shul every day, shiurim, etc. These guys don’t want a super frum BY girl, either, they want either a “traditional” girl or a girl who comes from a similar background but is now less frum.
    I think this is something that started back in the late 80’s, early 90’s, and therefore it is a trickle down effect that took a decade or so to really show up, and that is why you see so many large numbers of single women in their 30’s (and down) where you didn’t see that so much in the women who are a decade older than that.

  35. Since the whole theory is based on statistics, of which there are no hard numbers, what else is there to argue against?

    I looked very hard for real numbers on Orthodox Jewry when I did the Drake Equation post. There are none. Therefore it’s only conjecture.

    Men and women 3-4 years apart are in the same generation. I do not believe there can be a statistically significant gap in the number of men and women whose ages could fall within the range of a single family – and a small, closely spaced one at that.

    However, using the general American community as comparison is not correct. Because our community is so small, and divided into even smaller subdivisions, uneveness is more apparent. Or, may seem apparent when it doesn’t exist.

    There have certainly been shidduch crises before. After the Civil War, for example. That’s what Gone with the Wind is all about.

  36. Not Pleated,
    You’re allowing your judgment to be clouded by what you can and cannot see with your own eyes. You have to think about this mathematically. If there is any annual growth rate, there will be an issue. If you assume even a 2% annual growth rate (which I think is probably a conservative estimate) that will give you a 6% gap between the populations 3 years apart.
    Using your logic, that there can’t be a statistically sagnificant difference between 3-4 years, it would follow that the community should not grow at all, ina statistically significant way, which is obviously absurd.

  37. Does anyone really believe the Ribbono Shel Olom cannot do the math? That when 10% of our girls were born, the bas kol said, “bas ploni to … ooops, don’t have anyone for her, sorry!”

    BTW, the avos married younger women, at a time when the growth rate of klal yisroel was increasing dramatically. No crisis there.

  38. No one said any such thing about the Ribbono shel Olam. But when the system that PEOPLE have set up prevents young ladies from marrying, due entirely to a self manufactured systemic flaw, that’s certainly not the Ribbono Shel Olam’s fault.

    The second part of your comment is so silly irrelevant, that I’m sure it was written in jest.

  39. Sass:

    “People” have not set up any such system that has not been in place for thousands of years. If anything, the “age gap” is smaller than it was after the war, so you’d think we’d see fewer older singles now than then.

    And the implication is clearly that the Ribbono Shel Olom did not creat enough boys to go around, given that the Ribbono Shel Olom is aware of the “system” to which you refer.

    The second part of your comment resorts to name-calling. Really?

  40. This whole thing is so wrong I don’t even know where to start.
    First I was wondering when someone would bring up the Ribono Shel Olom. Surely He has a plan for 10 out of every 10 girls.
    The use of the word tragedy, the graphics and the general tone of this ad is clearly designed to induce panic, state of mind which usually doesn’t allow for calm, rational thinking. If this is the way we induce people into marriage then it will not be long before we have posters saying in bold black letters on a fiery red background, “(insert statistic) marriages are ending in divorce.” It is better to wait until Hakodosh Boruch Hu sends you the right one than to force yourself and your spouse into a marriage that will not work.
    Scaring people into marriage does not work. But then people are still trying to scare their kids into staying frum, scare their students into marrying a ‘learning guy’, scare their boys from earning a parnosa and in general scare anyone off from anything that in their opinion is not right.
    Where is the love? People are much more likely to follow your path if you do it with joy and love, but that’s another rant for another occasion.

