Shidduch Crisis Article

DEMOGRAPHIC CAUSES AND SOLUTIONS FOR THE SHIDDUCH CRISIS[1]

            By Dovid Wiener and Chaim Tropper

 

For many years people have noticed that boys have an easier time finding dates than girls. Especially pronounced is that the lists for boys are generally long and getting longer, while the girls have very short lists and have intervals when they wait and wait for the phone calls to come in.[2] Shadchanim often only want to hear about prospective boys, since their lists of the girls available is already overwhelming. It has already come to the point where a boy has to first express a meaningful interest in a prospective girl before the girl can be broached or asked about whether she’d be interested in the boy.

One would expect in the area of Shiduchim there to be a roughly an equal number of boys and girls. However it has been pointed out that there seems to be an element of disparity in the ratio of girls to boys of marriageable age. When one tabulates Shadchanim lists of eligible young adults, the ratio of girls to boys comes to about 110:100 (This means than there are 110 girls for every 100 boys). This disparity becomes even more marked as these singles get older and the pool shrinks.

A number of causes have been proposed as to why this disparity exists.  Most of the explanations given are sociological and as such are all but impossible to prove. There is however one non-sociological factor that undoubtedly plays a major role in this issue. That factor is the demographic one[3]. It is this issue that we would like to focus on with the hope that Insights into this cause of the Shidduch crisis may give us some ideas as to how to address it. One has to only look around, to see that in what we refer to as the “Yeshivish” community, we find that on average boys marry girls significantly younger than themselves.[4]

            It’s important to understand exactly why this particular item would contribute to generating the disparity mentioned. In order to do this let us look at some demographic data in the American Yeshivish community. These numbers are meant to actually reflect the American and Canadian Yeshivish population and are based on extensive studies made relatively recently. Those studies looked at the Yeshivish population growth in America and in Israel, on the average number of children in those circles, on surveys on the numbers of Bais Yaacov girls graduating from the major Bais Yaacovs each year, on a review of all the numbers of Girls attending Bais Yaacovs in America and Canada, and on a similar study of boys attending the various yeshivos and on the ages of those boys. The number of girls entering into Shiduchim each year, were compared with the actual number of boys entering into Shiduchim. The study also reviewed all 3500 girls who graduated the major Bais Yaacov schools over a six year period ending seven years ago. . Although there are a number of schools that were not included, the patterns on which this study is based should apply to them as well. The chart below shows a general outline of the American and Canadian Yeshivish population born between 1984 and 1988, and coming of age in 2007.

 

Born in

# of boys

# of girls

Resulting age in mid 2007

1984

1000

 960

Age 23

1985

1040

1000

Age 22

1986

1080

1040

Age 21

1987

1120

1080

Age 20

1988

1160

1120

Age 19

 

This scenario assumes that demographics are such that:

 

 

  1. The ratio of boys to girls at age 20 is approximately 104:100[5]

1.2.That each successive year close to 4 % more children are born than in the prior year (in Eretz Yisroel the actual increase is closer to 5 %)[6]. This rate was derived and verified independently from studies of the Yeshivish total fertility rate in the USA and Canada, Israeli statistical surveys broken down by religious affiliation, the increase in the Yeshivish voting statistics in Israeli elections, and a survey of the increase of the number of girls attending Bais Yaacovs high schools. (Those verifications do take into account the obvious factors that apply uniquely to each of these separate studies.)[7]

 

In general, boys in Yeshivish circles marry girls three years younger. These figures are based on the average ages of boys and girls getting married in the American Yeshivish population.

Now let us draw conclusions based on the above chart. Note that if boys age 23 end up[8] marrying girls who are 20-years-old, there will 1000 boys searching for a shidduch from a pool of 1080 girls. This means that 80 girls will be left without a shidduch, and many of the 1080 girls age 20 will be going through a crisis, since all 1080 are “competing” for the same 1000 boys. This is besides the 21,22, and 23-year-old girls who are left over from the past three years.

This disparity has profound effects that go beyond the very troubling predicament of the unmatched girls. One result is that these 1000 boys can make more demands on the pool of 1080 girls. The most common one that the Yeshivish world is familiar with is financial demands of support and housing for learning short or long term. This is known by the term “dowry inflation”. Families need to come up with money to marry off their daughters. It is not unusual for fathers to collect from their own family members, or to go collecting in their communities or even overseas, in order to build up sufficient funds. Note that this demand for funds does not in any way solve the problem that there are only 1000 boys for these 1080 girls. It only helps to identify which of these 1080 girls will be marrying these 1000 boys.

