The Mishna in Avos says that one should get married at 18 , is there a reason for this particular age ?

  • 1
    It's a braysa not a mishna.
    – Double AA
    Dec 31, 2015 at 23:44
  • @DoubleAA, my mistake
    – sye81397
    Jan 1, 2016 at 0:57
  • The Mishna holds one needs to be married by 20 (barring other circumstances common today that would push off this age.) Therefore, one starts trying to get married at 20, giving a 2 year grace period.
    – LN6595
    Jan 1, 2016 at 17:12
  • 18 = 1/4*70. 18 is the first quarter of a person's lifespan, when childhood ends and adulthood starts.
    – LN6595
    Jan 1, 2016 at 17:12
  • @LN6595 Childhood is 1/4 of life? How do you know that?
    – Double AA
    Jan 3, 2016 at 15:07

1 Answer 1


Sorry for all the lack of memory here, but this is from a long time ago:

I once heard a shiur (I think it was from R' Hershel Schachter, but I really am not sure) in which he suggested that one would begin learning Talmud at age 15 (previous clause of source in the question), and would get married when one had reached a degree of completion of his learning. This is in line with the sentiment in Kiddushin 29b that a person should first learn Torah and then get married. The time it takes to learn takes either 3 or 5 years (Chullin 24a), and there are two opinions on when one should get married - either 18 or 20 (Kiddushin 29b). Both agree that one should start learning at age 15, and both agree that one should accomplish their learning before getting married, and the disagreement is how long that takes, either 3 or 5 years, which yields the two ages of 18 and 20.

(This was partially reconstructed based on what I remember and a source provided by @Fred)

  • Shulchan Aruch HaRav Hilchos Talmud Torah, chapter 1. But there it is 5 years to learn talmud, with the idea that the kids won't be old enough to require a distracting level of parnasa until 20. This is strictly from memory, so please double check.
    – Yishai
    Jan 4, 2016 at 2:15
  • Regarding taking three years to learn the Talmud, see Rabbi Yose's related opinion (Chullin 24a): "ר' יוסי אומר ג' שנים שנאמר ולגדלם שנים שלש וללמדם ספר ולשון כשדים". Maybe that's why R' Yosef the son of Rava wanted to stop by home after three years of uninterrupted study (K'subos 63a); he had completed shas!
    – Fred
    Jan 4, 2016 at 2:18
  • @Yishai I wasn't going to include any more than I did, since I was already getting into fuzzy memory territory, but in the shiur, it was mentioned that there seem to be two opinions about getting married, namely 18 and 20, and two opinions about how long it takes to learn Talmud, namely 3 and 5 years, and that the two line up perfectly with the reasoning of finish Talmud then get married. Jan 4, 2016 at 2:28
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    @yEz The Sh"A HaRav (3:1, see also 1:1) says that while the time to marry begins at age 18 (likely a person won't have a lot of family distractions until 20 anyway), a ba'al kishron should ideally wait until 20 so that he can complete his learning (summary of all halachos and their reasons) between 15 and 20. After that, פריה ורביה cannot be pushed off, and one would transgress if not marrying after 20 (based on the Talmudic statement that it is bad not to marry by the age of 20 (Kiddushin 29b, see also Sh"A EH 1:3).
    – Fred
    Jan 4, 2016 at 2:59
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    @Chaim I deliberately left completing Talmud out of my edited version upon inclusion of that Gemara. But Rashi is only explaining what סימן יפה is, however if you look at the verses brought and the following discussion, it is more obviously about learning in general. Jan 5, 2016 at 4:29

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