I: Dating Readiness, II: Meeting the One, III: Genetic Testing, IV: Dating Venues, V: Shidduch Crisis?, VI: Internet Dating, VIII: Wedding Costs, IX: Planning Tips, XI: Diabetes,Genetics and Shidduchim, XII: Parents Pushing Young Marriage
Today we leave the topic of dating and move on to the engagement.
One of the first decisions an engaged couple and their parents will make is how to reward the shadchan (matchmaker).
In the haredi world, each side pays $1000 to the shadchan. But in the religious Zionist community, where most matches are made through friends or teachers, money rarely changes hands. Few charge for their services.
Apparently, some years ago Rabbi Eliyahu recommended that every institution assign a shadchan to look out for its students. Isramom’s son’s yeshiva gave the job to one of the student’s wives. When Isramom’s son received NIS 1000 for suggesting a girl he had dated to a fellow student, the shadchanit joked, “All I ever get are sets of glasses and vases.”
In a community where marriage is valued so highly, yet with few opportunities for young people to meet, is it reasonable this yeshiva student’s wife to receive less than the value of an average wedding present for making a shidduch?
Shadchanim have to inquire about the young people and encourage them to date. They may be working with the parents, too. Just reaching everyone on the phone can take a dozen attempts. And young people are resistant to formal matchmaking, so it’s common for the shadchan to find a friend to make the suggestion.
Rabbi Shlomo Aviner has written that each side should pay the shadchan, whether professional or not, NIS 5000. This may not be such a large sum, especially when put into the context of wedding costs. While people have been cutting extras in menus and decorations, 300-400 guests is still the norm. Everyone has to set priorities in their wedding budgets, but 300 guests is not a bare-bones affair. If people are still making such large weddings, perhaps the effort of the person who brought the couple together is worth more than the cost of a wedding meal or two.
Rabbi Aviner, who has been attacked for his position, argues that a shadchan is similar to a real estate agent who shows dozens of apartments for free, but earns a hefty commission when a sale is made. If we want singles to meet, we need to do more to encourage shadchanim. And the best encouragement is to pay them well.
There are down sides to paid shadchanut. Disreputable people are more likely to get involved, and put pressure on singles to go on unsuitable dates. Paid shadchanim would have more of an incentive to hide damaging information.
Dear readers, please weigh in. Should informal shadchanim get paid? Or is a set of glasses enough?