The Age Gap and the Musical Chairs of Shidduchim👴👶🏻🎶💺💺

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  • #1350144

    Joseph
    Participant

    The boys are represented by the chairs. The girls are dancing around them. (Tu B’Av?) There’s one less chair than dancers. And when the shidduch music stops not everyone has a chair.

    That, rabbosai, is the Age Gap Theory of Shidduchim in its most crudest, but nevertheless accurate, description. It seems the Oilem HaTorah has accepted as fact that this phenomenon exists in the Litvishe and MO communities (but not in the Chasidishe communities.) The age gap issue has been debated endlessly on this forum and elsewhere for years. It logically (and mathematically) makes sense that it’s happening and the question has moved on to how to alleviate and fix it for the present and future. But even with any fix, the fix is unfortunately only forward looking and cannot completely correct the harsh math and reality of the present and past numbers of unmarried girls.

    I think this last point is usually completely glossed over, overlooked and little discussed. And thus the above analogy to the game of musical chairs, I think, puts this point into perspective and makes it more understandable and discussable.

    How can anyone logically disagree? (Once you accept the age gap effects are reality.)

    Once we accept this present reality, it seems to me, that girls and their parents would find it in their best interest to seek to marry young (18, 19, 20, but really any younger age is better than any older age), rather than delay their shidduch process until after higher education, a “gap year” or whatever other reasonings one can conjure to justify delaying shidduchim. This is because by starting in the shidduch process early, and hopefully getting married younger, girls very significantly reduce the likelihood she’ll be the one without the chair.

    Thoughts? (I’m buckling my seat belt.)

    Edited

    #1350822

    Unfortunately not every girl is mature enough at 18 or 19 to get married. Again, one size does not fit all.

    #1350817

    ubiquitin
    Participant

    “How can anyone logically disagree?”

    I dont understand how anyone can logically accept the age gap theory
    first of all the musical chairs analogy falls flat after thinking about it for more than 2 seconds, because in shiduchim the music doesnt stop. chairs and players are regularly added for all eternity.

    Secondly as explained many years ago:

    “The shidduch process in our community works something like this: shadchan suggests girl, boy’s side looks into her, Boys side agrees, girls side looks in and agrees, they date, get engaged and married. Asking around the problem in the chain is that girls arent getting enough dates.
    Assuming 100 guys for 112 girls. The guys often date several girls before finding the one. assuming each guy dates 3 gitls before settling down that is 300 dates for the 112 girls.that Should more than cover all girls. The issue shouldnt be girls struggling with “short lists and relatively infrequent dating” All girls should get an equal number of dates though a few dont get married.

    The calculations upon which the Age gap tm is based is a “situation in which elements of two distinct sets (think of single men and single women) may be paired in a one-to-one manner (think of marriage)” This holds true for marriage but not dating. By far most Guys date more than one girl And some a lot more.

    Therfore the age gap can not be used to explain why girls aren’t getting dates.

    In short, the boys are going out with a subset of the available girls. Not because there aren’t enough boys.

    To go back to the popular musical chairs example. IF upon observing the game you notice that after every round the same players are left standing (some even when there are chairs available) even if at the very design of the game no matter what you do soem players wil lreamin standing. There is something up with these players and not the game

    #1350838

    kollelman
    Participant

    The age gap may not fully explain the crisis, but It is definitely a part of the picture.

    The boys that are still left, will not necessarily go out with girls that are older. Newer, younger boys will almost definitely not. There is also a suspicion on an older girl as to “why” she is still unmarried – as if there is inherently something wrong with her, since others have not married her yet.

    #1350841

    As someone posted in another thread, we have to get out of the mindset that a girl 22 or 23 is an “old maid”. Referring to them as an “older single” is wrong.

    #1350849

    Meno
    Participant

    Who refers to 23 year olds as “older singles”?

    #1350856

    Shadchanim and parents.

    #1350859

    Joseph
    Participant

    ubiquitin: This thread is premised on accepting the age gap theory. If you don’t accept it (which is an entirely fine opinion), this discussion is irrelevant to you. I do think that the age gap theory is widely accepted as indeed being the case in the Litvish and MO communities.

    #1350867

    👑RebYidd23
    Participant

    If the musical chair theory is really true, we should ask a few girls to volunteer and stay single.

