MAILBAG: Want to Solve the Crisis? Figure Out the Problem First


This letter is to shed some much-needed clarity on the Shidduch crisis and some of the solutions that are being worked on.

Let’s start with the facts: For every boy currently on the market, there are approximately 5 to 10 girls on the market (depending on how many months it is since the last freezer opened up). In case you think this is a typo, I’ll rewrite it: for every boy currently on the market there are approximately 5 to 10 girls on the market.

Now, of course, in any given year the ratio of girls and boys entering the market is not that high, but because of the buildup of girls from each year that are not yet married, and the fact that almost all boys get engaged within a year of entering the market, the current boy-to-girl market ratio is where it is.

This is not an opinion; it is a fact. You can go to any kehillah in Lakewood and count the boys and girls on the market from that kehillah, and you will get roughly this ratio. We can debate why there is such a ratio, but its existence cannot be denied.

So, for example, if there are 1,000 boys entering the market this year (plus a handful of boys still on the market from last year), and there are 5,000 girls currently in shidduchim, only 1,000 girls have the opportunity to get married this year. Even if we hire 1,000 new shadchanim and offer a one million-dollar shadchanus fee for each shidduch, nothing will change – only 1,000 girls will get married this year.

What if every girl decides to settle and marries any boy that goes out with them? The same thing. What if every girl performs every segulah under the sun (and above it)? Same thing. 1,000 girls get married.

Do you see the problem?

Of course, tefillah can help, but you can’t run into traffic while saying Tehillim and expect not to get hit by a car. The same goes for shidduchim; you can’t expect Hashem to just fix your problems when you are willingly creating a bad situation for yourself.

And while every individual family and girl can do their own hishtadlus to make themselves stick out from the pack and hopefully help them be a part of the group of 1,000 rather than 4,000, ultimately such hishtadlus only helps individuals, not the klal at large.

If we want to solve the crisis, the first thing we have to do is know what the problem is.

Shlomo Zalman Bergstein

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


(YWN World Headquarters – NYC)


  1. “For every boy currently on the market there are *approximately* *5 to 10* girls…”

    “This is not an opinion; it is a *fact*. You can go to any kehillah in Lakewood and count the boys and girls on the market from that kehillah, and you will get *roughly* this ratio. We can debate why there is such a ratio, but its existence *cannot be denied*.”

    You’ve conjured up a vague, imaginary, “approximate” and “rough” ratio based on how you emotionally feel about this issue, then you claim it is “fact” and “cannot be denied”.

    Where on earth are you getting this data from?

    “Want to Solve the Crisis? Figure Out the Problem First” Listen to your own title! Figure out the facts and data first. Writing letters with imaginary figures only does more damage to the problem!

  2. I don’t know the reason behind this, but no statistics will convince me that HKB”H choliloh doesn’t know the math. Perhaps there are more boys than girls in other kehillos, in particular chassidish ones.

  3. I’m sorry to say this but the Freezer has to end in all Litvish Yeshivos. This is wreaking havoc on Klal Yisrael. All Gedolim in Israel from Rav Shach, Rav Elyashiv, Rav Aharon Leib, Rav Shmuel Auerbach and of course Rav Chaim Kanievsky spoke out STRONGLY against it. Rav Moshe Shternbuch tells petitioners (I heard it from him myself) that this is the biggest deterrent to Moshiach coming. Yet as we sit back now and analyze the problem……. close to 1,000 Bochurim are being held back because of a policy that was instituted 25 years ago. Perhaps it made sense then. It clearly doesn’t make sense now. The Sefer Maaseh Ish (as quoted extensively in Sefer Siach Shidduch) brings down in several places that the Chazon Ish was asked about a Yeshivah instituting a Freezer and he ruled that even if Bochurim Bochurim sign the paper agreeing to the Freezer they are not obligated to keep to the Freezee rule it if a Shidduch comes because it is Masneh Al Mah Shekasuv Betorah!!! Enough is enough. Let the Bochurim start dating TODAY.

