The Matzav Rant: Shidduchim – A Catastrophic Problem of Epic Proportions

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shidduchimBy Shmuel Miskin

I know that we’ve discussed the topic of shidduchim on a number of occasions before, but I never really described it for what it is: the state of shidduchim has reached catastrophic proportions. I may address some sensitive points here, but bear with me please, because discussing this is vital for the health and wellbeing of our kehillos and mishpachos.

The way our current shidduch scene is constituted creates many social and financial pressures for many people. Hundreds of people are forced to take out second mortgages on their homes as the only means of marrying off daughters. Adjustments must be made.

What is a regular hard-working individual supposed to do when it comes to marrying off his daughters? Are we supposed to tell him that his daughters can’t marry bnei Torah because he can’t afford to support them? Is that fair to him? Is that fair to his daughters?

The financial obligations of marrying off children – especially daughters – is mind boggling. The current system is simply not viable.

Some will say that the problem can be attributed to the fact that nowadays lifestyles are different and the present generation is not the generation of yesteryear. They claim that the original American kollel generation of fifty years ago was happy to be driving around in beat-up Chevys and sacrificing any and all luxuries, while nowadays it is different.

Now, I think it would be unfair to all those out there who continue to make sacrifices daily so that they can live a kollel life to say that today’s families are living in complete comfort without constant financial worries. That would simply be untrue. There are hundreds of kollel families who live day to day not knowing how the next bill is going to be paid and how they will be able to continue. They endure sleepless nights, while tuition bills, utility bills, clothing and food expenses, and mortgage payments continue to mount. But they persevere. The keep their focus on what they deem as being vital.

However, I would be remiss not to point out that, unfortunately, there are those who don’t recognize that when they choose a life of kollel, they might have to give up certain luxuries and perhaps live on a different level. Not only does such an attitude put a tremendous financial strain on whoever is assisting them financially, but it also creates social pressure on those many yungeleit and their families who can’t afford to live on that level. The latter problem, in my mind, is a major one, and requires a completely separate discussion.  

The cost of living continues to increase with every passing day. Rent and other real necessities today are significantly higher than they were as little as ten years ago, having gone up way more than the average income. Today, two typical incomes barely pay for one family’s expenses, never mind supporting married children. This is causing finding shidduchim to be that much more difficult.

The victims of the current system are the average, honest, hardworking people, who simply can’t afford to support three or four of their married children after marriage. But they also want their daughters to marry bnei Torah. Why should they be deprived of this privilege?

And  most importantly, how can we inculcate our daughters in school that they should desire to marry a ben Torah who will continue to learn after they get married, only for her to find out when she enters shidduchim that unless her father is able to promise longtime support, this won’t happen? What a cruel joke to be playing on them!

Perhaps, the current system should be altered. Support should be set up in a way that it is divided 50-50 between the boy’s parents and the girl’s parents. This would alleviate the unfair burden on families of girls and would lessen demands somewhat.

This problem has reached calamitous proportions and must be addressed so that we can continue raising our children to be bnei Torah who devote themselves after marriage to years of pure limud haTorah.

Something must be done. This issue cannot be ignored. Everyone should share their ideas and suggestions, and maybe then, some adjustments can be made.                                                              

{Shmuel Newscenter}


  1. Yawn – just a repetition of what has been said a million times. This article will simply do nothing other than start a debate as to pros and cons of Kollel, people living off their parents, the entitlement society, what is wrong with working, etc.

    Had this article actually provided a thoughtful solution – then it would be worth something.

  2. You wrote: Support should be set up in a way that it is divided 50-50 between the boy’s parents and the girl’s parents.

    What if this is still too much for one side or the other? The system of support was not meant for supporting the “marrieds” while you are still paying tution for 5, 6 7 ,8 other children.It’s time that we go back to what was done just 20 years ago, you old enough to get married, your old enough to support yourself.

