Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Rav Dovid Eidensohn Tel Conf #18 Wednesday Sept 2 9:30 PM - Older Singles and Marrying from Pressure

 call 605-562-3130 then code 411161#

The Shulchan Aruch beginning of Even Hoezer tells that in early generations a man past twenty who was not pursuing marriage properly was brought to Beth Din and instructed to get married. 

Now, this can make a lot of problems. Let us say that in a certain town an older man can only marry people he doesn’t want to marry. Can he be forced to marry someone against his will?

We had a case like this with the brother-in-law of the Baal Shem Tov. Reb Gershon Kitover. In his older years he went to live in Israel, in Jerusalem, where the Orach Chaim HaKodosh, considered the greatest saint of his time, was the Rov. The Orach Chaim honored him with being the Baal Tefila for Rosh HaShana. But then Reb Gershon was told that the rule in Jerusalem was that nobody was allowed to live there as a single. There are letters that Reb Gershon wrote about this, and he asked, How can I marry somebody from a different world? It is not known what happened. But this kind of a problem surely existed in earlier generations. And when people were forced to marry without wanting their partner, only problems could result. 

The problems were so strong that the Beth Dins eventually surrendered and did not force people to marry. Some offered proofs that today we don’t force marriages. But others disagreed and said we must have marriage. But if by so doing the Beth Din will create a constant ruckus that destroys the Honor of the Torah, it may be prudent to refrain from this forcing of marriages. Still others maintained that even today marriage should be coerced.


  1. Even if a beis din or rabbonim felt that they should and could force a single person to marry, if the both the proposed groom and the proposed bride were opposed to their getting married to each other, how could they be forced? The bride needs to be willing according to halacha, no? So if they both say no I don't see how they could be forced by even a beis din or rabbonim.

  2. Do you actually have sources that say that at one time, normal marriages between two adults could be and were forced? I'd be interested to see them.

  3. This goy that asked a Tanna, what is Hashem occupied in these moments? He replied, yoshev umezaveg zivugim, pairing couples for marriage. The goy says, what's the big deal, I can do that without a hitch. So he did, only the next morning finding them with gouged eyes, broken noses etc. So he admittred that it's not as easy as he originally thought. Imagine that beachlor and bachlorette Shul on the upper West side having over a thousand members and going strong. We are talking about zekeinim muflogim + - 65 Some are not meant for marriage, and don't want ever to get married. And so it goes.

  4. David,
    That is a very good point. But the halalcha of forcing is only when the husband stops looking. As long as he is looking sincerely he is not so pressured. See Otsar HaPoskim on the halacha about forcing that it applies only to one who is not looking, but one who looks but doesn't find the right one he is not forced to marry. I am sorry that I didn't bring this out. Also, if a person can find a better match that will bring him a greater spiritual level this is also a reason that he is not coerced, see there. Thus, the pressure is only when a person turns twenty and is not actively searching. But if a person has evil thoughts I don't know what has to be done. And if the person despairs of finding what he wants but hopes something will turn up I don't know what would happen then.


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