Letter: Shidduch Crisis and Moshiach

Today, like every day, tens of thousands will pore over their Gemara or listen to shiurim on the daily Daf. Today however, they will see a key to change which would better so many lives, in this world and the next. Many will see it, but unfortunately not very many will act on it. This Gemara is no secret, and has been seen by young and old for centuries, but in recent years it seems to have been overlooked.

רב הונא לטעמיה דאמר: בן עשרים שנה ולא נשא אשה – כל ימיו בעבירה. בעבירה סלקא דעתך?! אלא אימא: כל ימיו בהרהור עבירה. אמר רבא, וכן תנא דבי רבי ישמעאל: עד עשרים שנה יושב הקדוש ברוך הוא ומצפה לאדם מתי ישא אשה, כיון שהגיע עשרים ולא נשא, אומר: תיפח עצמותיו

Rav Huna taught that one who is not married by the time he is 20, will live his entire life with sinful thoughts. Rava, as well as Rebbi Yishmael, taught that Hashem Himself waits for one to get married. When he reaches 20 and hasn’t attempted to get married, Hashem says “May his bones swell” (A curse reserved only for those who postpone marriage or for those who deny תחיית המתים.)

This Gemara seems to be overlooked because the Gemara before discusses one who is preoccupied learning Torah and wouldn’t be able to continue his studies after marriage. He therefore is exempt (according to some interpretations) from the age limit of 20. One may think this exempts all Yeshiva students, but the truth is that this exemption only applies to someone who need not be concerned with illicit thoughts. It is for someone on a level higher than almost any of our day bachurim. The average, and even the best of our boys cannot vouch on themselves that they have total control over their Yetzer hora.

This exemption also doesn’t apply to anyone who is going to Kollel or whose wife, parents, or in-laws will support them after marriage. (According to R’ Moshe Feinstein, it doesn’t apply unless one won’t be able to learn Torah even during his set time to learn because of the stresses of work. If however he could set aside some time to learn properly, he wouldn’t be exempt from getting married at this age.)

For all practical purposes, for almost all young men, the correct age for marriage is before they reach 20. This Halacha is codified by the Rambam, Tur, Shulchan Aruch, and accepted by all halachic authorities of all times. This includes the Chafetz Chaim, Aruch Hashulchan, Chazon Ish, R’ Moshe Feinstein and so on.

The connection to the shidduch crisis is quite obvious. If boys were to get married younger the age gap wouldn’t be there. Even if this would cause more boys than girls according to statistics, we should much rather have a “crisis” caused by Hashem and not one which we made ourselves. In the former we can rely on Him, but in the later He relies on us to mend our ways.

But where does Moshiach come in? The Gemara (Niddah 13b) says that one who marries a young girl who is not old enough to bear children delays the coming of Moshiach. This is because Moshiach will only come when all the Neshamos that need to come to this world have already been born. By delaying marriage we are delaying generations from being born which in turn delays the coming of Moshiach.

As the Yom Hadin approaches, perhaps as a people we could aim to get closer to the age Hashem required us to get married. Many projects have been aimed at lowering the age of our boys, but none of them seemed to garner enough steam. Perhaps the only way to achieve this goal is not by throwing money at the problem, or convincing people to do it for the sake of fixing a crisis. We need to simply realize how detrimental it is for young men to not be in a marriage at this age. They will inevitably deteriorate spiritually and suffer with sinful thoughts for the rest of their life.

The Mahrsha comments on today’s Gemara that one who isn’t married by 20 gets the not-so honorable title of רשע. The Medrash in Koheles says that those that delay marriage are worthy of מיתה בידי שמים. This is a serious issue, and before the Yom Hadin it is worth examining.

נחפשה דרכינו ונחקרה ונשובה עד ה’

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    • this is the psak halacha after the maskanah of the sugya which we do not conclude on our own we just follow the Rishonim and the Poskim

    • As with all machlokis in Gemara, you have to check how the Rambam/Shulchan Aruch Pasken.
      And in this case, they pasken that 20 is latest one should get married.
      So it’s not cherry picked in any way…

  1. Are the people who write these same letters over & over willing to support a “Real” statistics company being hired to track the Shalom Bayis, Abuse (yet it exists even in our community) & divorce rates of men getting married earlier compared to the rates in the current system? Will they be willing to “Change course” if they see it’s causing more problems than it’s solving?

