Statistical Mirages and the Shidduch Crisis

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(12th in a series on

By Rabbi Yitschak Rudomin MA

We live in modern times and therefore often take on modern ways of thinking without being fully aware of it. Our surrounding cultures influence us, while Yiddishkeit reminds us never to forget who we are as a Torah nation and how Torah Jews are supposed to think and act. It is not easy, as we all know.

In the last few years, when the so-called shidduch crisis in the frum world has been discussed or written about, there has been a strong tendency to cite statistics and numbers and charts. This is understandable, because we use technology, which is all mathematically based on “ones and zeros,” and our computer programs generate automatic flowcharts and columns, requiring us to just fill in data and numbers. Our brains have become wired and conditioned to think that way, and we think it is a normal “Jewish” way of thinking, when it really is not, in my opinion.

If anything, the Torah and all of Tanach and all the related Torah and rabbinic literature teach the exact opposite of our modern way of thinking. The lesson from Hashem over and over again is that numbers do not count. It is a different way of thinking.

Just stop for a minute and consider just a few examples from the Torah. Avrohom Avinu and Sarah Imeinu could not have children because Sarah was childless and they were both too old to have children. Even when G-d sends angels to tell them that they will have a child in their old age, they laugh at that, because they were going with the conventional thinking of people that old folks cannot have babies. Yet, obviously, anything is possible if it is the ratzon Hashem. Likewise, no matter how strong the numbers of our enemies seem, if Hashem does not will it, then no army, no matter how many soldiers are in it, can ever win.

So, obviously, in Hashem’s eyes, numbers and statistics do not matter. It is what Hashem wants and tells us through the Torah that is important. The rest is not for us to worry about, no matter how “convincing” it may seem. Just forget about it. It means nothing as far as Yiddishkeit is concerned.

I would always tell my children and any people I was counseling about shidduchim never to be impressed when they hear how many others are “competing” with them, because it is not important. I would tell them, “All you are looking for is just one person to marry. Do not worry about trends. People get overwhelmed and they think they must do the impossible, but it is not so.”

Say you were looking for a job. Would you ever say that there are too many other people who are also job hunting, so you will give up? No. You keep on looking seriously, you have emunah and bitachon, and if you are serious and qualified and realistic, you will find that one job. Likewise, with shidduchim, you are just looking for that one bashert.

In many of the statistics about the shidduch crisis and the concerns about age gaps between males and females, the whole approach is faulty, because it is going with the conventional assumption that shidduchim must take place within one type of group, while the truth is that, as people, we have vast options, if only we went out and took advantage of them. Chassidim are better at this, I think, than the English-speaking yeshiva world.

You often hear among Chassidic families that they are having weddings in Israel, England, Belgium, or Canada. You hear far less of this among our yeshiva crowd. Who says that you are right that you will only marry within your own pre-selected type of socio-economic and religious type of people, living in only a favorite geographic area?

In Israel, we hear a lot more of Ashkenazim marrying Sefardim, while in the yeshiva circles, it is not as common. People have decided that they only want to marry the boy or girl “next door,” and they get fixated on that. Then they read statistics on Matzav or elsewhere that discourage them. Then some people start doing what is known as “social engineering,” advising total strangers that they must get married “older” or “younger,” when it is nobody’s business.

We can only know what it says in halachah and the Shulchan Aruch, which is that it is advisable to marry at 18 years of age. Neither you nor I made this up. It is in the Shulchan Aruch, and that is what should be the focus – not charts and statistics coming from people no one really knows about.

Every single human being deserves happiness. Everyone deserves to get married. If within one group of people, there are blockages and delays in getting married, then you do what you would do in any situation in life: You look around, or you move on, or you find other people who can help you. It’s like being on the road. Many times, I have been on a bus from the Port Authority in New York City to the Catskills and there are slowdowns due to heavy traffic. Many times, the good drivers will not care; they will just take the next exit off the swamped highways and use smaller, lesser knows roads with hardly any traffic.

The same applies to life and shidduchim. Sometimes we get stuck on the highway of life and on the Shidduchim Super Highway. Out job, then, is not to “get lost in traffic,” but to “get off at the next exit” and figure out how to get to our destination along roads we may not have chosen in the first place. But we know that life requires us to be practical, so we get smart and use the lesser known roads to get home safely.

Not everyone has to or can marry a person who is a carbon copy of themselves. Hashem has plans for all of us that might not be what we think they will be. Not enough is left for the unknown. People want to know that they will get their “order,” as if they were in a restaurant. Life is not like that. There is no such thing as instant “mail order” brides or grooms in the Torah world. You must work with the unknowns as much as with what is in front of you.

