I received an e-mail from young man who asked to be identified only by his initials, JS. He otherwise prefers to remain anonymous. Considering the sensitive nature of his post I have agreed. His letter follows.
Dear Rabbi Maryles,
We have been in touch in the past. While rarely commenting, I have been an avid reader of your blog since the last 4 years.
As a frum Jew, the frum world has disappointed me again with the age gap theory. I am a 25 year old male, and it drives me crazy to hear things presented as if only girls have a hard time in shidduchim.
In the last 2 years, I have gone out only 5 times. Truth to be told, I don’t buy it that nice guys are in short supply or that it is an age gap problem.
Do you think that if people were told that it is because of corrupt values and lack of meeting opportunities that we have a shidduch crisis? No way!
Hint: what happened to mixed seated weddings and kiddushim that used to be common 40 years ago? And why on earth is it so wrong to ask a girl out after having met her at a kiddush (whether directly or asking a mutual friend). Yet dating in a hotel for hours is ok (I am sure you are aware that rooms can be booked to fool around and it DOES happen)????
The reason I write to you this email is to give a voice to the men aged 18-30 who have no voice at all in this so called “shidduch crisis.”
This letter was obviously written out of a sense of frustration at what he believes are flaws in the Shidduch system.
As I have said before many times, the dating game in the Charedi world has evolved into something untenable as evidenced by the massive numbers of young women who have little to no chance of getting married once they reach the age of 25.
But as JS points out, it is not the one way street as is commonly believed. It isn’t only young women who aren’t getting a lot of dates. There are plenty of men who fall into that category. I know some very fine Charedi men who are still not married well into their 40s. And it’s not for a lack of trying. It is because they do not measure up to the ideal mate that young Charedi women are indoctrinated to seek: The full time learner. While being Charedi in every other sense these young men have opted to prepare for and join the workforce. They set aside time for Torah study either before or after work. (Sometimes both.)
The fact is that there are a lot of fine young Charedi men who are simply not cut out for the Yeshiva life for various different and very legitimate reasons. And though some of them (maybe even most of them) tend to stick it out and stay in Yeshiva anyway – they do this either because of peer pressure – or so they can have the ‘right’ resume for Shidduch purposes.
This is why many young men of dating age become students in Lakewood Yeshiva. And it is why Lakewood instituted ‘the Freezer’. Which is a policy of not letting their students date for at least six months so as to discourage those who attend their Yeshiva mostly for dating purposes. To a Charedi – having ‘Lakewood’ on your resume when looking for a Shidduch is as important as having Harvard on your resume when looking for a job.
About the Author: Harry Maryles runs the blog "Emes Ve-Emunah" which focuses on current events and issues that effect the Jewish world in general and Orthodoxy in particular. It discuses Hashkafa and news events of the day - from a Centrist perspctive and a philosphy of Torah U'Mada. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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