  4. A great scholar of public policy and government organization once opined that “if we didn’t have a Bureau of Indian Affairs” we wouldn’t have an “Indian Problem”.

    Perhaps oversimplified but one could argue that if we didn’t have a cottage industry of shadchanim and their support networks embedded for generations in the religious and cultural fabric of the frum velt, we wouldn’t have a “shidduch crisis” or at least it would be considered a “shidduch problem” rather than a “crisis”.

  5. How many more moronic articles on shidduchim with the same misinformation,the same comments and the same results, are going to be posted. And we are still at Square one.
    No matter how many times you say there are 5 girls for every guy, it won’t make it true.

  6. A hearty Y’yasher Kochacha for spelling out the problem. However, you have not provided a direction in which the problem is progressing year by year. You’ve given us a theoretical number of 1,000 new boys coming into the market each year, but you haven’t told us how many new girls come into the market each year.

    If I assume that there will likely be 1,000 girls coming into the market each year just like the number of boys, the overall problem will not get better, but it won’t get worse. What if we propose that those new 1,000 girls hold themselves back a year from going into the market, then the 1,000 girls that will get engaged to the new 1,000 boys coming into the market this coming year will be the older girls already on the market and the population of unengaged girls will go down to 3,000 and we’ve made a significant improvement.

    Or if we do both – we encourage younger boys to come onto the market sooner and postpone the younger girls from entering the market, we could have 2,000 engagements that year and the population of unengaged girls then falls to 2,000.

  7. The author is 100% correct as to the cause of the problem and the need to understand the cause in order to solve it. The author is also 100% correct that all the money and shadchomim can solve this since the issue is based on boys dating too late hence insufficient supply of them for the girls that are dating early. I am astounded frankly that some of the our large advocacy organizations have not addressed this perhaps largest issue facing klal yisroel today certainly in terms of the numbers of individuals affected and considering that this is one of those rare issues that has a clear solution if we only want to solve it.

  8. You know that your numbers are nonsense. How many boys are born each year vs how many girls? The real problem is that 80% of the boys are chasing 20% of the girls and 80% of the girls are chasing 20% of the boys. Once girls start realizing that a good frum working boy is also a marriage prospect, there will be many more boys available.

  9. We the YWN readership would appreciate if the editors would only post mailbag letters from people who made cogent arguments and have well-thought-out points to make. It does not reflect well on the quality of the website to feature letters from writers who make up data points and claim that they are facts to make a point.

    Mr. Bergstein may have a valid point but he kills it with made-up facts. If Goerge Santos would contribute a letter on the matter what type of weight would it carry?

  10. Since the author seems to have delved into the data, can you please be helpful and tell us in detail:

    – Does this include working or college boys?

    – Till what age? Single / divorced?

  11. “….. but it’s existence cannot be denied.”

    I deny it. I’ve been to Lakewood many times. The number of boys that fall through the cracks and aren’t counted, is just as overwhelming.

    Every statistician says it doesn’t work the way you claim. And you have no real numbers. Don’t just look around your neighborhood. Do some real math.

    Why the sudden push to prattle about an issue that’s been beaten endlessly for twenty years? There was just a real study that completely shattered the premise of the age gap. Is that what’s going on?

  12. Wow, the new level of hyperbole, but these whack jobs must go to in order to create a sense of urgency, so that you’ll buy into whatever they’re pushing today!

  13. To Shlomo Zalman Bergstein,
    Despite repeated requests to reveal the source of your statistics, you have not done so. I think your silence is because you don’t have any statistics to back up your claim. For readers who would like to deal with facts that are based on a published study that has been fact-checked, look over here:
    (Change the + to a .)
    Bottom line is that 10% of the YESHIVISH girls remain single.

    As n0Mesorah points out, the solution is to make the boys who have fallen through the cracks (as he puts it) become attractive as marriage partners.

