Friday, August 15, 2008

Nachamu: Single?

One can say the Jewish analog to “Spring is here and a man’s thoughts turn to…..” would be this period between Tu B’av and Yom Kippur, bookended by the Dancing of the Girls in White. (Nowadays, one can say this season extends to Simchas Torah, especially on the upper west side.)

I’ve been known to put a Churcillian spin on the upper west side: it’s the worst place for a religious single person to live, except for all the other places. I’ve lived up there for 12 years now, and I can emphatically say that the neighborhood is NOT to blame for my unmarried “predicament”.

And that’s the point I’m trying to make. This “predicament”—singlehood and the consequent delaying of marriage, irrespective of the fact that it slows down the kilui neshamos min ha-guf—does NOT a crisis make.

I think what the well-meaning crisismongers have to realize is that while today’s singles may be “pickier”, or more materialistic, or less “spiritual” than our ancestors (dubious assertions at best, but lets assume their partial truth just for the sake of argument), they forget that what probably scares us most is the actual unrealized depth of our commitment to the Orthodox Jewish lifestyle, a lifestyle that incurs extraordinary expense and diligence. We may not be picky as much as we are smart: if we’re going to make it work the way it has to, we had better make sure we pick the correct partner.

A further irony can be found just in the title of a book written by the founder of Speed Dating: it’s called The Death Of Cupid. This irony is especially delicious, because aside from using a Greco-Roman avoda zara as the avatar of romantic love, it is frum culture that is much more responsible for the death of notions of romantic love among its adherents than any secular cultural force. For millennia, the system of shidduchim and/or marrying one’s cousin or niece was supposed to be a bulwark against romantic frivolities seeping into the bayis ne’eman. And now suddenly it’s a good thing?

There is a reason that religious authorities lack credibility in matters of the heart. So I would say this to them:

We want to marry.

We'll do it when we think we're ready.

In the meantime, leave us alone.


Ayelet Survivor said...

Spoken like a true West Side guy.

Baraness said...

Spoken like - a true - and thinking man. Labels are unnecessary.