Recently, a Shidduch Forum question asked if not going to seminary will cause people to reject a shidduch. I would like to ask similarly: It is becoming increasingly popular for bochurim to skip going to Eretz Yisroel to learn. Do I have to be worried that if I don’t go to Eretz Yisroel, mothers – or girls – will reject a shidduch because of it?
While there may be some degree of correlation between a young woman’s skipping out on seminary and a young man’s passing on learning in Eretz Yisroel, I believe there are two essential and distinct differences to be made between the two.
First, seminary takes place immediately after high school, and absent it, there is nothing else – it is straight to work or school at 18 years of age. As such, it remains plainly observable to the reader of a shidduch profile, or someone looking into the shidduch, when a young woman opts out of the seminary experience. On the other hand, even if a young man decides not to learn in Eretz Yisroel, he has most likely learned full-time somewhere in America for several years, and indeed, might still be doing so. Furthermore, many young men retain a seder in yeshiva even when they are no longer learning three full sedorim a day. Accordingly, when a young man does not learn in Eretz Yisroel, it is far less transparently evident to one who is researching the shidduch.
Second, given that seminary is generally only a one-year commitment to post-high school learning, either in Eretz Yisroel or America, it will always be somewhat of a statement declaration to abstain from going. It is an all or nothing proposition. One may have the best of reasons for doing so, and those reasons may be perfectly understandable and right for that individual, but they will invariably need some elucidation – which may or may not be well-received – rather than being taken at face value. And that is assuming the person considering dating this young woman even takes the time to ask, as opposed to just moving on to another idea. All told, for most young women who settle on sidestepping supplementary studies in seminary, they will be inescapably immured to a constriction of shidduch prospects.
Conversely, presuming that a young man has spent at least a few years learning after mesiftah, forgoing additional education in Eretz Yisroel is not an inherent proclamation of missing out on further talmud Torah. Not only would this obviously be true for one who is still learning in America, but even for one who segues from bais medrash in the US directly to college or work, they will already have accumulated some post-high school edification. In fact, whereas there are many young women who specifically want to date young men who are already on the path of earning a living, I cannot recall ever hearing a young man pronounce that he is solely interested in dating young women who did not attend seminary at all.
Consequently, at least by my estimation, provided a young man is using his time wisely and productively, I would surmise that his choosing not to learn in Eretz Yisroel would be notably less noisome, vis-à-vis his shidduch opportunities, than would be the outcome for a young woman who declines a year in seminary. Lastly, and though this really goes with saying, significant personal guidance would of course be mandatory before a young man’s determination to make such a decision is effectuated.
May the Shomer Goi Kadosh see that all the young men and women of Klal Yisroel are provided sufficient shidduch suggestions, and that they find their zivugim b’karov u’bnachas.