As a shadchan I wonder: What’s the rush?
Your daughter is still in seminary for another two months. What’s the rush?
Your son just entered the freezer. What’s the rush?
Your son or daughter has just been rejected, ending a three-week parshah: What’s the rush?
How about letting you daughter enjoy her stay in seminary and have peace of mind before she will never again have the chance to?
How about letting your son sit and learn without your disturbing questions and suggestions, which will actually accomplish the goal that the freezer was intended to accomplish?
How about letting your son or daughter have a breather after finishing a long, grueling, and emotionally draining process?
Why are you calling me on the verge of panic when your son or daughter cannot date for another two months?
Why are you asking me if I have other suggestions for you the same second I inform you that your son or daughter has been rejected?
Obviously, this is all the result of nervousness. But can you all just calm down? Don’t you think that going through this process with <adjective here> and chilled-keit will be more <adjective for helpful> for your child’s shidduch parshah?
Dear panelists, do I have a point or am I totally wrong?
In theory, you do have a valid point, and while removing the rush may not be the panacea for all our shidduch woes, I strongly believe that greater measures of mesinus and equanimity in those who are in shidduchim would be greatly beneficial. Both for the reasons you have outlined, and for the overall ability to act more sensibly and make better decisions that inherently results from the peace of mind that accompanies being less rushed.
However, in reality, while I wouldn’t say you are totally wrong, I still wouldn’t expect to see any dramatic shift towards less rush in shidduchim in the near future – and understandably so. In reflecting on your question, there appears to be three significant factors that stand out to me as being most impactful in having created this fierce rush for those in shidduchim.
1. The vicissitudes of the times in the frum world have generated a tremendous pressure to excel and reach notable milestones. We live in a time where there is a hierarchy of prestige when it comes to enrolling our children in school. In some communities, this begins as early as pre-school; in others, even getting into high school for young women is no guarantee. Spots available in most “top-tier” yeshivish yeshivas are limited, with a wink and a nod given to those who manage to get into the most coveted institutions.
There is often a feeling that in order to be respected and appreciated, one must either be very smart and learned, or very wealthy, and anything less is a disappointment to the velt. Normalcy has become considered mediocrity at best.
Marriage is no different. Getting married is a milestone, and one that everyone is clamoring to accomplish. We all know of people about whom we either say or think, “He/she is so excellent, I just can’t understand why they are still single at this age.” No one wants to be the person, or the parent of the person, who hasn’t yet sealed the deal.
It is rather sad and unfortunate that we have somehow created a world where at 25 or so, many of our young men and women feel like failures if they are still single. But we have, and it has lead to a palpable pressure to “perform” in dating and getting married, no different from anything else in our society on which we have collectively put a value stamp. And it is, in part, this pressure which makes it exceedingly hard for those in shidduchim to take a breath and not feel rushed at every moment.
2. The proliferation of “older” single people, specifically young women, of whom there are far greater numbers than older single young men. No one wants to be the 10th year beis medrash bachur in the dorm, or the 26-year-old OT who still lives with her parents, getting looks of pity every time they walk into a room.
There is a clear line in the sand where, at some point, if one is still single, the number of opportunities one receives begin to drop. The fear of becoming an older single mounts with each day the phone doesn’t ring, with each “no” that one receives, and with each shidduch that ends. Is it any wonder then that people feel so rushed in shidduchim?
3. We simply live in a faster paced world. Everything is a rush. It’s not the alter heim any more where it may take a month to reach another shtetel via horse and buggy. It’s not even twenty years ago when sending a letter or a few bar-mitzvah pictures to bubby and zaidy meant a stamp, an envelope, and a week’s time. We can travel to the other side of the world in less than a day and send a message or a hundred pictures in an instant.
Multi-tasking, instant gratification, and deadlines have become our pantheons. Almost everything we do is expected to happen with expediency, and shidduchim are no different – it’s just another rush order.
Given these realities, I can really hardly blame anyone today for having a rushed approach to shidduchim, despite the negative consequences that the rush breeds.
For many who grew up and got married in an earlier time, it can be hard to separate the reality one lived in from the reality one is now living in, and one must take into account the changes of the tide when assessing behavioral norms in new generations and navigating how to best serve the Klal.
Sometimes this may mean sensitively and thoughtfully talking someone off the ledge and getting them to take a step back and be less rushed, and other times, it may mean accepting the rush and working with it. Either way, it is a judgement call that must be made with a full appreciation of where the rush is coming from and why it exists.
May The Melech Doiver Shalom give you, and all those in shidduchim, the yishuv hadaas to thrive in the shidduch parsha with peace and tranquility.