Right Age to Marry

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  1. Men have an obligation to procreate[1] and an additional obligation to marry even if he has already fulfilled his obligation to procreate[2]. Men may not unnecessarily prolong singlehood[3].
  2. Women are exempt from the obligation to procreate[4] and thus may have no obligation to marry[5].
  3. Although men become obligated to perform mitzvot upon reaching majority (age 13), learning Torah takes priority over marriage until age 18, and thus men have no obligation to marry beforehand[6].
  4. Ideally, a man should marry before age 20 while continuing to learn Torah; however, if one finds it impossible to do both, due to the financial burden of sustaining a family, learning Torah takes precedence and he may delay marriage past age 20.[7] It is unclear how long such delay may extend:[8] some suggest that one may continue learning until he feels satisfied with the amount of Torah he has learned,[9] while others suggest an absolute limit of age 24.[10]
  5. If an unmarried man finds it impossible to avoid experiencing hirhurim, marriage takes precedence over learning Torah.[11] It is forbidden to fantasize about sinning.[12]
  6. If one truly loves learning Torah to the extent that Ben Azai did[13] and is totally devoted to the Torah, he is not prohibited from delaying marriage indefinitely, provided that his sexual desire does not overcome him;[14] nevertheless, one should not do so.[15] Ben Azai’s example is exceptional; such people are extremely rare.[16]
  7. One may delay marriage until he can find a suitable or compatible wife.[17]

Livelihood

  1. Ideally, one should attain a livelihood before marriage[18].

Older Siblings

  1. It is permissible for a younger brother to get married before his older brother. Yet, sometimes it is advisable for the younger brother to wait in finding a shidduch until his older brother already found his shidduch. In these cases, it is proper to ask a Rabbi for personal advise and pesak.[19]

Sources

  1. Yevamos 65b. Shulchan Aruch Even Haezer 1:1 and 1:5 mentions that a man should endeavor to father at least one boy and one girl.
  2. Yevamos 61b; Shulchan Aruch, Even Haezer 1:8.
  3. Tosefta, Yevamos 8:2.
  4. Yevamos 65b
  5. Tosefta, Yevamos 8:2; Shulchan Aruch, Even Haezer, 1:13. However, see Rama (ibid.) and Sanhedrin 76a-76b.
  6. Shulchan Aruch, Even Haezer 1:3; Chelkas Mechokeik, EH 1:2. Cf. Rambam, Hilchos Ishus 15:2.
    • The mishna in pirkei avot 5:21 states that a person should endeavor to get married at 18. The Rambam (Ishut 15:2) interestingly deviates from the mishna and writes that a person should endeavor to get married at 17. The Maggid Mishna (ad loc.) explains that in fact the Rambam agrees but just means after a person has lived 17 complete years and is 18, he is obligated to get married. The Mishna Halachot 9:240 explains that in fact the Rambam agrees with the Mishna but understands that it takes a year to find a suitable spouse and get married; at 17, he should be involved in finding a spouse and at 18 get married. The Gemara Kiddushin 29b emphatically states that a person may not delay beyond 20 before getting married and if he does he is cursed by Hashem. This is codified by the Rambam (Ishut 15:2) and Shulchan Aruch EH 1:3.
  7. Kiddushin 29b; Shulchan Aruch, Even Haezer 1:3. Yalkut Yosef EH 1:2 writes that it is advisable for yeshiva bochrim to get married by 20 and for some it is advisable to wait until after 20 depending on his personality.
  8. Rosh to Kiddushin 29b.
  9. Levush, Even Haezer 1:4, cited in Aruch Hashulchan, Even Haezer 1:13.
  10. Yam Shel Shlomo, Kiddushin §47, cited in Aruch Hashulchan, Even Haezer 1:13; see Rashi and Rosh to Kiddushin 30a.
  11. Kiddushin 29b; Shulchan Aruch, Yoreh Dei’ah 246:2, Beit Shmuel 1:5
  12. Berachos 12b.
  13. See Tosefta Yevamos 8:5; Yevamos 63b; cf. Kesuvos 63b; Sotah 4b.
  14. Shulchan Aruch, Even Haezer 1:4.
  15. Taz EH 1:6.
  16. Rosh to Kiddushin 29b; Ritva to Yevamos 63b.
  17. Yad Dovid, Vol. 3, 15:6 (cited in Frankel’s “Sefer Hamafteach” to Rambam, Hilchos Ishus 15:2).
  18. Sotah 44a; Rambam, Hilchos Dei’os 5:11.
  19. Yalkut Yosef (Chupah VeKiddushin p. 43)