MAILBAG: Is It Time To End The “Freezer” For Young Men Returning From Eretz Yisroel?

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Dear Editor,

Is it time to end the “freezer” – the rule that says that young men who come to one very large Yeshiva from Eretz Yisroel may not date until Tu B’Shvat?

The answer should be a strong “yes” because – a growing number of young girls are not getting dates, and many are just not getting married even several years later.  Statistics of still single alumni of Beis Yaakovs in Lakewood, New York, and across the country are very high.

There are a number of systemic causes to this.

  • The first cause is the age discrepancy between eligible young men who date and eligible young women who date creating a very unequal pool of candidates.  Currently, the average age of young men when they begin to date is 23.1.  Young women generally begin somewhere between 18 and 19.
  • The second factor is the growth rate, bli ayin hara. Each year, there are more and more graduates of our girls’ high schools – the four year delta makes a greater discrepancy between the pool of availability.
  • A third factor is the freezer.  What the freezer does is that it adds an extra 4 months (at least) to the discrepancy. If the age discrepancy was say 3.6 years – then this increases the pool discrepancy by some 1/3 of a year or 10 percent.

10 PERCENT IS 10 PERCENT. We need to address these issues and make systemic changes.  A good analogy would be a school with 300 students, but there are only 200 desks.  If we do not provide the extra desks, there will be 100 students that are not seated.  We need a great tikkun here.

Those fine bnos Yisroel with incredible midos, and chessed, and appreciation for Torah and Kavod HaTorah are in pain.  They are literal agunos – because they are chained to singlehood for so long.

The reality is that if someone doesn’t have money or remarkable yichus – the phone calls just do not come.  The telephone might as well have cobwebs all over them.

The fact is that our inaction has let our daughters down.

Many cry themselves to sleep at night wondering why we have neglected them.  These are bnos Yisroel!  Descendants of Avrohom Avinu, Yitzchok Avinu, Yaakov Avinu!  We really need to see and feel their pain in that months go by and there is not a phone call.

If we truly see their pain and suffering – then no one would ever argue, no one could ever argue to retain the freezer status quo.

We need to change it.  Our Gedolim have said it.  The Chazon Ish zt”l.  Rav Elyashiv zt”l.  Rav Shteinman zt”l, Rav Shmuel Auerbach zt”l and Rav Chaim Kanievsky zt”l. Our living heintigeh Gedolim are saying it. [See the link here.]

V’ahavta l’rayach kamocha applies to our suffering daughters as well.

True,  we should not do anything that can risk lessening chas v’shalom the kol Torah in our Yeshivos – but let’s figure it out.  If we put our collective heads together we can maintain a high level of hasmada without causing needless pain to so many.  We can make extra sedarim for those that are dating.

We really need to make a tikkun because every year we delay – we are causing hundreds of girls not to get married.

[Rabbi] Yair Hoffman.

NOTE: The views expressed here are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of YWN.

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45 COMMENTS

  1. “We need to change it. Our Gedolim have said it.”

    The gedolie roshey yeshiva of Lakewood seem to disagree. Why not reach out privately with your concerns to them? Blasting this out to YWN coffee room may generate hock but certainly won’t change any policies. It also is a bit disrespectful to the roshei yeshiva….

  2. we don’t change anything…..look at all the changes….freakazoids called LGBTQ……freezer fine…my grandson was ok with it…learn more torah and see if that works….keep learning till your will is Hashem’s

  3. Why are u appealing to the online tzibur on a dor shaaloh with so many ramifications, let the roshei yeshiva analyze and speak, kol korei from years ago doesn’t speak its the current live roshei yeshiva who talmidim are in the parsha that talks…

  4. Rav Harfenes shlit”a (a Rav in Williamsburg, and on a short list of candidates to replace Rav Tuvia Weiss zt”ll) said that it is assur ahl pi halacha to go to a Yeshiva which has a freezer.

    Rav Chaim Kanievsky said that klal yisroel should be goizer a public fast as an expression of outrage and despair over the existence of freezers (many Israeli Yeshivos also have freezers).