Another result of this disparity is that many boys are more particular about external beauty than they otherwise would be concerned with. This is especially prevalent in our gashmiyus oriented society that bombards all media with photos and with stress on the superficiality of dress and looks. Just open almost any of the numerous local Yeshivish mailings and magazines. (As an aside, please note that from discussions with Shadchanim and with boys actively dating, this is often more a concern of the mothers of boys in the Shidduch Parshah, than that of the boys themselves!) Rav Yaacov Kaminetsky zt”l used to point out, “Vie es khristtelzich, es Yidellezich, (the negative values of the goyishe world around us filter even into our Jewish values). The true inner qualities of ones Neshama fall prey to this misdirected notion of extra emphasis on looks. Rav Yissocher Frand points out how in our superficial and consumer oriented society, young girls are often considered “new” and “fresh”.  As a result of all of this, we find unheard of problems of serious anorexia and bulimia among the Yeshivish Olom. Bais Yaacov principles are describing major problems among many! of their students, and a book was recently published on this topic just for the Yeshivish Bais Yaacov Olom. Again as mentioned above, note that the stress on looks may help to identify which of these 1080 girls will marry these 1000 boys, but it will not in any way solve the problem that there are 80 girls with no boys for them.

A much more striking but easier to follow example of how this mismatch works, can be followed from looking at what happened right after World War 2. Till 1945 there were a relatively low level of Yeshivish boys and girls in the Shidduch market in America. Starting in 1945 there was a major influx of Yeshivish survivors, together with a smaller but still significant group of those Yeshivish soldiers returning from the war. There was a major increase in marriages and population growth. This is known as the “post war baby boom”.  The large increase of boys and girls born in 1946 through 1948 became of marriageable age starting when they were 20 during the years 1966 through 1968. During 1966 the large group of girls born in 1946 now turning 20, and now searching to get married, had only one group of boys to search for in their pool of prospective mates, and that was the similar group of boys born in 1946 and now turning 20. But those boys did not yet want to get married until they were around 23 in 1969, And at that time, they were interested in marrying girls who were then 20 i.e. girls who had been born in 1949. Thus the girls born 1946 to 1948 were left with hardly any boys to choose from and as a result if you speak to the Bais Yaacov graduates of those years, you will find that many of their classmates never got married – to a much worse degree than you even find nowadays. Of course, if there had been no post-war population increase at all, then those girls could have easily married all the 23 year old boys who had been born in the three years before 1946, i.e. in 1943. In short, all boys born in 1943 would have sufficed for the few girls born in 1946. So you see that this post-war mismatch was only due to the dramatic increase in population growth after 1945.

            Now let’s follow up with the conclusions we can draw. If boys were to marry girls that are on average one year younger than themselves, there would be no disparity at all – we would have e.g. 1000 boys age 21 marrying exactly 1000 girls age 20, etc.

            It is very interesting to note that this is common practice in the Chassidish communities, in which boys marry girls the same age. Not only do they not have our crisis, but they even find themselves with their boys having it a bit tougher than the girls to find a shidduch! (since they would have e.g. 1080 boys age 20 searching for their Shidduch from among 1040 girls age 20).

This important observation about the Chassidic community serves to verify the above analysis in addition to the statistics on which that analysis is based, and it serves to direct us toward a solution, IY”H, as we’ll discuss later on.

As you can see, the whole problem exists because the increase in frum population from year to year causes a mismatch in the number of available girls.

The results of these statistics are striking. It turns out that during the course of one generation of twenty-five years, 4,170 ! girls will not have a corresponding boy from the community.[9]  Although a number of them may eventually marry, it will most likely be boys who are outside the Yeshivish circle, or else those who were previously married. Another equivalent way of looking at this, is that these statistics result in that for every 12 new shidduchim, one girl may never be able to marry!!! Is that a large impact? Consider the following:

·          This means that 8% of all girls graduating every Bais Yaacov may lo oleinu not find a shidduch. Imagine if someone told us that such a high percentage Chas Vesholom went off the Derech. It would be a crisis of overwhelming proportions!

