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Identity Crisis


True, and a worthy investment of time indeed, especially if we care about singles and appreciate the magnitude of the undertaking.

If the superficial factors line up, then it’s worth a date, and they can figure out the rest on their own.

This is actually backward thinking. If our goal is for dates to have a strong possibility of leading to marriage, and if we wish for marriages to be sustained on a foundation of deep compatibility, then we need to emphasize deeper information.

Obviously no amount of research or information can guarantee that things will work in real life, but that is no excuse not to make a reasonable effort. If we are already working to insure that singles have something in common before they meet, for the same price we can insure that what they have in common are factors that would bode well for a potential relationship between two human beings. However much or little information one may feel is necessary to proceed, let that information be meaningful and not shallow.

This is what singles themselves want.

How sad if this is true, and how irresponsible if it is not. I believe what the vast majority of singles want is to meet people they can connect with and ultimately find someone they can spend life with. Many singles go along with the status quo because they are afraid to try anything different (fear of stigmatization in shidduchim is overwhelming for some), while others feel it is simply more convenient to “go with the flow”, and still others don’t know any better. If singles have become used to a methodology that is flawed, let us change that one person at a time.

It’s all in Hashem’s hands anyway.

If you really feel that way then stay out of it – and have the same cavalier attitude when it’s your own needs. If, however, you feel that you have a more active role to play, then make sure you fulfill that role to the very best of your ability.

I encourage singles to spend serious time getting to know themselves as unique individuals and developing the ability to portray themselves as such. If you are searching for someone who appreciates you, then describing yourself in terms that make you sound like everyone else is counterproductive. Shadchanim may think it makes it easier to set you up, but if you’re looking for a little more then you need to be an actual person.

On a holistic level, we should consider whether our community structure and educational system actually discourage people from developing a comfortable sense of self. Serious problems in the shidduch world would be only one disastrous outcome.

Let us not be afraid to tackle the roots of the problem instead of the symptoms.

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A great human tragedy is taking place before our eyes, yet few can see it.

A singles event in Jerusalem, co-sponsored by no fewer than five groups or organizations, advertised the following:

“Ask yourself this question: Do you really want to get married? If the answer is NO, then carry on having a good time going to all those parties, Shabbat meals, lectures, supermarket aisles . If the answer is YES, then we’ll see you at the MEGA EVENT.”

Since creating EndTheMadness seven years ago I have received all manner of correspondence, and it should come as no surprise that for every gratifying e-mail I receive there are plenty more that are disturbing in one way or another. But what if I asked you to guess which e-mails disturb me the most, even momentarily shaking my optimism that there really is hope for our society?

I’ve long maintained that the large number of people having a difficult time getting and staying happily married is only a symptom of deeper problems in the community. Consequently, efforts to get more singles to go out on more dates will be largely unsuccessful unless the deeper problems are addressed. This thesis has been validated in recent years, as more attention to the “crisis” and various schemes to create shidduchim have yet to result in meaningful change or much cause for optimism.

Moshe was looking for employment (he wasn’t cut out to learn full-time), and was having a difficult time finding the right fit. Sometimes he went weeks without even landing an interview, and he rarely made it past the first round. People began to speculate that there was something wrong with Moshe, and his self-esteem took a blow every time he heard of someone else who found a job.

It’s all too common nowadays for people to defend the widespread method of shidduchim by pointing to the biblical story of Eliezer finding a wife for Yitzchak. Apparently the Torah mandates this method as proper, and therefore there is little else to discuss beyond perhaps fine-tuning the way singles are set up by shadchanim and further shielding them from outside influences and one another.

I find the Orthodox Jewish approach to problem-solving fascinating, in a dark sort of way. It consists of a series of steps that looks something like this:

“And you shall rejoice in your festival” says the pasuk at the end of Parshas Re’ei (16:14), and this is actually a mitzvah. I suspect this is not intended to be one of the more difficult mitzvot for us to fulfill, yet for many hard-working Jews the Yomim Tovim are far greater sources of stress than joy.

Nothing is more elusive than perfection, yet perfection is a notion that frequently surfaces in the realm of shidduchim. For example, singles are often told by people on the outermost fringes of their lives, “I know someone perfect for you.” How preposterous, how presumptuous! Yet singles permit themselves to be excited by this declaration so that they may be further disillusioned when the shidduch invariably turns out to be anything but perfect.

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