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Isn't it pretty?

Friday, August 17, 2007

What Shidduch Crisis?

There has been a lot of talk recently on one of the Yahoo! Groups that I am a member of about the shidduch crisis. Comments have been made about the price shadchanim charge to set singles up, about the lack of venues for singles to meet, about the nasty things that are said to females who are not a size 2 or do not dress themselves to the nines for dates. Suggestions were also made for solutions and constructive projects in order to attempt to help alleviate this crisis in addition to attempts being made to explain the perspective and feelings of singles who sometimes get inappropriate comments made about their single status.

I was discussing it briefly with a friend, and she asked me, "Do you really think there is a singles crisis?" After thinking about it briefly, I responded that I actually think there is much more wrong with the mind-set about singles than the fact that people are actually single.

Ezzie wrote about a similar view a while back when rabbis were calling for guys to start dating younger in order to balance out the male-female imbalance in the dating circuit. He argued that this was a horrible idea, and I'm quite inclined to agree with him.

Here's what I think the issue is. Singles are given way too much pressure to marry too young, and before they are really ready to handle being married. At the age of 21, some girls are being pressured and made to feel awful about themselves because they are not yet married. 21 years old! They have so much to do with their lives, and many of them are in the middle of school or training programs. If they get married, and are forced to quit these programs, along with the pressure given to pop out a kid immediately, it is going to be very difficult for these girls to ever help out financially in their families. Couple this with the fact that guys are encouraged to learn full-time, and not be gainfully employed before getting married and you now have a couple who is untrained to work and unqualified to do much besides collect welfare. Great, that's a nice picture of a good Jewish family to display to the world.

What's wrong with encouraging women to wait a couple years before starting to date, therefore giving them the opportunity to achieve goals other than being barefoot and pregnant in the kitchen? Or pushing a guy to wait to get married until he has a degree and a plan to earn a salary to support his family? Hmmm, to me it sounds like a wise and responsible plan, rather than a crisis in the making.

Furthermore, even for those singles in their late 20's and 30's - I still don't see what a huge crisis it is to be single. I have friends getting married all over the place - of all ages. It does happen and a lot of those people really know themselves and, I think, are making much wiser decisions about marriage. Likewise, they are much more economically ready to deal with the realities of supporting themselves rather than expecting their often already financially strained parents to support them.

I understand the stress of a woman in her late 30's and older, with her "biological clock" ticking and worrying about whether she will be able to have a child. But for someone in her late 20's, it's not that much of an issue. And to have rude people make comments like, "Aren't you old to not be married" (yes, I have received this one) is ridiculous. I have lots I want to do in my life. One of those things is getting married, but it is not the only thing. And honestly, I am very happy that I was not married at 19 because I like the fact that I have had the opportunity to do things other than just have kids. I want a family, but I want more than that also. And there's nothing wrong with that.

So basically, I think the crisis is in thinking that everyone needs to get married off super young. There are other things in life, and every person should be encouraged to explore his or her interests and passions. A person should not solely be steered by communal pressure dictating what one "should" be doing in life. I think if more people accept that, then they will be able to view those who are single much differently. Let people get married in their own time. Let them lives their own lives. Maybe that would also alleviate the skyrocketing divorce rate. Just a thought.

Just a note - I do know that there are other issues involved that I have not addressed, but in general, I think a shift in outlook about marriage and singles is necessary in today's Orthodox Jewish society, regardless of the other issues. It's certainly worth a try.


  • Great post! I just love it how people ignore things like Kavod Ha'briyot when it comes to speaking to single people. The comments I have heard...

    So basically, I think the crisis is in thinking that everyone needs to get married off super young. There are other things in life, and every person should be encouraged to explore his or her interests and passions
    I could not agree more.

    By Blogger SaraK, at 8/17/07, 2:52 PM  

  • With respect, I disagree with you. I think there definately is a Shidduch Crisis. I am actively involved in trying to help singles meet. I think the crisis was born out of a few shifts in dynamics within the Orthodox world in the last two decades which I don't feel like going into right now. The really brief version of it is: 1. no college, less opportunities to meet 2. no college, boys are encouraged to seek out money first 3. the "checking out" process has become insane. The list of things that the boys and their powerbrokers including their mothers (who wield all the power) find unacceptable is ridiculously long. There is enough on this recent trend to fill a book and for the life of me I don't know why it can sustain itself unless there are less girls of marriageable age than boys. That would constitute a "buyer's market" for lack of a better term and then that would explain how these powerbrokers (Shadchanim, parents, Rebbes, neighbors) can demand such ridiculously specific and exclusionary lists of "must haves" and "must have nots."

