NEW YORK — Dear Reader, 

When speaking out to those close to me, I just get ridiculed. I am seen as an immature little boy who thinks that having a girlfriend would make everything better. Life would be rosy from then on. They assume I don’t understand the seriousness of marriage and the responsibilities it comes with.

But this is untrue.

My parents think that it is only I, that can’t keep from thinking about things that shouldn’t be on a bachur’s mind. All other boys are fine with waiting, seemingly with no issues. All other boys realize the value of growing up before marriage besides for me – a fool.


My parents don’t feel comfortable with me entering shidduchim at this age, but this seems wrong to me. I don’t see the advantage of losing productive years in which I can be bringing up a family. I don’t see the light in delaying the maturity that comes along with marriage. The love, happiness, and fulfilment of marriage is something I want, as well my friends do.

As I grow older, I just feel my inner flame die down. The youthfulness that pushes me to be the best I could, is losing its vigor. May I say that for these energies to continue I need to give my body its physical as well as its emotional nutrients? Is this taboo?

So why does marriage mean so much to me?

A few reasons.


I shouldn’t need to explain this, but it seems that some need it. There are many forms of love that are dissimilar from one another. For example the love of a brother and sister is different from the love of a parent to child.

At a certain age, when a boy stops being dependent on his parents and wants to build his own life, he needs a partner. This love is a form of union that cannot be replaced with parents’ love or friendships.

This union is meant to help a person grow into what he wants to be. It is NOT meant for fully grown and perfected people. The perfect man, were it to exist, would not need a wife. (I believe I heard that from R’ Miller.)

The young adult years of a man’s life set the path for the rest of his life. There may be people that believe for this reason, that it is better to hold bachurim hostage. Not allowing them to veer off the beaten path, holding them until they are firmly settled. Not so is the view of the Almighty. For success in His world we need to follow His instructions.

טובים השנים מן האחד אשר יש להם שכר טוב בעמלם (קהלת ד,ט)

רש”י: “טובים השנים” – לכל דבר מן האחד לפיכך יקנה לו אדם חבר וישא אשה אשר יש להם יותר ריוח בעמלם. הרבה מלאכה נעשית בשנים שאין היחיד מתחיל בה לבדו.

Notice how Rashi doesn’t say that what a single person starts won’t be successful. Rather he says the single won’t start. He lacks the courage to start and potentially fail. He lacks the motivation needed for success. This refers to all types of success in this world, whether in Torah or in any other area.

This is one of first lessons taught in the Torah; לא טוב האדם להיות לבדו. (Although Rashi says a different pshat, the אבן עזרא refers you to the pasuk quoted above.)


טוב לגבר כי־ישא עול בנעוריו.

ילקוט שמעוני: עול תורה ואשה.

The simple reading of this Medrash is that it is good to marry young. But it is deeper than that. It is important for a man to take on responsibilities when he is young. Even if the primary responsibility of a man is the yoke of Torah, he must take on other responsibilities to become responsible. (All the mafarshim on this pasuk explain that it is referring to the yoke of Torah.)

These days a bachur has no responsibilities whatsoever. He can live like a pig if he so wishes, and someone else will clean up his messes. He doesn’t earn his own living; his parents/yeshiva take care of his every need. His only responsibility is to himself; to make something of himself.

The problem here is, as we just pointed out from the Medrash. A person needs other responsibilities to make him responsible. Although a person can technically gain perfection by thought alone, it is nearly impossible. He needs to be put in a situation where he will naturally be inclined to better himself. He will still need to choose, but that situation is much more conducive for the right choice.

An easy example would be a businessman. Although his motives are for money alone, the journey naturally changes him in many positive ways. (Maybe negative ways as well, but that’s not the point here.) This is a classic application of what the Mesilas Yesharim says, החיצוניות מעוררת את הפנימיות. When a person acts responsibly, he becomes a responsible person.

So waiting for a boy to become responsible, in a time and place where it is totally unnecessary, is absurd. It simply will not happen. He needs to take on responsibilities and will grow responsible as a result. The current environment is far more conducive for the opposite. It offers the opportunity to become more entrenched in entitlement mentality, a close relative of laziness.

Only once a person is responsible because of his situation, and the choices made in those situations, would he have the tools to take upon himself other responsibilities like the big responsibility of becoming something. I want responsibilities, as I want to become something. Getting married at this young age is a large step in the right direction. 


Many of the women readers may know little of the reality on the ground regarding this topic. It is pleasant to think that all our boys are pure as snow, and I wish it were so. However, for the sake of this discussion, I’m afraid that fantasy needs to be shattered. (I am not saying they are terrible, I am just saying we are human.)

I personally know countless bachurim that had big issues with this. Among them are boys that learned in Beis Medrash day and night, and didn’t have smartphones. (Shocker: the יצר הרע was born before 2010!)

