Opinion: Shidduch Crisis? Don’t Look to the Age Gap

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shidduchimWhat 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.

{Matzav.com Newscenter}

34 COMMENTS

  1. Why are we giving this guy publicity. He has an agenda to change the shidduch process to singles events. I don’t think his agenda fits with Matzav.com’s hashkafah.

  2. The writer obviously didn’t read the explanation of the age gap. Nowhere does it say that more girls are being born than boys. Rather, it assumes that the same number of boys and girls are being born each year but as the years go on, the number of total birth increases, thus resulting in a greater number of 18 year old girls than 23 year old boys.

  3. I agree that Matzav has no business giving Mr. Weissman and his agenda a soapbox.

    But at the end of the day — as someone who has married off several daughters to learning boys despite not being a “gevir” and whose learning yungeleit friends have similarly married off daughters — I can say that the primary problem is “ainredenish” and ego, not age.

    I respect those behind the recent efforts because it may encourage some people to get a reality check, but to say that’s where the problem lies is delusional.

  4. Here is the heading of Mr. Weissmans webpage!!

    END THE MADNESS

    5 Years of ETM-
    A Retrospective Message from the founder
    of ETM

    EndTheMadness.org is an ambitious and unique effort to combat the angst and hardships associated with dating in the religious Jewish community.
    This website is dedicated to the memory of Tova Sara bas Eliyahu, who at the age of twenty was considered “over the hill” by her society. She was denied suitable shidduchim, and suffered terribly all her days as a result. She died on Pesach 5762 in her fifties, leaving behind neither husband nor child to mourn her. May her unswerving devotion to Hashem and the Jewish people bring merit to those similarly abandoned. ”

    now Let me get this straight! Any girl who is over 20 must then be considered over the hill for getting married?? Are no girls getting enaged and married over age 20? what else do we know about this poor girl who was denied shidduchim because of her age , before we indict the rest of the shidduch world.!!

  5. There is no Shidduchim Crisis!! By the Chassidishe, there is no such problem. So any of the excuses for the lack of Shidduchim are totally invalid. It is simply our Litvishe/ Yeshivishe boys who have “niderika” characters and only want to marry young (18 year olds) only. We could eaily put a stop to this. In truth, we are afraid of the backlash of the Bochurim. In addition, which Bochur is worth $100,000 nadin. I haven’t seen any R’ Aron Kotlers or R’Moshe’s, or R’ Yakov coming out from these $100,000 boys. Totally eliminate all this Nadin money and a deflate the ego of these so called good bochurim and you will see how quickly shiduchim happen. Stop treating our boys as Prima Donnas.

    It used to be said jokingly that our women were J.A.P.S. Jewish American Princesses. That is no longer true. We have elevated the Buchurim to an unnatural status, which they simply do not deserve.

    Don’t make any mistake. Th Chassidishe crowd has unfortunately, their own problems. But Shidduchim is not one of them. There is NO such thing as Big Nadins. NO money transfers hands for the pleasure of marrying even the nicest and best boy in the Yeshiva. A Bochur in our Yeshiva now who know afew R’ Chaims and learns Gemorrah well is a $100,000 bargain, a Metzia, A catch. Shame on us.

  6. Weissman write an entire article based on his non-understanding of the age gap. If I were him I would be embarrassed to publicly show how I don’t understand simple math. Comment #2 explains it succinctly.

  7. Mr. Weissman, I assume you’re reading these comments. I think you do good work. But I can’t discount the kol korei that came out. What it means to me practically is that I will not belittle the age gap theory. HOWEVER, I will say this. Say that the age gap is the biggest factor. It may be 30 percent of the problem, with a number of other factors, some of which come in a close section. We are not wasting our energy at all by focusing on the other 70 percent. (One of my personal favorites is “the learning gap.”)

    I also don’t think that some of the vocal spokesmen in support of the age gap theory are acquitting themselves way, and are not doing their cause a service. They are fomenting fear and panic, and seem to agitate for social engineering not seen since the time of the neviim. I believe that there is a way to debate these fellows WITHOUT belittling the gedolim, and hope you follow that path, so you will do your cause justice as well.

