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While there was audible grumbling when parts of an article was read in which the writer suggested cosmetic surgery to enhance one’s looks, it was pointed out that even in the Torah, which was described tongue-in-cheek as being politically incorrect, the matriarchs were described as being yafeh toar – of beautiful countenance.   Looks do count no matter how much people protest that a person seeped in Torah and middos tovos has evolved beyond the superficial.

Another reason given for extended singlehood was the lack of choice in the charedi world, where young people have to go through a shadchan who will ask/answer a zillion questions before consent is given. Sometimes a shadchan will immediately nix a suggestion, allowing his/her personal bias to extinguish it, rather than presenting the idea and letting the parties involved make that decision.


It was pointed out that foryeshivish singles, there are not enough opportunities to meet on their own.  Some of the panelists bemoaned that the current situation has “suspended people’s ability to make choices, as everything is pre-screened.”

A generation ago there were “acceptable” social venues: skating or bowling parties where people could meet one another. Nowadays, teenage girls are not allowed to invite friends for a Shabbat or Yom Tov meal when their older brothers are home from yeshiva.

Instead of finding out about a potential spouse through a third party – the shadchan and references – who may not actually be totally truthful or know the person really well, couples were able to ask each other the questions that revealed if the person was potentially a marriage partner. They were also able to notice “red flags” or problematic personality traits.

Rabbi Korobkin’s shul is a very popular wedding venue and he shared that he makes a point of meeting each chassan and kallah. If it’s at all possible in their circles, he suggests that they offer mixed seating for their friends.

Conversely, it was suggested that sometimes there is too much choice in the Modern Orthodox crowd, especially where there are hundreds of singles concentrated in neighborhoods like New York’s Upper West Side or Washington Heights. Ironically, too many opportunities to meet can make choosing or settling down more difficult as there is always the possibility that someone “better” is around the corner.

Rabbi Weissman felt that the process is often fraught with great pressure and the best way to minimize it was to organize or attend events with a purpose besides “meeting.” It could be a game night or working together on a chesed project – perhaps packaging food baskets for Shabbat.

The fact is some people are unmarried because the anxiety of having to meet someone   negatively impacts their social skills. Or the feeling that they are inadequate because they have failed to marry has caused them to become clinically depressed.   Therapists are noticing more anxiety disorders across the board and even an increase of anorexia among men.

Other obstacles to marriage include emotional immaturity, leading to unrealistic expectations or the inability to commit to a relationship or to a job, and growing up with dysfunctional parents and as a result no one with a good conscience would set him or her up with a sweet, trusting person who would end up with “the mother-in-law from Hell.”

Lots of reasons for failed relationships – some easier to resolve than others.

Perhaps we should view the situation afflicting the non or no longer married as the shidduch challenge, not crisis – the challenge being to get married and to stay married in a mutually fulfilling union.

It is a formidable one, but with mutual respect, flexibility and being open to try a different road to matrimony, one’s story can have the happy ending everyone is seeking.

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