Two prominent religious Zionist rabbis have spoken out publicly this week against one of the most controversial issues among religious youths - teen marriage.
Rabbi Shlomo Aviner, the rabbi of the Beit El settlement and head of the Ateret Kohanim yeshiva, published an article on Saturday stating that young men and women should experience independence in life several years before they get married.
According to Aviner, mental maturity cannot be acquired through reading instruction booklets, but only through life experiences. "Without financial independence, mental independence cannot exist," he wrote, and called on the youths to experience an independent lifestyle in national service, the army and as students, before they choose to tie the knot.
"A wise man learns a trade, then builds a house and then he is ready for marriage," determined Aviner according to the teachings of Maimonides. "A foolish man weds first and only then realizes he has no home, and when he is hungry remembers that he has no means to support himself."
Aviner also said that the sudden transition from bachelorhood to marriage, parenting and work can put an enormous strain on young couples. "It's not enough to get married; you must stay married and married happily," he said.
The ideal age for marriage, Aviner said, is 20-25.
'Building a household is no game'Rabbi Elyakim Levanon, rabbi of Alon Moreh and head of its yeshiva, also joins Aviner's call. Levanon writes an advice column in a local publication and was recently asked by a religious couple if they should allow their 11th grader son to leave school and marry.
Levanon wrote back to the parents that they must try to talk their son out of his plans and certainly not condone such thoughts, which from his experience lead to mutual emotional pain for both partners.
"Building a household is no game, this is an act that determines a man's fate for many years," wrote Levanon.
A man is obligated to take in the Holy Scriptures for several years until he is strong enough to command his own life, wrote Levanon, and only then can he establish a genuine relationship with a woman.
Levanon also encourages youngsters to prepare for life as a couple and dedicate time to learn what must be done in a time of crisis, what their individual roles will be in the household and how to relate to each other with honesty.
Early marriage, without the necessary preparation, will never allow the partners to realize the full potential of their union, he concludes.