  14. 35 years ago there was no shiduch crisis because the average boy(not going to be a rebbe or rav) learned for one year max
    so support ,money etc was never a issue
    today due to the yeshivesh system and the seminaries all boys need to learn minimum 5 years (forget about the fact that at his aufruf he cant pronounce the birchas haftarah or that he is a complete am haaretz
    having learned 7 blatt a year)
    therefore support is a major issue
    and the girls whose parents cant support dont get looked at
    the system is unsustainable and has caused a churban in klal yisroel

  15. The real problem is out of every class of girls lets give a over-estimate that 20% of families can afford to support the “long term” learner each of the girls are going to be convinced they need to marry so only those 20% will be offered the limited amount of boys that are out their. Because those boys are told as well, you need to sit and learn and work is a four letter word. The problem starts with the chinch and the push for kollel long term. I am not saying not to do it at all, but there are plenty of people out there that outstayed their time and should move on to work. The push that everyone needs to go to kollel has to stop!

  16. sounds like an attack on our choshuv Roshei Yeshiva, they have special siyata dismaya in their decisions and halls in Brooklyn, lakewood, monsey are booked till June so clearly people ARE getting married left and right. The same HKB’H who split the sea and provides for all of humanity knows what is going on. We dont question daas torah, this is what happened in Europe and then so many went off the derech and became socialists, communists, zionists etc.,these statistics dont make sense as in the last few weeks I have been to many weddings of daughters of roshei yeshiva and others on the zevulun side. This is all much about nothing.

  17. ” if there are 1,000 boys entering the market this year … and there are 5,000 girls currently in shidduchim”
    Fact: there are almost the same number of boy and girls born.
    So the 4,000 missing boys in your equation must have gotten married to 4,000 girls, right?

    But what you failed to explain is that the new 1,000 boys to the market are much younger than the 5,000 girls on the market. And why would a boy want to get married to an older girl especially since he can get more opportunities in younger age groups. This is the problem!

    The number of actual people in shidduchim is about the same but out of them older girls dominate the group. So lets say for every 40yr old there are represented by 75% girls and 25% boys. For 30yr old there are about 65% of girls and 35% of boys and so on. The numbers are not real but just to illustrate the problem.

    In chassidish circles its ok for the boy to be younger and the girl to be older but in litvish world its not something people consider.

  18. For every boy currently on the market, there are approximately 5 to 10 girls on the market… In case you think this is a typo, I’ll rewrite it: for every boy currently on the market there are approximately 5 to 10 girls on the market.

    If that is the case, then 15 years later, with almost 100% of the boys married, only 10% to 20% of the girls are married; with 80% to 90% of the girls never leaving gotten married.

    To repeat, according to your figures almost 100% of the boys get married but out of 10 girls only 1 or 2 are married even by time they’re all almost 40 years old, with 8 or 9 out of 10 girls never getting married.

    Wow. Are you really saying that?

  19. @Aryeh TR
    Thanks for your repetition of vile hatred towards the ‘freezer’. It’s probably one of the more brilliant comments that keep coming up on this forum.
    Hmmm, let’s see, Lakewood Freezer= 3.5 months, even if you got an F in math you could probably see that it is extremely unlikely that this has any kind of impact on the crisis.
    But you know, any opportunity to know the Lakewood Roshei Hayeshiva or other gedolim, why not?

    Aryeh, how about next time keep it simple, it’s probably something to do with ‘lace tops’.

  20. When I first read the abusrd claim “For every boy currently on the market, there are approximately 5 to 10 girls on the market” Like any reaosnable person I was sceptical.
    but then it was rewritten!

