The Ponzi Scheme In Orthodox Dating

From Hirhurim:

  • R. Chananya Weissman takes on the "Ponzi scheme" solution to the Shidduch Crisis: link
  • Philologos on the proper spelling of "meshugas": link
  • College should only take three years: link
  • Letters about Human Rights Watch, including from its chairwoman and a joint letter by Elie Wiesel and Alan Dershowitz: link
  • Catholic Church to allow for easier conversion by Anglicans: link
  • Only 41% of those raised Orthodox remain Orthodox: link

Rabbi Gil Student comments: "Weissman’s point is that limiting the pool of potential wives will only cause MORE men (and therefore women) to remain single as long as their behaviors (such as being extremely picky about a long list of items such as yichus, tablecloths, dress size, etc.) remain the same. And if you change those behaviors, you might solve the problem without resorting to the age issue."

"Age is only a symptom of a larger problem: noses stuck in the air. If we viewed others as people and not objects then we would have many more shidduchim. We would be more concerned about character than about age and socio-economic status. Instead of emphasizing age, as this proposal does, we should be telling young men that they need to focus on character and not side issues."

EJ posts: I think men marry women younger than themselves across the board…Jews of every stripe and non Jews all across America. I once read the number is around five years. Furthermore my understanding is that marrying down has been confirmed numerous times.

If this statistic is true for Western countries in general then a psak by gedolim might not work. The ability of men to satisfy their desire for a yonger spouse might have deeper roots than habit.

Here’s a Wikipedia page that gives the average age of males and females at first marriage for various countries around the world: Age…_first_marriage

What you see is that in most places, men marry women who are younger. In "traditional" societies the gap is greater; in secular societies it is less.

DF posts: 1) I dont think anyone believes the 41% in the survey. It is impossible to define "orthodox’, so straightaway the survey can be thrown out.

2. Very few people think of themselves as "picky". One man’s "picky" is another’s "basic standards".

3. In any event, Gil, why blame the pickyness on the guys? There are plenty of girls with unrealistic expectations. That’s true of both the ones wanting learners, and the ones wanting "learners & earners". And girls can be shallow too when it comes to looks, you know. [To use your concept – I personally do not think it is shallow to be makpid on looks.] To the extent you can blame anyone for their standards, both chromosones are equally at fault.

4. Attempting to manipulate guys into marrying older girls is disturbing. I see trouble on the horizon. The fact it, young yeshivah bachurim are naive – as are young men generally, believe it or not – and can easily be pushed into something they shouldnt be doing. Not every shadchan knows the line between pushing and encouraging. I can easily see zeolous shadchanim manipulating guys into questionable matches, to comply with what the rabbis are telling them.

5. Age is not just a wart that can be overlooked, if we train our kids the right way. There are people who draw the line at fertility at 35, for medical reasons. The medical research is sound. Marrying older girls shortens the window of opportunity. Stated from a frum angle, the chance to be mikayem the mitzvah of piryeh virivyeh is curtailed.

Y. AHARON POSTS: I, too, agree with F-P’s take on the Weissman article. The rabbis whom he criticizes don’t presume to provide a solution to the gender imbalance among single, marriageable OJs – just a more easily obtainable measure to alleviate it in Hareidi circles. Calling the rabbinic proposal a "Ponzi scheme" and attributing the imbalance to a bias in birth gender is simply foolish.

One proposal for Hareidi parents that the rabbis in question would never consider is to teach their marriageable daughters to disregard what they have been taught in their Hareidi schools and to consider dating guys who are in or have graduated college. That would expand their opportunities for both marriage and financial security.

CHAIM AMALEK EMAILS ME: "What are you doing to solve the shidduch crisis?  Isn’t it time you stood up to the plate and married some old maid chassid woman of 20?"

About Luke Ford

I've written five books (see My work has been noted in the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, and 60 Minutes. I teach Alexander Technique in Beverly Hills (
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