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This (below) audio lecture has 2 rabbis say that halahikly a man need to marry by 24 years old

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http://www.endthemadness.org/audio/TND_Endthemadness.mp3
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http://www.endthemadness.org/audio/audio.html

Related Parents mix in to marriage until 24 years old

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The Talmud Kiddushin (29b-30a) discusses when a person should get married:

ת"ר: ללמוד תורה ולישא אשה - ילמוד תורה ואח"כ ישא אשה, ואם א"א לו בלא אשה - ישא אשה ואח"כ ילמוד תורה. אמר רב יהודה אמר שמואל, הלכה: נושא אשה ואח"כ ילמוד תורה. ר' יוחנן אמר: ריחיים בצוארו ויעסוק בתורה? ולא פליגי: הא לן, והא להו. משתבח ליה רב חסדא לרב הונא בדרב המנונא דאדם גדול הוא, א"ל: כשיבא לידך הביאהו לידי. כי אתא, חזייה דלא פריס סודרא, א"ל: מאי טעמא לא פריסת סודרא? א"ל: דלא נסיבנא. אהדרינהו לאפיה מיניה, א"ל: חזי, דלא חזית להו לאפי עד דנסבת. רב הונא לטעמיה, דאמר: בן עשרים שנה ולא נשא אשה - כל ימיו בעבירה. בעבירה סלקא דעתך? אלא אימא: כל ימיו בהרהור עבירה. אמר רבא, וכן תנא דבי ר' ישמעאל: עד כ' שנה, יושב הקדוש ברוך הוא ומצפה לאדם מתי ישא אשה, כיון שהגיע כ' ולא נשא, אומר: תיפח עצמותיו. אמר רב חסדא: האי דעדיפנא מחבראי - דנסיבנא בשיתסר, ואי הוה נסיבנא בארביסר, הוה אמינא לשטן גירא בעיניך. א"ל רבא לר' נתן בר אמי: אדידך על צוארי דבריך, משיתסר ועד עשרים ותרתי, ואמרי לה: מתמני סרי עד עשרים וארבעה. כתנאי: חנוך לנער על פי דרכו - ר' יהודה ורבי נחמיה, חד אמר: משיתסר ועד עשרים ותרתין, וחד אמר: מתמני סרי ועד עשרים וארבעה

Our Rabbis taught: If one has to study Torah and to marry a wife, he should first study and then marry. But if he cannot [live] without a wife, he should first marry and then study. Rab Judah said in Samuel's name: The halachah is, [A man] first marries and then studies. R. Johanan said: [With] a millstone around the neck, shall one study Torah! Yet they do not differ: the one refers to ourselves [Babylonians]; the other to them [Palestinians].

R. Hisda praised R. Hamnuna before R. Huna as a great man. Said he to him, ‘When he visits you, bring him to me. When he arrived, he saw that he wore no [head-]covering. ‘Why have you no head-dress?’ asked he. ‘Because I am not married,’ was the reply. Thereupon he [R. Huna] turned his face away from him. ‘See to it that you do not appear before me [again] before you are married,’ said he. R. Huna was thus in accordance with his views. For he said: He who is twenty years of age and is not married spends all his days in sin. ‘In sin’ — can you really think so? — But say, spends all his days in sinful thoughts. Raba said, and the School of R. Ishmael taught likewise: Until the age of twenty, the Holy One, blessed be He, sits and waits. When will he take a wife? As soon as one attains twenty and has not married, He exclaims, ‘Blasted be his bones!’

R. Hisda said: The reason that I am superior to my colleagues is that I married at sixteen. And had I married at fourteen I would have said to Satan, An arrow in your eye. Raba said to R. Nathan b. Ammi: Whilst your hand is yet upon your son's neck, [marry him], viz., between sixteen and twenty-two. Others state, Between eighteen and twenty-four. This is disputed by Tannaim.

Train up a youth in the way he should go: R. Judah and R. Nehemiah [differ thereon]. One maintains, [‘Youth’ means] between sixteen and twenty-two; the other affirms, Between eighteen and twenty-four. (Soncino Trans.)