  8. Bochorim need to feel that it is NOT a badge of honor, NOR a medal on his lapel that he could marry a girl that is 5 years younger. ITS A SHANDA. If he were made to feel embarrased , you would see how quick there would be NO shidduch crises.

    BOCHUR! Just because you put on a ton of after shave lotion, and stand in front of the mirror longer than your date, does not mean you are G-ods gift to humanity or Yiddishkeit or to theTorah World.

    BOCHOR! Pick on someone your own size, on someone your own age!

  9. Speak to any Rov, Dayan, or any individual who gives either Choson or Kalah classes. They will all tell you, “The Girls in our days are substantially better than the Bochorim”.

    You are right. If there is such a thing as a Nadin, or dowry, it should be given to the girls for marrying these boys.

    Stop paying a penny to any bochor unless he can allow himself to be farhered on kol shas uposkim, and at least the entire Shulchan Orech – Orech achaim

  10. A Bochur goes for a younger girl cause shes is nicer and less jaded then the older ones who are already set in theyr ways and need to play games due to they bitterness.

    there are many happy marriages of guys who are five and more years older then they mate and we cannot knock that!

  11. #13. you speak like a Menuval. I will show you actors that married and are 20 years apart. Are you going to also tell us “dont knock it”?? They also have a happy marriage

    Oh. Its the girls that are bitter and are locked in their ways. Aha? The bochorim remain sweet and young. Their Mishegasin don’t grow, they fade. Their OCD tendencies don’t get worse, they get better. Boys don’t play games. Its only the girls.

    Its people like you that make the comments of 7, 11, and 12 more accurate and truthful.

    Such Bochurim as yourself should be marrying girls that are 10 years older than you.

  12. NEWS FLASH!!!!!!!!!!!! THERE IS NO SHIDDUCH CRISIS!!!!!!!!!!! THE BAS KOL SAID BEN PLONI TO BAS PLONI IT’S UP TO US TO HAVE BITACHON AND DAVEN FOR A PROPER SHIDDUCH TO BUILD A BAYIS NEEMAN BIYISROEL NOT FIGURE OUT WHO CAN I SCAM FOR THE MOST MONEY FOR MY DARLING SON/DAUGHTER!!! THERE IS HOWEVER A MAJOR CHINUCH CRISIS WHERE WE DON’T TEACH ANY MIDDOS!!!! BECAUSE IF WE DID WE WOULDN’T BE HAVING SHIDDUCH CRISIS DISCUSSIONS IT WOULD ALL WORK OUT FOR ITSELF!!!!! SO LET’S PLEASE STOPPED BEATING A DEAD HORSE OF A TOPIC!!!!

  13. This writer must be mathematical challenged since it is such a simple cheshbon, between the of age, below age and above age shidduch kids.

  14. Does Matzav even read these “editorials” before publishing them? It is clear that this writer has no understanding of basic math. His whole argument is based on the fact that he can’t understand a simple cheshbon.(see comment 2)
    I think Matzav is hitting a new low by publishing this.

  15. To say the words “shidduch crisis,” and you are saying Hashem doesn’t exist.

    Sure, everyone says, “No fair that older guy married younger girl,” but what happens when it is your child? The girl he happens to want to marry happens to be young – not that it’s a requirement, she just happens to be young. Then it is an exception?

    I happen to be a single girl in her mid-20’s. I don’t think there is a shidduch crisis, merely a bitachon crisis.

    People need to go listen to Rabbi Yisroel Reisman for a refresher course.

    Anyone who starts quoting polls and numbers and graphs – individuals aren’t numbers. I don’t begrudge the 25 year old boys who marry 19 year old girls – Mazel Tov! We should rather rip his bashert away and replace her with a age-appropriate female?

    How religious of us.

  16. I appreciate the numbers not lying. But we have to put it in perspective. One advocate mentioned that yeah, people talk about the es kumt mir attitude among the boys, due to the age gap and their being able to have the pick of girls.