We have our precious Torah to teach us that. The Torah tells us how our avos and imahos met and married. It was not all planned or by the numbers.

As a final thought connected to Pesach, we see that Moshe Rabbeinu met and married Tzipora outside of Mitzrayim. He did not find his shidduch through shadchanim or whatever method the Bnai Yisroel used to marry each other in Mitzrayim. Instead, he set out in life on a journey not knowing how it would end, and along the way he met the righteous Tzipora, the daughter of Yisro, and she became his  wife.

Have a chag kosher vesomeiach and a wonderful Pesach.

Rabbi Yitschak Rudomin lives in Flatbush and is the director of the Jewish Professionals Institute He and his wife Zahava, although they are not shadchanim, have counseled many in the area of shidduchim and dating. He can be reached at or 718 382 5610 and 718 382 8058.



  1. “You often hear among Chassidic families that they are having weddings in Israel, England, Belgium, or Canada. You hear far less of this among our yeshiva crowd. Who says that you are right that you will only marry within your own pre-selected type of socio-economic and religious type of people, living in only a favorite geographic area?”

    – This is a ridiculous statement. Chassidim are not marrying people in different countries who are in different them then in any way. They are generally people from the same Chassidus and are more known and connected to each other than you are giving them credit for.

    • I agree with you because I am not saying what you are saying.

      I am not saying that Yeshiva people should marry people who are different to them. I am saying they should and could and can and must look for Yeshiva type people in other places and not think that because they live in Flatbush they must marry people from Flatbush, or if they live in Lakewood they can only marry a Lakewood person. Of course if you find your Bashert living locally then great marry them if they want to marry you.

      But we are talking about a so-called Shidduch Crisis here, with lots of singles in Flatbush and Lakewood etc. They find it hard to get out of their comfort zones, it’s understandable because of human nature that has a natural resistance built in, but in life if you see that you are not having Mazel in one place then we all know that Meshaneh Makom Meshaneh Mazel and we must look further afield NOT for different people, but there are plenty of single Yeshiva people in other states and countries, and just like the Chasidim they are not hemmed in by geography.

      Too many American Yeshiva people have picked up the prejudices against “foreigners” that is common among native Americans. People get suspicious of someone with a different accent. Americans make fun of people with English accents, and far too often Americans look down on Israelis. Yet among those English and Israeli YESHIVISHA people there are many singles would love a chance to go on Shidduchim with American Yeshiva people, just like the Chasidim who do have a problem with GEOGRAPHY as long as the person is CHASIDISH, so I am saying that it would be really great if the American Yeshiva people would have the same Hashkofa and acceptance that they would go out with people from other countries and states as long as that person is YESHIVISH.

      So you see, we are 100% in agreement!

      Zai Gezunt!

      Yitschak Rudomin.

  2. Simply beautiful and correct. The only crisis is believing there is a crisis. It is in the best interest of many people for matters not to be resolved. As with any other “crisis”, follow the money trail. V’Hamavin Y’avin. We were warned not to mess with Shiduchim. Shamefully some are lining their pockets at the expense of literally killing generations. One day the money will run out and the pyramid will fall. I guess we may have to go back to the way it used to be and should be! No one can lie to me because I was there. I saw it happen. It’s a disgrace.

  3. There are some major glaring problems with some of the contentions in this article. Firstly comparing the Chasidic to the non Chasidic world in terms of Chassidim marrying people from other countries with the implication that this means they are more open to marrying people from other “groups”. The Chassidic world is actually a very closed grouped world with a high degree of uniformity of social behavior. There is probably not a great deal of social and cultural difference between Chassidim of the same or similar sects from different countries. Similarly the Israeli Charedi world were there may be more mixing of Sephardi and Ashkenazi then in the US. The Israeli Charedi world is also for the most part a closed society with a great deal of homogeneity in terms of socio economics, culture and Hashkafa. Perhaps in the Shidduch Crisis there is actually a bright spot in that it may illuminate the fact that in America there are still frum boys, girls, women, and men, who still maintain enough of their individuality that it causes them to be more picky and discerning in their choice of a mate. Likewise I would take issue with the authors continued harping on the Chazal Recommended age of 18 for marriage. Although that age may have been the recommendation in the time of the Mishna, I would seriously question whether such a blanket, one size fits all young age approach is really a good idea for the times we are living in. There is a reason why for example the legal age for drinking is 21 and not 18.