On a lesser level, this issue affects almost all bachurim, especially in our generation. This problem is a lot more real than many wish to admit. In chassidish circles there is more of an emphasis on this issue, but in the circles where I grew up it is never mentioned.

The Talmud says that when the great Rav Huna was niftar, they were deciding where he should be buried. They concluded that he should be buried in the same cave as Rav Chiya because they both had thousands of students. Of all the talmidim gathered, no one was willing to enter the cave besides for one by the name of Rav Chaga. His reasoning was as follows:

“I will enter and not be harmed because I came to learn by Rav Huna at the age of 18, delayed married (past 18), and never saw קרי all those years. Plus I know everything he taught…”

Of all those present, he was the only one that could vouch for himself that he didn’t have illicit thoughts that cause קרי. He also emphasized how unique this was because of his older age – 18! We see here clearly, as well in many other places throughout the Talmud, that this is far from a new problem.

So how bad are bad thoughts and the actions that follow? Is it worth getting married to avoid years of potential sin? Let me quote for you a few lessons that the Talmud teaches and you can decide for yourself.

R’ Yochanan said that one who is מוציא זרע לבטלה is liable for death… Rav Yitzchak said he is likened to a murderer…. Rav Asi said he is likened to an Idolator… One who leads himself in this direction should be put in niduy…. He is not allowed in the Mechitza of Hashem… His hand should be cut off. (Niddah 13 a-b)

The Talmud debates if this last one is meant literally. Is it that we should chop his hand off or is it merely a curse? Although the Talmud conclude that it is just a curse, we can see the severity of this issue in the eyes of our sages.

In the words of the Shulchan Aruch (E”H 23:1) “this single sin is worse than any other.”

The Gemara in Kiddushin relates how Rav Chisda spoke very highly of Rav Hamnuna to Rav Huna. When Rav Huna finally met with Rav Hamnuna, he realized that he was more than 20 years old and single; he immediately turned his face away, and scolded him. Rav Huna didn’t want to see his face until he got married.

The Maharsha explains the reason for this harsh reaction is because it is forbidden to look at the face of a rasha. Rav Huna assumed that anyone who is over 20 and single, is doing things that would give him the status of a rasha.

It is worth noting here that a woman, even a married one, cannot possibly understand the yetzer hora of a bachur. It is far deeper than tznius matters, and affects many facets of life. You must also realize that the yetzer hora doesn’t come from seeing bad things. It is built in naturally, (for good reason) it cannot be avoided, and only gets worse from seeing improper things. Blaming the issue on technology is ignoring the obvious. Obviously the best way to deal with a problem is to fix it. In this case, to give the boy the physical and emotional needs that come with his age.


Any practicing Jew needs to follow the laws set forth in the Torah. Even if many people don’t follow a specific halacha, it does not let us off the hook. In fact, following earlier generations in something that they did wrong only makes us get punished for their sins on top of our own. As the pasuk says פֹּקֵד עֲוֺן אָבוֹת עַל-בָּנִים וְעַל-בְּנֵי בָנִים, עַל-שִׁלֵּשִׁים וְעַל-רִבֵּעִים. Hashem punishes one generation for the sins of the past one, if they too continue doing those same sins/mistakes.

So what is the halacha?

The Talmud (kiddushin 29b) says: Rav Huna said that anyone that doesn’t marry before twenty will remain with thoughts of sin his entire life. (That is even after he gets married.) A Breisa taught: Until one reaches the age of twenty years הקב”ה sits and waits for a man, saying: “When will he marry a woman?” Once he reaches the age of twenty and has not married, He says: תיפח עצמותיו””, Let his bones swell, i.e., he is cursed and God is no longer concerned about him.

Based on this the Rambam (Ishus 15:2) rules that one who waits until he is twenty years old has forfeited the Mitzva of Pru Urvu.

Shulchan Aruch: Every man is obligated to marry a woman in order to be fruitful, and to multiply. Anyone who doesn’t engage in פרו ורבו is as if he spills blood, and lessens the appearance (not sure what this means), and causes the divine presence to depart from Israel. Rem”a: He who does not marry is living without blessing without Torah etc. and he is not called a man, conversely, when a man does marry, his sins are cast, as it is said: “One who has found a wife has found goodness and obtains favor in the eyes of God.”

Shulchan Aruch: It is incumbent on every man that they should marry a woman at the age of 18 and the diligent get married at 13 and this mitzvah is for those who choose it …. If 20 years go by and he has not taken a wife and he who lets 20 years pass, the courts can force him to marry in order to fulfill the mitzvah. Rem”a: In this time, the custom is that Beis Din does not force in regards to this. (The reason we don’t force is not because it’s okay, but rather because we don’t have/use the powers of Beis Din completely.)