·          This means that every Shabbos when you read the simchos section of the paper and see 36 new marriages – indeed a source of much pride and joy – you are simultaneously seeing the resulting impact of 3 new girls who may have been chosen to be excluded from ever getting married in the future.

·          This means that every Shadchan – whether professional or amateur – who thinks that he or she is doing a great service by expending enormous effort to make new marriages may be simultaneously exacerbating the problem at the same time – if (and this is an important if) they encourage the age discrepancy[10]. We don’t deny their fervor, commitment and time spent in this important issue. Indeed they put their heart and soul into sincerely trying to help rectify the problem. Of course not only the Shadchanim, but also the general population must come to understand this problem, whether it is the parents or the boys or their married friends. Many Shadchanim are already familiar with this statistical analysis, but they complain that it is the parents and the boys who insist on the age mismatch.

·          This also means that every time a boy forgoes choosing a girl younger than him, and instead focuses on girls his age, he is giving a chance for the girls his same age to find a Shidduch. We do grant that this reason would be a very altruistic and honorable motivation on the part of the boy (and/or his mother).[11]

 

            But why does this so called “shidduch crisis” seem to be something unique in our days. Even the Avos hakedoshim married girls younger than themselves, and furthermore, this has been a “custom” in the Jewish world for generations, (even though many of us can point to exceptions even within our own families). What has changed in our generations?

Here are some of the possible explanations:

  1. During the 1900s, the life expectancy of the general population increased dramatically (mainly due to the discovery of antibiotics in the 1940s, newly discovered methods of food agriculture, and other scientific advances). Previously, it had not been unusual for men to die in their 30s or 40s, and moreover there was an extraordinarily high rate of women who dies in childbirth. With a short life expectancy, people had fewer children, and as a result many generations could and did go by without an increase in population growth. Similarly
  2. Since the 1950s, there is much less persecution and resulting migration than in the tortuous centuries previously. Rashi at the beginning of Parshas Lech Lecha discusses how migrations impinge on childbearing.

2.3.The previous generations were times of war and strife in which young men were more likely to be depleted than young women.

2.4.Before the current times of government welfare systems, it was not unusual for one daughter to remain unmarried and stay home to care for elderly parents.

 

When Hashem wishes to bring about problems and/or yeshuous in the course of our history, He often does not do it through miracles – other than through the miracle that we call Tevah (nature)[12]. We do not know why Hashem chose to bring this “Shidduch Crisis” upon us at this time. But seemingly, he did it through a very simple technique – a desire in the boys to search for girls with an age mismatch, and He offers us a seemingly simple approach to help rectify the problem, and that is to one way or another lessen the degree of the age mismatch.

 

Over the past year or two various proposals that have been suggested to lessen this age mismatch. Each proposal addresses the problem from a different angle. An important thing to keep in mind as you follow these suggestions is that they may serve to simultaneously address other totally unrelated problems in the Jewish world today, and yet some of them may also draw attention to other problems that they may exacerbate. These proposals are not inclusive and they are not listed in any order of priority.

1)      The first proposal is as follows: We have all heard of the Baltimore response to the shidduch crisis. The Star-K offers $2,000 for shidduchim that fall within specific guidelines. This response is an effort to address the crisis vis-à-vis the out-of-town girls. Other cities like Lakewood have also adopted this approach. How about adapting this response to the problem of boys rejecting girls in their age group?[13] If a bochur marries a girl older than him (or within a half year of his age), the Shadchan (and/or the bochur) would receive a gift of money or some other form of compensation or recognition.

1)2)                       The second proposal is as follows: Currently boys generally start dating around age 22 and get married at 23 or 24. Girls start dating after Seminary at 19 or 20. One solution would be to simultaneously (i) ask girls to start dating when they are somewhat older –  and (ii)  to encourage the boys when they start dating at to focus on those slightly older girls and not on the younger girls that they otherwise look at.

a)      Proven and Capable: A young girl is an unknown quantity. Will she cope well with the complexities of life? An older girl has life experience. She’s been accountable to her supervisors and employers. She’s been time tested. You know what she is and how she’ll turn out. Boys don’t acquire substantial “life experience” as they go from 20-25 since even then they are sheltered and protected from outside environments and dealing with them, in order to allow them to focus on learning without distraction. The Kallah will be the only one during the first years of marriage, with some knowledge on how to address these issues for both parties.