    On another note, you said:

    "I have friends getting married all over the place"

    I do not. My friends and aquaintances who are in their mid to late 30's and up are just sitting around with barely a date and hardly ever if at all a good date. This pool of wonderful women include those from all ends of the Orthodox spectrum, but I will say that the right wingers are having the hardest time.

    Now, for your second assertion that singles should pursue their interests and not feel pressured to marry young: I think everyone should travel--single and married--and study and pursue hobbies. I have learned, though, as I greet the age of 40 that it is easier to run after kids when you are in your 20's. It's also easier to have choices about how many you want and about expanding the size of your family when you start earlier. I think there is a happy medium between married at 19, popping out babies at 20 and married in your 30's and struggling (struggling to get married to begin with, struggling to have kids, to expand your family, to space your children if you choose). And I don't want to ignore the whole celibacy issue. I think it's better to be celibate until married ( I know that some frum people take that for granted, but not everyone does) and it is much harder to do this as you get older and much more of a drain if you do adhere to these rules.

    In short, the Shidduch scene stinks, 18 is probably too young, but early to mid 20's would be optimal for many reasons.

    I have echoed this thought elsewhere, but I wish we could load up all the wonderful frum single women in their 30's and up into a ballroom. Their numbers would shock people. And in my dream, all the Rashei Yeshiva and Rabanim would be there--oh, and all the Shidduch "powerbrokers."

    By Anonymous anonymous mom, at 8/17/07, 5:31 PM  

  • Well the crisis is over folks. Saw You At Sinai has a fantastic weekend back at camp. It’s a natural icebreaker. Have fun, be yourself, and share experience with others in the same ‘predicament’. They had one 2yrs ago and it was GRRRReat! So here’s the opportunity, the good crowd, helping shadchanin (if that’s what you need)- So no excuses anymore- See you there!

    By Blogger smoo, at 8/18/07, 10:39 PM  

  • Is there a shidduch crisis or are more religious women finding themselves with more choices than ever before and are (shocker of shockers) choosing to delay marriage because the other options are more attractive? Maybe the religious establishment, fearful of independent, self-supporting and happy single Jewish women, needs to make them feel badly about themselves and their single status because they can't control these women as they might control married women.
    Women and men should both feel like they can get married when they're good and ready and not at a formulaic age conjured up by some outside party.

    By Anonymous Rebecca, at 8/19/07, 12:42 AM  

  • while I agree totally that each person (girls and boys!) should be 'encouraged to explore his or her interests and passions' - but what do you say to the 20-21 year old girl who really wants to get married (not just for peer pressure), and can't get any dates ! (I know and i'm sure many know of such cases) for these girls and their families it is trully a 'crisis'......

    By Blogger D'varim P'shutim, at 8/19/07, 12:56 AM  

  • There are two sides. First, the pressure is ridiculous. By 25, I was an "old maid," and often felt like there was no hope for me!

    Second, the treatment of "sug bet" women in the shidduch world is disgusting. A woman is chubby so she gets set up with men who basically can't get any woman for a variety of reasons. Has anyone thought of setting up chubby women with chubby men? or with men who don't mind a wider waist?!

    I can't even imagine what would happen to a full-figured woman who didn't have a good education, good family, and a pretty face!

    By Blogger triLcat, at 8/19/07, 5:06 AM  

  • Said Rebecca:
    " Maybe the religious establishment, fearful of independent, self-supporting and happy single Jewish women, needs to make them feel badly about themselves and their single status because they can't control these women as they might control married women."

    No. That's not true. It's just that Orthodoxy is a family-centered culture. Does that absolve us of guilt with regard to the pressure placed on these young women? No. But, speaking as someone who values independent thinking, freedom, adult-study, travel who got married over 25 and used my time as a single well, I still think that getting married in your 20's is better all around in this culture and if we can brainstorm ways to help this happen and if we can be honest about why it is not happening for as many as truly want it, then we would be better off.

    By Anonymous anonymous mom, at 8/19/07, 2:38 PM  

  • You rock! Kol hakavod for sharing your eminently sensible point of view. I'm an "older single," and I sincerely hope to get married, but I'm not willing to marry a geezer decades my senior who has grandchildren. Also, I'm proud of my personal and professional accomplishments, many of which I might not have achieved had I married earlier. Thanks for reinforcing my inner conviction that I'm really okay, even though I didn't get married yet.