  5. we follow the Roshei Yosheva/ Daas Torah without even QUESTIONING them so if they say to keep the freezer I will keep it, this whole age gap business is a new thing women traditionally were younger than their husbands

  6. It’s a sad letter. The pain sounds louder than the logic.
    But with all the pain – First of all, it’s only 3.5 months. One can date until Rosh Chodesh Cheshvan, and continue with the same prospect into the freezer.
    Second, we do want our boys to be anchored in Torah as they enter this turning point of beginning shiduchim, which I’m sure is the desire of the girls they’re dating as well.
    Try running a learning institution where the students entering are beginning immediately to date, and you’ll se the blessing of the freezer. Those few short weeks give the bochur a little time to enter shiduchim the right way, while learning in a serious Chaburah. I cannot see how it makes a dent in the girl’s situation, one that would out-weigh the benefit.
    May Hashem hear our tefilos, and be מזווג all the singles this year.

  7. Reb Noson Tzvi Finkel, the Mirrer Rosh Yeshiva, Z”L wanted to open a yeshiva in the USA, Lakewood Roshei Yeshiva were concerned that BMG will become history.

    They got Reb Elyeh Svei to boomerang it.

    The freezer is the main cause of the catastrophes in the world, the ones that continue the freezer are addressed in Chazal, there is a special designated place for them.

    Time to get Rechnitz to bring the Mirrer Yeshiva branch to the USA.

    Get Louie Schiner make a stop to it.
    Or stop supporting financially these yeshivas that have freezers.

  8. As much as we may agree or disagree, it is NOT in our place to talk. Firstly it their yeshiva and they may run it as they wish. No one has to go there! But certainly for us to discuss it on this forum is not right to begin with! Who are we?

  9. Kind of a silly article.
    The freezer was put in place by Gedolei Hador. Face it. They may not be YOUR manhig, but they ARE Manhigim.
    SO you can have OTHER Manhigim who disagree, but everyone will follow their manhigim, and the manhigim of whichever institution they so choose to join.
    So making a public outcry on the matter is a pretty imbecilic move.

    Also the 4 month waiting time causing a larger disparity in age seems pretty off, it makes sense as a mathematical equation, but doesn’t really seem to hold any significance in reality.
    The boy is not seeing a different age bracket because he waited those four months.

  10. In E”Y these days, most of the boys are getting engaged at 21, married at 22, and the girls are not younger than 20, but mostly around 21. They’ve been through 1-2 years of post-high school job training and often already working.

  11. The author obviously doesn’t realize the way it really works. The freezer has been in existence for 30 years. Everyone knows about it. Therefore, a bochur comes home from EY for shidduchim, with the knowledge that he will start shidduchim 4 months later. So, they come home 4 months or so, before they plan to start shidduchim for real (with the hope that they may get lucky and get engaged bein hazmanim.)

    If there was no freezer, bochurim would stay in Eretz Yisroel one zman longer and start at the same age.

    All the freezer is doing, is getting bochurim to come to Lakewood a zman earlier.

    Also, ignoring the fact that the girls are aware of who is in the freezer and shidduchim are redt and researched during the freezer time. So they are technically in the parsha and available. You might have to wait a little for date. No big deal.

    P.S. My best 4 months in Lakewood, many years ago, was my 4 months in the freezer.

  12. I am not a chosid of the freezer concept, but I do understand BMG.
    Bochurim coming straight from a yeshiva in EY and now want to start shidduchim should have come back a half year earlier. Using BMG as a dorm while they date is degrading for BMG. It doesn’t give the bochur the opportunity to acclimate into BMG and to get into learning. So they made this rule of 6 months in the freezer. Fair.
    The problem is that the bochurim, if they want to go to learn in EY, should go earlier, and come back earlier. The bottom line is the problem of the age discrepancy. The only way to cut down the age difference is by starting earlier in shidduchim.
    Why not try what Chazal says – to get married by 20, They knew better. Torah is nitzchiyus – don’t tell me that the bochurim are less mature and therefore can’t start that early. If so, maybe the bar mitzva should also be delayed by 1-3 years. This is the ONLY solution.
    The problem is that the R”Y won’t let the bochurim out so early for monetary reasons.
    That trumps the girls pain and suffering (nebech).

  13. Historically, Ashkenazim were meshadech their children with barely a year of age gap. Significant age gaps were found more among Sefardim, but their growth rate was a fraction of Ashkenazi growth rate.

