Dei'ah veDibur - Information & Insight

A Window into the Chareidi World

12 Shevat 5760 - January 19, 2000 | Mordecai Plaut, director Published Weekly








Sponsored by
Shema Yisrael Torah Network
Shema Yisrael Torah Network

Produced and housed by











Home and Family
The Singles Crisis
by L.M.W.

Three a.m. The telephone was definitely in working order. New York policeman is on the line. "Rabbi, I have a young girl on a rooftop, ready to jump. She says she knows you. We need your help. I have her on the line."

I prayed for the right words. "Your parents..." She wasn't `buying.' "Your accomplishments..." No go. She claimed there were none. She was at the end of her rope. I took a wild chance. "What will I tell your chosson?" "I don't have one." "Yes, you do! A heavenly voice announced your true mate forty days before you were conceived." Desperate crying and wailing. Sounds of boots on a roof. "Rabbi, thanks. That was a close call. She's ready to come down."

[Based on a story in "It Happened in Heaven -- Personal Stories of Inspiration" by Rabbi Dovid Goldwasser.]

The thought that there is a bashert for everyone can literally revive the dead and give hope to the hopeless.

Today, alongside the tremendous growth of a vital and flourishing Yiddishkeit worldwide, there is an emerging crisis in the ever expanding singles population, representing every sector of the religious spectrum. Torah leaders worldwide have addressed this problem.

The Noveminsker Rebbe, R' Yaakov Perlow, considers the growing singles crisis in America to be the most pressing problem on the agenda of Orthodox Jewry. He was instrumental in establishing Invei Hageffen, an organization dedicated to finding shidduch solutions for religious singles. R' Yitzchak Zilberstein, one of the gedolei Torah in Eretz Yisroel, considers the situation critical.

On Chol Hamoed Succos, R' Zilberstein addressed a packed audience of 200 single girls who have been waiting for several years for their match. Following the gathering, he issued a public proclamation explaining the gravity of the situation. "There are hundreds of very wonderful eligible girls who have been searching for their mates for many years. They sit in their homes in great pain and pathos. Their parents try to bury their pain but they become very sick and their joy is extinguished. They are waiting for Torah leaders to free them, as they free agunos, by changing some of the accepted norms in shidduchim. If we will all do our best to help these girls, perhaps Hashem will have mercy on us and open the heavens, and shower us with great blessings."


R' Zilberstein explained that stressed parents and singles become ill. Outside help is needed. "What can be done?"

"Every person should view the older single as his own daughter. If he is capable of helping a single and stands on the sidelines, he transgresses the commandment, `You shall not stand idly at the expense of your brother's blood'." He urged the religious media to speak out very forcefully and press for action. The issues are relevant to us as a community and deserve our individual attention.

One of the reasons given for the slowdown in shidduchim is `particularity'. Some singles have very exacting specifications for their intended mate. "Not for me." "Not my type." "Different background." "Different hat." R' Zilberstein says, "If it were permissible to marry Esav [and Yaakov was faulted for removing his daughter, Dina, from Esav's sight), there has to be much greater flexibility. Girls have to think about matches from different backgrounds and different circles. A good wife can raise the level of her husband's ruchniyus."

In addition to personal considerations, peer pressure exerts a great influence on the choice of a mate. Inter-group fighting accentuates our differences, causing the common denominators of Torah and yiras shomayim to be pushed aside because of secondary issues. In-fighting limits options for a single greatly. In private conversations, many great rabbonim have encouraged older singles to broaden their horizons, to overcome their prejudices and look beyond their immediate circle for a spouse, and appreciate that the inner mensch is the essence and that a mature individual can manage to negotiate many hurdles. Short term peer pressure should not be blown out of proportion when making the decision of a lifetime.


People and interests who fan the flames of machlokes are directly responsible for segmenting our community, and increasing the credibility gap between groups. The more dissension, the harder it becomes for singles from different strata of the community to marry. In massive Torah gatherings in Israel and the USA, R' Aharon Leib Steinman scored machlokes as a direct cause for many current tzoros. In a message delivered to thousands at an open air rally in Bnei Brak in Cheshvon, and in a letter sent to the annual Agudath Israel Convention in America, he explained that our community is afflicted by severe decrees, including premature deaths and the proliferation of opphans and widows, as a direct result of personal and communal machlokes. He urged groups and individuals to forego, not to stand on petty principles, and to thus bring plentiful blessing to our ranks.

If you have been blessed to marry, have children, and possibly to marry them off, don't flaunt your good luck. Share your blessings with others. If you remain self absorbed, oblivious to pain in your environment, you are marking yourself as a target for hostile feelings, G-d forbid, or for an evil eye. Singles in waiting undergo great ordeals and feel rejected, or at least under-valued. A good suggestion at the right time boosts morale, and may even facilitate a match. Lack of suitable attention can demoralize other Jews, causing damage to the Klal.


The Steipler Gaon urged the father of an older single girl to pursue a match which he considered under par, but was of great interest to his daughter. "She will sit until her hair turns white. She will not forgive you if you let this match pass by. You are spilling her blood and will be called accountable" (Letters of the Steipler Gaon).

Though parents play a crucial role in their children's shidduchim, the long view of Torah leaders has promoted many matches which would have otherwise not come to fruition.

Leaving a shiva call to a young widow, a single forty- year-old girl commented that she was jealous of the fresh widow. "After all," she said, "the woman sitting in mourning had gotten married and had children. I have done neither."

The frightening insight into the mind of a very distraught person was mentioned to a great woman who is a widow herself and should set off alarm bells in our head. If a single girl can express this thought, how much hostility does she harbor for those who are watching her blood being spilt? And what are the repercussions of her painful feelings? Hashem collects the tears of the downtrodden.


Singles are tired of hearing that they are too choosy. But perhaps they have imposed artificial blinders on their field of vision. Perhaps pride and prejudice has impaired their chances of meeting the right person. Following are a few true life histories in a nutshell. You or your local shadchon would probably not have dared to suggest the following shidduchim:

A. came from a comfortable Lithuanian family which immigrated to New York City in the early 1900s. She was European born, but American bred. Her English was American and her Yiddish, very American. Her father had built yeshivos and schools in Eretz Yisroel in the early 1900s and had a great love for Torah. He wanted to marry his daughter off to an ehrlicher shomer Shabbos Jew. He found her match in a wonderful person who was a Yiddish speaking Galicianer who had recently arrived in America. To add to the story, she was more than ten years his junior and was much taller than him. They got married and produced generations of Torah true Jews in the days when most people were dropping out, intermarrying or remaining marginal Jews.

B. was a young girl raised in the Western European culture of Antwerp, pre- World War. Communiciation with Eastern Europe was very limited. The flames of World War II left Eastern Europe desolate. Shidduchim were made on a different basis. B. met and married her husband, a student of Kelm who was destined to become one of the Torah leaders of our generation. Despite the differences in culture and mentality, these great women built Torah generations with their spouses.

C. came from French Morocco and knew few words of English, but used them to her best advantage when she met and married her non-French-speaking husband.

D. was a bochur in one of the top Lithuanian yeshivos, with a smidgen of Chassidic background. He was chosen to be the grand-son-in-law of one of the great Chassidic Rebbes in Eretz Yisroel.

If you are fresh and alive with hope but single for overly long, if you can live with some variety, are flexible in your approach, you may be able to grant yourself happiness by listening to a bas kol and ignoring imaginary (and real) feedback from the street. "Why did SHE marry HIM?" It was bashert. "What will EVERYONE say?"



All material on this site is copyrighted and its use is restricted.
Click here for conditions of use.