    By Blogger Ayelet, at 8/19/07, 4:24 PM  

  • SaraK sent me this article that kinda complements my post - which illustrates again, that it is the mindset that needs to be adjusted in many people. I don't understand why the woman in the article is not a member of a shul or hosting her own Shabbos and Yom Tov meals if it bothers her so much to not be part of things in those ways - there is certainly nothing barring her from doing those things except, perhaps some convention that says it's "not done" for no good reason.

    Anon Mom -
    I'm sorry that your friends are not getting married or even going on dates. Why is that? What are you actively doing to encourage and facilitate changes within this system that are related to the problems that you highlighted?

    As for your point about it being easier to be a parents in your 20's - that's fine and dandy, but let's talk about burn-out by the time one is 40, let's talk about the pressure to continue popping out one kid after the other when you are already overwhelmed and let's talk about the pressure to have large families right after marriage, which not everyone really wants, but feels like they have to do. How about giving adults who say they are mature enough for marriage the respect to make their own choices?

    Smoo -
    Yay! The solution! I'll be there with bells on.

    Rebecca -

    D'varim P'shutim -
    I'm not sure why these girls can't get dates, but if it's because of money concerns, I think that is a terrible bias and leads to bad marriages based on just about nothing. Further, why do these 20-21 year old girls really want to get married? Are you sure it has nothing to do with peer pressure?

    TriLcat -
    There are definitely biases in the system, but it does work both ways. How many guys are cast out of getting good dates because they don't learn often enough? Or because they don't always make it to minyan? Is that completely fair?

    Anon Mom -
    It's really nice that you think it's better to get married young, but that is NOT your decision to make for every woman.

    Ayelet -
    Thank you :) You are absolutely ok for not yet being married - it's judgmental people who think that the decisions they make for themselves are the best for everyone that have problems.

    By Blogger Shoshana, at 8/20/07, 2:30 PM  

  • being that your so smart, why not solve the rest of klal yisraels problems too?

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 8/20/07, 4:54 PM  

  • Great post Shoshana. Let people live their own lives.
    Sounds like a good motto to me....

    By Blogger JT, at 8/21/07, 10:46 AM  

  • Long time no visit here! Glad to see you still blogging!

    I dont understand why "The Shidduch Crisis" thing has snowballed into this huge thing in the past few years. Surely there were unmarried older singles beforehand. (and i really dont think it has the right name - surely it should be called the singles crisis?!) There is this compelling need that somepeople have to marry everyone off, whether they want to be married or not.

    For those who want to get married, I think it basically boils down to people being too picky (for whatever reasons; blame it on whom you like). For an 'older' guy who is learned, educated, has his own business and has dated over 100 women, if he wants to wait until he finds a supermodel with a brain - let him. Why call it a crisis. Its his choice. And its certainly not the "shidduch"'s fault, its just another peoples priorities crisis.

    By Blogger Karl, at 8/21/07, 4:50 PM  

  • There most definately IS a crisis. I am trying to work within it to help my friends, but the system is mortally wounded and the players insist on using it and the powers that be insist on pushing it. Trust me I am not sitting by silently, but I don't know what to do to fix things other than help promote ways for singles to actually mix and meet. I don't think that it is my job to tell people to get married young. I just think that it would be better for the reasons I stated. I'm not your enemy. I also believe that singles should host meals, get proactive, and make things happen for themselves. I don't devalue singles and I don't minimize the negatives of getting married too young or "popping out too many kids too soon" or being "burned out at 40", but I think that if you ask those of us who married young, married when they felt they were "ready", married later than they expected, there will still be a consensus that objecively and generally speaking--early to mid '20's is an optimal time. There's plenty of dissatisfaction to go around on all ends. No one should be made to feel less valuable or more of a failure because of their status. I find that two subsets in Orthodoxy suffer the most from this "acceptable" form of prejudice: Those who are single and those who are married,but do not as yet have children. It is painful and unfortunate that this happens.

    By Anonymous anonymous mom, at 8/21/07, 6:20 PM  

  • JT - Thanks

    Karl -
    Excellent points,

    Anon Mom -
    Again, your decisions may be the best for you, but they are not necessarily the best for everyone out there. You have to respect the choices of each person, and I still believe that it's very important to focus on those good things that one has in life rather than those things that one doesn't, or that one has no control over. It makes for a happier outlook, a happier person, and most likely, someone who is going to be more likely to get married because they aren't miserable.