  14. This to me is one of the most frustrating things in our generation. It is a man made problem and has to be fixed by us. There is no Shidduch crises in Israel or by the Chasiddim. This policy is making live Agunos!!!!! we must change this terrible Shidduch Freezer policy and put the need of the single girls at the forefront of what we as a community must do as so eloquently articulated by Rav Elya Ber Wachtfogel. Of course the Gedolim in America that initiated this are massive Talmidi Chachamim and had good intentions. But the Eini HaEdah in our generation the ones who all the big problems in Klal Yisrael go to, have spoken CLEARLY that the Freezer is wreaking havoc and must be stopped right away.

  15. This decision was/is made by gedolim and Roshei Yeshiva. It is okay to have an opinion evven a dissenting one. However, it should respectfully be addressed to those Rabbanim and not on a public website forum.

  16. I’ve yet to see one intelligent comment on these topics….these systemic shidduch world problems are self made by society and usually altz the boys side. Everyone needs to stay out of it and accept the magic that Hashem performs

  17. Lakewoodbt,

    You’re right that women were traditionally younger than their husbands (and the letter is only favor of shortening the gap, not eliminating it entirely) but you’re missing the fact that a century ago it was pretty common for women to die in child-birth. So sadly, these ages worked.

    And because of lack of modern travel and communication, most shidduchim were local and there was scant knowledge of who’s being “left behind”.

  18. Rabbi Hoffman don’t you think you should first write the reason for the “freezer” then you can discuss the problems that it may or may not cause and weigh the pros and cons of having a freezer vs not having one but how can a logical person come and bash something that has been around for years (especially in this case that we know some of our biggest gedolim i.e Rav Shach where behind instituting it) as if he just discovered this terrible problem in our community. Now I’m not saying that I’m pro or anti the freezer I just want to hear a good argument one way or the other.

  19. The Shidduch crisis is a man made crisis from self inflicted wounds. It is the boy ,his father and his mother that do not listen to Shidduchim for a boy till age 23. They are the ones that cause their own sister niece or cousin never to get married.
    The whole world does not suffer from this tragedy. Chasidim both start at age 18. Europe and Erets Yidroel are in Shidduchim by 20.
    Is it only the American Shoitim that are immature till age 23? Or is it American GOYISHKIET that seeped into the Yeshiva world?
    Many girls that do get married settle for much less than their market value. All because of the Goyishkiet that people continue doing. See Saifer Nidchai Yisroel written by the Chofetz Chain chapter 25, ANY ONE THAT DOES NOT LISTEN TO SHIDDUCHIM AFTER AGE 20 IS ME`VATEL A MITZVAS ASAIY MIN HATORA.
    Time to do Tshuve.

  20. Al pi halacha, any man that can financially support it, can marry at least 4 women. This is the real way to stop the crisis.
    The problem is that most frum young men these days cannot support even one wife, so the big earners will get all of them.

  21. I personally believe that this question is above the pay grades of most of those participating in this discussion and should be left to the Gedolim with input and factual statistics from ba’alei batim / shadchanim who have a general knowledge of the shidduch scene. Each side here has maalos and chesronos and it takes Gedolim to weigh the merits of both sides and make a recommendation or decision.

    I would recommend focusing on other areas in which the klal can help out these girls. How about each family be mekabel upon themselves to try to redt 2 or 3 shidduchim per year to bochurim and girls that they personally know. An unprofessional baal habayis who personally knows the boy and the girl they wish to redt certainly has more ne’emanus in the eyes of the parents than the professional shadchan who has met the boy or girl for 5 minutes only. Perhaps we ourselves need to get more involved and commit bl”n to doing this much needed chesed.

  22. I don’t know if this is verified, but a number of years ago when the shidduch crisis was starting to become a more talked about concept, the hock was that BMG was thinking of stopping the freezer. One of the Roshei Hayeshiva went to E”Y to discuss it with the Gedolei Hador. They came out that it wouldn’t help as bachurim who don’t want to start dating right away will go to a different yeshiva anyways. So they kept the freezer.

  23. One cannot ever doubt the heliga rosh yeshivos of BMG who have a mesora, everything comes from the Borei Olam, parnassa, health AND SHIDDUCHIM there are no man made problems as so many said here, soon you will claim global warming is a thing also.

