Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Is being single bad?

Is being single a bad thing? My first response to this would be, “Of course not, why would you even think it might be?” What prompted this question is when I notice lists of people to daven for and it says "For those who are sick," “for those who are unemployed,” and then "For those who need a shidduch." All on the same list. The first time I saw something like that I was a bit take aback. How can you compare someone who is ill and in need of a recovery or someone who is not able to put food on the table to someone who is single, who is perfectly healthy?

I’m not saying people shouldn’t daven for themselves or for singles to find a spouse, I think that davening is crucial. It just doesn’t seem it belongs on a list with categories of things that are truly terrible. Just because you’re not married doesn’t mean people have to pity you and feel bad for you.

But if being single is a good thing, then why daven to find a spouse at all? If this is what Hashem wants, why not just accept that and not daven? The truth is you could really ask that about davening in general. If Hashem always does what’s best for us, then why should we ask for anything? I’ve heard a bunch of answers, but basically Tefilla is supposed to change you, because you internalize the idea that everything comes from Hashem. It changes you and you become a different person who now deserves different things. The power of Tefilla is awesome- it’s incredible that we have the ability to do something to cause Hashem to change our lives.

Being single is good and being married is good too.
Sometimes I find it difficult to find the right balance. On the one hand I do want to get married, but on the other hand I enjoy being single. It's hard to feel both at the same time: To accept the way my life is right now yet to want to be in a different stage of life. If I really truly want to get married, shouldn't I be upset that I'm single? If I'm really truly happy with my life, how can I want to change it so drastically? Obviously I am able to feel both simultaneously, but I also feel the contradiction.


  1. "The test of a first rate intelligence is the ability to hold two opposed ideas in the mind at the same time, and still retain the ability to function."

    F. Scott Fitzgerald

  2. There was a debate along these lines on Bad4's blog a while back. I think the conclusion was along the lines of, "I enjoy being single, but would like to be married." Thankfully, we do not live in a black-and-white world. It is not a contradiction; you would be content in either state. Although, over time, one's preferences can change.

    As for davening, I have the same quandary. If the world is set up that we marry, then why must we daven for it? Hashem wants us to pair off and multiply. I don't remember the details of the story exactly, but a friend of the family went to a gadol, asking for a brocha for his four daughters in marriage. The gadol replied, "Do they want to get married?" The man said yes. The gadol responded, "Hashem wants that too! So what do you need the bracha for?"

    So I'm still not sure what I'm supposed to do.

    I heard this past Tisha B'Av Rabbi Gamliel saying how davening is not a complaint box. Davening is spending time with Hashem. That changed my perspective for the better.

  3. Yitzhak- nice quote.

    Bookworm- Although I agree that davening is not a "complaint box" as you put it, I do think that we are supposed to open our hearts up to Hashem and ask Him for everything that we want, no matter how insignificant it might seem.

    Sometimes Hashem wants things for us, but doesn't give them to us because He wants us to daven and build a relationship with him. Hashem wanted the Avos/Imahos to have children, but he desired their Tefillot. Of course Hashem wants us to get married. All the more reason to daven for it! Hashem wants us to be healthy- we daven for the sick. Hashem wants us to return to Him so He can send Mashiach- yet we daven for that too.

    I'm not sure who the Gadol in the story is, but a bracha is a type of Tefillah, and we daven for things even if (or I would say espcecially if) Hashem wants them for us as well.

  4. "How can you compare someone who is ill and in need of a recovery or someone who is not able to put food on the table to someone who is single, who is perfectly healthy?"

    For the most part getting married is not as important as health or eating but it is important. Getting married is something most people need to do and it's something Hashem wants us to do, so it's definitely an important thing to daven for. Being single is only good, if you want to be single, I don't think people who want to be single are putting their names on lists for people to daven for. Anyway, I'm not sure I buy that so many people love being single, I think that's something I would say so people won't pity me.

  5. BJG- interesting perspective. I think being single is good in the sense that it's what Hashem wants for me right now and also like you said- being single is not something that should be pitied. It's not that I love being single- I don't, other wise I wouldn't want to get married- but its more that even though I am single I am happy with my life the way it is right now.

  6. Bookworm - I wrote a response of sorts to that discussion between Bad4 and Profk: http://walkingthegreyline.blogspot.com/2010/01/time-to-be-single-time-to-wed.html

    Sterngrad - Anyway, being single isn't akin to a sickness at all! I've heard this point from several rabbeim/shiurim/books - that the different stages in life are there for a purpose. You can't accomplish certain things while single, and others can become missed opportunities once married if you don't take advantage of the time and energy available which single people have.

    Hence the proper tefillah really is something along the lines of asking to have the strength to be productive and growth oriented while single - to properly work on oneself in all those little areas that otherwise would be baggage brought into a marriage - and to meet the right person, and marry him/her at the proper time which HaShem has planned for you. In that respect, the personal reflective element of davening is exactly what you're talking about, Sterngrad.

    That's why it's so counterproductive for people to start reading dating/marriage/middos books after they get engaged - that really isn't enough time to get any real personal change accomplished. The time to do that is NOW when you're not engaged/married.

    People who mope around daydreaming about being married and just going on date after date without thinking about where they are holding in life and trying to better themselves are really wasting a lot of valuable time. True, you need to have reached a certain level of personal development to be able to even start thinking about marriage and dating - but that does not mean just because you've reached that threshhold that you can stop working on yourself and presume you're ready for a lifetime partnership as is. Dating can reveal a lot of personal deficiencies and areas that need improvement - so take heed of those lessons learned, meditate on them, and get to work!

  7. Shades of Grey- great comment, you make some very good points. I like what you said about the right Tefillah, that makes a lot of sense.

  8. Sterngrad: Just b/c something is a certain way, doesn't mean Hashem wants it to be that way. B/c we have free will, we can get ourselves into situations we shouldn't be in. It's too easy for me to say that I'm single b/c Hashem wants me to be. If I'm honest it might have more to do with the fact that I haven't done enough work to get dates. That's one reason we have to daven that we will know the right thing to do so that we can do what Hashem wants us to. I think your attitude is a good one though, there's no purpose in being miserable, enjoy the good parts of being single while you can.

  9. I know I'm responding to this way late, but here're my 2 cents.
    While being single is not physically endangering, I think that it is emotionally painful. Personally, I think emotional pain is way wore than physical pain.
    Perhaps most people don't feel it as much when they're in their early 20s, but being an older single is probably one of the most difficult nisyonot. They wonder if they're ever going to get married, if they'll ever have children, if they'll always live alone, stay frum alone -- always finding somewhere to go for Shabbat/chagim (if their family doesn't live close-by/isn't frum), being shomer negia, etc. and probably one of the most difficult parts: having to watch all of your friends get married and then start their own lives, that are way too busy for any single friends.
    Even though I'm not an older single, I don't enjoy being single. Yes, it's G-d's will right now, but in the mean time, it's difficult, frustrating, and lonely.

    And at the risk of sounding fluffy, a single person isn't a whole person. She or he is half of a person, who's missing that other half...


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