  3. Although this is a problem for many people it is not a Catastrophic Problem of Epic Proportions. Things like the Inquisition, Crusades and Holocaust qualify for those adjectives.

    Gedolim of yesteryear may or may not have recommended adjustments. In Europe most people did not even own homes they could mortgage. Get real! Poverty in the USA is nothing like poverty of yesteryear.

    Your only point is that the system is stacked against folks with more girls than boys but since we are not producing enough “great” boys to begin with economic supply and demand will preclude any possibility of addressing this issue head on.

    The cost of living has gone up and most of the US of A cannot live on 2 incomes let alone zero incomes (15K from a teaching job is not an income its less than a good yearly bonus from a good full time job.)

    The only solution which is becoming more and more popular is for women to get a real education and a real job. Even if a parent is shelling out 1K a month for 3 daughters which is a formidable undertaking for all but the most wealthy 12k is only a drop in the bucket of what a family of 4 needs to survive in any case.

    Hashem wants us to sit in kollel otherwise this system would have imploded long ago.


  5. Daughters have always cost significantly more to marry off than sons.

    Dowries have been a staple of shidduchim for thousands of years.

    Why do you think it has always been called “Hacnosos Kallah” and not hacnosos choson?

  6. How about another 50/50 idea.What would be so Shlecht if when a family can’t support, the Koillel Yingerman learns half a day and works half a day.

  7. A certain very practical north Jersey Rosh Yeshiva was marrying off his son, he sat down with the girls father in his car. He stated as follows “I made a list of expenses that this will cost, wedding, furniture, etc upkeep, support, etc-Do you see anything wrong with these numbers”? I think we should split everything down the middle, they shook hands on it-A TOTAL OF UNDER 5 MINUTES.

    I think that’s what everyone should do.

  8. You define a ben torah only as someone that is learning full time in kollel. Someone who is working or preparing themselves to earn a parnassah is no less a ben torah and may have much to offer. A big part of the problem is our community’s pushing everyone into kollel and making that the only acceptable place for a ben torah when an erliche and torah true yid can and for the most part should work and accept his family’s parnassah on his OWN shoulders NOT that of his father-in-law.

  9. One question to the writer. What is your personal involvement in the crisis? Do you have an older daughter at home with the phone never ringing? How about an older son who nothing is good enough for? Until you yourself have to go through a parenting crisis of this caliber, don’t write about the topic – if anything it only increases the insecurity of these children.

  10. WE also took care of the money matters in under 5 minutes. My daughter in law knew she wanted a Kollel life. Her parents can’t provide complete support. So, from the age of 13 she worked summers and did babysitting and put all the money away. When she got married, she had a $40,000 nest egg, and took on 2 jobs, so my son (who was offered rich sidduchim with full support which we turned down) could sit and learn (which he does seriously).

  11. Today its our girls that suffer, very soon it will be our rebbeim. there simply wont be any $$ for tuition available from these young couples. Besides addressing support, we need to address upfront how many years will be spent learning.

  12. R’ Shmuel, you yourself mentioned that the current kollel couple tends to have a much more comfortable (read “expensive”) lifestyle. Then you went on to say that there are still hundreds of yungerleit getting by on bare minimums.
    It’s not a small minority that live comfortably.
    I know that the couples that live in fancy houses and drive late model fancy cars on their parents’ tab is a minority. I’m talking about living COMFORTABLY- it’s not a small amount.

  13. Like #5 Yossie says, teach the girls the value of marrying a BEN TORAH. The key is if the man you marry is a mentch and will be a responsible husband for many years to come.
    The whole 2-3 honeymoon so they can feel like they married a bona-fide kollel guy is overrated and immature.

  14. people are stupid, they will continue to be stupid, thank you #5 for pointing out what should really be obvious to everyone.