    • Those issues won’t be resolved by age. An abusive guy is just that, abusive. Divorce today is high for different reasons. Some people think everything in life is recyclable, including marriage. Many others never know what they want in a shidduch, and just let the system decide what is for them. Thus when the dream isn’t realized, because it’s not who they are, there’s no where for them to go.

  2. the reason bochurim do not begin dating younger is because their parents feel that since it is not certain that the very first shidduch will work out and it may take a few months to get engaged so they don’t want their children to start the process and then pause it

    therefore they simply push off the whole subject even though the child is ready to travel halfway across the world and who knows where for vacation and surely is mature enough and can get married and stay happy

    but if you look at the numbers of boys currently learning in Mir and other yeshivos in Eretz Yisroel and the number of girls similarly “docked” in seminary the sums are basically paired

    now therefore since all of these yeshivos have kollel programs why are boys not dating earlier? over the summer break etc.?

    because of the arctic still looming ahead

    but if the guidelines would be more conforming to the situation today then we would achieve more parity in the shidduchim results and many happier families

    besides the issue of kedusha which needs to be secured at a younger age while in yeshiva under the hadracha of Yerei Shomayim Merabbim

    so the main issue is that “chill zone” which is clogging and backing up the whole system and at the expense of the boys own esteem let alone the girls’

  3. Nice. However most people in the know, agree that the crisis has nothing to do with numbers……. speak to your local Shadchan..
    Or if you ever redt a shidduch, you would realize. Just by the way there are hundreds of boys over the age 24…and there are lists available to anyone who is in the field. So obviously, it’s not for the lack of boys.
    The myth needs to die so that we can actually focus on what the real problem is.

    • There are hundreds of boys over 24. And thousands of girls. It is very much a problem of numbers. And if you ask, but the boys are too picky? The answer is supply and demand.

    • 100’s of boys? where? the 1000’s of girls at that age are everywhere! getting married on time is a myth? on time is not 24, it is at 20! if it is all a myth then who said there is any problem at all, maybe everything is fine? the reality is twofold, one that boys are overwait about getting married and second that girls are being withheld their zivug because had the boy considered a shidduch at 21 he would have met her but since he involuntarily waited till 24 now he wants a 19 yr old and not his bashert who turned 23 after being kept away from her zivug by rules and regulations, this is the very real reality.

      • Where in BMG , hundreds over the age of 26.!! And that is the number for boys who are still in BMG many do leave unmarried.Supply and demand? This is not a fish market it’s people making decisions and obviously deciding to either push it off, or no one’s good enough. It’s very well might be that there are more girls available than boys at a specific age however it does not explain why hundreds and hundreds of boys are in the market for more than 2 years and are not moving along.

        • if BMG is accepting upwards of 300 new talmidim age 23-24 every half a year and also they have approx 1000 bochurim listed enrolled then they do not have enough place for “hundreds of bochurim over 26” even if they were hiding in the dorms
          let’s face it, the system is made to get engaged within half a year to a year after starting shidduchim, but why is this age set at 24 when it can just as well be 21 without any financial stress or bittul Torah? spending that extra half a year in the “sub zero” does not offer financial preparedness nor does it weed out potential abuse or divorce, so why is it necessary?

  4. There was actually a serious ongoing study done on this.
    The finding so far was that the issue resolves itself once you get to the mid 30’s/40’s and seems to be more about a hashkafic incompatibility between girls and boys when they are younger, that either changes or is overlooked when they get older.
    So while the 22 year old girl only wants a serious learning boy, the pool for her to date is much smaller. But when she is 35, has be come much more “open” or “modern” or whatever you want to call it, some of the men who she would have never considered at 22 have also settled down and become a bit more serious, and less wild, and they are now compatible.

    To me this is more about our chinuch system failing the boys then anything else. Many girls would be open to consider a boy who works but is toradik and serious, but the reality is that today most of the boys who are not in full time learning end up lowering there standards in ways that make them incompatible to these girls until later in life.

    We need a way for boys who do not want or are incapable of learning full time to feel fulfilled, succesful, and stay seriosuly committed to a real toradik life to solve the shidduch crisis.

    • The guys that belong working are told that they are not real jews or whatever if they are not f/t learning. The truth is a person can be a true ben torah when working f/t, even when they go to work by age 20-22. It’s the mentality that all guys and gals are raised with in the main stream yeshiva/bais yaakov system. That mentality needs to change.

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