    #1350895

    bk613
    Participant

    @joseph Wouldn’t encouraging girls to start dating at a younger age only worsen the imaginary age gap?

    #1350889

    ubiquitin
    Participant

    “is widely accepted as indeed being the case in the Litvish”

    I did not know that.
    nobody IVe spoken to including Shadchanim those dating and Rabbanonim (who have signed relevant kol korehs) think it is a major cause let alone THE cause.
    (I dont know about MO)

    #1350905

    Joseph
    Participant

    @bk613 — Great question. If it isn’t accompanied by the boys also marrying younger, it will. If it is accompanied by the boys, it won’t. But even in the former case where it will worsen it overall from a societal viewpoint, an individual girl (and her parents) will still benefit themselves and reduce their exposure to the risk by marrying younger (even if it is unhelpful from a societal view.)

    #1350928

    vestin
    Participant

    Where does the premise that there are so many girls than boys come from?

    You make it seem like a machine churns out a fixed number of boys and girls per year, and the boys date younger girls – so some girls dont have a match – that isn’t correct. There are many schools for boys and girls around the country, there are also people who get divorced and come back into the mix, single people from all over europe and Israel, it’s not this fixed type system.

    Additionally we learn just about everything from the Avos, (Ma’ase Avos siman L’Bonim) we mention Avrohom, Yitchock, and Yaakov three times a day in our davening, and the prime shidduch parsha is with Yitzchock; so we should learn how to do everything from the Avos – except when it comes to marrying a younger girl, like all three Avos; we should now do not like the Avos – and have boys marry older girls – makes a lot of sense? Where in our great history do we see this (not counting the rare one off cases) for the masses?

    Someone please clarify…

    #1351015

    WinnieThePooh
    Participant

    vestin- You asked for clarification. I don’t think any Torah authority would encourage following the Avos/Imahos examples when it comes to marriage. Their situations were unique in that they were forming Klal Yisroel. Maase Avos Siman LBonim does not mean that we are supposed to conduct our lives exactly the way they did, but rather that their actions/experiences foreshadow the experiences of their children and is the spiritual foundation of their descendant’s future actions (e.g. Avraham went down to Mitzrayim, so did Bnei Yaakov, etc) (at least that is the way I have always learned the phrase).
    You claim that we can learn from the Avos that boys should marry younger girls. Let’s see exactly how that worked- Yitzchak got married at 40, Rivka was 3. hmm, are you advocating a 37 yr age gap between couples? Yaakov got married at 84 (he had a really long “freezer” period in Yeshiva Shem V’Ever, apparently), and had a 7 yr engagement to Rochel (ended up being Leah). I don’t think anyone even thinks we should follow the Avos’ lead in these matters. (not to mention marrying more than 1 wife). How does a 24 year old boy marrying a 19 year old girl fit what the Avos did any more than a 24 year boy marrying a 23 yr old or a 25 yr old?
    Except for the Avos, I don’t think we even know what the trend over history is in terms of ages of the couple getting married. An exception is Amram and Yocheved- Amram is not listed as one of those going down to Mitzrayim, so he was born in Mitzrayim, Yocheved was born as they went down, bein hachomos, so she was older- by a lot, even, since she was 130 when Moshe was born, and Amram only lived 137 yrs, and at least according to Rashi, there were many years of overlap between Amram and Moshe after Moshe was born.

    #1351057

    yochy
    Participant

    Folks – unfortunately the age gap is not theory but hard mathematical fact. Since the population continues to grow every year by whatever % – if older boys keep marrying into the larger population of younger girls there will continue to be a major problem. The only way to solve this is to marry at the same or very close age. I challenge anyone to dispute this in a serious though out mathematical way. It seems to me that this keeps being discussed as though it is a theory but I have yet to see anyone explain in a real way why it would be. In my opinion this is one of the largest problems facing klal yisroel right now where thousands of people cant get married- and the one that is most preventable if we change the way we do business.

    #1351198

    Joseph
    Participant

    @yochy — The reason I called it a theory was because I didn’t want the discussion too focused on debating the Age Gap reality. I wanted to more discuss the Musical Chairs that is the net effect of the Age Gap.

