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Do 20+ Singles Violate Halachah?

Does the practice of 20+ year-old single men not in yeshiva violate halacha?


In principle, the age for marriage is 18, as mandated by the Mishnah (Avos 5:21). By that age, a person is expected to have moulded his personality and studied sufficiently to enable his marriage. However, a person is permitted to delay his wedding for the sake of Torah study (Shulchan Aruch, Even Ha’ezer 1:3), even past the age of 20, which the Gemara cites as a “deadline” for marriage (Kiddushin 29b). Some permit the postponement of marriage until the age of 24, and no further (Yam Shem Shlomo, Kiddushin).

It thus emerges that past the age of 20 there is no halachic permission for a person to remain single, unless he is immersed in Torah study. However, the foundation for even marriage is shalom bayis, and harmony in the home cannot be achieved unless the partners to it are mature enough to enter the deep relationship of marriage. Questions of emotional maturity, of the ability to financially sustain the home, and, of course, of finding the right bride, therefore play an important role in determining the age of marriage.

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  1. Hi. Im not quite following the terminology “deadline”…”permit postponement”….it makes it sound as if the boy or girl control their shidduch fate! its not like bar mitzva, once you hit 13, the boy is officially bar mitzva age responsible for torah and mitzvos whether he likes it or not….
    in this case, the boy cannot force a girl to marry him and vice versa to meet the “deadline”
    so what is the gemara implying when it offers age limits?

    1. Of course, the word “deadline” and the like only refer to the obligation of a boy to make a reasonable attempt at finding a bride and getting married. If his attempts fail, for one reason or another, then he will surely not be held accountable. The point is only that he is obligated to try.

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