The Spiritual Shidduch Crisis


chupahBy Yoel Small

More and more Americans are choosing not to marry. The percentage of never married Americans over the age of 25 has more than doubled to over 20 percent. Forty five percent of these never-married Americans over the age of 25 either do not want to marry or are unsure whether they would eventually like to get married. Of those that do marry, over fifty percent of marriages end in divorce. To sum up, we reside in a society that is continuously downgrading the value of families.

Unfortunately, these attitudes have infiltrated our communities as well. The singles scene in the Upper West Side and Washington Heights neighborhoods of Manhattan – which hosts thousands of Jewish singles over the age twenty five – is one of its products. The alarming, ever-rising divorce rate is another one that has its roots the discard of the value of maintaining a wholesome family setting.

Our community has also unfortunately been affected by a seemingly unrelated marital crises – the shidduch crisis. This crisis is unique in that it seems to only be affecting women. While several explanations have been suggested as the route cause of the crisis, the age-gap theory is the predominant one.

There have been several initiatives that have been advanced to rectify the shidduch crisis. One philanthropist, in an effort to ease the shidduch crisis, has offered to ensure that, under certain conditions, each matchmaker will receive $10,000 per match made.

The Rambam rules that when we see a crises befall our community, we have a responsibility to soul-search in order to understand why Hashem has brought this upon us – which will cause the crises to leave us. The Rambam notes further, that refraining from soul-searching and attributing the crises to natural causes is cruelty.

WHILE we’ve seen technical explanations as to why there may be a shidduch crisis, have we seen spiritual reasons suggested?

Is it possible that Hashem has allowed this shidduch crisis to come about in order to save the Yiddishe family? As we’ve noted, we reside in a society where more than one out of every two marriages end in divorce, and the rate is continuously rising. Unfortunately, in our communities the divorce rate is also, sadly increasing at an alarming rate.

What is the cause of all these divorces? While we cannot answer this question, the fact is that the vast majority of divorces are initiated and sought by the wife. Several studies have been conducted as to which party chooses to divorce. The studies vary in their results. However according the lowest study, over 66% of divorces are initiated by the wife and 20% by the husband (11% were mutually sought). According to one study, over 90% of divorces are initiated by the wife. That’s greater than a three to one, and up to a 9 to 1, ratio. Many therapists have explained that the woman, even with children, feels that “she could do better” – find a better husband and selfishly abandons her marriage.

It is very possible that maybe, just maybe, Hashem permitted the shidduch challenge we currently face to come about in order to protect and secure the institution of the Jewish Family from these societal influences. A person values and appreciates an item that was difficult to obtain much more than an item that was obtained with little effort. A wife will value a marriage that she had to, unfortunately, wait and seek for a very long time, much more than had it come effortlessly. It won’t be easy for her to just pick up one day and say “I can do better”, when she is aware that “it’s a man’s world out there”.

(Rabbi Tzadok Katz once mentioned in the American Yated that NASI has conducted studies that have shown that certain communities have barely been affected by the shidduch crisis. Those communities that are less affected are the communities that seem to be less influenced by secular society and are a lot less likely to seek a divorce, unless absolutely necessary. And their definition of absolutely necessary does not include “I could do better”.)

So in conjunction to these fine initiatives being advanced in order to solve the shidduch crisis, wouldn’t it be prudent upon us to internalize the value of marriage, the way Hashem would like us to treat marriage?

As many segulos are available and suggested, we would like to propose one as well. Can we suggest that a segula for a young woman to overcome her own personal shidduch crises would be to internalize and appreciate the value of marriage. To firmly accept upon herself that as soon as she merits to marry, she will value and appreciate the marriage. Once married, she will feel a responsibility towards her spouse and will never, ever seek to end it to “do better”. Midah kneged midah, may Hashem save her time and anguish, and unite her with her zivug quickly. Omain!

CHILD Free Initiative
Carefully Helping Individuals Live Divorce Free Initiative

{ Newscenter}


  1. Excellent article. What you are basically saying, is that we have a Hashkafa crises, not some silly concocted “age-gap” nonsense. We have a lot of spoiled adolescents out there. Maybe its because the personal wealth has grown like never before for the Orthodox community.

  2. The shiduch crisis could be solved by mixed yes Social events instead of these inexorable contraptions of shadchanim and shidduch dates.

  3. Is this a joke. This idea is not even wrong. Seems designed to
    Troll. Also, who calls a pro marriage organization the “child free initiative”.

  4. R’ Yoel, this opinion piece is riddled with several issues.
    1) what is the source for the statement “Many therapists have explained that the woman … feels that ‘she could do better’ … and selfishly abandons her marriage”? Your thesis is predicated on this one undocumented opinion, with no supporting evidence demonstrated.
    2) Were these statistics done on the frum community or the world at large?
    3) if frum women are indeed running away from marriages, is there perhaps an issue with the men they are running away from?
    4) Isn’t the Gemara in Kiddushin that teaches that women desire marriage more than men contrary to what you indicate?
    5) And the most poignant: how many tears are you causing to be shed from girls who will do anything, have not yet found the right one, and are being castigated and blamed for their predicament?

    We can, however, agree on your last statement … may all young women unite with their zivug quickly. Omain!

  5. It’s what I have been saying for years- it’s not a shidduch crisis it’s a people crisis. Spoiled, entitled, clueless brats. It is a tremendous bracha to not have too many marriages of such low quality people and to prevent the world the anguish of living with their offsprings.

  6. Many of us await death as there is no hope to marry.

    The silent holocaust has taken its toll and has reinforced its goal.

    There is no joy in life, no goals, no hope, except waiting to die ASAP.