a)b)            Boy’s Goals: The Yiddish world is very competitive and challenging. Boys are ambitious and idealistic. As Rav Shamshon Rephoel Hirsch said, “I have very big goals for my life and I need an older girl to help me achieve those goals”. This applies to the future Rosh Yeshiva, Rov or Rebbe as well as to the future Askan, Ba’al Chesed or Committed Ba’al Habayis.

a)c)Maturity: An older girl is mature and capable of handling life’s up and downs – both inside and outside marriage.

a)d)           Financial: An older girl is more productive economically. She’s saved money already and has built up the skills to do so for the future. She can better help support the family in the future, whether it’s while the boy learns, or later on when he tries to make ends meet and simultaneously tries to maintain early morning or late evening learning sedorim (or chesed projects) while he’s working during the day.

a)e)Income: This would also give the girl a chance to bring in income before getting married to help out once they get married, and such funds often mean that the boy can either learn longer, or establish himself in a more secure profession with a better future, or both.

a)f) Part of the reason that boys wish to marry girls who are younger than them may very well be that some of the boys are insecure in marrying girls who may have matured and developed experience, guidance and skills beyond those of the level that the boys themselves have attained.   Boys would have to be directed to focus their dating away from the younger girls, onto the girls closer to their age. There is a slight trend already in this direction, and it has been helped by lectures and stories by such personalities as Rabbi Paysach Krohn in his recent Chofetz Chaim Heritage Foundation drashah. These boys often find a level of maturity and knowledge in their new spouse at a very satisfying level beyond what they even envisioned originally.[14]

3)      The third proposal would be for boys to start dating earlier at maybe ages 21 or 22.

a)      Since girls start dating no earlier than when they return from seminary, which is about 19 or 20, the age discrepancy between them and the boys will inherently be decrease dramatically. The prior suggestion requires that (i) the boys have to stop dating much younger girls on their own volition, and (ii) the girls have to push off dating about two years from when they return from seminary (when often there is almost a panic reaction to start dating). In contradistinction, in this solution by default the only girls available will be those much closer in age, and they can start dating as soon as they return from seminary. This idea makes this the solution of choice among some of those working very hard – including some Gedolim – to cut down on the age mismatch.

a)b)             A Kol Koreh has been released by some of the venerable Gedolim in America. They emphasize how the age-old custom as mentioned by our Chazal and codified in the Shulchan Aruch was to marry at earlier ages. They point out that the boys should ignore the current peer pressure push off marriage from those early ages. They say that boys have much to gain from marrying earlier and should make these decisions carefully by consulting with their Rebbeim. Rav Chaim Kanievsky has also written a letter giving his berocho to boys who do this. Boys very often take note of the directives of such Kol Korehs. Much work has been put into and continues to be expended in working in this direction.

a)c)Unlike the past generations, our generation has been bombarded by a hitherto unknown level of peritzus. In strikes through all levels of the media, even on the radio and in the otherwise most conservative newspapers. Above and beyond this, the challenges and dangers of the internet pose a new and very real fear threatening our valued Torah lifestyles. Educators emphasize the extra danger that it poses to our youth who are naturally curious and at a sensitive stage in their lives. Even accidental or momentary exposure to some of these unwanted peritzus can affect these youth.[15] Marrying at a younger age will help protect young boys from these challenges and helps assure the parents that the boys will be more protected from these challenges by giving them focus on the Shidduch scene at a younger age, and by having them married off ages when these dangers might pose the greatest challenge, and when they are becoming more independent from their families, often having been away from home for quite a while. This is a very real beneficial side – effect that cannot be overlooked.[16]

a)d)           Learning, Accountability and Respect: When boys are in yeshivos, especially in Eretz Yisroel, they are very much on their own with no supervision or accountability for putting in their learning hours. There is a lot of hefkeiurs out there, even amount the yeshiva boys. Parents just hope that that the learning’s ok. The boys themselves can be unsure if that will they have the stamina to stick to their sedorim without any mashgiach or parent on top of them. It is natural to have ups and downs – but it’s harder when it’s unsupervised and unsupported. Getting married earlier would give the boy added accountability to his wife, added respect from her for each day’s learning, and moreover added encouragement to apply oneself as best one can.