The Talmud does not specify whether these ages define the mitzvah, or whether they are simply rabbinic guidance that may take many factors into consideration, financial, religious, etc. 1

The lack of the normal derashot that accompany normal halachic discourse and the end of the passage's citation of the verse from Proverbs lend a degree of support to this conclusion.

Rambam ostensibly 2 views the Talmud as describing the technical parameters of the mitzvah. He writes in Hilchot Ishut (15: 2):

האיש מצווה על פריה ורביה אבל לא האשה, ומאימתי האיש נתחייב במצוה זו מבן שבע עשרה, וכיון שעברו עשרים שנה ולא נשא אשה הרי זה עובר ומבטל מצות עשה, ואם היה עוסק בתורה וטרוד בה והיה מתירא מלישא אשה כדי שלא יטרח במזונות ויבטל מן התורה הרי זה מותר להתאחר, שהעוסק במצוה פטור מן המצוה וכל שכן בתלמוד תורה

However, HaNesher HaGadol Rabbenu Yitzchak Abarbanel praises those who like our Patriarch Yitzchak postpone marriage, in his commentary to Genesis (25):

כי הנה עם היות שארז"ל בן י"ח לחופה לא אמרו זה אלא להודיע כי בהיותו בן י"ח שנה כבר הוא בעל כח ראוי להוליד בנים אבל לא אמרו שאז יקח אדם אשה. כי הנה האשה כשיקחה אדם בבחרותו תטה את לבבו ותכניעהו יותר מדאי צא ולמד משמשון עם נשיו שהנה היו בעוכריו ומשלמה כי נשיו הטו את לבבו ולמה נבקש עוד והנה אבינו הראשון אמר האשה אשר נתת עמדי היא נתנה לי מן העץ ואוכל ולכן אמר ראש החכמי' בחכמתו (קהלת ז' כ"ו) ומוצא אני מר ממות את האשה אשר היא מצודים וחרמי' לבה אסורים ידיה טוב לפני האלדים ימלט ממנה וחוטא ילכד בה ולהיות לקיחת אשה סכנה עצומה צריך סיוע אלדי והתישבות השכל ותבונה רבה להמלט ממוקשיה וכבר אר"זל שלכן אמר הכתוב מי האיש אשר בנה בית ומי האיש אשר נטע כרם ומי האיש אשר ארש אשה לפי שראוי לאד' שראשונה יתעסק בקנין הבית ובנינו ואחר כך בנטיעת הכרם ובאחרונה בלקיחת האשה הנה מפני זה נתעכב יצחק מלקחת אשה עד ארבעים שנה כדי שיעבור תגבורת הבחרות ותכבה רתיחת דם הנערות ותאות המשגל ויהיה אז החומר היוצא להולדה יותר מוכן לקבל צורה שלימה וכבר אמרו חז"ל שעשו עשה כזה לקחת אשה בן ארבעים שנה להראות עצמו כשר

A similar view emerges from Rabbenu Avraham ben HaRambam's Hamaspik L'Ovdey Hashem. He writes that observance of basic halacha trumps pietistic practices such as fasting. The former are supposed to supplement the latter; not the other way around. One of his examples of a pietistic practice is avoiding marriage (chapter one: page 17 of Wincelberg translation).

Rabbi Wincelberg explains that Rabbenu Avraham does not mean never marrying, but rather postponing marriage by many years; a practiced endorsed by his son Rabbenu Ovadyah (cited there).

See also chapter 10, (page 369 of Wincelberg translation) where he praises significantly postponing marriage.

Clearly he holds that one need not marry by 24, and one may marry later.

Similarly, Rashba was asked about a person who swore not to marry until a certain age. Does this constitute an oath to violate a mitzvah? He answers (Responsa 4:91) that it does not, as he can simply marry later. (See there where he contrasts the mitzvah of marriage, with a time-bound mitzvah like circumcision):

תשובה: שבוע' היא חלה, שאין זה, נשבע לבטל את המצוה. דאפשר לקיים זה וזה. ולא זו בלבד, שאין זמנה בהול, אלא אפילו במצוה שזמנה בהול, כמילה וכו...

