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Wedding Time

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Topic: Marriagiable Age

Mrs. G. wrote:

Dear Rabbi,

Isn't 20 the recommended age for a young man to wed? It is not necessarily the best age, but I believe that is the age many orthodox Jews consider.

Dear Mrs. G.,

The Mishna says "Ben shemona esrei l'chupa" -- an eighteen year old to the marriage canopy. The Talmud says that if the young man isn't married by 18 "G-d waits for him until he's twenty, and if he's not married by 20, then G-d says 'blast his bones.' " (free translation)

But there's a joke making the rounds these days: "What's the difference between men and 30 year bonds? Bonds mature."

There's truth in jest. In our day, many people -- women as well as men -- seem too immature to wed at 18.

But in the ideal world, an 18 year old would be mature enough to marry. By then, both boy and girl should have learned that life is about giving, which is the secret for a successful marriage. Indeed, in lots of orthodox circles 20 is the age when many marry, and even before, and these "youngsters" create dynamic, successful links in the chain of Judaism.

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