    Say no more I’m convniced

  21. The authors points were 100% correct however his data was unfortunately 100% off. It is actually more like 8 or 9 boys to every 10 girls as it stands today which put the boys at a significant advantage. Unfortunately, besides girls not being able to get married, it leads to a slew of other entitlement issues. It allows boys to ask for whatever they want, forces girls to do things that are very costly to avoid being left out, and causes sholom bayis issues with boys marrying girls in a different league because they can. Conversely if there were equal amounts of boys and girls it would make no difference how much money, yichus, OTD issue, learning vs working or any other issue discussed above as all parties would have to negotiate based on supply and demand and settle. It is only when the numbers are skewed that things get real messy. So I politely ask that people stop posting comment about all sorts of things that cannot have any effect on the topic at hand and figure instead ways to get the marriage ages closer to each other if we are going to solve this problem.

  22. @ChaimYankel Besides the Freezer being Assur according to the Halacha as stated by all Gedoli HaDor, starting from the Chazon Ish all the way down to Rav Chaim Kanievsky and all the other Gedoli HaDor, not all BMG Roshei Yeshivah are in agreement for the freezer since the time it was instituted 25 years ago, till today one of the 4 Roshei Yeshivah is very against it. Your cynicism is hurtful, We are talking about live Agunos!!! Even if it could help save 5% of the single girls it shouldn’t be stopped????? Ironically the ones who get hurt the most with the freezer are the daughters of the Yungerliet. The waiting for several months allows the bochur to amass many different resumes….. ultimately in the last few years has been for the Bochurim to opt for the more “baalibatish” girls. Leaving the daughters of many of the Chashuver Yungerleit from the 15% of girls who can’t find Shidduchim. I write with tears in my eyes……. Unfortunately this Freezer DISASTER which was started 25 years ago is one of the worst man made problems….

  23. aryeh tr, we do not doubt daas Torah or choshuv roshei yeshiva EVER, they know better than us and anyone doubting them is playing with fire. The Lakewood mehalech is the way, period every one else in America is deviating.

  24. It’s funny that some commentators say that abolishing the ‘freezer’ will solve the problem, others in the same statistical universe say that you cannot doubt ‘da’as Torah’.
    In the real world, of course, there is a reason for the freezer, at the same time it contributes to the problem.
    How about if we try to measure what is the communal price for it then.
    If we only look at boys in a ‘frozen environment’, a generation is on average 30 years and the birth rate is 6.6 in our community:
    So, 3.5 months means 3.5/12 months/30 X (6.6/2.1 replacement rate – 1 previous generation) = 2.1% of the girls have no boy to meet, because of the freezer.
    If there is a 4 year age gap, then the freezer (if we assume that all the boys would go out 3.5 months earlier if there was none) is causing 3.5/12/4= 7.3% of the problem.
    Of course, if only a third of the boys have a freezer, then we must take a third of the previous figures.

    I am not saying what should be done, but maybe we should stick to the facts to make decisions!
    Of course, real statistics are even better than theoretical calculations.

  25. Ok here we go again. Everytime a Flatbush or Lakewood bal haabos starts a topic they all just repeat what they want to say and make no sense at all. The facts aren’t facts at all. You just decided that it’s that ratio. Did you go count every shul? Did you even ask anyone for some data as to what age they are?? The answer is going to be NO and even if you said YES it’s still not accurate as there is many more communities and the last time I checked most if not every shidduch is done with a different community.

    Stop sending over different bal habatim that think they know how to change Hashems world. Hashem runs the world and he’s the one making the plan and shidduch not these fake data researcher that make up facts anyway! I’m in the process and I’m sick of seeing a new article over and over of another bal habos being bored and have nothing better to write on YWN. This is incredibly stupid.

  26. So how many boys are actually in the “freezer”? Even if you let them date, you will still have more girls. then boys. There will be alot more girls who want only learning boy. but unfortunately those boys are a rarity. Maybe, just maybe, try to get the boys to be just plain mentchen, there is nothing wrong with a working boy. We did not have this problem 30 years ago. The problem is there are more girls who want only learning boys, and will not even consider a working boy!! If girls don’t want to date working boys, then the problem will never go away… and don’t get me started on the OTD boys, concentrate on getting them back to yiddishkeit and you will have more boys for those single girls!