  24. One of my neighbors was in Shidduchim when the Freezer policy started in BMG. He was by Maran Rav Shach with his father and they mentioned he was learning in America. Rav Shach told him (he was 22 at the time) that if he’s ready to start Shidduchim he SHOULD start Shidduchim despite the freezer policy!! Rav Shach added even if he agreed to adhere to the policy upon admission, this policy has a huge negative impact on Klal Yisrael.

    To the commentator above, if Rav Shach agreed to it (which of course he did NOT). Let’s see a written letter from him giving permission for something like this. It is known that Rav Shach was not scared to write what was on his mind. I trust my neighbor who I heard the story from directly.

  25. Wow that was a shock to read who signed this letter!

    I personally can relate to this as when I was in bmg it’s a very rough and hard place. You can’t say just go to another yeshiva this world will stigmatize you and put you into a different category that these boyz don’t want to be part of. Bmg is the only accepted place. You can read my coffee room thread about Shidduchem in 2022.

    The world shidduchem world these days is nuts.

  26. The Lakewood freezer rule:
    Was enacted in 1987 and was embraced by the students who saw the value in settling into yeshiva for a few months before trying to date. I myself was happy to do the freezer in 1993. A boy already dating a girl when he arrives in BMG may continue with that girl. Furthermore, Lakewood is big and flexible enough that a boy can find plenty of legal loopholes and ways around this rule including getting a waiver if he really wanted to.

    Today: Lakewood takes in boys twice a year: after Succos and after Pesach. Furthermore, The Post-Pesach is the larger percentage of boys coming ( usually 60% of the total annual intake ) more than Succos (usually 40%). Now, the “Post-Pesach” crop of boys becomes unfrozen in July of that year ( 3 months after arrival) which occurs simultaneously with that year’s crop of seminary girls arriving back home.

    So on an annual basis, the following two important shidduch-related movements occur :

    BMG-Lakewood has two annual intakes of boys, VS the girls market that only has one annual summer homecoming, which in all probability creates more boys entering the shidduch system annually against their equals of seminary girls.

    By the time the girls arrive from seminary in July, they have access to any and all boys on the market including the Post-Pesach arrivals that have been waiting to date since Pesach and just became unfrozen upon the girls returning home.

    So then, what are we really talking about? The post-Succos boys, who were still in Israel till now and thus not even part of the overall shidduch picture yet when the Girls arrived home back in July and will be quite available in three months.

    Are we claiming that the new Post-Succos boys that only just arrived home who are not immediately available to the girls that have been home since the summer and have had access to all boys that were available to them upon landing, as any significant factor in the driving the Shidduch crisis?

    Now if the girls have ruled out all the boys that were available to them till now and they want to get their hands on the new crop and they want the freezer abolished for that reason, that makes sense, but I can assure you that the BMG freezer rule has zero effect on the claimed shidduch crisis.

    And even if it were a 10% factor as you claim, then why focus on fixing the 10% portion? Why, not zero in on the 90% fix which includes encouraging girls to wait till age 21 in order to help solve their own crisis?

    So, in conclusion: The BMG freezer rule is a bad scapegoat that in reality accounts for none of the shidduch problems that are out there. By the time a girl turns 24 or 25 and is still single, it is impossible for her to point to the three-month freezer rule as the reason for still being single.

  27. There seems to be a vicious cycle:
    boys get married later, so there are more girls (because bli ayn hara community is growing), as a result, they are less picky and will marry even those graduates who are not ready to financially support the family.

    In other words, if the girls were to have more “market power”, then only best learners and earners would have easy time, the rest would have to work harder either in learning or in earning.

    This is actually a known social fact: societies that have more women (after wars, for example), have irresponsible behaviors, lower marriage rates, because men have market power. When there are more men (immigrant men come for jobs, or girls are killed and aborted), then marriages happen earlier and stay stronger because women have market power.

  28. Chasidim have the best shidduch policy: no freezer, no dating, no wasting money on cars or hotels or outings! Meet 1x, 2x, tops 3x & get engaged. It’s been working for years & years!

  29. A solution for the pro & anti-freezers.

    The freezers simply continue doing what you do.

    The anti-freezers, get a well known posek to say that the 1,000 year Rabeinu Gershon gezera has passed it’s 1,000 year limit.

