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September 3, 2014 / 8 Elul, 5774
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The Shidduch Sky Is Not Falling


         My daughter in-law was a guest at a recent brunch/fundraiser for women only, during which the guest speaker spoke about the number one topic that seems to be on everyone’s minds – shidduchim. During her discourse she touched upon the unfortunate plight of older singles and how everyone must get more involved in helping them meet their basherts.

 

         What caught my daughter-in-law’s attention was that the “older singles” the speaker referred to were in the upper twenties. How truly tragic that young people just a few years past their teens are considered “older singles” by the community. Even young ladies as young as 21 or 22 are viewed as being “on the border” in terms of “missing the boat.”

 

         They aren’t quite labeled as being older singles, but they are not considered “fresh” either – not when the majority of their classmates are married, with children. Seems like there are a great many teen­agers getting married these days. My friends’ 19-year-old daughters are constantly going to their high school and seminary classmates’ l’chaims, vorts and engagements parties.

 

         In my day, it was rather rare for an 18- or 19-year-old girl to get married. Now and then a chassidische girl, of whom there were rather few in Toronto at the time, would marry that young. Now it is the norm, and I believe parental anxiety that their daughters will be left behind is resulting in girls dating even earlier than before.

 

         At this rate, I wouldn’t be surprised if we eventually end up emulating the practice of the shtetels in Europe when girls got married in their earlier teens. My father’s mother was a kallah at 16. Another relative, a girl of about eight or nine, was called in from outside. When she entered the room, her parents wished her a “mazel tov,” informed her she was a kallah, and told her she could go back out and play.

 

         On one hand, having children “engaged” before they are toilet-trained would certainly resolve the shidduch crisis. Only problem is that the singles crisis would very likely be replaced with a divorce crisis – a situation that tragically just may already be in progress: Another daughter-in-law expressed her deep dismay regarding the impending divorces of three young couples she knows, all of whom have babies.

 

         I can’t help but wonder if panicked parents are pressuring their children to leap into matrimony before they have the maturity to do so – just so they don’t end up being- chas v’shalom – OLDER singles.

 

         Or perhaps their child is ready to get married but because dates (for girls) are few and far between (or will be if they hit the dreaded 20′s) – they allow themselves to “fall arein” – literally marry a person who on paper might be the right “snit,” but in reality is a total mismatch. Denial and the accompanying unfounded optimism that “once they’re married, everything will fall into place” have ruined many young lives. These naïve youngsters are trapped in shaky marriages that often erupt with the fury and disruption of an earthquake – with a lifetime of devastating aftershocks – even if they do divorce.

 

         As I see it, there is no actual shidduch crisis -rather what we have is an illusion caused by a flawed perception. A few weeks ago, there were riots in several Third World countries because of a shortage of rice. People in the United States starting running to supermarkets and buying sacks of rice in a panic due to a unwarranted belief that there was a shortage of basic foodstuffs in America and they better grab what they could while it was still available. Some stores actually had to set limits as to how much each person could buy.

 

         The truth is that there is plenty of food in this country. It might cost a bit more – but there is more than enough to go around – and this panic was groundless!

 

         This same “sky is falling” mentality has enveloped the heimishe community. There is no real “shortage” of girls and boys and therefore there is no need to panic and make a quick run to the “shidduch store” before the goods are all gone.

 

         Who says you have to marry by a certain age or be doomed to a solitary existence? There are plenty of people who get engaged when in their upper 20′s and 30′s. And those who don’t usually are single by choice (although some may need counseling to determine if there is some pathology to their clinging to the status quo).

 

         If you look at babies of the same age, some are walking at 11 months and some at 16 months or older. Some are out of diapers at 18 months; some are still in them at age three. But ultimately they all enter first grade.

 

         Similarly, some people get engaged at 18, some at 28, but they end up in the same place. Just like you don’t rush a baby before it is ready to walk, you shouldn’t rush a child to the chuppah. Each at their own pace and at the right time. Premature marriages, like premature babies – are at risk. Have betachon in the Ultimate Shadchan.

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