What is one supposed to do when there are pronouncements that are disconnected from logic and reality? Is he supposed to convince himself that he doesn’t know better, can’t possibly know better? Is he supposed to keep quiet?
Earlier this month, it was stated that, “It has recently been revealed that the primary cause of the [shidduch crisis] is that boys frequently prefer girls who are a few years younger… Since every year our population grows, the result is that there are always more girls in need of a shidduch than there are available boys.”
Shadchanim are strongly urged to push shidduchim in which there is a minimal age gap between the boy and girl, or for the girl to be older.
We were first told that the problem was simply that singles are too picky, or that some girls are not “cut out” for the kollel lifestyle, or that we should learn from the arranged marriages of the chassidic world.
But no. It has finally been revealed that the heart of the problem is a shortage of eligible men and too wide an age gap in shidduchim. All the other issues that have been written about for seven years? Mere spilled ink it seems.
The proposed solution is even more bizarre to me than their determination of the problem. For one thing, it is self-contradictory. The problem assumes that more girls are being born than boys, thus exacerbating the gender disparity over time. But the proposed solution – manipulate men to marry older women – is predicated on the assumption that if we can only buy some time things will even out. In other words, the incoming crop of singles will have more men than women. Wrap your head around that.
It gets worse. This fancy cocktail of demography, sociology, mathematics and mythology is really nothing more than a Ponzi scheme. Let’s assume that there really are far more eligible women than men. And let’s assume we can manipulate the men to marry the oldest women in the pool. What will happen to all the younger women who remain? They will simply age and become older singles. What problem exactly have we solved here?
There are a finite number of men and a finite number of women, and each shidduch takes one of each out of the group. You can play with the numbers all you want, but you can’t escape that simple fact. More men will not magically appear if we manipulate who marries whom and try to buy some time. Did Bernie Madoff come up with this idea?
In essence, the recent recommendations are not that we arrange dates based entirely and exclusively on considerations of marital compatibility. We should give strong preference to an artificial consideration based on a presumed demographic problem. Don’t suggest the most suitable shidduch for that man; suggest a somewhat reasonable shidduch within a narrow age range. That’s the most important thing. We’re not trying to build the happiest and most stable Jewish families, but to play a numbers game. Right?
No matter how you look at it, we are dealing with science fiction.
The above are edited excerpts based on an article written by Chananya Weissman in The Jerusalem Post. Weissman is the founder of End the Madness (www.endthemadness.org), a volunteer effort to rehabilitate the culture of the shidduch world.