    OY! Don’t they realize that we have to get at the root of the parenting and education and general environment that created that? We have to focus on all the other issues with as much energy as the age gap. But let’s not discount the age gap.

  17. I’m glad you’re happily married, which makes it easy to understand why you’re so unsypathetic to the shidduch crisis. If you or one of your loved ones was having a hard time getting dates, let alone finding the right one, you would be singing a different tune.

  18. To 21: DD isn’t getting too many offers and she is a good few years out of high school. Neither of us are desperate and jumping on the age bandwagon. Frankly, she doesn’t WANT to go out with 21 -23 y.o. boys, and I agree totally that that’s not for her.

  19. Let’s take a look at the numbers. In the chasidishe world, the men are basically sticking to their own age group. For every man who marries a woman a bit younger, there is another marrying a woman a bit older. There is a balance in the genders. Sure, there are some older bochurim and some older girls in the chasidishe world, but even that is pretty balanced.
    In the yeshivishe world, however, the story is very different. This is where the statistics play a significant role.
    I think that you will agree that in the Jewish frum community we are not at zero population growth. I think you will also agree that an equal number of boys and girls are born each year. This is how I see it:
    In group One 80 boys and 80 girls are born. (The year is totally irrelevant. Pick any year you like.) In group two, there are 90 girls and 90 boys born (because we are not a zero population growth community, and we expect that there are an equal number of boys and girls born during that period.) 80 of those 90 girls (best case scenario) marry the 80 boys from group One. This leaves 10 girls without a partner. In group Three, there are 100 girls and 100 boys born. Only 90 of those girls will find a boy older than them in group Two. So now we have another 10 girls without a partner. (now we’re up to 20 girls.) The boys who are looking for a younger girl will always have a larger pool from which to choose, because each succeeding group will have a larger population, while for the girls there are never enough older boys to go around because they (the boys) come from a smaller population group. As long as boys continue to insist on marrying younger girls only, we will always have many more single girls that single boys, and the boys’ lists will grow longer and longer while the girls will sit home waiting for that phone to ring. And this is a best case scenario, not taking into account severe personality problems, commitment issues and dysfunctional homes.

  20. Who on earth can understand what you are writing. Is this a thesis for yale or harvard. Please write it on a Sarah Schnirer level. Can you please explain in 2 sentences on 4 lines what you are saying?
    Its simple, if you skip 20 girls from every class and go to the younger grades, then these wonderful girls are left behind and its cumulative every year.
    So how is that, and I didn’t go to special ed school.

  21. I think that NASI originally suggested that the first few girls boys date should be within the age range, after that proceed as normal. Sounds good to me.

    I don’t know how many close in age shidduchim it will take to alleviate the problem but we can’t MANDATE it. We don’t have neviim, we won’t get compliance, we won’t have shalom bayis the next generation.

  22. Comment #23 from Mr. or Mrs. “Special ed teacher” superbly answers Mr. Weissman’s contention and very clearly explains in detail the arithmatic of how the going-only-for-younger-girls does cause a problem; comments #24 from Mrs. “chani” and #2 from Mr. or Mrs. “read what it says” sum up the arithmatic in a few words.

  23. 26, this may be true, but only going for girls within the narrow age range may result in eltere bochrim a few years from now. I think that after the first few, it is quite reasonable to entertain shidduchim from a broader range, including younger girls, if they’re a fit. Most of the shidduchim I’ve been hearing of are boys 2-3 years older than the girls, and all of the klal will benefit from their batei neeman.

  24. Mr. Weissman though, does have a contention that is totally correct (I will re-quote it): “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?”

    Comment #19 from Miss. “PL” says what is basically the same point in even sharper words (I will re-quote it): “Sure, everyone says, ‘No fair that older guy married younger girl,’ but what happens when it is your child? The girl he happens to want to marry happens to be young – not that it’s a requirement, she just happens to be young . . . . I don’t begrudge the 25 year old boys who marry 19 year old girls – Mazel Tov! We should rather rip his bashert away and replace her with an age-appropriate female?”

