||ARE WE AS A SOCIETY OBLIGATED TO HELP SINGLES GET MARRIED?
- Thursday, Febuary 8, '01 - Parshas Beshalach 5761
On the one hand, if Jewish society does not help its singles to find mates, this may lead to possible inappropriate discouraging of marriages or of stigmatizing people who can't find a mate. On the other hand, if our society helps people who are not equipped for marriage, this can harm one, if not both spouses, their children and the generations who come from them.
A person can be single for many, many possible reasons, some of which only G-d knows; so no one can be judgmental, especially since this can add more pain to the already profound pain of being single.
It is futile to try to help a single with emotional conditions in which the single sabotages him/herself or which keep that person incapable of fulfilling the many and serious roles, duties, functions and responsibilities of the Jewish married person. A person has to put himself into a marriage. It does not happen if he blocks himself or if he cannot do what being or getting married requires of him. He must be mature, healthy, functional, responsible and capable of doing many things (such as communication, empathy, sacrifice, calm, kindness, respect, adaptability, parnossa, housekeeping, caring for and training children, etc.) to maintain a marriage.
When someone suggests a shidduch which is not well thought out, it can be an insult to the single. The well-meaning person can be insulted and judgmental when the single rejects the inappropriate suggestion, even politely. The single who must refuse a cock-eyed suggestion should have no concern over what other people think. This is not relevant. There is no alternative to waiting for a compatible and sensible set-up.
In the case where the single sabotages his own getting married, or is not equipped for marriage, the issue is what the person HIMSELF has to work on, not what others should do or think. The single has to work to repair what is deficient, to remove the obstacles. Only a rare and very specially qualified person can meaningfully help. For the single to worry about strangers who do not live with or truly care about the single in his private at-home life is a waste of time and energy.
I can tell you from my practical counseling experience, LONELINESS IS NOT SYNONYMOUS WITH READINESS. It is only a MOTIVATION FOR THE PERSON WHO IS READY TO ACT AND MAKE HISHTADLUSS to get married. We are only supposed to encourage marriage for those adequately ready and equipped to fulfill its requirements - one's own and another person's life can be damaged or destroyed by a dysfunctional, selfish, immature, irresponsible, disturbed, incompatible or otherwise unsuitable person. If a person is not "marriage material," we cannot say that we must push an ill-equipped person on a partner. If outside people wrongly misjudge the single, they are guilty of many sins for destroying someone's marriage prospects. What people say can have nothing to do with the reality of the person they talk about. People assume, hear rumors and hearsay, perceive based on defective or subjective criteria, etc. The single has to live according to his true inner reality and work on whatever is appropriate for that person's stage and situation, independent of what people think or say.
Of course, Jewish values would have all Jews of marriageable age married and happy - in accordance with the readiness of those singles to handle marriage maturely, responsibly and successfully. THESE ARE ALWAYS CASE BY CASE QUESTIONS, with no room for generalization. Therefore, whether others help a single get married should depend on whether the single is truly and objectively suitable for marriage. Lives are at stake and a hasty, premature, desperate or incompatible shidduch can be unfair to and can damage everyone associated with it. We never may cause damage. To determine whether you can or should help any given single find a mate, you have to be able to GET TO KNOW HIM/HER somewhat - enough to judge whether the person is marriage material and who this person is and needs. If you are too busy to bother, find yourself another "pet mitzva" that you can do competently. For example, you don't have to know a bed-ridden neighbor's personality to pick up his prescription for him.
So, our view that we should help singles get married applies to those who are ready for it and for its responsibilities and requirements; so that the marriage will be "safe" for all concerned; peaceful, functional, Torah-true and enduring. We should never be judgmental, critical or condemning for such would turn our action into an avaira (sin). We should make ourselves available to help where there is a suitable match BETWEEN WHAT A SINGLES NEEDS AND WHAT THE POTENTIAL HELPER IS ABLE TO DO. We must act with tact, softness, adaptability, respect and with concern for the individual. If the individual single is holding by doing his part to be MARRIAGEABLE AS WELL AS MARRIED, THEN - AND ONLY THEN - IT IS A HUGE MITZVA TO HELP AS MUCH AND AS ACTIVELY AS ONE CAN.