Like many people, I try from time to time to suggest shidduchim to singles I know. In the majority of cases, it’s the girl’s side who rejects the suggestion based on the fact that the boy isn’t spiritually suitable for them. It may be that the boy islearning in yeshiva but also attending school to learn a vocation and the girl wants a serious learner only. Or maybe he’s working and she only wants a learning boy. Or she may be okay with a working/college boy, but he has to be a solid ben Torah per her standards.
These rejection patterns are often repeated and have gotten me thinking. Many of these values are instilled in our girls during their high school and seminary years by well-meaning mechanchos.
To be clear, these women do an outstanding job building up their students’ spirituality and aspirations. Indeed, in an ideal world, every girl leaving seminary would marry a solid ben Torah and learner. However, the world we live in is not an ideal one, and the shidduch crisis is real. For whatever reason, the quality of many marriage-aged boys does not match that of marriageable girls. This appears to be a fact. As such, one wonders if perhaps we’ve become victims of our own success. If the high standards of our girls chinuch has surpassed that of the boys’, then maybe those standards should be lowered.
Chinuch habanos is a relatively new phenomenon in Klal Yisroel. When the great visionary Sarah Schenirer established the Bais Yaakov movement a century ago, her goal was simple: to develop a system that would provide a Torah-based education to girls so they could remain erlich and frum and eventually marry and continue the beautiful mesorah of Klal Yisroel.This was crucial to stem the tide of secularism that had swept the communities of Eastern Europe, affecting girls in particular. The goal was not to educate them to marry a learner or even a ben Torah, but to develop them into proud and committed Yiddishe girls. There was a time in this country when girls would readily marry boys of lesser spiritual levels, with the understanding that building a home is worth the sacrifice. In many cases, using their binah yeseirah, these women were able to transform their husbands and their homes, eventually raising generations of Torah Jews.
Perhaps it’s time for our own girls’ education system to realign its priorities to focus on these simple ideas. Our girls may end up less scholarly, but more focused on the ultimate goal: to build a proud Jewish home.
What are your thoughts?
Insofar as it seems nearly impossible for me to fully address and expound upon each and every one of the assertions and assumptions contained within the narrative presented, I would like to briefly touch upon what I believe are the two most salient and essential points therein.
1. Are there more young women in shidduchim than young men who are of sterling religious caliber and are wholly devoted to the highest ideals of Yiddishkeit? To be honest, I do not know. This is a relatively old hypothesis, and one that has offered no hard data to verify its accuracy, as far as I have seen. In my own experiences traveling the yeshiva world of today, there appears to be an abundance of bochurim who are every bit as committed to the highest of Torah values as their female counterparts, and I have little reason to imagine that the crux of our shidduch woes is rooted in misaligned standards of achievement in our educational systems.
2. Should we diminish the chinuch of our daughters owing to a perception that it will enhance their success in shidduchim? In my opinion, no. Categorically and emphatically, no. Ashreinu that we have reached a time and place where our young women are able to attain such mastery in their studies, and have climbed to such magnificent levels of character refinement and dedication to avodas Hashem. Furthermore, by my estimation, sacrificing the ideals we have the capacity to impart to, and inculcate within, our holy bnos Yisroel, would amount to nothing more than a grave disservice to our young women themselves, their future husbands and children, and to Klal Yisroel at large.
All told, it seems to me that if some aspect of our pedagogical institutions is playing a part in our collective shidduch strife, instead of stealing away what we can give to our daughters, perhaps we should reevaluate whether or not we are failing our sons to some degree, and attempt to make positive improvements in that realm.
That said, and my apologies if the following is, in fact, the intent of the inquiry, I do wonder if it is not so much a lack of sufficient numbers of exemplary young men in our midst, or the measure of knowledge which we have conferred upon our young women, that is standing in their way to the chupah, but, rather, the expectations of marriage and adult life as a Jew that we have conveyed – implicitly or otherwise – which has thrown them for a loop. There are a great many ways to be a Jew of the highest order. We should all recognize that in the profoundest of ways, implant that appreciation into the very fiber of our minds and hearts, and never fool ourselves into thinking that there is but one personification of a true G-d-fearing Yid. After all, ultimately, that is what HaKadosh Boruch Hu asks of us to be.
May the Chochmah Elyonah bestow an ever increased understanding of His precepts and His will upon the entirety of His Am Segula.