    By Blogger Shoshana, at 8/22/07, 11:43 AM  

  • Please don't make me the boogeyman telling you what to do. I've met enough of those people in my single life to last me a few lifetimes. I didn't make any decisions for anyone else. I just feel (and this is a consensus kind of thing that my friends and I have gotten to--we do that from time to time about marriage, kids, annoying bosses) that there is a choice on the table in addition to a) being miserable and wishing you were married sooner than later and b) calling it a choice that should be made whenever. I choose C which you are not addressing. Choice C is that it may actually be better to get hitched in your 20's and while you're on that road, you should also be making stops and visiting waterfalls and experiencing the towns along the way. If the road ends up longer than you anticipated it to be (because contrary to what some of you think, I don't want you to marry an old geezer or a misanthrope or whatever idiot that walks in the door) then so be it, then make a life and do good and be happy and active. I just do not understand why I have to be PC about this. It IS possible to be happy and be on a road with an estimated time of arrival. We do that with our careers and our education, don't we? There are optimal times for all kinds of things in life. But, I don't want to offend you. That wasn't my intention.

    By Anonymous anonymous mom, at 8/22/07, 9:52 PM  

  • Anon Mom,

    I can't quite figure out if you are being sensitive or not. Perhaps you can clarify and if so I think we all might be in general agreement.

    I think that scenario C might not work for many singles that have issues that they need to work out before they get married. Many singles in their early to mid twenties would be a disaster at marriage and are absolutely much better off if they first find peace, serenity and understanding before they embark on marriage.

    (Certainly the attitude of some in the more Yeshivish crowds to marry off someone struggling as soon as possible is a recipe for disaster. Marriage only exacerbates problems, they rarely solve them.)

    Another factor might be people who sincerely were looking for their soulmate even during their early twenties and were not superficially picky, but valued finding their "soulmate" versus just someone to marry. Unfortunately when you are looking for someone who is not just a "physical partner/baby factory" it is much more difficult to find.

    So its not that simple to make a blanket statement that everyone would be better off getting married at 23. Life is too complex for such simplistic type of pronouncements. I think that's what might have been rubbing people the wrong way.

    I think everyone would agree that if we are in an okay emotional and mental health place then we would all be thrilled to meet our true soulmate as early as possible in our life's journey. In the meantime we are not going to cry in our beer but go out and enjoy and experience every moment of our wonderful, precious and just as valuable lives.

    By Blogger Passionate Life, at 8/23/07, 2:23 AM  

  • I think there is more of a "crisis" among women 30+ who want to get married now and were too busy with school or careers or maybe too picky in our 20s.

    By Blogger curlygirl, at 8/27/07, 12:25 PM  

  • I just accidentally deleted my comment here, so forgive me for the following version of it. I do not mean to be insensitive. Those who know me know that that couldn't possibly be my mo on this topic. I am so pained about this topic that I cannot clearly express it. I do not want to see the crisis mislabeled because I want to see the crisis addressed in the Orthodox community. This issue ranks way up there with the state of Jewish education on the list of things in Orthodox Judaism that desperately needs to be overhauled. I think, as Curlygirl states, that for Orthodox women in their 30's there most definately is a crisis. I do not think that it is mostly due to their pickiness. I think that pickiness is the bad wrap they are given so that the lay leaders and marrieds can write off the problem at hand. In some circles the choices start to dry up at 22 (it's sad, but true), in some at 25, and in others at 29. It is brutal to be 26, Chareidi, and single. It is brutal to be 29 at the OZ kiddush on the Upper West Side. Lots of laughing. Not everyone is laughing on the inside. For those who really want to get married, this whole experience can be awful. I want to see more choices, more opportunities. Do I think that unstable people should rush into marriage? No. But you can find those people who are in their 30's and 40's too. Passionate life, you said:

    "Life is too complex for such simplistic type of pronouncements."