a)e)Generally parents support their son’s yeshiva until their sons get married, and then for a while afterwards. If boys get married earlier, their parent’s money can be spent supporting them for possibly an additional year or two of kollel life beyond what they would otherwise have planned. Thus the young couple will start off marriage with more piece of mind from a financial viewpoint. By marrying earlier, many a boy and girl can best lay out short-term and long-term plans to develop their skills and kochos in and out of klie kodesh, with all the support that a home gives The aforementioned Kol Koreh actually point outs out the without financial concerns it is better to marry earlier. (Of course one side impact of concern would be that yeshivas might get less income, since the boys then marry earlier.)

a)f) Boys marrying younger may be less prepared and less mature for married life with its need for understanding and tolerance. This must then be addressed. There are various yeshivos, (as Ponevich and Slobodka in Eretz Yisroel) in which the Roshei Yeshiva will only be mesader kiddushin if the boys take and complete a series of eight classes given by people specially designated for this purpose. These are not just what we call choson classes, but basically a course on preparing these young boys to know about and to deal with the challenges of being married, so that they will IY”H live a happy life with sholom bayis. They have to pay for these classes and must submit to the mesader kiddushin a certificate or receipt when they complete it.

4)      General comments on Boys and girls being closer in age

a)      Girls are known to generally mature earlier than boys. Thus they may feel that an boy who is older might make more sense for them. They may fear that their own skills and training and maturity will overshadow any young, inexperienced boy the same age as theirs. They have to however recognize that soon enough the boy will build up his skills, especially with the wife’s guidance. They both learn and grow up together, and will learn to live and respect each other’s personality, not each other’s extensive or limited training.

b)      Currently women live longer than men by seven years on the average (and it’s not getting smaller). That is hard enough on the women. If on top of that the husbands are three years older than their wives, then that means that they can expect their wives to outlive them by over 10 years in total. That means that the wives will be almonos, lo oleinu, for roughly half a generation. That is one reason why senior citizen homes have so many more women than men – often so much more that there is trouble getting a minyan of men. Thus, by marrying a girl the same age, it turns out that in the twilight part of their lives, the couple will have four more years of married life together in reward for having agreed to a small age difference at the beginning of their married life.

c)      Any such a sea change in the mindset of the Yeshivish world will require the efforts and understanding of the Shadchanim, the parents and the boys and girls themselves, to reht younger boys to younger girls, and somewhat older girls to older boys.

d)     Often the phrase Ezer Kenegdo is explained in the sense that the wife will serve as a gentle balancing force directing her husband toward the goals Hashem has designated for him. A girl much younger will have a tougher time doing this. (Of course there may be an ego concern since in the American “macho” society the boy is often insecure unless the girl is younger, less educated and/or less capable than he is).

5)      An additional proposal is as follows: Girls can marry boys who are in circles that might not be traditionally Yeshivishe, but boys that consider themselves close to being yeshivishe.[17] This is called “looking outside the box”. For instance there are many boys who grew up in Chassidish circles.  Some of these are more have gravitated toward the Yeshivishe Hashkofoh.  (This is not meant to criticize one group or another. It’s just that we have to recognize that every group has those who gravitate toward the right and left ends of the spectrum of that group. There is always a small – and sometimes not so small – amount of interface and movement between any two circles). These are boys from these other circles who might make very good husbands for some of these girls. (Note that as mentioned above, the Chassidish circles do not have an age mismatch problem to begin with, so any boy of theirs who marries into our circles, does not create any lack of boys for Chassidic girls to marry. – just the opposite – they have a bit too may boys). These non-Yeshivishe groups may also be the Israeli, Sefardic, European, Young Israel, or Ba’al Teshuva Boys. Boys from those groups who become Yeshivishe oriented often make very fine shidduchim for girls who grew up Yeshivishe. Of course any family would have to approach this with added care and guidance, but this does work and has been done even among Chashiv families.