  7. To #12
    I know a lot of married people who are either waiting to die or for their spouses to die
    To #10

  8. What is the author implying by the statement that the vast majority of divorces are initiated and sought after by the wife? That women for some reason value marriage less than men do or that women consider marriage “disposable” to a greater extent than men do? That’s simply preposterous.

    Did the author consider that possibly, just possibly that we live in extraordinary times and some marriages are indeed unsalvageable, not because the woman in the relationship thinks she can do “better”, but because the issues are of a nature so toxic that the women might fear for her own safety or that of her children?

    Were the author to be better informed he would know that the breakup of most marriages is due to the prevalence of addictions to alcohol, gambling, drugs, pornography, and repeated infidelities, and that for the most part it is the men that is culpable for these deviances. C’mon, when was the last time you heard of a Jewish woman addicted to pornography, or even gambling for that matter.

    That is not to say that woman are never at fault in failed marriages. Sometimes it is the wife who is the abuser. But it does explain why when there are issues, it is more often the woman who seeks the divorce, because most often she is the more vulnerable party.

    Trust me, most of the time when women seek to end their marriage, it is not a matter of choice, but of self preservation.

  9. “you said that divorce rates & not getting married rate are up”

    you can thank our JEWISH friend Facebook for that. the website that has caused MILLIONS of divorces & intermarriages.

    Turn your heart & tefillos straight to Hashem for all your needs. don’t depend on others.

  10. Anyone who would have the audacity to promote “child free” anything is an idiot. Do u re ognize how insensitive that is to infertile couples ?

  11. Great article! Rabbi Small obviously has experience with divorce in the Jewish community. If national divorce rates are going down, that doesn’t disprove what is happening in our communities. It takes a lot of selfishness to break up a family with innocent children because of some challenges you may have. We need to learn how to fix a problem and not toss it in the garbage. Those who disagree with this article are either uninformed or not totally honest with themselves.

  12. #14

    A large majority of individuals in unhappy marriages who hang in there and avoid divorce end up reporting their marriages are very happy a few years later. For the most part, those who divorced and even those who divorced and remarried were not happier than those who stuck with their marriages.

  13. All this is talk and no action.

    The current shidduch groups for parents are a real pain for everyone involved.

    Better to have more meetings where the singles themselves attend. There can be choices of groups. There lectures can be heard and participation encouraged.There volunteer activities can be performed. Coupling meeting others with good deeds is a great first step.

  14. Who said there is a crises?What about women who don’t want to get married?The divorce rate is highest for people who marry under age 25, but don’t worry because some women cant get divorced because their husband wont give them a get.what about people who want to get married when they are older or chose to be single?

  15. I appreciate you generalizing everyone. I guess that we should all put the shiduch crises (quote on quote) aside and opt instead for the divorce crisis. Well as you put it that already is there.
    A bisele derech eretz please.

  16. #8 – yeshivishe guy:

    Several loaded questions or complex question fallacies.

    1) There are many sources. A quick google search easily reveals this.

    2) What are you attempting to imply? Presumably these are secular studies. Do you feel that our community has not been influenced by secular society’s attitudes towards marriage?

    3) That’s a loaded question!

    4) Which Gemara are you referring to?
    The Gemara (Niddah 31b) states that Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai was asked why a woman who gives birth must bring a korban. He answered that while a woman is in labor, she swears that she will not return to be with her husband.

    5) Not reflecting is href=”″>cruelty.

  17. The shiduch crisis is due to a change of attitude and mentality when it comes to marriage.

    for example: Moshe Rabeinu married a Giores….can anyone say with all its power that he or she will marry a ger?

    People are looking for “social status or recognition” more than a husband or a wife.
    In that notion they have a list of demands and preferences that never existed in our historical past.

  18. The Queen is most anxious to enlist everyone in checking this mad, wicked folly of ‘Women’s Rights’. It is a subject which makes the Queen so furious that she cannot contain herself.

    Queen Victoria

  19. Our theory has always been that that the (4 year) age gap is the only problem. The fact that boys don’t listen until 23 and the girls are listening at 19 is the cause of this man made tragedy in the Yeshivishe world. Most frum orthodox communities have a 7% annual population increase. 4 times 7% = 28% minus 5% more males than females = 23%. So every 1000 23 year olds have 1230 new 19 year old to pick from plus the left over 20- 21 -22- & the 23 year olds.
    We have recently received actual numbers of Yeshivish Eer Hatorah Lakewood students. There are 890 8th grade boys (13 yr. bar mitzvah) and there are 1235 9 year old girls 4th graders. A 4 year age gap. Move the clock ahead with 10 years and you have 890 oisgeshtiegte 23 year old boys coming to shiddich island with 1235 19 year old girls. 1235-890=245 left in the cold. that`s 21.6% of this years actual sample. WAKE UP Its a MAN MADE TRAGEDY. Hashem clearly wants boys to get married younger. as the Halacha clearly paskens like that. Hashem does not want bnos yisroel to be tortured because the boys don’t listen until 23. Just kick the habit of going to Erets Yisroel from 21 to 23. That is the answer to the Spiritual crisis. Listen to Hashem

  20. Dear comment # 29,

    You missed the it.

    Why has Hashem allowed this situation to come about?
    Is there any solution that will not keep boys at an advantage of choice? Even if you “beg” them to marry younger, that feeling that they were begged will not be lost. The answer to the spiritual crisis is to first seek to understand the underlying fault. Are you suggesting that all the benefits that bochurim have attained by learning in Eretz Yisroel is not real? It’s time to think out of the box…

  21. What a nonsensical article! That Hashem created “The Shidduch Crisis” to save Klal Yisrael from an even greater ‘Divorce Crisis’ is preposterous! Why wouldn’t Hashem just save us from the divorce crisis and finished?