They seem to have either held that the Gemara in Kisddushin does not reflect the normative view, or more likely understood the Gemara as not teaching inviolable halachic parameters of a mitzvah, but rather providing general guidance. Like all guidance, it varies with the particular circumstances of the individual.

There may be those who disagree, however, including Rambam, (although as noted in the footnote, his position is far from clear.)


1 The same way Chazal give guidelines for example about the optimal number of children in a classroom; this shiur which advises the best way to conduct oneself obviously bears no resemblance to the shiur of a kezayit.

2 One wonders however, how an actual mitzvah incumbent on a person could be superseded by Torah study, which is itself universally superseded by all mitzvot as stated in Hilchot Talmud Torah (3: 4). A question that the commentators have been bothered by. If he holds like his son that the ages mentioned in the Talmud are suggestions rather than discrete obligations, then this question is resolved. Note also Rambam in his introduction to the Mishna where he writes that a court would not force a person to marry. Rather marriage is based on personal choice. לפי שהנשואין תלוים ברצון האדם, ואין לבית דין לכוף את האדם להתחתן

  • Well done. IIRC, the argument made by Ben Azzai was that Peru Ur'vu could be fulfilled by others, while the Torah of Ben Azzai could not. This interpretation has... interesting implications on how we look at this "prime mover" mitzvah (prime in that it exists before the giving of any other mitzvot). – Isaac Kotlicky Feb 29 '16 at 9:46
  • Comment less down vote? – mevaqesh Dec 28 '17 at 11:34
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The Gemara in Kedushin 29-30a brings various opinions what the latest age to marry is. The latest opinion is 24.

The Shulchan Aruch in Even HaEzer siman 1 Siff 3 however rules with the opinion that says 20 is the latest.

In a related halacha found in Yoreh Deah 240 Siff twenty the Shulchan Aruch rules that due to placing a stumbling block before the blind, a person may not hit his adult son, being that the son might strike him back, which is Assur.

The Ramma there brings the words of the Beis Yosef in Y'd siman 334 who quotes a sources mentioning the aforementioned Gemara in Kedushin and gives the age as 22 or 24.

So possibly there is room to assume like those opinions being that the laws are interdependent, but as mentioned, standard halacha is not like those opinions, but rather twenty.

  • This is quite misleading as one can readily observe that many rabbinic greats over several millennia did not get married, or even date until after 20, and even 24. – mevaqesh Feb 29 '16 at 2:19
  • Well as the Ramma there says we no longer enforce these laws. But the actual law doesn't change. Remember, lichatchila is 13. Why do you call quoting a Gemara and Shulchan Aruch misleading? – user6591 Feb 29 '16 at 2:21
  • One general distinction is between a mitzvah that is internally time bound; e.g. circumcision on the eighth day, and a mitzvah which ought to be performed early for external reasons; e.g. זריזין מקדימין למצות. One might be encouraged to perform a mitzvah at the earliest practical opportunity and provide suggested benchmarks that approximate this point, but that is not the same as a technical internal shiur. The two issues ought not be conflated. – mevaqesh Feb 29 '16 at 2:22
  • Why do you call quoting a Gemara and Shulchan Aruch misleading because misleading can be performed by omission not just by commission. – mevaqesh Feb 29 '16 at 2:23
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    @DanF I couldn't disagree with you more. The one thing I've heard over and over from immigrants is that we Americans cannot even imagine the degree of poverty there was in Europe. – user6591 Feb 29 '16 at 15:22
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Perhaps they were referring to the ruling of the Chafetz Chaim and were just off by a year. In Sefer Hamitzvos Hakatzar # 43 he writes:

ואם עבר עליו עשרים שנה ולא נשא הרי זה עובר ומבטל מצות עשה זו ואם עוסק בתורה ומתירא שלא יבטל מחמת טרדת מזונות מותר להתאחר ועל כל פנים לא יותר מן עשרים וחמש שנה

If he reaches the age of 20 and has not married he has violated and nullified this positive commandment. But if he is engaged in Torah study and is afraid of getting disrupted by the burden of sustenance, he can delay, but only until age 25.

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