  15. The only reason for this problem is the boys could – because there are more girls. We have to first solve the age gap issue and everything else will fall into place

  16. i think there is no such thing now-a-days as a struggling kollel couple. i am a girl that is going to start dating soon and i would give anything for my husband to sit and learn, but my father cant support me, so will i never get my wish? my salary isnt enough to support a couple!!!

  17. “What is a regular hard-working individual supposed to do when it comes to marrying off his daughters? Are we supposed to tell him that his daughters can’t marry bnei Torah because he can’t afford to support them? Is that fair to him? Is that fair to his daughters?”

    “Why should they be deprived of this privilege?”

    It’s called THAT’S LIFE. Life is not fair.

  18. The title implies that the shidduch system is the problem, but the article belies this statement. The shidduch system is merely a way for people to meet one another. There’s nothing wrong with that. The problem is that people think they can earn nothing, and will have others give them whatever they want.

    And notice I said “want,” not “need.” Yes, they rely on others for needs, and they really should be taking care of themselves. But as the article points out, people are wrapped up in luxuries. You can’t expect that. It’s the choice you make.

  19. “If gedolim of yesteryear were with us today and witnessed hundreds of people being forced to take out second mortgages on their homes as the only means of marrying off daughters, they would undoubtedly recommend that adjustments be made.”

    [deleted by moderator]

  20. why can’t the rebbeim teach BOYS that if they want to learn, they can get up EARLY in the morning to learn, put in a full days work, and let the actual mother of the children raise yiddishe kinder and not a spanish goyta!

  21. If you are old enough (and mature enough) to get married, both husband and wife should be willing to accept all responsibilities marriage (and child-rearing) entails.

  22. Splitting 50/50 after the chasunah would be a great thing after all the boys parents are still his parents even after he gets married. Why does the support only come from the girls side?! Since the parents of the boy and the girl believe the importance of starting off in kollel I feel both sides should help support a certain amount of years and then the couple is on their own. I also think if the boys family doesn’t have money how can they demand a certain amount of money from the girls side? How would they feel if they were the girls side? Everyone should feel for next person, after all we want a shidduch for our children NOT money. I married off two sons and two daughters B”H!! I did not demand money for my son, since I don’t have money. He is in Kollel and is struggling. We send some money every month since he is our son. His in laws don’t have money so they help when they can. With my girls one of the first questions was how much are you offering ? I have another daughter 19 and my husband is already worrying what’s going to be? How does he continue supporting 7 unmarried kids and keep up with the demands of the married couples. There is only a certain amount of money that comes in each month. My husband is a rebbe. If anyone knows of tzedazka organizations to help cover our other debts before we start on another shidduch it would certainly help! may HASHEM continue helping us out.

  23. To far in Far Rockaway. I really feel for me. You seem like a Bas Yisroel who wants her husband to learn. I work and have a seder each day. I would like to connect with you. If you are interested please contact me through Matzav. Maybe this is one way to help the Shidduch system.

  24. If you want a boy who sits and learns and your parents cannot afford to support you – get a real education and do it yourself.
    Its possible. I did it – my husband learned for 15 years and my sister has been doing it for 10.
    Our parents had no money!
    It is not easy but you can get scholarships to college and if neccessary take out some student loans.
    There is no excuse for asking parents to support you.

  25. Yes, there is a major problem out there, and that is when the kids get married they do not realize the cost and responsibility of being married.
    I am helping pay for 5 children plus tuition ,each to his or her needs, and I told my wife, that I am not interested in someone learning, just someone with good midos and will be koveah times to learn, but where will I find such a person and what will people say?

  26. Att Mr. Toras Chaim: Far in far rockaway wrote that SHE WOULD DO ANYTHING TO HAVE HER HUSBAND SIT AND LEARN, she would prob not want some guy like you who is busy replying to a post on the internet. GET A LIFE, AND GO LEARN!