  41. Random Shadchan:
    Who told you this system has been in place for thousands of years? It certainly has not. There may have been people who suggested matches, but they were not so bold as to claim that they “made them”. They did not impose standards upon the people they set up, there were no rules of dating to follow, it was not a systematic process that reduced human beings to lines on a piece of paper. During the only documented shidduch crisis in days of yore, the solution was to have the girls borrow white dresses and dance in the fields twice a year so that the boys could find a wife. This solution lasted for nearly a thousand years. The current system we have is perhaps 35 years old, tops.
    If you believe in the concept of beshert, or intended, then you should also know that it is possible for a person to not marry their intended. This can happen if a person turns this suggestion down, or if their intended did the same and married someone else. When this happens, it is purely a PEOPLE problem. So how do people make such a mistake? By focusing on silly qualifications they believe their intended must have, and basking in the illusion that there are certain rules one has to follow in order to meet their intended (such as the fact that there must be an age/height difference, affiliated with such-and-such yeshiva, must have been suggested by a third party, etc). Know what fosters such an environment? The current shidduch system.
    Aaaaaaaaaand we have come full circle.

  42. Mir119:

    I am confused. They “system” to which I refer, in place for thousands of years, is that traditionally, men have married younger women.

    As far as people determining who can date whom, I don’t know where you are from, or with whom you usually deal, but I wouldn’t dream of “imposing standards”, nor would I claim I “made” a match. The Ribbono Shel Olom does that. I don’t tell people who to date; a man tells me he wants a woman the same age, older, younger… whatever he wants, that’s who I suggest. A woman tells me she wants tall, short, learning, working… that’s who I suggest for her. I don’t impose my own preferences on anyone else.

    Of course I believe in the concepts of both free will and bashert. But I am not sure why you are blaming the “system” for individual preferences re: age, height, income requirements, yeshiva, etc. And BTW, there have always been some men who are comfortable marrying women their own age, or even older, before the NASI initiative. I have been happily involved in some of those shidduchim myself. My objection here is to the scare tactics, to the inherent lack of bitachon, and to the societal engineering encouraged by people who buy into the scare tactics. I’d am uncomfortable with the idea that age should be the priority when suggesting a shidduch. If you had come to me for help, I’d have listened to what you were looking for, and seen whom I have that sounds like what you described. I’d hate to say, Hmm, Mr. X sounds right, but she’s 3 years younger than he is, so I’d better red him to one of those “close in age singles” or they will never get married.

  43. We all know there are people who, despite wonderful qualities and sincere effort, never get married. Is everyone here in denial of that undeniable fact?

  44. Tesyaa:

    Not at all. I think there’s just dispute as to the cause, i.e., whether the “age gap” exists and contributes to the problem.

  45. Dear Bad4,

    If there aren’t any statistics, why don’t you try to generate some? If this is really a “crisis”, why doesn’t one of the people throwing money at the problem hire a “real” survey firm? Track down a sample of 1000 boys who went to day school and 1000 girls who went to day school and find out how many are married, divorced, OTD ?

    As I watched this conversation go from analysis to accusations, I realized that nothing productive is going to happen until we get some statistics.

    This would not be hard to do. Just get grammar school graduation pictures and ask your friendly, neighborhood Shadchan what happened to each person in the picture. Lather, rinse, repeat 100 times.

  46. Stupid. And even if it were a good idea, the way it is presented makes me want to puke.

    Yes, boys start dating at an older age than girls. No, I don’t think that in the 40+ year old single population there are more women than men. I actually know a lot more older single men than older single women.

    In addition, here in Israel, there are a lot of 25+ year old chareidi girls, even though they and their brothers start dating at 20 years old. So their “proof” is inherently faulty.

    And we forgot to mention that 19 year old girls aren’t always mature, nor are 23 year old boys. Sure I know someone who got married at 18. I actually know 2 people who did. One was an immature loser who I’m shocked isn’t divorced. The other was pretty mature and it’s not surprising at all that she married so young (her husband was 24 when they married; the first one married someone her age or maybe 21 years old).

    The issue here isn’t maturity or respecting bnos Yisrael. No. The issue is that nebach, we don’t know what to do besides for marry off our kids really young, when they are stupid enough to think that we care about their future when all we care about is our own reputation. (Because otherwise we wouldn’t insist on fancy weddings. We wouldn’t insist on sending them all to Israel, girls and boys both. We wouldn’t insist that they only learn Torah and ignore d’oraisa obligations.)

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