    #1351183

    bk613
    Participant

    “this is one of the largest problems facing klal yisroel right now where thousands of people cant get married”
    I challenge this outrageous statement. There are not thousands of single people. Stop trying to prove your point, and further your agenda, by using drastically over inflated numbers.
    Here is a challenge that I pose to people when debating the “shidduch crisis,” name me all the older single girls that you know and I’ll name a older single guy. Unfortunately, I have never lost this challenge.
    There are many factors as to why some people get married later or unfortunately never at all. This is true regardless of gender.

    #1351182

    chananya
    Participant

    I’ve never received answers to the following questions that drive a stake right through this propaganda:

    1. Proponents of this theory inevitably believe in the concept of a bashert and that God created a soul-mate for every person born. So how do they explain from a theological perspective how God could possibly be responsible for a demographic imbalance, as only He could be?

    2. How is it moral and ethical for a shadchan to suggest anything other than the most suitable match for her client, and instead let a presumed demographic issue factor into her matchmaking?

    3. How is it moral and ethical for a shadchan to hide from singles that they are influenced by outside factors?

    4. If it is true that women are at such a terrible disadvantage, why are women so quick to turn down suitors, often for the most trivial reasons? That is hardly the behavior one would expect from people who are supposedly competing for a mate from an endangered species. Did single women fail to get this memo?

    Again, the next person who directly and pointedly responds to these questions instead of insulting me and claiming I lack mathematical acumen will be the very first.

    Those interested in a dose of reality instead of blindly accepting propaganda should read my books, EndTheMadness Guide to the Shidduch World, How to Not Get Married: Break these rules and you have a chance, and watch my documentary on the shidduch world from a man’s perspective, Single Jewish Male

    #1351081

    Gadolhadorah
    Participant

    I think we are living in a transitional generation and there is a very slow but gradual upward creep in the age of kiddushin as more frum young men and women take advantage of the new programs available for college and graduate education geared towards the frum tzibur. Also, the new Administration has vowed to cut off welfare payments, food stamps, etc. for able bodied young men and women who are not working at least part time. I dont’ think they will have a special “shteiging exemption” for kollel yungerleit who refuse to work. This MAY encourage more young men and women to stay in school and get the educational skills they need to get a job and support their families, knowing that reliance on public assistance may no longer be an option in the future.

    #1351232

    Joseph
    Participant

    @bk613 — Anecdotal games of whether you know more older single guys than Rivka knows older single girls is utterly meaningless. You need to check with a good number of Yeshivos and Beis Yaakovs to see how many of their graduates are still single eight years after graduation. Doing that (and it has been done) you’ll find a statistically significantly larger number of older girls than boys.

    #1351243

    ☕ DaasYochid ☕
    Participant

    Again, the next person who directly and pointedly responds to these questions instead of insulting me and claiming I lack mathematical acumen will be the very first.

    Okay, here goes.

    1. Proponents of this theory inevitably believe in the concept of a bashert and that God created a soul-mate for every person born. So how do they explain from a theological perspective how God could possibly be responsible for a demographic imbalance, as only He could be?

    You’re making an incorrect assumption. I am a proponent of age gap but don’t believe every single person born has an inevitable soul-mate. That’s not what Chazal said, and even the gemara about the bas kol is explained by the meforshim as not necessarily applying in all situations.

    Also, Chazal say shemoneh esreh l’chupah. Don’t blame G-d for a man made crisis caused by not following Chazal.

    2. How is it moral and ethical for a shadchan to suggest anything other than the most suitable match for her client, and instead let a presumed demographic issue factor into her matchmaking?

    Agreed. However, in the past, many boys would not have considered an otherwise suitable girl, simply because of age. That is b”H changing. Also, there are often equally suitable (to the shadchan’s eye) matches, so proposing one which would benefit society would not be unethical.

    Also, proposing shidduchim to younger boys if they and their parents and rebbeim feel they are ready doesn’t involve this issue.

    3. How is it moral and ethical for a shadchan to hide from singles that they are influenced by outside factors?

    I’m not sure what you mean by that, but any broker (halachah views a shadchan as a type of broker) is influenced by factors that aren’t necessarily to the benefit of his clients, and has to know the halachos of what he must and what he need not disclose.

    4. If it is true that women are at such a terrible disadvantage, why are women so quick to turn down suitors, often for the most trivial reasons? That is hardly the behavior one would expect from people who are supposedly competing for a mate from an endangered species. Did single women fail to get this memo?