    I think it depends on the question you are asking. If you are asking "Why are people single? Is being single ok?" then yes it is complex. But the question I was asking myself when I read the original post was "Is it better to get married younger?" and I believe (exluding most 18-year olds) that it is. I haven't gone into the details of why I feel this way and why--and this is true--most married women will tell you this whether they married young or old. I have alluded to fertility, family size, and there is also the big issue of the melding of personalities and lifestyles that is a marriage. I think that those of us that feel this way feel this way because of our experiences with married life and child-raising. And this is not "arrogant, bitchy married lady" talking. This is humble, concerned person talking. I want to see that spade called a spade. I never have bowed to political correctness even if it is well-intentioned. And I do feel that singles can and should multiprioritize when it comes to this. Multitask is politically correct (I am looking for my Bashert but I am more interested in being happy and fulfilled). No. I think it is okay to say that I am prioritizing my happiness and fulfillment at the same time that I am prioritizing getting married. No, I do not think you should be crying in your beer. Rather, you should be serving it at a group Kiddush or sharing it with a friend in Costa Rica over President's Weekend. Or better yet, forget the beer and share trail mix on the Appalachian trail. But, while you are doing that, the system should be serving you well. You should be carrying a torch on the trail to marriage and children and the system should be lighting the path for you whenever possible. As it stands now in the Orthodox dating world, the path is not well lit. And, again, I don't mean to hurt anyone. I tend to say things that others think but choose not to say for fear of how it will be taken. So forgive me, but this is the truth as I know it and I am not alone.

    By Anonymous anonymous mom, at 8/30/07, 12:23 AM  

  • Anon Mom,

    I don't disagree with most of what you are saying and it seems like you really do care about singles. I, and I am sure all singles, thank you for that.

    You wrote:

    "Do I think that unstable people should rush into marriage? No. But you can find those people who are in their 30's and 40's too."

    The only part of your thesis that I think you are missing is that you are not leaving room for growth. I know a number of people in their early twenties who were not emotionally stable or enough healthy to encompass another being on such an intimate level in their lives. Then when they hit their upper twenties or early thirties through hard work and personal growth they matured and were then able to marry and have healthy happy lives.

    While many others who got married in their early twenties and haven't dealt with many of their personal growth issues have made their marriages into a miserable state of being for their spouse. I think people are completely not aware how many people who seem perfectly normal on the surface have hidden dysfunctional issues.

    I am not blaming it on their age, but rather their parents and upbringing. But those that did experience dysfunctional childhoods need TIME to overcome those issues and getting married young when you need to work on yourself is a recipe for disaster.

    I am not saying that's true for all couples or even for most couples. I am just saying that one size does not fit all and for many people its not such a great idea to get married so young.

    As far as the feminist brainwashing of pushing off children by choice until your mid to upper thirties so that your career can flourish, I have repeatedly written on my blog how deceptive and harmful that is for women.

    The Perpetual Falsehood Perpetuated by Feminism to Prevent Fertility

    Another possibility that you are not considering is when you marry off someone before they have come into their own and have a sense who they are and what they need. I have a close relative who married at 19 to a very nice guy. He still is a very nice guy but due to his personality, simply can't fulfill her emotional and intellectual needs. She has suffered for 20 years in this marriage, not because he was bad in any way, he is a great guy, but a very bad match for her. I strongly feel if she would have waited a few years she would better be able to discern this for herself.

    Again, I am not saying this is true for all people. For many it wouldn't have made much of a difference. But the more complex you are as an individual the more important it is to know yourself and your Meta needs, BEFORE you make a lifetime commitment.

    That's why I am saying that you shouldn't make simplistic, one size fits all statements as to the best age and approach to marriage. Sure getting married at 20 worked great for some, for others not so much.

    This is not about political correctness because I abhor and stand up to political correctness all the time. This is about not seeing the world in black and white. Hashem created a rainbow of colors for a reason and I just hope people can see and appreciate that.

    By Blogger Passionate Life, at 8/30/07, 2:24 PM  

  • I am the greyest person I know. Really. I'm so grey that I can't see straight sometimes. So black and white is not the issue. But there are generalizations that can be made in life. That's what I am making--a generalization. There are individuals for whom this would not work or does not end up working. I get that. But as a whole I still feel that getting married in your 20's (choose the entire decade) is better than 30's and 40's. Again, I mean no pain for those who are in their 30's and 40's and single. And in right-wing circles, the closer you get to 30, the harder it gets to have choices. The market just falls off the charts. It is absolutely terrible. That doesn't mean one should make a hysterical choice at 20 or 25 or 29, just that it is something one must keep in mind. And I really appreciate your piece on fertility and your moxie with regard to political correctness. It's not just fertility. It's also the family size issue that I am referring to. While not everyone in the Orthodox world spaces their children, many do--more than people realize. And in your 30's, there is less time to be able to do that. I know women who got married in their thirties and some are either racing to have children one after another (and suffering) or are opting to space, but have one or 2 instead of the 4 or 5 that they would have liked. These are all very personal factors that no one talks about. Also, I forgot in my last post, to remind you of the abstinence issue. I am all for that and I am no prude, nor right-winger. And the fact is that at a certain point for many singles (and it depends on the person which year that happens) abstinence becomes too great a burden. Without abstinence or even with sexual abstinence, but with Halachic loosening of parameters, some older single women end up losing parts of themselves along this journey to unworthy men. It happens and it causes pain. So, I stand respectfully with my generalization. No black and white for me, here.