 

Various Shtadlanim have been talking about this aspect of the problem – often called the demographic aspect –           over the past year or two. They have made studies, discussed this extensively with Gedolim, Rosh Yeshivos and some top Shadchanim. It is time for the masses, for those who are the most directly affected, to understand this, or at least to understand the proposed solutions. Much more effort has and is being directed into trying to address this particular aspect head-on. Ideas are still being worked on. Askonim are needed. Possibly a new independent organization will have to be developed to follow up on many of these idea, and to accept tax deductible donations to help fund it. For instance, that for the time that they put into their work, Shadchanim are highly unpaid (and under appreciated), and they do not have the luxury of spending the time and efforts on directing boys to marrying girls closer in age. Even a relatively modest financial incentive to the Shadchanim in general, or maybe to select ones in particular, may give them the freedom to do just that. This insufficient compensation may also explain the dearth of high quality Shadchanim available, and also the great difficulty of getting hold of them when needed. These ideas are still in the formative stage. Another step forward and a serious approach to take note of has been the Kol Korehs that have appeared recently, and that are still being worked on. Note that we can take encouragement in the fact that lately we are hearing a bit more than normal about boys marrying girls who are older. There is much hope in these various suggestions, but we must pursue them aggressively since much is at stake.

            All these suggestions proposed, and the whole analysis per se, should not be seen as a discouragement of other approaches that address the Shidduch “crisis” in totally different forms. For instance all the Shidduch meetings, groups, and organizations, all the phone calls and Hishtadlus of each and every one of us to marry off each and every boy and girl only serve as an integral part of the overall picture in the efforts to bring about a yeshua in this whole important aspect of our lives.

            Where in our tefillos should we best shed our tears for our Yiddishe girls to find their Bashert? Where should we do it without having to do it as a distraction from our tefillos, but rather as an emphasis and as a kavanah in our tefillos. Perhaps the answer is in peuskei d’zimro when we say every day, nosain lechem loreaivim, (since Chazal say that lechem,  bread,  can refer to marriage, as in the Rashi about Yosef Hatzadik), or else in ashrei in the posuk veatah nosain lohem es ochlom beitoh.[18]

            I once heard Rav Shimon Schwab zt”l explain the idea of keri in the posuk of the tochachahveholachti af ani emochem bekeri” as referring to statistics. Hashem’s true rule is at a level beyond statistics. May we be zochech that Hashem lift us beyond us the statistics that seem to make it all so hard on us, and may we be zochech that sholom bayis and happy children will fill each and every house in klal Yisroel.

 

            (Anyone having suggestions, or willing to help volunteer in setting up or working in the type of organization mentioned at the end of this article should feel free to email Chaim Tropper at camt999@gmail.com or Dovid Wiener at davidwiener@verizon.net)

 

 


[1] A simplified version of this article originally appeared as a letter to the editor by Dovid Wiener in Yated Ne’eman in December 2005. Thanks to Rav Shraga Feivel Zimmerman, Dr. Yitzchok Wurzberger, Chaim Tropper, Alan Proctor, Selma Hellman and numerous other people who gave input and ideas, many who wish to remain in the background.

[2] This is not to deny that there are also some very fine boys around who do not have such lists and who themselves are not having an easy time finding dates.

[3] The word demographic refers to issues relating to population makeup and growth.

[4] Numbers in this article are rounded and not compounded, in order to make the article’s logic easier to follow.

[5] The ratio at birth is about 105:100. In our society at large the ratio at age 20 is about 103:100 reflecting a significantly higher mortality rate for males at young ages. Much of the higher mortality rate can be attributed to a variety of risky behaviors that are not commonly found in our circles. As such, 104:100 was deemed to be a fair approximation for the ratio in the frum community.

[6] To be more exact, this annual increase of 4% is due to the natural increase of the Yeshivish population. Actually, there seems to be an additional 1% increase due to the tendency of some otherwise frum but not Yeshivish families sending their children to Yeshivish schools, with their children ending up Yeshivish. This higher increased level can be observed in changes in the current Yeshivish high school population. Above and beyond that, the above scenario also makes another important assumption. The above mathematical model assumes that this Yeshivishe olam is not experiencing a large influx of non-Yeshivishe girls (above and beyond any influx of non-Yeshivishe boys).  Put another way, it assumes that we are working with a “closed block” of boys and girls. Let’s say that a group of girls who are not so Yeshivishe, are taught in seminary to now focus on marrying Yeshivishe boys. Such girls are now entering the model shown above. It increases the discrepancy from year to year – unless an equal number of boys looking for non-Yeshivishe girls are being convinced by their Bais Medrash to start dating Yeshivishe girls.

[7] This 5% increase in Yeshivish population has a great impact on all other aspects of Jewish Life. For instance in any metropolitan region that may have 20 elementary schools for girls in any one year, a new one will have to be established for the next year, just to keep pace. And this would have to keep up year after year. The alterative, which would be unreasonable, would be for each school to increase its student population by 5% each year (e.g. from 20 children per class to 24 the next year, and 29 the next year etc). Either way the teaching staff of any Jewish community needs to increase at 5% per year, just as would the services provided to the Jewish community (e.g. doctors, food products and stores) and also the job opportunities.