  30. @pony Actually, the Gedolei Roshei Yeshivah of Lakewood probably don’t disagree with these Gedolim. Because… Well read on…

    To the writer: You seem to have read the letter signed by the Gedolim and, either subconsciously or not, used it to form your own understanding and opinion.

    The Gedolim have told us to encourage our bochurim to begin shidduchim a year earlier than what has always been the norm. They also said that [in order for this to happen,] bochurim in Eretz Yisroel should be encouraged to return to America a year earlier.

    You also got something else wrong. You wrote that the rule is that bochurim coming to America from the Mir (it’s obviously the Yeshivah behind your implication) are not allowed to start shidduchim until Tu B’Shvat (I’m assuming you mean until the end of their first zman, whichever one is their first in America).

    This is the actual, correct rule: Bochurim from *any* Yeshivah in Eretz Yisroel who return to *BMG* can’t begin *dating* a *second* girl before until the end of their first zman. This is not a rule that public decided on. This is only BMG’s rule that THEY have made as their school’s decision,

  31. In my humble opinion, there is a reason why Israelis and Chassidim are getting married younger and to same age girls. In Israel, once a Bochur gets married, he can get into a good paying Kollel and that already supports part of it. Most girls cannot get jobs in Israel without finishing 2 1/2 years of Seminary which includes job certification/degree training (a continuation of their high school) because they need that money to live on. The ones that get engaged while still in Seminary are usually from wealthy homes where the parents can support fully which is becoming a minority. So the 21 year olds are dating 21 year olds who are already working somewhat so that they can put bread on their table. Chassidim don’t usually make the girl fully support. It’s either half and half or the boy goes out to work as soon as they have children. In America, the boys want it all – full support, a house, a nice car and living standard and BH there are families that offer this to them so these are the ones getting married first. Girls that have to wait a few years to save up money because parents can’t afford the system are the ones losing out and getting older.

  32. Just to add, the Israelis and Chassidim have better paying Kollel programs that enable them to stay in learning without putting all of the burden on the women. BMG doesn’t have a great paying Kollel program for married Yungeleit so they demand full support from their wives. The living standards in America keep getting higher and “keeping up with the Joneses” is putting a lot of pressure on the Shidduch system. In Israel, if you don’t learn, you need to enlist in the army (working doesn’t exempt you) so they needed to create a viable learning system to enable Torah Yungeleit to be able to learn while building a family. We can learn many things from them and try to implement it into our system to make a change.

  33. Using an appeal to emotion is not a particularly strong argument.
    Let’s take this to its logical conclusion:
    According to this letter, ten percent of girls are single. Now let’s have each cohort of boys that begin dating start dating there and a half months earlier, how many new boys have we created out of thin air?
    This minute amount of staggering has no statistical benefit to the Shidduch market, but arguably would have an effect on how the boys acclimate to the Yeshiva.
    However, pointing at a particular system or institution and blaming it (erroneously) for the fact that so many girls are still single, is liable to embitter a small portion of these girls about life in general or Torah in particular.
    So knock it off and take out your Tehillim!

  34. The true solutions are so obvious. Here’s just one:
    massive increase of kiruv rechokim efforts focused on males, especially in their pre to early teens so they’ll be “aquired” before the damaging college years and be fully integrated in time to marry. A companion educational campaign to ffb females about the incredible ma’alot of balei teshuva.

  35. It pains that there are a few cynical commentators out there. The Gedolei HaDor INCLUDING Rav Shach were against freezers! One can see how correct the Gedolim were banning a freezer with the large numbers of single Litvisher Girls. There is no such problem in the Litvish world in Israel, Chadssidim Worldwide etc. Kudos to Rabbi Hoffman for pointing out the obvious. Changes MUST be made. It is not sustainable to continuea freezer for “only a few months” with such a large number of singles. Even if it “only” is a few girls that will be saved as a result of nullifying the freezer. Rabbi Hoffman, thank you for advocating for the Bnos Yisrael Hashem should bless you with the best of health and happiness. As a Kehilla we must make this a “new years resolution” to work on getting the Bochurim back from Israel younger and earlier, we cannot continue with having 20% of Bnos Yisrael single…. Lets have the BMG Rosh Yeshivah help us with the singles!!!! these are his neighbors and relatives and he does care for them and will adjust and make whatever changes are needed to help Klal Yisrael.