    Whether or not women turn down men for trivial reasons (men do the same, BTW) has nothing to do with the number disparity. They obviously don’t think their reasons are trivial, and would usually say they wouldn’t marry the guy if he was the last man on Earth. Anyway, he’s not.

    #1351258

    bk613
    Participant

    @Jospeh, I agree with you that my example is merely anecdotal. However, I still find it interesting. It also wasn’t the main point of my post. The first paragraph was directed @yochi, and the last which I stand behind 100%.
    “You need to check with a good number of Yeshivos and Beis Yaakovs to see how many of their graduates are still single eight years after graduation. Doing that (and it has been done) you’ll find a statistically significantly larger number of older girls than boys.”
    When and where was this research conducted/published?

    #1351263

    yochy
    Participant

    Again I am talking from a mathematical standpoint and there is no way around the facts. Hashem has planned this but we cant do our best to mess it up. Remember it does say ben shmonah esrah lechupah so for us to think we can get married whenever we want and blame g-d is not really right. Suggesting anecdotal evidence about how many people unmarried you know is of course meaningless. Many studies have already corroborated the mathematical reality that there are much more girls in their ninth grades across any town than for example in the 12 grade and the same for boys which is obvious. Therefore 4 years later when the 12 grade boys are marrying the ninth grade girls it doesnt work so unless you can challenge this with facts it stands as is unfortunately. It has nothing to do with shadchans, personality, level of religious observance or any other factors. It is simply not the same number of people in the pie to match. You can have 10,000 shadchans and it will not help at all. It is a huge problem facing klal yisroel and one TOTALLY man made. Please lets change how we do things so that your children will not suffer.

    #1351271

    🍫Syag Lchochma
    Participant

    hearing so many intelligent bnei Torah talk with such fear about these shidduch and age gap crises makes me so sad. I (and mechanchim I’ve spoken to) see it as one of our greatest displays of a lacking of emunah and awareness of Gd among torah true yidden. (the other is money related). I don’t care if you agree or not, your lack of ability to recognize it and your fight to disagree with it is, in this view just more of the same. It is truly heartbreaking and as this dor is suffering from the nisayon of emuna (according to some) it speaks to how far we have left to go.

    #1351283

    huju
    Participant

    There are currently no less than 78 Coffee Room topics on shidduch crisis, and Joseph started no less than 79 of them. I think Joseph is lonely or needs a hobby.

    #1351301

    bk613
    Participant

    As I already posted I agree that my story is anecdotal and proves nothing.
    Regarding the 12th grade boys to 9th grade girls example,
    I have only seen numbers (from the organization LIBI) from monsey and Lakewood. Even if you assume that their numbers are correct, it doesn’t prove anything.
    There are dozens of frum communities across the world and shidduchim a boy/girl from Lakewood/Monsey isn’t only going to marry a girl from the same city that they are from.
    12th grade boys don’t exclusively marry 9th grade girls. Some might marry a 10th,11th, 12th,or even 8th grade girl. The same is true that some of the 11th grade boys, some will marry girls who aren’t in the corresponding 8th grade. Boys and girls have never exclusively chosen their spouses from the grade 4 years below theirs.
    Another small factor that plays a role and needs to be considered is that people enter, and unfortunately leave, the frum community. This can also slightly mess with the 12th grade 9th grade numbers.

    #1351311

    🍫Syag Lchochma
    Participant

    oy huju, you didn’t go in there and check each one did you????

    #1351367

    👑RebYidd23
    Participant

    When you say something is not a theory but a fact, you sound like a straw man anticreationist.

    #1351393

    🐵 ⌨ Gamanit
    Participant

    name me all the older single girls that you know and I’ll name a older single guy. Unfortunately, I have never lost this challenge.

    Of course you’ve never lost. You only need to know one guy.

    I say:
    Malky
    Chani
    Toby
    etc, etc, etc,

    You say:
    Chaim

    You win!

    (Sorry- I couldn’t resist. In actuality though I doubt you’d be able to come up with a list of as many single guys as the list of girls I have.)

    #1351401

    👑RebYidd23
    Participant

    The emojis in the title show the opposite age gap in my opinion.