[8] They may start dating earlier, but what counts is when they get married

[9] This is based on the more realistic statistics of a 3.5 year age mismatch.

[10] If they run out of boys who are 3 years older, and they therefore search among the boys who are 4 or 5 years older, the problem is only exacerbated and generates this age-mismatch to even a greater degree in turn. Why not save the 19 year old girls for boys who are now 19. Of course their efforts L’shem Shomayim should be a zchus for all those struggling in this serious Inyon. And of course there are indeed some very nice marriages that do have such a large age discrepancy.

[11] Rav Shimon Schwab zt”l in Voeyrah (page 138) questions what Chananiah etc had to learn from the frogs, Mimoh Nafshoch, either if bowing down was OK, then why didn’t he bow down, if not then why did the others bow down. His answer is that the mitzvah was a general one saying that the frogs would go into the ovens. But Hashem did not tell any particular frog to be the one to do it. Each frog could have refused. However the frogs went in because they said that otherwise no frog will do it, and the Dvar Hashem will not be carried out. So Chananiah said although each Jew has a valid excuse, but nevertheless the goyim will not see it as such and will eventually say that Jews bow down to avodah zoroh.  Chananiah learned from that that we must each act to carry out the overall scheme intended by Hashem, even if the command is not to me individually, and I could so to speak get away from it. The nimshal is that for the statistics i.e. the scheme of all boys and girls getting married, on the average boys must marry girls their own age to solve the problem, and even though each boy can say it’s not me, but then the overall intention of Hashem will not get carried out, unless we learn from the frogs and from Chananiah. I saw that Rabbi Meir Hellman points out a similar dvar torah in the name of Rav Elya Svei who said it in the name of his father-in-law Rav Kalmanovitch

[12] The greatest Nes is that Hashem actually made rules for all His Nisim. These rules are called Tevah (nature).

[13] Keep in mind that if we were to tell boys to marry girls one year younger, the girls would end up being more likely 1½ to almost two years younger, since e.g. boys 23 ½ would consider a girl 22, as one year younger. This same idea would apply to us any other age difference. Therefore are rules or suggestions have to very carefully worked out. For instance, you could say, let’s look at the actual number of days between their ages. Is it more or less than a year?

[14] Jonathan Rosenblum recently published an article entitled “Too Many Girls for Too Few Boys” available on his website www.jewishmediaresources.com. In his follow up article entitled “It’s Not Just Demographics” he describes some of the responses to his original article. He quotes the following: “At least three letters came from men who married women older than themselves – one a woman 6 years older, with whom he now has six children. All professed to be thrilled with their choice. … Three women wrote that among their Bais Yaakov classmates the most happily married were those who married slightly later. (As one of them put it, no matter how much babysitting a girl has done or how many younger siblings she has, the vast majority are better prepared for marriage and motherhood at a slightly later age).”

[15] Unfortunately stories abound about terrible problems that have surfaced even among serious and successful yeshiva bochurim. That is in addition to the experiences of those who go even partially “off the Derech” – a separate issue on its own.

[16] . Of course even after marriage these are still concerns, albeit to a lesser degree, and need to be addressed carefully as evidenced by various rules being established in different communities.

[17] We are not talking here about boys who became totally Yeshivishe.

[18] In shmoneh esray possibly the best places might be in vekabetzainu yachad, and more indirectly in reah veonyeinu and in hosheevah  …. Yoatzeinu ….vehosair yogon va’anochoh.

3 thoughts on “Shidduch Crisis Article

  1. Hello B4S:

    This is JSL 364: Psychology and Halakhah writing as a class regarding Anorexia Nervosa and Bulimia in the Orthodox Jewish world. We here in Miami are wondering if these problems are more pronounced in NYC–primarily because of the competition for shidduchim–or here, because of the tropical atmosphere? Some of us are also wondering why it affects the frum community at all, because the demands of tsnius can mask body type differences.

    JSL 364

  2. Pingback: I’m Old – I’m Young – I’m Old « Bad for Shidduchim

  3. Pingback: My Explanations for the Shidduch Crisis « Bad for Shidduchim

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