There is not a single posek that I am aware of that disagrees with any of the above.

There is a well-known heter from the Talmud, which is if someone is engaged in Torah learning he may delay marriage. This heter is also quoted in Shulchan Aruch. However, there are two conditions that need to be met for this: 1. He would not be able to learn after his wedding because he will need to work all day to support his family. 2. He does not have any illicit thoughts.

Both of these conditions are clear in the Gemara. The first condition is not met for the average yeshiva bachur that plans on learning in Kollel, and that his wife will work to support them. (See Gr”a s”k 8 quote from Ran.) The second condition is almost never met, as explained earlier.

When these conditions are not met, one is prohibited to postpone marriage, even if they wish to learn Torah. This would be equal to someone that would turn on a light on Shabbos to be able to learn. (Note: There are other poskim that hold that this heter doesn’t apply for other reasons these days. See Teshuvas Maharam Mintz quoted by R’ Akiva Eiger ibid.)

I will quote some more recent poskim to bring out that anyone you ever trust in regards to halacha agrees to the above.

-וכיון שרוב האנשים יכולים ללמוד כראוי בזמן הלימוד, והטרדה בפרנסה לא מפריע להם בזמן הלימוד וכן הרבה אנשים מוציאים נשים שמתפרנסות ממעשה ידיהם לכן אסור להם לאחר את הנישואין. (דברות משה קידושין סי’ מג)

-חייב אדם לישא עד גיל עשרים ואז לא צריך לבקש זכויות כדי להינצל מהעונש המובא בגמרא [תיפח וחיוב מיתה בידי שמים המובא במדרש קהלת] והוא דבר ברור לדינא (אג”מ אבן העזר ב סי’ א)

-כשמאחר אחר שהגיע לשנת עשרים הקב”ה כועס עליו מאד…. וכל יום ויום שמאחר שלא מחמת אונס עובר בעשה מן התורה…. וגם פעמים רבות בא ע”י עיכוב הנישואין למחלות גדולות …. ולפעמים גורם עון זה למיתת בנים קטנים שיולדו לו אח”כ כמו שכתוב בספרים. (חפץ חיים, בספר נדכי ישראל פרק כה)

Others that hold strongly this way include, the Aruch Hashulchan, Chazon Ish, Stiepler, R’ Chaim Kanievsky (I myself sent him a letter. In the letter I wrote that I had older brothers still single, and my Rosh Yeshiva didn’t allow dating. He still told me that I must get married as stated in halacha.), R’ A.L Shtienman, R’ S.Z. Aurbach, and just about any rabbi you have ever heard of.

Lest someone tell you of a respected posek which argues (not that I know of any), his words should be weighed against all the poskim mentioned above plus many more.

What is the parents’ role in this?

As a son, it is hardly my place to tell parents, let alone my parents what to do. However I will write what the Talmud teaches for the earnest, to heed its timeless words.

The Talmud says that a father is obligated to marry off his son. This obligation is one of the only five things a father actually owes to a child. The list includes ברית מילה, פדיון הבן, ללמדו תורה, ללמדו אומנות, ולהשיאו אשה. The first are easily understood, as the child is not old enough to take care of these things.

The other three are explained simply. If a child doesn’t have these things, he is bound for failure. If he doesn’t know basic chumash (which is the extent of this obligation), he will not know how to learn to lead a kosher Jewish life. If he doesn’t know a craft, he will in all likelihood steal from others for his daily needs. And if he doesn’t have a wife in time, he will always have illicit thoughts for the rest of his life. This, in the eyes of the Torah is a failure of life.

The importance of these 3 things is so, that the Torah considers it wrong of a father to bear children if these needs will be (willfully) neglected. If the child will be reared in a way that his life is headed for failure, everyone could understand that it is incorrect to bring him to this world in the first place. Everything else beyond these basic Jewish needs, the child is expected to attain on his own. This includes Chinuch in mitzvos, which is definitely important, but is only a rabbinic decree. Compared to these three which some opine are biblical.   

Although a mother is exempt from these obligations, I would assume it to be her duty to help her husband in his G-dly work. More importantly, a mother should wish to help her son be the best he could. Obligated or not, this should definitely be high on her list of priorities.

Then there is another angle. This is for parents that not only don’t encourage their children to follow in the way Hashem commanded, but don’t let their children go into shidduchim younger. This in my view is חוטא ומחטיא את הרבים. I believe this would apply to anyone in a position of power and/or influence. Even with correct intentions, persuading another not to do a mitzvah, is a terrible thing. (Obviously this doesn’t apply where the Halacha dictates otherwise.)

I wouldn’t say I don’t understand the parents at all. We usually assume that what most people are doing is the right thing. They may even assume that to let their foolish teen get married at this young age is irresponsible. They think that G-d forbid in case of a divorce it would be them who gets the blame. In the court of public opinion this is likely 100% correct. The heavenly court however, doesn’t rule this way.


