web analytics
July 31, 2015 / 15 Av, 5775
At a Glance
Sections
Sponsored Post


Going Back To The Old Ways

 According to the Talmud (Ta’anit 30b-31a), on the 15th of Av unmarried girls would dress in plain white clothing, so that  those from wealthy families could not be distinguished from  the poorer ones. Once suitably attired, they would go out to sing and dance in the vineyards surrounding Jerusalem.

 Joining them were  single men who would mingle with said maidens and pick a wife. This  very possibly was the earliest version of “speed dating” – but it worked.  The young men and women would eventually pair off and happily build a bayit ne’eman b’yisrael, and thus contribute to Jewish continuity.

 There is a valuable lesson to be learned from this, one that obviously was condoned by the gedolim of that era as an acceptable way for singles to “meet.” You endorsed what needed to be done to ensure the future of the nation.

 Why then, the question begs to be asked, is the mingling of eligible men and women – once done with the blessing and approval of  the  gedolim of  ancient Eretz Yisrael – now considered “treif” by the frum establishment?

 Don’t we as a community take upon ourselves the minhagim of our ancestors? Why not this one? Why don’t we celebrate Tu B’Av as we do, for example, Tu B’Shevat?

  Why is having singles of both genders meeting each other on their own so frowned upon? This near total isolation of the genders is a relatively recent phenomenon, since most of the middle-aged people reading this article likely met at coed events  sponsored by their shuls and schools. There were dances, bowling and skating parties, kumzitses, and post-Shabbat get-togethers that gave young people the opportunity to get to know each other and eventually pair off with a compatible future spouse – unimpaired by preconceived biases that prevented them from  having that initial date. Today, getting approval for a first date can take weeks, even months, – dragged on and delayed by intensive checking and interrogation of “references.”

 During Tu B’Av, the boys had no idea which girls were rich, who came from big yichus, or who (gasp!) had a mother who used plastic silverware on Shabbat and served the cheaper brand of frozen gefilta fish. Without a lengthy shidduch dosier and detailed background check to influence their choice, the young men and women of yore were provided with an equal-opportunity environment to meet, get to know each other and pair off.

 I know of many marriages that resulted from two individuals meeting on their own who never would have ever accepted a shidduch based on the “facts on the ground.” Bachelors met and married single mothers with several children; taller women chose shorter men; frum-from-birth married ba’al teshuvah – you get the idea!

 Sadly the children of baby boomers who met  at “mixed” events have been denied this golden opportunity to meet and find their soul mates, to the point that there are thousands of  men and women getting older with each passing year who are still single – and increasingly frustrated and depressed.

 I recently bumped into a friend who has been married since she was 19. Though she knows many unmarried people, she had no idea of  the sheer number of older never-married singles. I was taken aback at a recent Shabbaton I attended where everyone, as an icebreaker, got up and introduced and described themselves. Out of a crowd of about 60, only a handful (perhaps five) mentioned having children. Most were in their upper 40s and 50s, and the pained sadness in their eyes belied the smile on their faces as they described their hobbies, jobs, activities and pets.

 For them, Yom Tovs are not “good days.” Most older singles dread holidays because they have no idea where they will spend them. Some have no parents or siblings, or if they do have brothers and sisters, often they are not geographically or emotionally close. Others feel uncomfortable being the only single at a table full of couples – even if they are family.

 Some, already experiencing health issues like arthritis or hearing loss, increasingly worry about who will take care of them if they become feeble in their old age. They know that they will have to “buy” care from strangers.

 The community and religious leaders cannot  let the current crop of  singles – still in their upper 20s and 30s – become the future, older never marrieds. It truly is a travesty in terms of the decimation of the Jewish people when a sizeable portion of the frum community never marries and never bears children – who, in turn, launch future generations.

 Why not reinstitute coed programming? If necessary, people could meet under the watchful eye of “chaperones” – shadchans if you will – and other married couples who could serve as facilitators. I’m not saying we should have dancing in the streets, but what is wrong if  shuls, religious colleges, etc. offer activities where young men and women can meet and mingle? Obviously the “shidduch parshah” is not working for everybody. Just like in medicine, if something doesn’t work you try something else – even  if some in the medical community consider the approach a bit “unorthodox.”

 You must do what you can to save the afflicted. In terms of the viability of the  community, everyone must take their head out of the sand. As a people, we are literally talking pikuach nefesh.

About the Author:


If you don't see your comment after publishing it, refresh the page.

Our comments section is intended for meaningful responses and debates in a civilized manner. We ask that you respect the fact that we are a religious Jewish website and avoid inappropriate language at all cost.

If you promote any foreign religions, gods or messiahs, lies about Israel, anti-Semitism, or advocate violence (except against terrorists), your permission to comment may be revoked.

No Responses to “Going Back To The Old Ways”

Comments are closed.

Current Top Story
Matt Lee of the Associated Press at the State Department press briefing.
ObameDeal Exposed: It’s not ‘Secret’ from Congress but not in Writing
Latest Sections Stories

We studied his seforim together, we listened to famous cantorial masters and we spoke of his illustrious yichus, his pedigree, dating back to the famous commentator, Rashi.

Singer-Saul-Jay-logo-NEW

Jews who were considered, but not ultimately selected, include Woody Allen, Saul Bellow, David Ben-Gurion, Marc Chagall, Anne Frank, and Barbra Streisand.

Personally I wish that I had a mother like my wife.

What’s the difference between the first and second ten-year-old?

What makes this diary so historically significant is that it is not just the private memoir of Dr. Seidman. Rather, it is a reflection of the suffering of Klal Yisrael at that time.

Rabbi Lau is a world class speaker. When he relates stories, even concentration camp stories, the audience is mesmerized. As we would soon discover, he is in the movie as well.

Each essay, some adapted from lectures Furst prepared for live audiences, begins with several basic questions around a key topic.

For the last several years, four Jewish schools in the Baltimore Jewish community have been expelling students who have not received their vaccinations.

“We can’t wait for session II to begin” said camp director Mrs. Judy Neufeld.

More Articles from Cheryl Kupfer
Kupfer-060515-Supermen

There are fathers who bravely step up to the plate and fill in the maternal vacuum with their love and devotion.

Kupfer-On-Our-Own-NEW

The message being conveyed is that without “flour,” without the means to support oneself and one’s family, one’s focus on Torah will be impeded by worry.

Divorce from a vindictive, cruel spouse can be a lifelong nightmare when there are offspring.

Not knowing any better, I assumed that Molly and her mother must be voracious readers.

Unpleasant happenings are quickly discarded if they do not affect us directly.

I have always insisted that everything that happens to anyone or anything is min Shamayim.

It is so hurtful to heighten people’s sense of inadequacy and guilt in a matzav that is already horrendous and difficult to bear.

Make no mistake: in the wrong hands cars are weapons of mass destruction.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/sections/magazine/on-our-own/going-back-to-the-old-ways-2/2008/09/10/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: