By Shifra Mirell
If we concentrated on the positive aspects of marriage as opposed to the shidduch crisis, perhaps we would be able to encourage more people to make that leap of faith, like Nachshon ben Aminadav before kriyat Yam Suf.
Matchmaking isn’t all black and white. There are a lot of gray areas. It’s not like mathematics; things don’t have to compute perfectly in all areas.
If singles would consider the benefits of establishing a Jewish home and family, the benefits of which far outweigh the need for a shidduch to fulfill every single one of their dreams and desires, they would refocus and be more successful in getting married.
Is it more important to insist on a tall chattan than spend these years raising children with a man who isn’t as tall as expected? Do the women who aren’t thin have to spend their years alone and childless because of the influences of the Western world? A hundred years ago, a thin girl was considered sickly, and it was more desirable to marry a fuller, healthier woman. All men and women should have shidduch criteria based on character, essence, personality, and positive virtues, not clothing size.
Many Jewish homes were built after the Holocaust. Before 1939, a multitude of these shidduchim would not have been considered. We don’t need a calamity of such proportions to get us to be more open-minded regarding marriage candidates.
In the shtetl, there were also old maids. Many had fathers who were poor and couldn’t help to support prospective sons-in-law who were bnei Torah. Some of these girls ran off with non-Jewish workers, R’l, because they did not want to stay single and childless. Some fathers used to lock their girls in the house to make sure they wouldn’t marry goyim. Today we have an overflow of nice Jewish men and women who are single. The faulty approach to shidduchim by many in the collective community is locking them out of a happy marriage.
The main thing is to feel safe, respected, and interested in a relationship. You should share spiritual goals and be able to be yourself around this person and not have to pretend to be someone you’re not.
How much money a man makes is irrelevant. The main thing is that the person is not lazy and is interested in supporting a family. Money comes and goes. Character and middot tovot are more important. Parnassah is from Heaven. Putting emphasis on how much money a girl has is not the Torah way. The value of a true bat Yisrael by far surpasses any money she brings with her to the marriage.
The idea of women going out to work to support husbands sitting and learning should come from a true inner desire and yearning to support Torah learning. Girls and boys should not feel obligated to stick with this system if it does not agree with them. There is no crime in a man going out to work to support a family. Many great people in past generations refused to make a living from their Torah learning, and would ply other trades to support their mishpachot: chopping wood like Hillel HaZakein, repairing shoes as did Rav Yochanan HaSandlar, and cutting diamonds like the Ramchal. We are descendants and disciples of these tzaddikim. Why should we pretend to be better than them?
Don’t use a prospective shidduch’s family background to cancel them out. We should keep in mind that we are descendants of Betuel, Lavan, and Lot. Among the thorns grow beautiful roses.
It would be nice if everyone who appreciates sports would marry a sports fan and everyone who appreciated music and art would marry someone similar-minded. But that should not be a prerequisite to a shidduch. The common goals of wanting to build a Jewish family should surpass that.
Go down to your local senior center. Interview the men and women who never married. Ask them why they never got married and if they regret it. Could they have approached things differently so they could have settled down and had their own families? Do your own research and come to your own conclusions.
The time we have in this world is not ours. It’s Hashem’s. Hashem would not want us to sabotage our lives. It is up to everyone to open their eyes and see the truth before it is too late.
L’ilui nishmas Naftali Nachum Feivel ben Shlomo HaKohen, 1971–2017.