  36. The true solution is getting boys back from Israel early. The freezer is not helping but if boys would be back much earlier that would be the best solution. I want you though to consider the following situation and logically tell me why this is different. Please no off the cuff responses that don’t work out in the world of reality. A woman is waiting for a get for years and the husband refuses. Finally, he agrees, but since he works during the day he will only agree if they do it at night. Problem is the towns sofer is in night seder and the husband refuses to take off from work. I would appreciate if someone can ask their Rav if they would have a heter to miss night seder to help this poor woman who is otherwise chained and unable to marry. This is real bitul torah though. You see when marrying younger nothing stops you from learning after your chasunah just as before without any bitul torah but this sofer has missed out on night seder and it can never be redone. Or if you see a frum woman drowning but your mind is deep in a sugya so you dont want to deal with saving her. That is how it sounds when someone makes flippant comments about how their learning is amazing while others are suffering in ways that will cause woman to unfortunately never be able to marry.

  37. I will begin by saying that the author does a lot of chasodim In the five towns area and I admire him for that. However, more often than not, when I see his name on a byline, I know I’m probably going to disagree with it. Here goes .

    If the author has a complaint or wants to discuss this with the Roshay Yeshiva of BMG, I am sure someone will be okay to speak with him. Perhaps they can enlighten him as to why they do this .

    I will try to enlighten the author as well. At one point, it is my understanding, that they had an issue where people were coming back from EY, or domestically, going to BMG and immediately dating. They were there just for the resume enhancement and for no other reason.

    For good reason, that did not sit well with the Roshay Yeshiva and that’s when the freezer was instituted.

    I have a grand idea, if you don’t like the idea, please do not send your kid there. There are many other locations where one can go where they may or may not have the same rules. The bottom line is when you go to a Yeshiva, you need to follow the rules no matter what some percentages out there claim.

  38. Rabbi Hoffman,

    Please stand strong!!!! You are doing a wonderful thing. The above commentator who wrote “ you need to follow the rules no matter what some percentages out there claim”…. Breaks my heart. This mentality shows zero compassion for the burning facts out there…… Fact!!! 20% of Litvisher girls are now affected with this Shidduch Crises. Go to our Shuls and communities in Lakewood and it is a tragedy. Please don’t be deterred when someone attacks you because you don’t reside in Lakewood. Sometimes we need a outsider to point out how low we sunk…… Unfortunately whenever serious competition that would open another Yeshivah in the United States is a possibility, then the large Yeshivah in Lakewood torpedoes it. Ironically the Five Towns Rabbi Hoffman is getting attacked for following clear directives of a written letter from Rav Elyashiv, Rav Shteinman, Rav Chaim Kanievsky and Rav Shmuel Auerbach.

    Maran Rav Shach repeatedly told people to IGNORE the freezer. Can you please point to one letter in his multi volume Michtavim U’Mamarim that permits a freezer??? He wrote on virtually every contemporary topic. Noticeably absent is a letter permitting a freezer. Even if he would have 25 years ago he was someone who stood up for the truth and would be the first one to nullify this disgrace. The Kavod of Bnos Yisrael is being disgraced by the freezer and by Bochurim starting to date in their mid 20’s. Please stand strong and tall Rabbi Hoffman. I am jealous of your zechusim before Rosh Hashana and the Yom HaDin.

  39. I was in Shidduchim seven years ago. When I was by Rav Moshe Shternbuch Shlita he told me to start Shidddichum immediately. I told him I was going to Lakewood and there is a freezer rule which I have to sign which wont allow me to go out for four months. Rav Moshe Shternbuch angrily replied that I can go to Lakewood and go to Lakewood and go out the day I sign the paper because it is Masneh al mah shekasuv B’Torah (he said several other sharp things against the freezer, which I will not write here but anyone can go to him and hear from him themselves). I listened to Rav Moshe Shternbuch Shlita and got engaged during the freezer. I do want to point out that there are two BMG Rosh Yeshivos that are very against the freezer!!!! There is only one BMG Rosh Yeshivah that is holding out and doesnt want to fold up the freezer he instituted 25 years ago……This freezer does not have 4 BMG Roshei Yeshivah backing it!!!! It is only one of them.