Tuesday, May 25, 2010
Received via e-mail:
Reb Hirshel Tzig:
I am writing to you with the hope that you will spread my message to as many people as possible. As you shall soon see, what I am about to tell you is not something that will be readily published in your local Jewish newspaper or magazine. Of course, news about tragedies and hardships sometimes make for “newsworthy” material – but with a limit. Some tzuros are deemed to be ignored and don’t make for good reading for someone lying in bed on Shabbos after the chulent (and three types of galah, herring and too much mashkeh). Hopefully, you, who often write about subjects that others push under the rug, will have it in your heart to publicize this email. Reb Hirshel, I am an “older” single. My age is irrelevant. What does matter to me is that in the society I live in I am considered “old”. I get the stares, occasionally, and sometimes the kids say ‘you are __ old’, obviously parroting what their parents say behind close doors. I am a quasi-outcast; I am too old to hang with the singles and obviously limited in my interactions with my married friends. Sure, I get the occasional phone call, but the bulk of their time is occupied with driving to and fro the baby sitters, putting their kids to sleep and actually spending (quality?) time with their respective spouses. Maybe on Shabbos they will have me over and donate some of their time to me as I watch them conduct a Shabbos meal with their families. Don’t get me wrong, I have no personal taynes on my friends - I understand that a man’s priority is his wife and family and not old friends, regardless of all the good times we shared in the past and the many times I was a “shoulder” for them to cry on – literally and figuratively. That doesn’t make it any easier. >I know, everything I wrote till now, is common knowledge. Yet, I would like to highlight the degree of loneliness I feel and how I am deemed a pariah by the rest of society.
You see my friend, I have several married friends who don’t have children, r”l. I see the looks of despair and hopelessness on their faces. No, I can’t say that I truly understand the hell that they are going through, but in my own unique way, I understand. They also lack status. They still live in their first apartment; in a building with neighbors that are only getting younger and younger. Their friends have moved residents several times, looking for larger houses or apartments to accommodate their growing families. They have no reason to move. I feel for them.Yet, my unfortunate friends have the benefit and comfort of knowing that society is “with them”; people feel their pain, they are not just a topic of conversation. They are looked at with pity that is mixed with a heavy dose of empathy. The reason for this is: it is not their own fault, nor the fault of their parents, in-law or general community that they have to suffer the way they do. They are totally blameless. Consequently, Lakewood (as do many other cities and neighborhoods - HT) has an organization called Bonei Olam that has a huge turnout by its dinner and the baby count gets higher by the day. Everybody feels for these hapless couples, subconsciously fearing that their kids could be next, r”l. Everyone is potentially vulnerable, and by donating money for an expensive procedure – even without a high chance of success – they are protecting themselves. Contrast that with the plight of me and my fellow “older” singles. We don’t feel your empathy, even though many of you go through the motions of helping us; you call us and redt us shiduchim that you would never in a million years consider for your children, and then when we don’t return your calls you label us “picky”.
Sure, the Rabbonim signed the Kol Koreh saying the girls should marry older boys and the “crisis” would be solved. How many of those Rabbonim have their sons marry older girls? I don’t blame them and I am not pointing fingers. However, the truth is that most of the choshi've families don’t have older singles. In their communities and their subcultures they are considered “catches”. They don’t really understand what an older single is all about and it is virtually impossible for them to truly commiserate with our plight. For example: Malkiel signed on the aforementioned Kol Koreh. Did he marry an older girl when he was onto his second zivug? No, he married someone more than a decade younger than him. Do people like him know what it means for an older bucher to still be sharing a dorm room with kids ten years younger than him? With the young ones who get engaged a few weeks after the freezer opens and then decorate the room with streamers? How much leeway do they give the older bocherim with regards to having more “private” living accommodations in the dormitory? This just underscores my point that it is hard for someone who is immune from the type of suffering we are enduring to put himself in our place.To digress, to say it bluntly and candidly, there is no “shidduch crises”. There is a group of singles, that is not small, that is largely comprised of boys and girls (or ladies) that were not the biggest catches right when they entered the market – way before they became “old”. The influential families with the trust funds which “guarantee” no dayges of parnassah for generations to come have virtually no older singles. The “shayneh Yidden”, the Roshei Yeshiva and more respected Rabbonim don’t have older singles living at home. Of course, those who are blessed with very good looks obviously don’t “stick around” too long; a testimony of the current values that people have.
So which families are more “prone” to having older singles? The “regular” and average ones; the shtileh people who actually are bnei aliyah and don’t get recognition from most of us. Those who are struggling to make ends meet, are very ehrlich, but are not nitztayen in any noticeable quality. They don’t have big heads, they aren’t honored by the dinners, they just continuing growing and making their share in Olam Haba larger. These are the people with the older singles; with the daughter who might have been looking for a short term learner, but is now is hovering around the dreaded thirty mark. She is stuck between the proverbial rock and a hard place. The boy she really is looking for doesn’t exist. Mimu nafshach, if he is older and still holding by learning than the odds are he is much more serious than a “five-year” fellow or the peculiar “year or two” guy – and he is too good for her. On the other hand, if his geshmak in learning is something of the distant memory and he is just treading water in yeshiva, he is obviously not what she is looking for either. This poor girl, or woman, like I said before, was probably not the greatest catch even right after seminary. For the same reason she didn’t go to Bruriah’s place (BJJ seminary - HT) she is still singe. She, or he, might be bright, articulate, kind, caring, contentious, and decent-looking and more importantly – really possess Yiras Shomayim and the values, goals and aspirations of a true Ben Torah and Bas Yisroel. In a certain way, all of that doesn’t make a difference. Unlike other problems which might happen to the shensteh mishpuches – this one doesn’t. Society looks at us and says Mazluch Gurem. Just as the less fortunate don’t have the same quality health care as the faynshmekers, can’t get their kids in the same schools and are regulated to the proverbial back of the bus of society, they can wait their turn when it comes for shidduchim.
Reb Hirshel, I must go. My phone is ringing, I think that this time they are going to redt me a Lubavitcher girl…. (I suppose that's a shtuch of some sort - HT)