As my children are nearing shidduchim age, I am beginning to catch on to the lingo and accepted norms, and I’m gearing up for the parsha. I am aware of the “freezer” that is set up for boys upon their arrival home from Eretz Yisroel, which gives them time to settle down, think, adjust, and begin in a new environment without immediately jumping into shidduchim.
Why is there no such arrangement for girls? Shouldn’t they get a chance to settle down from seminary, adjust to a new schedule, and think before jumping right into things? (If anything, they need it more after their “high” from seminary, giving them time to come back to earth.) Would it be correct to withhold one’s daughter from entering shidduchim for a little while until she settles down? Is it okay for a boy to only go out with a girl who had some time back home and is not right off the boat?
First and foremost, I would like to wish you and your children tremendous hatzlacha as you collectively begin shidduchim. May HaKadosh Boruch Hu shower you with nachas and simcha, and may He see to it that your time in the parsha is smooth and short.
Regarding the subject that has been brought to light, before addressing the specific questions that have been posed, I feel relatively compelled to note that my interpretation of the “freezer” differs somewhat from how it has been presented.
To begin with, unless I am quite mistaken, the majority of yeshivos do not require their bachurim to refrain from dating until the conclusion of an introductory period. Furthermore, for those yeshivos that do have such a rule, I am not under the impression that it was primarily instituted to serve the goal of allowing young men time to recalibrate and achieve a baseline that is a more accurate reflection of who they are and where they stand, mentally and emotionally, after being intensely sequestered in the koslei beis medrash, either in America or Eretz Yisroel. Rather, it is my understanding that the overarching objective is to ensure that bachurim cultivate a routine and a kevius in yeshiva before they start dating. The apprehension being that bachurim who dash headlong into shidduchim might become totally preoccupied with this new and exciting endeavor, and thus never properly establish a foundation for themselves in learning to the magnitude which they otherwise could accomplish.
In short, for those yeshivos which have such a regulation, I believe that the intended aim is to protect bachurim from becoming preemptively severed from their learning, and to ensure maximal concentration on, and success in, Talmud Torah, as opposed to being a preventative measure against premature dating. In other words, it is meant more to safeguard the ruach hayeshiva, and by extension, the growth of the bachur, than being introduced out of a desire to attain optimal dating outcomes.
That said, the topic of creating a separation between returning from abroad or starting in a new yeshiva, and commencing shidduchim, is certainly deserving of our shared attention. And to that end, I would like to reflect upon the practicality of such a proposal, along with an evaluation of the necessity and judiciousness of doing so.
On a practical level, for single women, and single men whose yeshivos do not obligate them to abstain from dating, there really is no tangible construct to prevent them from starting right away. Accordingly, it would be nigh impossible to get all of the frum world to voluntarily concur upon such a standard, with respect to items such as how long the duration should extend, how it would be enforced, and to whom it applies. Moreover, given the immense pressure-cooker that is the world of shidduchim, especially for single women, expecting that all prospective daters would freely accede to withdraw from going out for any period of time seems colossally unfair and decidedly improbable.
As far as whether or not such a proposal is both in order and prudent, by my estimation, while it is true that a cooling off period is essential for some, for others, it may not be needed at all. Indeed, not every young woman lands in outer-space as a result of the seminary experience, and many are plenty composed and fully fit to begin dating upon their arrival home. Correspondingly, the matter remains thoroughly subjective and individualized. There is no magic formula, and any attempt to delineate a set age, or length of time that one must postpone entering shidduchim, is, at best, to draw a line in the sand. Each man and woman will inevitably mature at a different rate, and similarly, each person will settle into themselves and generate a new norm, after encountering highly inspirational moments, at varying speeds.
Consequently, just as it would be mighty unwise to have someone begin dating before they are ready, it would be immensely inequitable to hold someone back from dating even after they are wholly ready to proceed. Instead, it is my opinion that this is an area where each person must commit to conferring conscious and concerted consideration before officially entering shidduchim. It is a process that takes time and honest deliberation, and one can, and should, turn towards their parents, teachers, and rebbeim as they approach a decision. Additionally, dating coaches and mentors are excellent resources for these types of conundrums, and are suitably positioned to provide vital and unbiased insights and guidance when they are called for.
Parenthetically, in cases where a young man or woman asserts, or insists, that they should begin dating, but the parents strongly sense that their son or daughter is not yet there, or visa-versa, a very delicate touch may be needed to effectively navigate these disparate views. And under such circumstances, it may be imperative to find an agreed-upon third-party to mediate the dispute and unearth a determination that is peaceful and apropos.
Lastly, concerning whether or not a young man should pursue a date with a young woman who is freshly back from seminary, in accordance with the above, it depends entirely on whether or not she is equipped to be dating. And I would say the same for a young woman who has been redd to a bachur who is notably younger than most other men who are in shidduchim. If one is at unease with a shidduch, based solely upon the age of the person that has been suggested to them, the astute thing to do would be to inquire about the issue when researching the shidduch. For example, asking references if they feel this person is prepared to date, despite their comparative youth, should go a long way in ascertaining whether the disquiet is warranted, or utterly irrelevant. Daters should not be assessed on cold numbers alone; they should be appreciated based on the reality of their character and nature.
May the Mabit Lisof Davar grant clarity of mind and purpose of direction to all those who stand at the precipice of shidduchim.