  27. After attending high school and seminary these days, most Bais Yaakov girls want to marry a true Ben-Torah. They go to school to get degrees (perhaps even in something they are not so interested in) for the sake of supporting their husbands.
    Then they can’t get dates because their father does not have $30,000 a year lying around.

    Something is wrong with the system.

    In the olden days a girl gave a dowry- and it was the first and last time that she contributed financially. It is absurd that my father should need to pay a boy enough that he is willing to marry me and have me support him.

    It is also frustrating that many girls who are willing to be moser nefesh can’t get dates. Why should a girl who has no problem sacrificing and living simpy be advised to marry a boy who works half a day.

  28. I can say that I’m highly impressed with far in far rockaway’s point of view, and i used to think that way too. But being rational and in the dating scene for awhile, i see the truth. It hurts that a girl who is not such an amazing girl, but has a father who is ‘loaded’ goes faster in the shidduch world than the rest of us. I know my father is going to go into greater debt (already supporting a few sisters) than he is now in order to help me out when i get married, and it bothers me. Therefore i sit at a job from 9-5 daily, and I’m in college in order to get a better paying job and not burden my father with my necessities. Do i know why I’m still single? -NO! But i think I’m safe in saying that a large part of the reason is due to the fact that my father is not some rich, wealthy or even comfortable man. Money talks loud! And as the years progress (i know im not old!) i can’t help but think that i do want a husband who besides for everything else, will be a Baal Acrayis and understand the need to go out into the working world while still remaining a Ben Torah. I’m awaiting the day when I will see all my hard work pay off!

  29. Yidden, have emunah. Father’s tell the chosen’s mishpucha that you are Baalei Emunah. Have a chupah in the Yeshiva. NO FANCY SHMANCY WASTE OF MONEY !!! Live like the Chofetz Chaim gave you aitzeh. If you want a Mercedes Benz lifestyle, get a college education and earn cash, or buy a lotto ticket and daven for kesef.

  30. I have a 23 year old son who has finished college already, is now learning full time and wants to continue learning for a few years after he gets married.
    the bais yakov girls that want him aren’t interested in his learning and the girls that don’t want him its because of the college.
    Unfortunately too many parents would grab such a boy who is a good learner that will be able to provide for their daughter one day but are too embarresed from their friends to take such a boy and they don’t want to deal with their brainwashed daughters who don’t want less than a long time learner who will never step foot in college. This cannot continue much longer until we are all broke

  31. 33 (ridiculous): and supposedly the girls who couldn’t provide a dowry (or weren’t zoche to a rebbeshe maase type neis) went unmarried….

  32. I have married off both sons and daughters and my son in law is a ben torah and a koveya itim who makes sure to learn with his children and bechavrusa as does my husband. when we married umpteen years ago we started life as a kollel couple and then we both worked to make sure and raise our children with what they needed. this was the key it had to be needed and not just wanted. everyone has wants but our children may not need what others do! teach them well and shiduchim become personal for that child and not what the oilem thinks they need but what truly fits each one. By the way that means you need to think of each child as person in their own right and not just as an extension of your pride and self!

  33. My kids are just starting in shidduchim and the stories I have heard are enough to have me keep the kids locked in the house till they are 30! Someone close to me told me that when her daughter went to meet a shadchan the first question the shadchan asked was “how much is the credit line on the credit card that your father is providing?” This was said so matter-of-factly that it is breathtaking in its pure chutzpah. The fact that this is considered “normal” is truly frightening. I once heard 2 mothers of boys talking and they were saying that their sons were looking for “professionals”. I nearly fell off my chair! Used to be (in the age of the dinosaurs) that women looked for “professionals”. Olam hafuch raisi! These women also had young married daughters and were very proud of the fact that they were supporting these young couples while the girls pursued higher education, the boys learned and the babies got pawned off on a babysitter. How about being revolutionary: Have the girls finish their education and get some work experience before starting shidduchim. If the girl wants to start married life in learning, then waiting before starting shidduchim is a good thing because it solves 2 problems: The support issue AND the age gap issue. And yes, I think the boys should “have a plan”.