    • See my answer above, I am not advocating “mixed marriages” chas vesholom! But what has happened is that people want to marry a mirror-image of themselves just of the other gender. And then sometimes I just think that we are dealing with a mass narcissistic problem that people are too self-involved and need to be more accepting even of small differences, like accents or wealth status, when there are Yeshivisha people from all over, but New Yorkers are looking for New Yorkers only and it is hard to connect them with out of town Yeshiva people.

      Whereas with Chasidim it is not like that, they are okay about marrying Chasidisha people from other countries and other cities very easily, and it is that practical ability that I am praising and saying it should be emulated.

      As for the age thing, yes, I agree that for along time people delayed marriage, but now it is not for the original reasons because too many people are delaying marriage for secular reasons, like they have to wait to get a degree or get start a career or find themselves, when that has nothing to do with Yiddishkeit.

      The reason Frum Jews delayed marriage in the past was because of the upheavals and dislocations caused by wars and immigration, just as after the Holocaust it was an emergency and everyone had to sacrifice for Torah learning and so marriages were delayed to help build Torah.

      But today, B”H the emergency has passed, and the Frum world is now huge, successful and at near-normal levels of being Frum Kehilos. Now we have to get on with the business of living normal lives and in order to do that we come back to the normal standards of Halacha and B”H the Shulchan Aruch guides us about life and Paskens for us to see 18 as a good date to marry.

      I am not making this up, if I was I would be on your side maybe, but we have to ask ourselves if we plan on living by the Shulchan Oruch or not, and if yes, then 18 is the magical statistic for a time to marry.

      Yitschka Rudomin.

  4. The concept that the author writes about actually makes sense on an individual level as advice. However, in addressing the shidduch crisis from a macro level, it’s irresponsible.

    If one group is having a problem, then an individual can look outside the group but it also makes sense for the group to analyze what they are doing and whether there is something that they are doing wrong and that can be changed.

    Also, I don’t understand the argument. We don’t only have the Shulchan Aruch; the gedolim have come to dating that the boys should date earlier. Does the author think the gedolim are mistaken? The gedolim did NOT advocate any of the author’s previous suggestions, yet he insinuates that it is everyone else that is not following the way of the Torah.

    And I am not sure he is correct that we don’t care about statistics. We don’t care about statistics when we do what we’re supposed to do- perhaps then it’s irrelevant. But so many of the HALACHOS of chazaka and Rov as they apply to refuah, pikuach nefesh, bedikas mazon, and many other things are based on statistics.

    I heard some of the author’s interview with Zev Brenner and he sounds like a very nice and pleasant person. But why give him a twelve part series? Nothing he is saying has any more weight than anything anyone else is saying and seems speculative. Why not just leave it up to people’s personal decisions and the gedolim?

    • The children of Gedolim all marry at young ages. Gedolim do not have a Shidduch Crisis. That is not the fault of the Gedolim, the Gedolim are trying to help us, but we must use our brains to help ourselves. We do not expect Gedolim to get us jobs nor do we expect them to find us Shidduchim because we are responsible for running our own lives.

      Funny that you are not tired about hearing about the Shidduch Crisis but a few essays with refreshing new ideas makes you so nervous. Rather just go point by point and say, okay this agree with and this I don’t. This is wrong and then give reasons why and this is mostly right and say what is missing.

      That is the way to have a dialogue, rather than saying “oh shut up already, I would rather hear about statistics and how we are not doing enough for our singles.”

      I have helped all of my kids get married and I have helped dozens of other people with good advice in Shidduchim, so I am sharing of my experiences and hope it can be of benefit to other people.

      Yitschak Rudomin.

  5. Torah thinking tells us numbers don’t matter. UNLESS you are talking about money, in which case numbers are ALL that matter. That’s why buildings are named after CERTAIN people and why CERTAIN people will get all the kibbudim, etc.

  6. actually, more ashkenazim in america marry sefardim than in israel, due to the discrimination against sefardim there. but nice try anyway

  7. If Avraham and sara had modern medicine to help them have children they would have used it. Its called Hishtadlus.The Torah Requires us to do what wed can for ourselves and others. Once we don’t have the power to do anything of course we still must believe that Hashem can perform a miracle. Same applys to the Shidduch crisis because of the age gap we have many more girls in shidduchim than boys. The Mitzvah of Chesed requires all of us to do what we can to close the gap in order to enable all girls to get married this does not mean that Hashem can not perform miracle on his own. Your jobs example is not relavant. if there are a shortage of jobs of course is individual should try to make sure he gets one of the jobs available but as community he should try to help create more jobs in order to enable everyone to get a job.

