Jul 25, 2013

Child Brides

I was reminded of this old post: here,  when I read an article that referred to the letter that Rabbi Akiva Eiger (1761–1837) wrote after his first wife, whom he married when he was 16, passed away.  As a side point, I wonder why this very personal letter has been made public but, be that as it may, he was 34 and had one married child and three single children.

When he remarried, it was to his 16 year old niece.  They were married for 39 years and he survived her too!

I wonder how the second shidduch came to be.  When he first married at 16, his wife was very close in age to him, but in the second marriage, the age difference was so large.  Why would a 16 year old girl be married off to a widower with children? Was it because of his stature, that she and her family were thrilled to be doing such a chashuve shidduch?

1 comment:

  1. A large age gap, and marrying under 18, are two separate issues, which you seem to be mixing here.

    I think that part of the reason we find it hard to relate to these things is that we are viewing the past from the lens of modern society, in which gender roles have become very blurred, divorce is no longer stigmatized, and marriage is viewed as an optional extra, not a necessity. In previous times, when the bonds of marriage were much firmer, larger age gaps and younger ages of marriage could work. Nowadays, at least in the western world, it seems that they can't, or at least, they're far more risky.

    Re age of marriage, Torah doesn't clearly state that any age above 12 is inherently inappropriate for marriage. It depends on the maturity of the girl, on the culture, and so on.

    In modern times, a girl below 18 is considered incapable of consenting to marriage, but is considered capable of consenting to promiscuity, and is even in effect encouraged to do so by mandatory "education" on how to be promiscuous without getting pregnant. What a shameful double standard.