By: Rabbi Shalom Arush
Translated by Rabbi Lazer Brody
Dear Rabbi Arush,
I’m a 21-year old student in a yeshiva for English-speaking Baalei Teshuva. I gave up a scholarship to university to learn Torah fulltime, and I have been learning for a little more than two years now. Recently, someone suggested a shidduch that seems to be very appropriate. I asked my rabbi here at the yeshiva, and he said I’m not ready and I should be learning for at least another year or two before I even listen to prospective marital proposals. I don’t want to dispute with my rabbi, Heaven forbid, but my heart tells me that he’s not right on this matter. I know that you are extremely busy, but I’m writing for your guidance and opinion. What’s more, I’m sure that there are many other people in my situation who could benefit from your answer. With utmost respect and appreciation, Joshua from NJ
Your letter is of utmost importance and I’m glad you wrote.
Don’t be angry at your rabbi. He cannot teach you what his rabbis did not teach him. Many rabbis and teachers within the Yeshiva world never learned the profound importance of learning in holiness or the priceless value of every day of holiness.
Many think that marrying young is a Chassidish practice and that Torah scholars should emulate Ben Azai and delay marriage. The Torah giants of Judaism don’t agree. The Steipler Rav, of blessed and saintly memory, moaned the phenomena of the many older and unmarried Yeshiva students, and encouraged people to get married while they’re young. Why? Marriage teaches us character development, compromise, understanding, consideration and self-improvement. You don’t develop good character by staying single. If one learns Torah with uncorrected character traits and arrogance – both of which must be corrected to be happily married – his Torah learning will go to fueling his ego even further. Rebbe Shimon bar Yochai warns against this in the Zohar.
I appreciate the fact that your rabbi thinks that you should have more Gemara, Halacha and Torah-learning skills under your belt before you get married. Yet, the value of one day’s learning in holiness will override a month of learning as a bachelor. Marrying young and personal holiness are so vital that I wrote about it in three of my books – The Garden of Wisdom, The Garden of Peace and the Garden of Purity. Also, many of my inspirational pamphlets and CDs speak about this. I urge you – and your rabbi – to read them. In the meanwhile though, I’ll summarize eight important reasons why you should not delay finding a soul-mate as soon as possible and getting married:
1. Our sages teach us not to delay doing a mitzvah once we have the opportunity to perform the mitzvah. The Torah’s first command to mankind is, “Be fruitful and multiply.” As with every other mitzvah, we should strive to fulfill the commandment of marriage and starting a family as soon as possible.
2. Our sages teach that a person must marry before the age of twenty to maintain a pure mind. Why? A man who marries young is far more capable of maintaining personal holiness, or tikkun habrit, which is conducive to every blessing in life – good income, success, peace of mind and especially Torah learning. Even though you’ve already passed the age of 20, it’s not too late to benefit from the blessings of getting married early – you’re certainly ready.
3. An unmarried person is not a whole person, for he or she lacks a soul mate from whom he or she can derive tremendous strength and gratification. Therefore, a person should marry as soon as he or she is mature enough. The claims that one should first complete higher education, learn more Torah or save the needed funds are erroneous. Indeed, a married person is much more settled and serious as far as Torah and professional learning go. Not only in Yeshiva, but even in university or professional school, married men can concentrate on their studies rather than on other things that occupy – even monopolize – a single young person’s thoughts.
4. The greats of Israel almost all married at a young age. Not only did marriage not hinder their personal and spiritual growth, but it helped them become great. Rebbe Nachman himself married at the age of 13, and so did Rebbe Natan. True, that was a different generation, but you get the point – every day of holiness is priceless.
5. A couple living in holiness is the ideal vessel for abundance, whereas single people are not.
6. Since a married person must provide for a wife and children, he gives Hashem the reasons to give him the blessings of an income and livelihood, as well as good character.
7. Marriage gives a person stability and motivation. A married person has a reason to apply himself. He’s much more serious and mature and less confused and swayed.
8. The younger a person is, the more adaptable he or she is to a spouse. Younger parents often have a closer rapport with their children.
Consider the above and I’m sure you’ll make the right decision. You have my blessing for finding a wonderful soul-mate and building a beautiful home of emuna, Torah, love and loving-kindness.
With blessings always, Shalom Arush