    By Anonymous anonymous mom, at 8/30/07, 6:02 PM  

  • One more thing: the melding of personalities thing. I sigh when I write it, but one of the biggest secrets women keep from each other when they cross to the married side so to speak is that this melding of personalities does not always go smoothly and that while this is a challenge for all age newly marrieds, it can be especially challenging for those who marry in their 30's and 40's. The men, especially, can be less compliant the older they get. And, again, I know this from the experiences of people who have married later in life. So, forgive me, but isn't it possible that for every single who needed the time to grow into himself/herself and was better off marrying older, there is also a single who became so set in his/her ways that it was really tough incorporating another person and his/her needs into that equation. Woh. Really politically incorrect of me and you can freak out at me now. I just feel like we women take it in the gut too often because our fellow women do not tell us stuff. Think childbirth, nursing, Mikvah, marriage, men, fertility, child-raising challenges. We do not share enough and married frum women are especially guilty of this with our single friends and relatives. We are afraid of poisoning the well at the expense of sharing our experiences. We leave our sisters in the dark.

    By Anonymous anonymous mom, at 8/30/07, 6:14 PM  

  • Okay, I don't have a problem with your stating that, generally speaking it would be better for most people to get married at some point in their twenties (20-30). Whew! We practically needed the U.N. to negotiate that line! LOL!

    As far as your point about having multiple children, its true women in their 30's will have less children. But I can also tell you that they will be much more appreciative of their 1,2 or 3 children then many who get married at 18 and have 12 children. Each child is precious and a world for him or herself. Whatever our life circumstances and the direction Hashem steers us is what we need to appreciate and accept. Is the person who has 4 or 5 less of a person then the people who have had 7 or 8?

    I will be very grateful for even the precious gift and miracle of one child. I will greatly appreciate 2, 3 or more, but whatever the number it is a gift. I don't believe there are too many couples who are devastated that they only had 2 or 3 kids versus 4 or 5. Maybe they originally envisioned more but if you have the gift of any number of children its enough to feel fulfilled and lucky.

    You wrote:

    "I forgot in my last post, to remind you of the abstinence issue. I am all for that and I am no prude, nor right-winger. And the fact is that at a certain point for many singles (and it depends on the person which year that happens) abstinence becomes too great a burden. Without abstinence or even with sexual abstinence, but with Halachic loosening of parameters, some older single women end up losing parts of themselves along this journey to unworthy men. It happens and it causes pain."

    Oh boy! Here we go. I am trying to figure out where I am losing you, because on the substance of most of these issues I agree with you. But I think its that you have this idealized vision of what life is and should be. Yes, life would be perfect and many problems avoided if people had happy well adjusted upbringings and met their bashert at a young age. You could then not have any sexual issues, Zara Lavatola, abstinence, and have a boatload of kids. Clap clap.

    Life does not work that way. Sure there is the ideal, but real life means dealing with life as it actually happens, not some dream of a fairy tale.

    Should we marry off 16 year old boys in order to avoid the problem of Zera Lavatola? Sometimes in life things are not perfect but necessary for survival and doing the best we can to be in accordance with Hashem.

    Have you seen shomerNegiah's blog? She is a 35 year old women who fascinated the entire blogsphere with her personal struggle of being a frum 35 year old single woman who has never been kissed or held. She finally gave in and had her first kiss. Was it the ideal? Certainly not. Did she "lose parts of herself along this journey to unworthy men"? I don't think so. She will be perfectly fine if she goes on to meet her bashert.

    Do you believe that Hashem will make the 16 year old boy who masturbates or the 35 year old woman who wants to be held and touched, burn in hell??? Of course these are serious issues and halachas but everything has to have context. Hashem is the most loving Being and I think He understands the suffering and pain of a hormonally surging teenager and a touch deprived 35 year old woman, better then the rest of us.

    This topic is a very serious and painful issue for singles, much more then most people realize. It reminds me of the criticism of Rav Shlomo Carlbach that he hugged women. Some of these women were so troubled and alone that they desperately needed a hug from a loving person who really meant it. How dare they judge him for it. I would say for many people, such as the 35 year old woman who has never been kissed, it borders on Pikuach Nefesh. If one can't relate to what it means to not be touched in 10 or 15 years, one has no place judging such issues.

