PARSIPPANY (VINnews) — On Thursday evening, the first night of the Agudah Convention, Rav Elya Ber Wachtfogel, one of the senior Roshei Yeshiva in America, was extremely adamant that the Yeshiva system must be restructured, to encourage boys to start dating at a younger age.
The Rosh Yeshiva’s comments were part of a panel discussion on the Shidduch Crisis.
He said that “this could be the biggest tragedy facing Klal Yisrael today”, and called the years that a girl waits for a shidduch “Gehenom.”
The virtual session was moderated by Mr. Gershon Barnett, who has been extremely involved in tackling the crisis, and is very supportive of the NASI program.
The panelists were Rav Elya Ber shlit”a, the Rosh Yeshiva in South Fallsburg, renowned Lakewood Shadchan Rabbi Shlomo Lewenstein, and Dr. Yossi Shafer, a therapist.
Mr. Barnett first discussed the causes of the crisis with Rabbi Lewenstein and Dr. Shafer, and he later spoke one-on-one with the Rosh Yeshiva to discuss solutions.
The panelists presented startling and tragic numbers. According to their research, 25% of girls aged 24 are currently not married, and 13% of girls aged 29 are unmarried.
Rabbi Lewenstein said that he knows families of good girls who wait months just to get a date. He added that some 21 year olds–who are not overly picky–have never even dated.
On the flipside, virtually all boys get dates in a timely manner.
Mr. Barnett explained the “age gap”. Because of population growth, combined with the fact that boys begin dating around 22 years old, while girls begin at 19, there are hundreds more girls in the “dating pool” than boys.
What about Emunah?
Mr. Barnett asked the Rosh Yeshiva about the claim made by some people that Hashem will take care of the crisis.
The Rosh Yeshiva responded that it’s not shayach in this situation to have emunah that Hashem will solve the problem without us getting involved. “If you look at the math, you can see that it is not possible for the numbers to add up, and in that case, it’s not shayach to say that Hashem will solve this problem without our intervention,” he said.
The Rosh Yeshiva was very adamant that the solution is for boys to get married at least one year younger than the current trend.
He said that they should travel to learn in Israel one year sooner than they currently do, or they should skip the year in Israel and study there after they get married.
The Rosh Yeshiva said that there is no inherent reason that boys should not be mature enough to get married, and supported that point with the fact that Israeli boys marry earlier, yet they are not born any more mature than American boys. Rather, they know that they will get married so they mature faster.
Mr. Barnett said that he went with Rav Malkiel Kotler to discuss the issue with Gedolim, and ask if they felt that age 21 is too young for a boy to begin. Rav Chaim Kanievsky pulled out a Rambam and said that it was perfectly acceptable.
The Rosh Yeshiva pointed out that even girls who get married eventually suffer terribly.
He said, “Even if they get married eventually, they went through ten years of Gehennom. “
Rav Wachtfogel said that if the other Yeshivos would agree to restructure the process, he would gladly send Fallsburg bochurim to Eretz Yisrael one year earlier.
Mr. Barnett closed out the session by saying that he once asked one of the Roshei Yeshiva of BMG of the yeshiva to agree to not accept any boys above age 21.
The Rosh Yeshiva responded that if the crisis was that bad, why does he not hear about tragic stories and suffering from more families and Rabbanim?
Mr. Barnett urged people to get more involved and be more vocal, so that the leaders of Klal Yisrael will be prompted into action.