    #1351364

    WinnieThePooh
    Participant

    whether there is a crisis or not, whether it is due to a an age gap or nor, whether we can fix it with some simple solutions or not, there is one thing that we should not forget during these discussions:
    There are PEOPLE out there, women and men, girls and boys who are suffering because they want very much to be married but have not yet found their bsherts. They may have emuna that it will happen at the right time, and that Hashem wants them to be where they are at that particular moment, but that does not take away the pain of davening for something, only to be told “not yet.” And it is not just the frustration of wanting to fulfill an important tafkid but not being able to, it is also the feeling of not really being part of society, being marginalized, no longer being a child, but not accepted by others as an adult, having to tolerate (with a smile, no less) people’s judgmentalism and personally invasive questions. Put yourself for one moment in the shoes of someone going through this nisayon, and then go daven that no one should have to feel such pain.

    #1351443

    👑RebYidd23
    Participant

    The people who can’t get married are the people who are already married. Single people can get married.

    #1351528

    Lilmod Ulelamaid
    Participant

    RY: “The people who can’t get married are the people who are already married. Single people can get married.”

    RY – +1

    #1351508

    yochy
    Participant

    Once again the comments are not addressing my point. If the population grows every year whether 4% or 7 % or whatever that means that every succeeding year has more people than the year before – boys and girls. This is obvious and you don’t need data from every community. If most people are marrying people much younger –
    you have a major problem even if not everyone does. Yes boys and girls both leave the fold- no reason to assume more of any. Basically every frum population has a population increase Brooklyn, Lakewood, Passaic, Monsey etc.. This is a big problem and people are suffering. Please don’t poo poo this issue and make claims that are not based in fact. If boys wait too long it will make a problem. What if every boy decided to wait until 30 would you then agree there would be a problem? What about 40? You need to understand the mathematics. The only difference is in the scope. It is not about emunah – not to listen to our chachomim and expect hashem to solve the problems is not reasonable. Who said hashem wants you to wait until 23 to get married? A few years back we knew there was a problem but we did not understand the cause of this problem – now we do in a very scientific way. Lets solve it please with your sons so that your daughters are not victims. Unless real daas torah tells you otherwise.

    #1351665

    🍫Syag Lchochma
    Participant

    I have an idea – you work on the statistics, research, data collection and pr of finding worldwide solutions to the shidduch crisis/age gap stuff, and we’ll work on finding people to fix our friends up with.

    #1351705

    👑RebYidd23
    Participant

    Girls don’t want to marry babies.

    #1351704

    vestin
    Participant

    I didn’t write that we should do things exactly the same as the Avos, just like I dont think we should live in tents, travel on camels, live without bathrooms or refrigeration, etc. I did point out Ma’ase Avos Siman L’Banim – we’re supposed to learn from the actions of the Avos how to act; all the Avos married girls younger then they were – not older. Yosef married a girl younger than himself, as did Moshe, Aharon – I can go on and on, straight through Tanach. We’re any of Dovid’s 18 wives older than him? Do you know of a Tana or Amorah that married an older girl – how about from the Geonim or Rishonim?

    We know the historical jewish trend – you can go to a jewish cemetery in europe – in many cases the couples are buried side by side, and in some cases the husband in front of the wife – you can see when they were born and died. A random sampling of the population is the best way to get an accurate picture. If you go, you will see the overwhelming majority, is the husband older than than the wife. You can also go through geni.com, where many multi-generational jewish families are listed – again you’ll see the overwhelming majority is the husband older than the wife going back hundred’s of years.

    The germans (ym”s) kept pretty meticulous records. If you’re interested in looking you’ll see the same thing. Husbands older than wives by an overwhelming margin.

    I know Yocheved was born bein hachomos as you note, and I dont recall Amram in the count of the 70 who went down, so I think you are correct, but as you yourself point out – this is an exceptional case.

    #1351716

    👑RebYidd23
    Participant

    Vestin, do you notice the correlation between younger wives and polygamy in early Jewish history?

    #1351718

    ☕ DaasYochid ☕
    Participant

    and we’ll work on finding people to fix our friends up with.

    Did someone say or imply not to?

    #1351719

    ☕ DaasYochid ☕
    Participant

    I did point out Ma’ase Avos Siman L’Banim – we’re supposed to learn from the actions of the Avos how to act; all the Avos married girls younger then they were – not older. Yosef married a girl younger than himself, as did Moshe, Aharon – I can go on and on, straight through Tanach. We’re any of Dovid’s 18 wives older than him? Do you know of a Tana or Amorah that married an older girl – how about from the Geonim or Rishonim?

