With all that has been written and said about the “shidduch crisis” most people still fail to realize a crucial fact that prevents the situation from being properly addressed. The problem is NOT that there are thousands of eligible men and women who are struggling to successfully marry. While this is indeed a matter of serious concern, it is not the essence of the problem, but rather a symptom of far deeper problems in the community. The natural consequence of these deeper problems is tremendous and widespread difficulties in the realm of shidduchim.
This is not mere semantics. As with a physical illness, there is a big difference between treating a symptom and treating the root cause of the illness. Treating the symptom leads to temporary relief of the discomfort, but this may have no impact on the actual illness. If one confuses this temporary relief with true medical progress he can neglect to treat the illness, with devastating consequences.
It is an incalculable tragedy that our community has been fooling itself in just this way by treating the symptoms of the “shidduch crisis” instead of the problems behind it. The vast majority of efforts to deal with the situation focus strictly on getting more people to go out on more dates, with the thinking that this will lead to more successful marriages. On the contrary, during the last few years we have witnessed only an intensification of the situation with no end in sight.
If our response to the situation is simply to have more shadchanim, more singles events, and more online dating – all of which address only the symptom – we can expect more of the same results. We can expect more singles and more frustration as the clock continues to tick.
We don't need more shadchanim; we need better shadchanus. We don't need more singles events; we need better environments for singles to meet without awkwardness and pressure. We don't need more online dating; we need to make it easier for real human beings to meet in person. We don't need more of the same stale and unsuccessful ideas to be recycled and packaged a little differently; we need to be willing to take a cold hard look at what our society has become and how this has directly contributed to a “shidduch crisis”. Then we need to change our society for the better, and we will merit to see the “shidduch crisis” disappear on its own as if it never was.
I keep putting quotation marks around the term because the crisis is not one of shidduchim but of ignorance, fear, and distorted values. This is the illness that we as a nation have been suffering from for thousands of years, and our generation has seen a convergence of a multitude of derivative problems that have made a marriage problem downright inevitable. Unless we identify and correct the social and spiritual problems there is no hope of solving the “shidduch crisis”.
If one is physically unwell he can take medication to relieve the pain. If he truly wishes to get better, however, he may have to resort to extremely painful surgery and rehabilitation. This is the price our community must be willing to pay if it wishes to truly see more people marry successfully more easily.
In future articles I will discuss the social and spiritual problems in more detail and submit honest, practical suggestions for treating the illness instead of just the symptom. We will then hopefully be able to celebrate the healing of our people.