  8. If someone could please explain why with this beautiful expose, it seems like the males in the yeshiva world are doing just fine… and all the points you mention apply only to the females.

    Might I request, before you toss away the reality of the inequity of numbers, please provide a coherent explanation as to why it is not accurate. And by the way, the chassidim have a slight reverse crisis, i.e. the boys have it more difficult than the girls, for the exact same reason. Not enough girls to match up to the boys, based on dating ages.

    Yes, a partial solution would theoretically be for bais Yaakov girls to marry gerrer chassidim. I wish best of luck to anyone successful in encouraging such matches in large numbers.

    In addition, I have difficulty comprehending why it is that in any other area of chesed, -and the list is as long as our Holy nation is uniquely special , we would never and have never said that numbers are irrelevant, and Hashem will provide for everyone; as a means to absolve ourselves from doing whatever we can to be of assistance. SURELY the person themselves who is struggling MUST realize that the truth is that Hashem is Kol Yachol and approach their situation fortified with Emunah and Bitachon while employing resonable histadlus that their situation calls for. However, it is forbidden for a community or individuals to rely on Emunah and Bitachon and not assist people who are in need and could be assisted. We pride ourselves on a nation of Chesed, Mi Kimacha Yisroel. Tomchei Shabbos, Yad Eliezer, Bonei Olam, Rccs, Shuvu, Bikur Cholim, yichleh haziman and the listing and sheer scope of mind boggling variety of superhuman chessed our Nation is actively involved is never ending and truly awe inspiring. It covers the gamut of social, spiritual and individual needs in a manner that is remarkable. And when we come to shidduchim there exists amongst some segments of the population a sense of “that’s Hashem’s gesheft”. HE is mizaveig zivugim, and it’s not our job to get involved and assist. This is surely a error in thinking, that perhaps is a result of people being unsure what and how to get involved. But please don’t think we can afford to not realize this is our responsibility to use our tremendous talents and assets to alleviate the communal shidduch difficulties and thus enable and facilitate shidduchim for each and every precious Jewish person.

  9. I agree with this article. I think the whole crisis is made up. Does anyone really believe that 40 days before some people were born there was no bas kol???? Hashem has a plan for each person. You may not be smart enough to calculate it, but Hashem has a cheshbon. All the crisis talk just hurts the singles and does nothing to help them. This is a bitachon crisis. Not a shidduch crisis. Hashem has many ways to help a person. We just have to be openminded to accept His help.

  10. So by citing the story of Avraham and Sarah, what you’re saying is that we should just have faith and let Hashem do the rest? What happened to “ein somchin al ha’nes”? I for one don’t believe the age gap to be the root of the problem, but if you do (and from your previous articles it seems you do), then it’s foolhardy to throw that to the wind and say “if Hashem wants up to find shidduchim, then by all means we will”!

  11. “We…often take on modern ways of thinking without being fully aware of it. Our surrounding cultures influence us, while Yiddishkeit reminds us… Torah Jews are supposed to think and act. It is not easy, as we all know”.
    How true, & so i was very suprised to read a few lines later
    “Every single human being deserves happiness”!!!!! deserves???!?
    this is an example of ” modern ways of thinking without being fully aware of it.”

    • Look at the words in Sheva Brochas, they all talk about different forms of JOY and HAPPINESS nothing to do with modernity:

      Sos Tasis.

      Sameach Tesamach.

      Kesmeichachah Yetsircha.

      Sasson VeSimcha.

      Gila Verina.

      Kol Sasson Vekol Simcha.

      Mesameach Chasan Im HaKalla.

    • A normal person does not start out in life thinking, “okay, now I am gonna suffer, bring on the Yissurim Lord!” only a sick person thinks like that. A normal person wants to be happy and enjoy life, that’s in the Torah that Hashem created Adam and Chava and told them to enjoy Gan Eden, because HKB”H does NOT bring people into His world to make them suffer. Now of course, sometimes bad things will happen, and obstacles will come up, that is also part of the system of HKB”H testing us and we have to see to it that we get smart and not let the tests trip us up.

  12. It is of course true that one’s zivug is preordained. I am,however, a little confused about the point of this article. Is this article saying we need to do less or worry less when it comes to shudduchim? That may or may not be true, but is a difficult stance to take regarding those who are feeling overwhelmed by their shidduch prospects, or the prospects of their children. It may be true that a campaign to increase bitachon and its power is appropriate. Yet, such a campaign needs to be done very carefully and systematically.

  13. Oy. This Author is giving us his Buba Mayses again. Just follow the Gedolim and ignore this self righteous ignoramus that insists that he can save the world.


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