  27. Regardless of whether Mr. Bergstein is precise in his statics, we all have to agree that since the Freezer began approximately 35 yrs ago the problem began as well, and only gets worse with time as the pool continues to grow.

    There are many side effects besides the many girls remaining agunos for the rest of their lives.
    1. Mothers of boys (then the boys themselves) become emboldened to focus on everything besides what really counts, the best possible wife for their son.

    2. A girl that finally gets a date after no calls for a year or two, is so frightened about the prospect of remaining single that she agrees to get engaged to a guy that deep down she doesn’t truly care for. That results in bad marriages and divorce.

    3. The fear of not getting their daughters married off, forces parents of large families with limited means to take on commitments that are unsustainable. Many have one child after the next to marry off. Especially those in klei kodesh would be committing to support their kids more then they themselves earn

    4. It causes huge residual damage such as a deterioration in health and emotional well-being.

  28. Um without getting into the emotional aspect of all this I have one simple question for the letter writer. These 4000 girls that you speak of (assuming your facts are true which I suspect is not but for the sake of conversation…) are they born with a bashert or not? If yes then all they need to do is find it. Their boy exists somewhere on earth and they just need to find him. Maybe the girls need a change in attitude. If not then without resorting to name calling just know that your contradicting every Gemara and chazal that ever spoke on the issue. So I’m really not sure what you want from the boys. If you ask me it’s the girls that are getting married so it’s them that need to analyze what they’re doing wrong. The boys who are getting married don’t need to change anything. That’s the logical way to look at this

  29. Maybe the chasidish boys who are having problems getting married should marry the litvish girls who are having trouble getting married? before you shout an automatic no! Why not? ask an older litvish girl what type of chasidish boy they would be willing to marry if they had no other choice, generally, the answer will be the type of chasidish boys who are having problems getting married . whereas the very chasidish boys who litvish/yeshivish girls would not even consider marrying are getting married to younger girls in the chasidus they grew up in. The ones who are having the problem getting married are the ones who don’t fit exactly into the mold of the chasidus they grew up in, whether due to learning in a yeshiva like the Mir and then BMG, (look how many 25-28-year-old heimish guys are sitting there waiting for a shidduch) or because they are working. those are the type of heimish/chasidish guys that an older single girl will say “you know what?, he’s not THAT chasidish, maybe it will work” and as i know from experience, the things you think get in the way e.g.,shtreimel,(even though some older boys will wear a hat on shabbos) minhagim (of which a lot of them could get worked out before and during marriage,) or schools for children can all be worked out during dating and engagement. especially since most older singles have the emotional maturity to look at things objectively and to know what is important and how to negotiate with people who are different then them, they will be able to figure out the correct blend of how they would want to live their lives together.

    perhaps that is the reason we have a “shidduch crises” in both of these groups, to get people to get out of their comfort zones and to bring us all together in achdus. maybe it won’t work for all, but I believe we should think about it. not the reasons why it can’t work, we have enough of that. but let’s broaden our horizons and look outside the box, perhaps the “solution” is there.

    that is my take, let me know what you think. whether you agree, disagree or would like to refine the idea (and sefardim/ashkenazim would not be terrible either)

  30. There isn’t a one problem for all here. Believe it or not each individual who’s single has their own unique reason why they aren’t married yet it’s not just about age numbers freezers and how many years one should learn in Yeshiva. Most people who are married acknowledge that had they met their spouses a bit earlier there’s a good chance it wouldn’t have worked out. It’s called Bashert for a reason. Yes some people should start dating early some aren’t ready. It’s not enough to say you’re 21 start dating because if you don’t you’ll cause older girls to not get married.

  31. “We can solve this if we start allowing same sex marriage. When are the rabbonim going to wake up and give a heter?”

    Assuming for argument the rabbonim were to give a heter as you suggest, how would that “solve” the problem?? Seems like R’ Yosef’s suggestion to repeal cherem R’ Gershon has a higher liklihood of success since it is D’Rabbanan rather than D’Orissah