  34. Theres no solution to the crisis really, but one thing is for certain and that is that telling our daughters in school that their ultimate goal should be to marry only someone who can learn is part of the problem.
    maybe when we start telling our girls that marrying a erlichi bal habus who’s koiveia itim is just as good, well maybe this will break the system, and the boys will come off their high expectations, because girls wont be only seeking after them anymore and so they will loose this strong leverage

  35. Most people I know in kollel live a lot better then me. They have parents helping out with everything. I don’t. I struggle and stress to keep my family financially solvent. No sympathy from me.

  36. Historically, families who could offer large doweries got different sons in law than those who could not. Why is this suddenly an issue now?

  37. A Mentsch would fulfill all his obligations to his wife and children, and let his father-in-law retire in peace.
    Somehow the idea that one should be first of all a mentsch got lost.
    If this keeps up we will have neither Benai-Torah nor mentsches.

  38. I’m chassidish and by us (in most cases)chassunah expenses are 50/50. Then the young wife works two, three years while the husband learns. Then if there is no other support and the husband is not cut out for long term learning, he starts working.

  39. 41 (Chachama), when did we start making the condescending assumption that men who aren’t learning full-time, but are seriously koveiah itim, can’t learn?

  40. Missing from this whole conversation is Bitachon in Hashem!!!

    The same God that told you to sit and learn will suport you as well.

  41. 41- I work full time and i guarantee you that i can learn as well or better than your sons/ husband/ sons-in-law who are sitting and learning in kollel.
    37- if i had a daughter i would snap your son right up
    48- shhhh thats apikorsus apparently

  42. Shlomo Hamelech already said it “hakesef yaaneh hakol” ‘money is answer to everything’. So it has been since the first shidduch was ever made that dowry was given, go look on midrashim on adam and chava. It didnt matter whether the boy was learning or an am ha’aretz which did nothing. The price and amount of the dowry was decided on the two families and their likings, intrests or stam feelings about life. OF COURSE the boy’s side also had to come up with money because marrying a girl wasn’t that simple either. So it was that people on the same level (whether economicaly or spiritualy)and even from the same city or shtetel got married to each other. Some even traveled great distances to marry their own families. The reason being was that they knew what size shoe fits them so why go bother with the next size? This went so far that in some circles until today X type won’t marry a Y type because of the many diffrences which were amongst them some 100-200 yrs ago. There were always people who were machshiv torah and were ready to have son/in-laws who would sit and learn to become great talmideh chachomim. Some of these people went to great lengths in order to find these fine bochurim and also support them after their marriage, so they should be able to sit and learn with clear head (meaning to say the shver/parents paid a-z not just a monthly sum, and in some cases these people lived in the father’s/in-laws’ house). So support and dowry isn’t so new.
    Today being that almost all bais yaakovs or seminaries are teaching girls to marry a ben torah (by the way some teachers in the system don’t even know the definition of the word) and a person is really supose to marry a talmid chochom, so most girls back from seminary want an avreich or a kollel yungerman. Another facter is IF A is doing it so B has to do it or else chas vsholom he has to go for psychlogical help in 20 yrs because he didint wear the same Armani shirt as his bench-mate in yeshiva. So it has become that everyone wants to marry kollel and has to get support, and since today most young couples are living in lakewood or eretz yisroel, the pressure on evreyone is even higher especially the people paying the bills.
    Today in USA unlike in eretz yisroel the dowry is paid in monthly stipednts instead of one large sum. This is where support came from, and why there ae so many boys and girls wanting to marry kollel,and also their demands. One way is to save up from when one makes that famous first simcha called a kidush or a bris. Also you have to REALLY BELIEVE in supporting in order to start saving, it means sometimes you have to take from your own bread and water(literaly) to save or even support.
    Another sollution could be please do talk to your loved ones sometimes in highschool about this situation. It solves a lot of problems trust me.
    p.s. I know some very well to do frum yidden who only support if the couple will stand on their own eventually, and some lo aleinu wont support a kollel daughter or a son. The question is what are you looking for in your new in-law?? and go for it!

