The fact that the yeshiva bachur put in time and effort to consider the well-being of the young women of Klal Yisrael is truly remarkable. However, with due respect to the bachur who conceived of the idea to accelerate the education of our young men, the idea is not so tenable for a number of reasons. An alternative suggestion may be a better way to approach things. But before we elaborate upon these reasons and the alternative model, a brief discussion on the entire concept of the “Shidduch Crisis” is in order.
Firstly, the term “crisis” and the fact that it is bandied about constantly only serves to cause panic and a lack of emunah and bitachon. For some reason, there always seems to be one crisis or another that fear-mongers use which profoundly affects the well-being and simchas ha’chaim of other people. Hashem has his reasons for delaying the engagement of some and also for delaying having children. Think of the Imahos. Hashem delayed their having children so that they would become closer to Hashem.
Imagine a jigsaw puzzle. Every puzzle piece has its proper place. Isn’t there a Gemara that says a bas kol is machriz “bas ploni l’ploni”? How dare we use the term “crisis” when there is a Borei Olam who loves us and is concerned about us? The term “crisis” also goads us into doing things that we all know is k’neged the ruach of Torah.
For example, everyone knows deep down that the fact that many bochurim ask for a picture before they give a yes is a massive breach of tznius. Is this “Kol kevudah bas melech penimah?” It is completely antithetical to all that is taught in Bais Yaakovs! So why do our bnos Yisrael end up giving in and providing a picture? Because the crisis-mongers in our midst say, “Well, there is a shidduch crisis going on, young lady. Do you want to get married or not?”
Often the “solution” is a bigger problem than the initial problem. So let’s tone things down a bit and use another term. Maybe the “shidduch situation?”
But now let’s get to an alternative idea. If the problem is the age gap, why don’t we simply wait until the girls are older? Perhaps the girls should wait until they are well on their way in their chosen parnassah realm before dating.
If we raise the dating age of the girls to 20½, the girl who has graduated high school at 17 or 18 now has 2½ to 3½ years to start her parnassah program. This will have numerous benefits.
- It will enable the couple to spend more years in learning. With the wife on a more lucrative parnassah path, the couple can stay in learning for significantly longer. So many couples would stay in learning for much longer, but the parnassah issues creep up and young men who had promising futures in learning leave because there is no means of support for the growing family.
- It will reduce the mounting pressure on parents to be supporting their sons-in-law or sons in learning. There are so many older couples who are struggling to provide that $1,500 or $2,000 monthly check. When they are supporting two or three children it is obviously even harder.
- It will allow more of the siblings to stay in learning.
- It will reduce the reliance we have on various government programs, which is not a bad thing.
The acceleration of boys’ chinuch means the boys will be younger when they begin to date. Is this a good thing? Are our chassanim truly at the pinnacle of maturity now, or could they use another year or two of listening to the mussar va’adim and shmuessen of the mashgiach and roshei yeshiva?
In the BMG bachur’s acceleration plan, there were two versions: skipping eighth grade and skipping twelfth grade. In the first version, the idea of starting the boys off in Gemara one year earlier was presented. Is this really doable? So many fifth-grade boys struggle with Gemara, and not all fathers can be there for them. Our system of chinuch was not just a random development. Experienced mechanchim came up with the curriculum. Why play with it?
The alternative model of delaying the dating age of our girls perhaps has many more advantages than the system presented by the BMG bachur. It will also allow for bachurim to seriously study Torah for longer. Ultimately, it is all about the primacy of Torah. Won’t this alternative idea be a better way to achieve that?
See also: Bachur’s Solution to the Shidduch Crisis