Yeshiva students are supposed to listen to their rebbes, but sometimes rebbes have to repeat themselves. Hence, a letter written last year, signed by today’s Orthodox rabbinic heavyweights, that called for young Orthodox men to marry “older” women, has been re-released.
The letter quotes the halachic arbiter R’ Yosef Shalom Elyashiv as encouraging young men to marry older women in an attempt to combat the notorious shidduch crisis facing the Jewish community.
The full English text is after the jump.
This is to ascertain that when I met with HaGaon Horav Yosef Shalom Elyashiv, Shlita, this past CHol Hamoed Sukkos and discussed with him the shidduch issue that is plaguing our country, he permitted me to publicize in his name that any bochur who marries a young woman who is “older” (past early marriage age) is ruach chachomim nocha heimenu. And with unusual enthusiasm, the Gaon blessed all who do so wuth extraordinary berachos in the establishment of their homes.
Regarding those who do so, I heard that same from another of the most outstanding Gedolim of our time: “Ruach chachomim nocha heimenu.”
We join in the opinion of the above Gedolei HaDor and encourage bochurim to marry those who are close to their age (and even older), and we bless them that they merit thereby to establish botim ne’emanim in Klal Yisroel in which they dwell the limitless blessings of Hashem.
What’s striking about this call is that, one, apparently not enough young Orthodox men have heeded their rebbes’ call. Otherwise, why would it need repeating?
Two, while this may sound like an enlightened position on the part of rabbis, a man marrying a woman “close to” his own age, with the parenthetical addition of “(or even older),” shouldn’t be a chiddush.
Third, R’ Elyashiv might have made more headway with the shidduch crisis if, instead of encouraging men to marry older women, he’d encouraged them to marry women whose dress size is larger than a 2, or whose families don’t have a lot of money.
Lastly, if men do heed their rebbes’ encouragement, it could completely change the face of the Orthodox community. Women who get married older will have fewer years to have children — which could mean a stalling of population growth. Even a difference of one less child per family could be significant.
Not to mention a woman who has spent some time as a single adult may have more of a chance, or more of a need, to develop marketable skills, and would be able to bring in a better income for her family.
There is, of course, the danger that an older woman will become something of a mother figure to her husband, but, let’s be honest, some of these yeshiva bochurim could use a little mothering, so it might be a good thing in the long run.