  43. A personal question for Rabbi Miskin:Are you supporting your sons 50/50?My experience has been that some of the loudest complainers about boys asking for money were from the most insistent on it.

  44. all this is giving me an idea, how about a web site for connecting boys and girls? , CH”V not boys and girls directly, but through parents, who seem to want to handle these things in place of their grown kids

  45. parents are too involved already they are 50% of the problem- mothers dont always know what their children are looking for, and are often too picky where the one whos say should matter most is left out of the conversation. If anything, you’re proposed website should have a shadchan, no names, and no method of direct contact. maybe a number based system would work. then the boys and girls can see what they like, and request from the shadchan to be redd to a certain person. even that is not great, im just building on your idea

  46. The reason for the crisis is that Amohl only the people who were appropriate for it sat and learned exclusively. Now, every frum boy from the Yeshivish community is EXPECTED to choose kollel full-time unless there is a dire emergency. This lead to a whole new system where parents supported the married adults.

    Maybe they should change the Kesubos which read “Ve’Ana Eflach V’afarnes Yesichi Lichi, Kehilchos Guvrin Yehudain”. These days, these words have no shaychus to the average guy

  47. My dh learned in kollel for ten years and we learned to LIVE SIMPLY and DO WITHOUT if we couldn’t afford it. It never occurred to us to whine about what we had to give up or ask our parents to support us. I suppose that was back in the old days, since it’s been eight years since he left kollel.

    The attitude of entitlement and seeing oneself as a victim of consciously made decisions in this post is disturbing. No one is being punished by their choices. They’ve made a decision based on their values and like everyone else, have to be willing to pay the price that comes along with it. The problem is that everyone wants the benefits and no one wants to see that ‘when you pick up one end of the stick, you pick up the other end’ – meaning you choose your consequence at the same time you make your decision.

  48. When I was in my 20s, I was locked out of appropriate shidduchim because I was working instead of learning, and also because I was born into non-religious family and did not learn about Torah until I was 19 years old.

    I am now 46 years old, and I quit dating totally 18 years ago, and have not dated since then. I don’t even try to get married or date, there is no point in trying. Why should I waste valuable time and money on a hopeless lost cause, like trying to marry a Frum girl? I don’t even want to get married anymore, I no longer have it in me to want marriage.

    I hope G_d severely punishes all the people who teach Frum girls that they can not marry a working man. It is largely because of them that people like me will NEVER get married and NEVER have children forever.

  49. The money talk in many of these comments is so narcissistic. Parents, you don’t “have” an income. It belongs to Hashem, who chose you as a vehicle for His blessings for Am Yisroel. Practically speaking, it belongs to your daughter’s dowry, among other things. Now, if you took it for yourself and bought a new car, or anything chomri for that matter, it’s meilo.

  50. Babylonian Talmud, tractate Yebamot, page 63A:

    Marry a wife from a lower social level than you.

    Midrash Tanchuma, Parshat Acharei Mote, chapter 6:

    Nadab and Abihu said:

    Our uncle is the King, our father is the High Priest and we are Vice High Priests.

    What woman is good enough for us?

    Midrash Rabah, Seder Bereshit, Parshah 22, Paragraph 2:

    Every man needs a woman, and every woman needs a man, and every couple needs the Divine Presence.
    To receive free quick quotes from Jewish Torah books, go to:

  51. What is needed here is a change of mindset. As noted before, you don’t have to be a full time learner to be a Ben Torah, and there is no “right” to have a daughter marry one. I also agree w/Working Man. there should be a special place in the netherworld for those who brainwash girls.


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