It’s Tu Bishvat, a time to thank Hashem for the beautiful and delicious fruits that He gave us, but it is also a time of tremendous worry for thousands of people in our community. Tu Bishvat is the time of year that signals the entrance of hundreds of fresh singles, especially boys, on to the shidduch “market.” But unfortunately, that doesn’t mean dates for every girl in shidduchim.
As our community continues to grow by leaps and bounds, the disparity between the number of boys and girls entering the shidduch market is also growing. According to some estimates, for every 2 girls that are entering shidduchim, just 1 boy is. Even if the numbers aren’t quite that bad, a cursory look around our community tells you all that you need to know. The amount of girls seeking a husband is far more than there are single boys. That is a massive, unsustainable problem, and we have got to fix it or we will literally end up with entire communities of sadly unmarried women. I hope that regardless of what steps should be taken to fix it, we can all agree that there is a very real problem. Because admitting the problem is halfway to getting it resolved.
We know what vast majority of gedolei Yisroel have said about the shidduch crisis – boys should begin dating at a younger age. This isn’t something new; they have been saying it for years. So why has that, for the most part, not happened? It’s a question I’ve been pondering and one that I finally think I have the answer to.
Let’s turn away from shidduchim and take a look at the debate about vaccinating children. Every medical doctor (this does not include “natural” health practitioners) that you speak to will urge you to have your children vaccinated. Science has confirmed and reconfirmed that the vaccines that are being administered to children are safe. The few who suffers serious adverse effects from vaccines are literally statistical anomalies, and there are not nearly enough to suggest that vaccines overall are unsafe. It is also undeniable that vaccines have been crucial in essentially ridding the world of numerous debilitating illnesses like polio (when was the last time you saw a kid with polio? Thank vaccines for that). So why is there a debate at all? Simple. Because people take their preconceived notions about vaccines and impose them on everyone else. They take the word of a couple of pseudoscientific studies and snake-oil peddlers, and run with it. Why? Because it sits well with them. Instead of finding out the truth, they choose to believe whatever information that fits inside their little box of how things should be, rather than how they are.
I think the very same thing is happening with the shidduch crisis. We know there’s a problem. We know what the solution to the problem is. Many leaders have told us that this is how we should address it. And yet nothing has changed. Why? Because, once again, it doesn’t fit in with many of our preconceived notions. Most of us grew up with the ideal that boys should learn until they are 23-24 and only then begin dating, while girls should begin dating at 18-19. That structure is what we are comfortable with. And as with any change, even the thought of doing something differently causes people to get upset. But let’s look at the facts again. There are too many girls and not enough boys. It’s basic math. Gedolim have told us to get boys married earlier. But we just can’t deal with that, because it doesn’t fit our concept of how our system should look. So nobody takes the leap and causes that positive change to actually happen.
Sadly, we our hamstrung by the ideas and concepts that we’ve ingrained in ourselves and refuse to even consider anything else. This is true in regards to the vaccination debate, and it is true regarding the shidduch crisis debate.
And so I have to ask, are we all acting like anti-vaxxers?