    Chazal also say shemoneh esreh l’chupah. Do you advocate that as well?

    #1351724

    Joseph
    Participant

    vestin: Historically Yidden practiced polygyny. Ashkenazim stopped because of Rabbeinu Gershom’s cherem (which originally was supposed to expire after a certain period of time) but most non-Ashkenazim (on a community level) continued polygyny until contemporary times. (Indeed there are Yidden alive even today with more than one wife.) And even though most men only had one wife, the fact that a minority of men had multiple wives, “corrected” the over-supply of girls (compared to boys) needing a shidduch that came about as a result of the age gap — that existed even in historical times — that you (likely correctly) described as being the norm among Jewish couples. Once polygyny stopped among Yidden, the age gap resulting in the issue of more girls than boys lacking a shidduch became uncorrected.

    Thus the only two possible solutions to insure that a certain percent of girls mathematically aren’t able to find a match is to either a) reduce the average age gap between husbands and wives or b) reintroduce polygyny.

    #1351736

    ☕ DaasYochid ☕
    Participant

    I (and mechanchim I’ve spoken to) see it as one of our greatest displays of a lacking of emunah and awareness of Gd among torah true yidden.

    Really now? Was R’ Shmuel Berenbaum zt”l (there was a meeting in his house…), R’ Chaim Stein zt”l (he referred to this as a terrible gezeirah), and other gedolim and mechanchim from katnei emunah ch”v?

    Being concerned about, and especially taking achrayus for an issue that affects the tzibur, is not a chisaron in emunah.

    #1351750

    yeshivabochur123
    Participant

    Years ago boys and girls used to marry at 12 or 13 then society changed and they started to marry at older ages. Time to change again. Would be better if no girls would date until they were 23. This would level the dating ages and also give girls time to go to school and learn careers.

    #1351770

    Effie
    Participant

    You are right! Maasei Avot Siman Labanim…Avraham sent Eliezer his slave to look for a shidduch……Why then are we using female match makers who have no knowledge of halakha? They break potential match based on their own knowledge without consulting a Rav! How many shidduchim have been broken up based on Lashon Hara or the ignorant whim of a Shaddkhanit

    #1351769

    🍫Syag Lchochma
    Participant

    “Being concerned about, and especially taking achrayus for an issue that affects the tzibur, is not a chisaron in emunah”

    Yup, that’s just what I said.
    But choosing to call it a shiddich crisis, wasting valuable time, resources and brain power, on the invention, support, and publicity of this new theory and all its details instead certainly is.

    #1351768

    Effie
    Participant

    I don’t understand where women got the role as Shaddchanit Its isn’t mentioned anywhere that a woman who knows no pertinent halacha with regards to Lashon Hara and what she is supposed to tell either party is in charge of Shidduchim, In the Sepharadi world the parents guided by the Rabbanim make the decision. Its like being amazed that mortality rates are skyrocketing when doctors are replaced by janitors….Are we following Halacha or Fiddler on the Roof?

    #1351776

    ☕ DaasYochid ☕
    Participant

    So says you.

    The talmidei chachomim advising those involved disagree.

    #1351784

    🍫Syag Lchochma
    Participant

    You are stuck on the idea that the gedolim are supporting this theory. Nothing you said proves their concern is on anything short of the gizeira of the situation the singles are presently finding themselves in. For all the various reasons they are in it.

    #1351842

    Lilmod Ulelamaid
    Participant

    Ubiquitin – This is definitely a record. I agree with everything you wrote except for the last sentence of your first post which I’m not sure about (but even that depends on exactly what you meant by it. It is somewhat ambiguous and open to interpretation).

    I would also add that aside from being an inaccurate analogy, I find the musical chairs analogy to be extremely offensive and a terrible way to view the process of getting married. It is particularly offensive to girls, especially since the Torah view is that it is the guy who is supposed to be seeking his missing half and not the other way around.

    #1351850

    👑RebYidd23
    Participant

    Effie, unfortunately* nowadays we don’t have slaves, so we can’t use them to make shidduchim for our children.

    *According to some people here.

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