Photo Credit: Lara Savage/Flash 90
A Jewish wedding.

This letter is not the place to discuss whether or not every yeshiva bochur should be looking forward to learning in Kollel for years, and whether this is a sustainable economic model, or if this is what Hashem wants for most Bnei Yeshiva. I raise it here only as it relates to the Shidduch “Catastrophe” discussion. Put simply, the economic demands that are being made by the bochurim today, very often with the blessing and encouragement of their Rabbeim, is a large contributor to this crisis. I personally know of two particular cases when bochurim were instructed by their rebbeim, “You are a metzuyon – a great catch for some young woman. Make sure that you tell the shadchan that you will only go out with a girl whose family will commit in advance to fully and comfortably supporting you for at least five years in Kollel.” Parents know that “How much money will you give?” is virtually the first question that they will get from any potential shadchan. In such an atmosphere, money has everything to do with the shidduch catastrophe.

The problem is only exacerbated by the fact that the young women are also expected to be the breadwinners of the family for as long as possible, in addition to being the wife, mother, and homemaker. And she will be expected to do so with only the skills gained in High School or a year of seminary (See #1 above). Thus if a girl does not come from a wealthy family, and does not have the credentials to get a well paying job, she is considered inferior marriage material for a young man who wants to learn in Kollel.


Now it is certainly true that there are a significant number of young women who come from families who are willing and able to support a young man in Kollel who nevertheless are finding great difficulty in finding shidduchim. As to them Mr. Rechnitz is quite correct that money is not the issue. Even so, I maintain that money has distorted the shidduch process greatly, in that it has created an atmosphere of entitlement whereby young men are seen (and too often they or their families see themselves) as the prize whom all these young women must vie for, and thus will only go out with those who offer the most perfect future scenarios, rather than themselves having to be worthy of the wonderful young women. More on this below.

Bottom Line – While money cannot alone solve the problem; money too often is the problem. The main proposition – that a structure be set up for the boys to marry younger, assuming that they will “man-up” to mature fast enough to do so – requires some comment.

For those young men are mature enough to marry younger, and who are willing to maturely assume the responsibilities, I certainly see no problem with their following this route.

The problem is that there are many who are truly not ready to be married at age 21. Speaking for myself, (I married at age 30, although I probably was mature enough by 27 or so, no matter what all those young women felt . . . ) I know that I was not anywhere near ready to marry at age 21, or even 23, for that matter. Some people need more time to develop the maturity, wisdom, and responsibility that ought to be required of any man who is undertaking to be a husband to a Bas Yisroel.

It may be true that in the army, or at times of crisis, men have had to “grow up fast” and assume responsibilities beyond their years. I am no psychologist, but I feel fairly certain that this often came at great emotional and psychic cost. There are endless stories of deep personal trauma suffered by those thrust into adult situations before they were ready, and of the trauma they then visited upon their wives and children, including verbal and physical abuse, divorce, and worse. Mandating that every young man marry at a younger age is a potential recipe for even worse “catastrophes”, I am afraid to say.

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Rabbi Yehuda L Oppenheimer, former Rav at several congregations in the United States, lives in Israel and is an educator, writer, and licensed tour guide. He eagerly looks forward to showing you our wonderful land on your next visit. He blogs at and can be reached at [email protected] or voice/WhatsApp at 053-624-1802.