    You make it sound that people can't recover from mistakes, indiscretions or sheer necessity. There are plenty of BT's who did nothing wrong and were a normal teenager or young adult in their world and then became frum and are happily married despite their past history.

    Obviously there are no simple answers to this issue. Each single has to make a judgment as to what is appropriate and necessary for their own survival while always keeping in mind what Hashem would expect from them.

    Life is not a fairy tale with simple and easy solutions. Knowing what the most ideal approach is and stating that as a truth in an imperfect world, is not exactly being a gray lady.

    Sorry for the tone, because I know you mean well and you do care, but you can't advocate an ideal that doesn't exist for most people. (Don't get me started on the issues and problems that the average married couples have.) ;-)

    By Blogger Passionate Life, at 8/30/07, 9:47 PM  

  • Here we go again! Wheeee!

    You wrote:

    "The men, especially, can be less compliant the older they get. And, again, I know this from the experiences of people who have married later in life."

    Ummm... Where do I begin. Okay, lets start with equal offender status. Generally speaking when people make a generalization about men or women they are expressing it from their own biased perspective. I can assure you that women can be just as stuck in their ways as men.

    In fact, here is a shocker! Married men and women can be just as stuck in their ways as singles. Gasp! That's right! I am sure you know many married couples where the husband or wife has a quirk or habit that drives the other spouse nuts.

    Guess what, habits afflict all human beings, not just singles. Sheesh!

    Our ability to compromise has to do with our ability to cope with life. For every down side that you state about "older singles" I can give you one about "older couples". Older couples take each other for granted much more then older singles (once they have married) do.

    Do I really need to go on?

    By Blogger Passionate Life, at 8/30/07, 10:09 PM  

  • "You make it sound that people can't recover from mistakes, indiscretions or sheer necessity. There are plenty of BT's who did nothing wrong and were a normal teenager or young adult in their world and then became frum and are happily married despite their past history."

    Um. You are really taking the easy way out of this, now. I am very well aware of the human need for touch and--being anonymous--it is difficult to convey this in a meaningful way, but I understand from personal experience that people may not always follow the laws of Negiah and that is entirely between them and God. You are confusing theology with practice. Every person--an Orthodox person in particular-- should have a theology which guides their life. If that person's practice does not fit their theology, their personal belief system, then that is their own affair and it is not anyone's place to judge them. If they believe in God, then it is God's place to determine what that means in the big scheme of that person's life. If one is a Halachic Jew and one's practice does not jive with one's theology in areas such as Loshon Harah (a more grave sin) or cheating in business or breaching the laws of Negiah then once again that is not up for discussion or judgment by men. I get that. But the theology would still have to be in place. And if one adheres to the theology, then marrying young makes it easier to keep these laws. The second issue which you brought up about finding your Bashert, etc. is a moot point. Of course, if one does not adhere to the theology lightning does not necessarily strike and God continues to love them. I find it interesting that you made the leap to assume that I fall into the category of those who condemn people for being people. There are plenty of those on the blogs and I don't waste my time with them.

    "Life is not a fairy tale with simple and easy solutions. "

    That's insulting. I don't think that life is a fairytale. And it's interesting that you choose that term because I feel that you are discriminating against fairytales. When I read the original post, I agreed with most of what she was saying except the following which struck me as quite fairytalish, you see.

    "Furthermore, even for those singles in their late 20's and 30's - I still don't see what a huge crisis it is to be single. I have friends getting married all over the place - of all ages. It does happen and a lot of those people really know themselves and, I think, are making much wiser decisions about marriage"
    I felt that this was somewhat unrealistic and I commented on that.

    "Yes, life would be perfect and many problems avoided if people had happy well adjusted upbringings and met their bashert at a young age."

    Life will never be perfect. It should be directed. I don't understand why you are so resistant to what I am saying. If a single is in her 30's or 40's or up, I think she should be happy and find fulfillment in life as is and should not be put down or mistreated in the frum world. But I do not think it is healthy to say that waiting till your 30's is a good idea. I just don't. I think no one is going to come out and tell you that if you are in your 30's because it stings, but I am an equal opportunity truth teller and I felt that the truth wasn't entirely presented here.

    "Don't get me started on the issues and problems that the average married couples have."

    I'm open. You could comment on married people all you want. You may have insights. This is not an attack on you. It is a respectful challenge to some of your assertions.

    "Do I really need to go on?"

