Out of all the Jewish holidays, Pesach is the one that brings far-flung family and friends together. You go to shul, for a walk, shopping or to an amusement park during chol hamoed, and to your delight you bump into friends and acquaintances you haven’t seen for ages. You sit down and you shmooze and you catch up with each other’s lives and share information about people you both knew from “the old days.”
This Pesach was no different. I reconnected – if only briefly, with several people who were friendly acquaintances from years ago. Some were local, some were visiting from far away; some were charedi, some quite modern; some were well to do, some were “middle class.” Yet, most had a common situation that I found fascinating and disturbing at the same time – a child, or two, who were what we refer to as “older” singles.
They had sons and daughters in their late 20’s, early 30’s – and even older. If they were fortunate enough to have married off their children, they spoke about nieces, nephews or their friends’ single children, with the most frequently asked question being, “Do you know someone for…?”
Some of these “children” I knew when they were pre-schoolers or in elementary schools, and I remember them as being adorable and smart and cute. I imagine they still were. Those I didn’t know were very likely mainstream young men and women who certainly had no major physical or social impediments that would affect their “marketability.”
These are the ones whom everyone assumed would be the first in their class to get married. Yet, here were their parents, friends or relatives diligently networking for them and almost desperately trying to find them a shidduch.
You wonder if the reason these fine young people are unmarried is because they just haven’t met the right one? Could it be very bad mazal that has resulted in them becoming “older singles,” while many of their peers, who had fewer “attributes” (like money or yichus) – are married with children in grade school?
With some, I believe that is the case. And eventually many do get married and feel it was worth waiting for “the one.” I know of several young ladies and bachurim near 30 or older who recently got engaged. But there are still so many who haven’t.
The question that begs to be asked then is: if these erlicher young adults who have been raised to believe that building a ba’ayit ne’eman is the ultimate goal – one that they actually insist they want to attain – then why are they not allowing it to happen.
Why do many young people, long timers in “the parsha” after weeks or months of dating someone, suddenly end it when the other party seemed so compatible? Why do so many say no when the person mentioned seems to be exactly what they claim they are looking for?
I think the answer is pure, unmitigated fear. Underneath their cool, confident exterior, these hapless young men and women are terrified. On a subconscious level, they are enveloped by a ferocious fright that fetters and freezes them so they are unable to move forward. Despite having gone out for years, they are stuck in a psychological rut they very likely are unaware of.
I’m not a psychologist by any means, I’m just someone, who having been single since my late twenties, has been a part of the “single” world for a very long time, and over the decades has seen amazing young men and woman left behind while their siblings, classmates and colleagues moved forward and attained the traditional milestones of marriage and parenthood.
Over the years I saw them date; go to Shabbatonim; collect segulahs from near and far and attend numerous singles functions, with no change in their status quo. I saw them go from being very young and attractive, with so much promise and potential as anshei and neshei chayil, to becoming bewildered, lonely middle-aged individuals wondering where the years went?
I will be the first to admit that to a large degree fear and trepidation has held me back – the way someone who had a bad experience while swimming is afraid of getting back in the water.
The sad thing is that most of these singles are not aware that they are afflicted with fear, as it lurks beneath the surface of their psyche. They just think they haven’t met the right one yet. As I mentioned, in some cases, they hadn’t and it isn’t unusual for a boy to get engaged with the 87th girl he went out with. Ditto for some kallahs who dated for years until they just “knew” without a shadow of doubt that they had finally found the one.
However, most of us know of young people in the parsha who to everyone’s dismay and chagrin, reject one boy/girl after another – shidduch candidates who had passed their very exacting “screening” test with flying colors, and who were deemed “perfect” in every which way for the person they were redd to. And they very likely were.
Yet the other party found something “significantly” wrong – like the tie he wore was out of style or she doesn’t like football. People will call them “picky” – but pickiness is just a façade they are hiding behind: They are just very, very afraid – and come up with these superficial excuses they green light into a “not interested” resolution.
Just what are these fears that hamstring them? I will discuss them in my next column.