    Every directive we have in life has to be taken in the proper context of all the other directives and rules of life that we have. The Gedolay Torah of our time have issued several directives directing bachurim to try to consider girls who are close to or even slightly above their own age. We need to view this in it proper context. These same Gedolay Torah are the epitome of those who constantly teach us that marriage is certainly not, Chalila, some kind of random musical chairs game, but is rather the sublime sacred merging of two people to form one Neshama. And therefore, they themselves strongly teach us that the arrangement of dates has to be (we can use Mr.Weissman’s own words) “based entirely and exclusively on considerations of marital compatibility” in order ” . . . to build the happiest and most stable Jewish families.”

    In other words, Mr. Weissman, the Gedolay Torah agree with you 100%! They are the ones who have been saying this (about how absolutely crucial it is to make marriages exclusively on compatibility) all along, and they are certainly not now backtracking from it one iota!

    What they are now saying though, is that when looking for that compatibility, try looking for it in boys and girls who are in a very narrow age range. To a Mr. “agent emmess” who in comment #13 pointed out: ” . . . a younger girl . . . is nicer and less jaded then the older ones who are already set in their ways and need to play games due to their bitterness,” they (in effect) say: “Yes, that is an excellent observation! There certainly are a lot of older girls who have these drawbacks! However, it is obvious that ALL older are not like this; there certainly are a lot of older girls who ARE very nice and are NOT jaded and are not set in their ways and do not play games!” “A considerate caring Shaddchan will try to find one for you. And when such a Shaddchan tells you about a certain older girl whom he or she thinks is one of these “good ones,” TRY meeting her! And SEE if she is takeh a nice girl who is compatable with you whom you like; if so, we have a big MAZAL TOV!”

    If after meeting with her though, the boy feels that she is NOT someone whom he likes, then NO proper person, and certainly no true Gadol B’Torah, is going to tell him that he still MUST marry that girl. These are not my words. Maran Rav Moshe Wolfson once bluntly stated to me: “If you are not GLAD . . . ” (and wow, did he stress that word ‘glad’!) (so again) “If you are not G-L-A-D that you are making a (certain) Shidduch, THEN IT IS ASSUR FOR YOU TO MAKE THAT SHIDDUCH!!” “Because if you do, YOU ARE HEADED STRAIGHT FOR RABBI BICK*!!”

    (* Rav Moshe Bick, ZT’L, who lived in and directed a shul in the Boro Park section of Brooklyn, was one of the pre-eminent Poskim of the last Dor; he was especially known for taking care of cases of divorce. Yibodel L’Chaiyim Tovim V’Aruchim, his son now continues the father’s Avodas HaKodesh.)

    Furthermore, to Miss. “PL” in comment #19, if a Shaddchan happens to know a YOUNGER girl whom he or she feels is perfect compatibility to this boy, and thus gives the suggestion, and, upon meeting, the boy and the girl and everyone else involved see that they make a perfect pair, and they thus marry, no proper person, and certainly no true Gadol BaTorah would tell them: “Wait! Wait! Wait! Oops! Oops! Oops! She is more than 1.39 years younger than him! He is not allowed to marry her!” Instead, every decent person would give them a big hearty “MAZAL TOV!”

  25. Mr. “agent emmess” in comment #13 points out an excellent observation, that for boys to consider older girls instead of younger girls is something that is very difficult for them to do. This is because: “a younger girl . . . is nicer and less jaded then the older ones, who are already set in their ways and need to play games due to their bitterness.”

    As I just explained at length in my last comment #28, this obviously does not mean that ALL younger girls are nice and ALL older ones are, Chas V’Shalom, bad. What Mr. “agent emmess” means is that there is a problem that MANY girls who become older while not getting married do become somewhat jaded and bitter and set in their ways and even play not nice games with guys who try to meet them.

    That this observation has been brought out here, should be a Toeles for these girls. In other words, we are saying to them: “That you have lost time without being married is certainly very sad, and, of course, YOU SHOULD feel very bitter about it! That is exactly how we all feel too!” “However, please realize that we are trying to help you. The Gedolay Torah have, several times, issued directives instructing bachurim to not pass you up, but to instead, seriously consider you.”

    “So please, do your part too! Please remember, like Mr. ‘agent emmess’ explains, if you are going to remain bitter and jaded and act not nicely and even play mean little games, guys are fully rightfully not going to want you!”

    “Instead, please, be thrilled and animated and invigorated that HaShem is giving you even a possibility of salvation. Of course, beg HaShem that He also give you the ACTUAL salvation! And please, do whatever else you can so that the boys who are sent to meet you will like you!”

  26. Comment #14 states: “#13. you speak like a Menuval. I will show you actors that married and are 20 years apart. Are you going to also tell us ‘don’t knock it’?? They also have a happy marriage.”

    Let us look at comment #13: “A Bochur goes for a younger girl cause she is nicer and less jaded then the older ones, who are already set in their ways and need to play games due to their bitterness.

    There are many happy marriages of guys who are five and more years older then their mate and we cannot knock that!”

    Where in #13 is there, Chas V’Shalom, any Nevala?
    Is it in the opening words: “A Bochur goes for a younger girl cause she is nicer . . . “?

    It is true that the word “nice” does have a meaning of “giving pleasure or contentment to the mind or senses – see pleasant.” However, it also has several other meanings that are in the realm of human behavior: “following the established traditions of refined society and good taste – see proper 1” and “having an easygoing and pleasing manner especially in social situations – see amiable.” (All three quotes are from http://www.referencecenter.com/ref/thesaurus?query=nice).

    So #13 starts his remark with the words: “A Bochur goes for a younger girl cause she is nicer,” and by “nicer” it could be that he means “more attractive.” However, the rest of the words of the sentence ” . . . and less jaded then the older ones, who are already set in their ways and need to play games due to their bitterness” are clearly about traits of human character and behavior. So since the second part of the sentence is obviously referring to issues of character and behavior, there is a very good chance that the first part of the sentence IS ALSO referring to issues of character and behavior.

    So, again, when he started the sentence with: “A Bochur goes for a younger girl cause she is nicer,” it could be that he means “A Bochur goes for a younger girl cause she is more attractive.” However, it is more probable that he means “A Bochur goes for a younger girl cause she is more amiable; she is more good-natured; she is more considerate, courteous, polite, thoughtful, and accommodating.” (See http://www.referencecenter.com/ref/thesaurus/amiable&invocationType=thesaurus.main.)

  27. As a 21 year old girl who is in the parsha the biggest problem in shidduchim is actually getting a date.You can be the best girl however if you don’t have big yichus,money,contacts, or a big name out there not many people redt shidduchim to girl’s like that.Instead families hhave to relie on shadchanim who are swamped with names,are overwhelmed and are impossible to get through to even if ypu call them a million times.Girl’s are just sitting there not getting dates.It is up to everyone to redt girls dates, and for mothers to stop being picky.For those of you who say there is no shidduch crisis you have your head buried in the sand even The Noveminsker Rebbe Shlita talked about it!

  28. Chani, one facet of the problem is the “reid” that girls should be in the freezer till 22. Oh no, the reidsters will say, we don’t mean that, just that shadchanim should focus on girls 22+. Don’t know how this is impacting girls.

    Meanwhile I know of plenty of younger girls getting married. Don’t know if it’s because money talks, they’re connected, or what.

    Don’t let this demoralize you. Keep doing all the good things you’re doing, whether it be school, work, chessed, etc. Not only are you building yourself up for when you will build your bayis neeman, iy”H, you’re accomplishing something good every day right now, and to paraphrase Uncle Moishy, that makes Hashem very, very proud! 😉

  29. Keep in mind, also, that to quote “Little Women,” one doesn’t need a million dates. Just one, if he’s the right one.

    Because who sets up the dates in the great cosmic scheme of things . . . ?

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