Although I say that my parents are not taking this seriously as of now, it is not without reason. I am told that although I am right, no one will marry me. Sadly there is truth to this. However it is not true enough to exonerate oneself from this duty for the following reasons.

1. Many people agree that we get married too late. Even if they wouldn’t do different themselves they wouldn’t say no to a shidduch because of that. They would likely just do a little extra research to make sure everything is okay.

2. In our day and age, girls don’t get as many yeses. The average parent would not say no because of age without doing more research. Also the girl herself may be only 18 or 19. Most parents won’t completely ignore a prospect just because he is younger than others.

3. If push comes to shove, you could change the birthday on the resume to a year earlier and no one will know or care. On a date you can share the truth about your age as many do with something like a medical condition. If this is allowed or not, you would need to consult your Rav.

4. Is it nothing if you try to do the right thing but get shut down? Is that not the will of G-d that we do our part, and let Him do His – however He decides? He generally helps those that go in His ways, and if not, we will accept His will dutifully.

By now my point should be clear. My plea is simple. This goes out to all parents that consider themselves to be servants of Hashem and loyalists to His Torah. Please help your sons marry at the appropriate age! Your sons will make you many times prouder than if you make them lose such valuable and productive years of life.

There is a fire that gets extinguished in these wasted years. בטלה מביא לידי זימה ושעמום! Just think about all the wasted bein hazmanim and bein hasdarim time, and let me tell you that it does no good. Many bachurim lose what they have gained in their younger years as they go through this. It’s a pity.

I know that it may not be considered the normal thing to do. I also know that it is supremely important. The Medrash says that those that postpone marriage past 20 deserve to die. On a more positive note, we could assume the reverse to be true as well. Those that do get married young in the face of opposition, or those that assist them should be zoche to a long life!

The Talmud (Niddah 13b) says that one who marries a young girl who is not old enough to bear children causes Moshiach to be delayed. This is because Moshiach will only come once all the Neshamos were born, and he is delaying their birth. We see from here that delaying marriage, which has the same effect, is even holding back Mashiach from coming!

The עיון יעקב in סנהדרין says that the expression תיפח עצמותיו used in reference to someone that delays marriage connotes not getting up by תחית המתים. This is due to the above reason. Because he delayed the coming of משיח and the תחית המתים that is associated with it, he doesn’t deserve to merit תחית המתים. (The only 2 places that I am aware of that this expression is used is by those that marry after 20, and those that deny תחית המתים.)

My hope is that at some level I succeeded in relaying the importance of this issue in the eyes of the Torah. However I need to point out that today it is even more important for a few reasons. The obvious one is technology which makes the job of the yetzer hora easier. Another thing is the fact that this mitzvah is not done properly by so many people. This leaves open a great opportunity. Realize that this terrible sin will not continue forever; it will end in the not too distant future. Here is a chance to have a part in the change, and collect reward long after we are gone.

There are so many things to be said on these and related matters, but this letter has gone on far too long. There is however one more piece of Talmud that comes to mind.

When Moshe Rabeinu asked Hashem הראיני נא את כבודך, Hashem responded that it isn’t possible for a human to survive such a revelation. The Talmud (ברכות ז) teaches that Hashem’s reaction to this request was a rebuke. “When I wanted (by the סנא) you didn’t want. Now that you want I don’t want.”

There is a profound lesson to be learned here. Hashem gives a person all he needs to do His will. However those tools, and that סיעתא דשמיא, doesn’t necessarily last forever. When it is the time for a boy to get married Hashem prepares him with all he needs to do so. This may include a certain naïveté, immaturity, and strong desires. These things, although not always good, help a person want marriage and more easily adapt to living with a wife.  When the time passes there is no guarantee that Hashem will help him. From this time on, finding a match may just get harder. This is very important to me, as well it should.  

To be honest dear reader, I am not single anymore. I am married with a beautiful family of my own. This letter is pouring out the feelings and thoughts that were with me for years until I finally did get married. These years, long in the rear view mirror were very hard for me. I am not looking to blame anyone at this point, as there is no gain from that. So why do I write?

I have a younger brother who is 18. He wants what I did, and can’t ask for it. Ridicule is all that is offered to a young man that simply wants a happy life. This must change, and I am trying to be the “mature” voice that will speak up for him.

Please heed the call of Hashem “מתי ישא אשה! מתי ישא אשה!”!

עשה רצונו כרצונך, כדי שיעשה רצונך כרצונו. בטל רצונך מפני רצונו, כדי שיבטל רצון אחרים מפני רצונך. 

May we all see the final redemption speedily in our days.

Akiva Lehman.

As reported by Vos Iz Neias