Saturday, December 20, 2008

"Religion Aside..."

The topics of abortion and gay marriage arose in casual conversation with some friends recently.
Since I always like to hear how people feel about things, I asked my friends their thoughts.
"Well, it's assur," my friend stated matter-of-factly. She mentioned that she hadn't come up with a position on those issues since she didn't give her license to think about these things. The Torah did it for her.

"Okay, well, religion aside..." I began. For her, there was no such thing.

I know that the Torah is our primary source for, well, everything.
And, I don't plan on marrying a woman anytime soon.

But what if I'd say I don't mind if two men get married?

Sure, that's against the Torah. But do I have a right to think outside Torah? May I think "religion aside, it's okay for two men to get married"? Or was I wrong for even entertaining such a thought, weighing the pros and cons...because our religion is against it?

When living in America, anywhere, for that matter in 2008, we come across many ideas that disagree with what the Torah says. I by no means encourage violating Halacha and the mitzvos in the Torah.

When I think about these issues, sure, I know that they're halachically assur. But I want to have formed that opinion on my own.

Again, that doesn't mean I'm running to violate these halachos.

So why is it wrong to put halacha aside and think about these things in a theoretical sense?

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Thoughts On NASI

N.A.S.I. -- It stands for North American Shidduch Initiative.

For those not familiar, let me attempt to explain the concept. According to them, the Shidduch Crisis is caused by the large age gap between husbands and wives.

With the population increasing, Baruch Hashem, about 4% each year, there are more 18-year-old girls than they are 23-year-old girls. Aaaand, thus more 18-year old girls than there are 23-year-old guys.

So if the logic that there's an even number of guys and girls of each age holds water, then, yes, bridging the age gap would pair up more couples close in age, thereby having more people available to others.

Part of their campaign, besides for paying shadchanim whose successful matches involve couples close in age, is to get the word out there, the awareness out there, that it's OKAY to date someone close in age to you.

The incentive offered to shadchanim to paired couples in which the girl is older than the guy is approximately $2,000.(I believe that due the economic downturn they changed it to $1,300.)

Through this initiative, boys' mothers have been less reluctant to allow their sons to date young women closer in age to them.

After Googling the Shidduch Initiative, I found this on, and copied and pasted the portion I found relevant in explaining the numerical disparity.

"Note that if boys age 22 want to marry girls who are 20-years-old, there will 5000 boys searching for a shidduch from a pool of 5200 girls. This means that 200 girls will be left without a shidduch, and all 5200 girls age 20 will be going through a crisis, since all 5200 are “competing” for the same 5000 boys. This is besides the renewed agony of the 22-year-old girls who are the “leftovers” of the past two years, and are now being rejected by the 22-year-old boys. This scenario will be multiplied yearly as boys search in a larger pool and reject those in their own age group.
"Now comes the conclusion you can draw from all of this: If boys would marry girls their own age, there would be no disparity at all – you’d have e.g. 5100 boys age 21 for 5100 girls age 21, etc."

Their idea is not a bad one.

They have good intentions. However, I have two complaints:

1- How many 19-year-old guys have you met that are ready to get married? By the time the girls hit 19, panic has set in. But dating 19-year-old guys makes no sense.

Even at the ripe old age of 22, the same-age guys I went out with felt like I was dating my little brother. They admitted that they felt they wanted to be kids forever. Yes, there are some mature 22-year-old guys, but the majority are not ready to get married.

Now that I'm 23, I think there'd be less of a maturity difference with guys my age. But these girls would rather have 4 root canal than turn 23 and still be single.

2- The economic crisis has hit a large percentage of Americans...that includes Jews.
When large corporations such as CitiGroup, Merrill Lynch, and others lay off workers, many are bound to be frum Jews. We know that the cost of living, especially in New York, even without luxuries, is extremely high.

I have a certain amount of Ma'aser money that I can give, and some discretionary spending as well to contribute. If I have a choice, I am giving organizations that help people feed their families. Families who never had to ask for anything in their lives are now in awful situations, and whatever limited funds are available from any donors should certainly go there.
Big donors are no longer "big donors" and give whatever they can.
Granted, there are other worthy causes: RCCS, Bonei Olam, etc.

So why in these economic times would I pay off a shadchan because she managed to beg some 24-year-old guy to give a girl his age a chance?!! He should have had that common sense to begin with.

Some might argue that these shadchanim could probably use the extra funds. That's true. But I prefer to give it to organizations that help people put food on the table, and other things.