    Nope. You don't. I have hurt your feelings. And clearly you prove why married people shut up about these things when around single people. It's easier. I'm not going to take the easy way out. Sorry. Both men and women can get set in their ways, but men are less compliant by nature and that is why it is more of a problem. Married people get set in their ways together so it creates less tension. If it's a bad marriage and--lord knows, there are plenty of those--then there will be strife and discord anyway and one won't want to budge and the other will be unhappy or any other variation on that theme. Look, I wish all people the best and I don't want to hurt anyone, but there's nothing wrong with what I am saying. There is nothing wrong with running your life according to a theology and a Klal, a general rule. What actually happens and what you actually do are not up for judgment here. It is the theology. And, believe it or not, I wish you well. These are touchy areas and most women will not care enough to be this honest with you. They will just silently think it. I'm sorry I commented. I just really do think there is a crisis out there and I am upset by it. I'm upset that there are so many wonderful girls in their 30's and up who are searching and not finding and I want changes. So I am impatient if you tell me that it's all going to be okay and it's good enough the way that it is. I just don't think so. The reason I wouldn't give in on the 20 to 30 is because the late 20's is when the real difficulties start in some circles and I don't want to gloss over that. I just don't. Anyway, the problems won't be solved by my comments here so this was a mistake.

    By Anonymous anonymous mom, at 8/30/07, 10:52 PM  

  • Anon mom,

    Its funny, I agree with most of what you are saying, particularly the part that there is a singles crisis. Yet the tone or the way you come across seems off to me. I will try to narrow it down so you can see what I am talking about.

    The idea that you don't mean to hurt anyone but are telling it like it is, really is grating. WHAT are you telling like it is? Do you believe that most older singles today are in that state because they flitted away their twenties not trying to get married by being busy with careers or not giving it priority?

    Come on, that is bunk. Most singles that I know have been searching since their early twenties or earlier.

    When did I say that it will be okay? I said that when they get married they will be okay. The fact that they were single makes them more appreciative of what they found. When you search long and hard for something you appreciate it so much better. I am not advocating that one wait in order for it to be more appreciated, but if in fact you are an older single, you will be okay in marriage and you are not damaged (stuck in your ways) more then a 22 year old who got married and developed bad habits. (Sheesh! Not all people have horrible habits, single or otherwise.)

    Its really important when we say there is a singles crisis that the focus is not about blaming singles, not because it hurts or is not politically correct, because its simply untrue in most cases. The focus should be on what can we do to alleviate the situation.

    Honestly the only answers I can think of is the following:

    1. Educate people how to be better parents and raise more well adjusted individuals. (Emphasis should be on the core of a person, not the superficial)

    2. ALL singles should register on Frumster or one database so we can have an easier time finding each other.

    3. More people can get involved in personally getting to know potential candidates for single friends and relatives of theirs. Invite a variety of singles to your house for a Shabbos meal.

    Other then that I don't see what else can be done to help this crisis.

    By Blogger Passionate Life, at 8/30/07, 11:28 PM  

  • I'm sorry, but I didn't take the time to read up on you if you have a blog so I'm not sure why you don't acknowledge that right now we have a systemic problem within the right wing Orthodox world with regard to Shidduchim. This is a serious, many-tentacled monster that is affecting many frum women. We may be just missing each other because we are talking about different groups. The systemic problem needs to be addressed by the lay leaders as soon as possible and in many ways. The lay leaders must address it because in that world everyone runs their life exclusively by Daas Torah and what everyone else is doing. That said, within the modern orthodox world, Frumster is widely used and has done wonderful things (for the right wing orthodox as well, btw). But it still doesn't take away the reality that it becomes more and more difficult for women in their thirties to get married and not all are happy with the way that that system is working either. I do not blame the singles, but I do not agree with some of what was said in the original post as I quoted in my last comment. I guess what I see in the people I know who are single and in their 30's is pain. They don't run their life by the pain, but they are worried and feel let down by their community--whether it be right wing Orthodox or modern orthodox. I am never one to believe that problems should be tackled when they happen. I'm a "prevention-oriented" problem solver.

    By Anonymous anonymous mom, at 8/31/07, 9:30 AM  

  • I'm working on an article about the increasing importance of Shidduch in the Jewish Orthodox community and would love to speak with someone who has gotten married or who is in the process of seeking a mate through matchmaking. I've already spoken to matchmakers, program directors, etc. but want to hear another side of the story -- from young couples/singles themselves.

    I'd love to hear from you!

    By Blogger Amy, at 10/29/07, 12:13 PM  

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