My daughter-in-law is new to becoming a shadchan. She was single for a long time, and she made a promise to herself that when she gets married, she will help other singles. I would like to think that I had something to do with her decision, too. I’ve been a shadchante for many years. By now, though, I feel like I’m burning out. Things have changed. There’s no respect. But for me it doesn’t matter, as my husband and I are retired, so I’m not taking on new cases anymore. But in the almost two years of her matchmaking, my daughter-in-law is so dedicated and she’s already feeling very discouraged. I know what she is talking about.
I discussed this with other shadchanim in group chats and they all agree that nobody appreciates us. There are shidduchim we make but never get credit for it. That would never have happened years ago.
We spend day and night helping singles and they complain about us that we’re not doing anything for them. At shidduch events, there are so many singles who ask to be let in for free or want a reduced rate. Some of them are my daughter-in-law’s single friends, so I’m aware when a few weeks after the event they go on vacation to Florida or the Caribbean, etc. That bothers me, as I know what these vacations cost. Baruch Hashem, we go on vacations, too.
I would love words of chizuk that I can give my daughter-in-law. I heard you’ve been involved in shidduchim for many years. Please tell me how I can make her feel better about continuing to do this mitzvah, when I’m feeling discouraged about the whole system, too.
As I’ve been in shadchanus for 40 years, I see what you see with regard to the changes in how shadchanus is practiced and how singles might view our commitment to them. I will say that most singles and their parents have tremendous hakaras h’atov. The ones who cannot appreciate our avodas Hashem are those who have not had success in finding their bashert via our hishtadlus on their behalf. However, we are obligated to be dan l’kaf z’chus, and we need to look at it from their perspective.
When a person is ill, R’l, and cannot be helped by the physician, there are those who may blame the doctor, irrespective of any heroic efforts on his or her part for the patient. And so it is when dealing with shadchanim. There will always be that one case or more, where no matter how hard a shadchan may work on a single’s behalf, he or she may not be able to find a shidduch for that person. When it involves making a shidduch there are so many variables that come into play, in addition to dealing with people’s sensitivities and emotions, that the most successful shadchan may sometimes fail to produce a positive outcome. As much as it may disappoint the single man or woman, the shadchan also feels anguish.
Shadchanus has changed drastically. Gone are the days where the shadchan called each party of a shidduch she or he had in mind and based on the intuition of the shadchan and trust in the professional, a date to meet was set. Nowadays getting a couple out on a date is dependent on whatever is written on the résumé, which is paired with a picture. As a result, a single man or woman may decide that a particular shidduch is not shayach because of something written (usually inconsequential) on the résumé or viewed on the photo. For example, singles have actually declined shidduchim stating that based on what was written on the résumé, they feel the personality is not the right fit, or they don’t like what the person was wearing in the picture. Singles or the parents of young daters are sometimes too quick to judge and may let a plausible shidduch slide by.
Most shadchanim experience what your daughter-in-law has been experiencing during her brief period as a matchmaker, with regard to singles events. It is true that the vacations and restaurants one might see on social media are being frequented by the same singles who claim poverty and ask to be let in for free or at reduced rate. I can see why that could be frustrating for organizers of events. Here again, we need to be dan l’kaf z’chus. We don’t know if these singles are paying for their upscale vacations and restaurants, or if someone is sponsoring their trip or meal. When someone asks us to do a chesed or give tzedakah, it is not our job to request copies of their bank statements or tax returns. We can, however, choose whether we want to benefit them or not. No matchmaker, event organizer, or facilitator has any chiyuv to let anyone in for free, though they may choose to do so. And if they do, and later see photos on social media of those singles enjoying themselves in some exotic location, I can understand how they feel taken advantage of, but it behooves anyone involved in chasadim to try not to be judgmental and realize that schar is still being granted for helping another person.
My pet peeve is when singles sneak in the back or side entrance to an event or deliberately arrive late and expect to be let in for free because food is no longer being served. They probably don’t understand that the cost of an event is not just the food.
My words of chizuk to your daughter-in-law are the following. Tremendous kudos to you for becoming a shadchan. As we know, although Hashem is mezaveig zivugim, He chooses the shaliach on earth to carry out a shidduch that is meant to happen. The adage that no good deed goes unpunished is well-served in shadchanus. The chesed of shadchanus can bring about an incredible amount of agmas nefesh and has the potential to generate more enemies than most other chasadim. Though it is easy to at times feel burnout, there is plenty of nachas every active shadchan reaps as well. I will share a few scenarios of shadchanus.
There are two types of shadchanim. Those who insist on upfront payment and for dates being set up, and there are volunteer shadchanim who help singles l’sheim mitzvah only. Nothing is more painful to a volunteer shadchan who is responsible for making a shidduch yet gets no credit for it. Or another huge slap in the face for the shadchan who makes the shidduch is being given only partial or shared credit. Very often it happens that Shadchan A redts a shidduch and one or both parties decline the match. Later, Shadchan B redts the same shidduch, and the couple accepts, and they get engaged and married. It then becomes the question of who is the shadchan? The answer is that the true shadchan is Shadchan B.
Another common scenario where singles events are concerned is when Shadchan A redts a shidduch, and one or both parties decline the match. Shadchan B later organizes an event and the man and woman meet in person for the first time at that event. They get engaged and married. Who is the shadchan of this shidduch? Shadchan B. It’s like in business. The one who makes the sale is the one who gets the commission. These two scenarios are clear-cut cases regarding who the shadchan is.
There are situations where it’s not so clear-cut as to who the shadchan might be, and where there is much contention when an engagement takes place. With WhatsApp groups being used for shidduch purposes, when a couple gets engaged through being presented on the group, arguments about who gets credit for the shidduch can get quite heated. Does the administrator of the group get credit for providing the venue and making shidduch presentations possible, or does the person who suggested a shidduch to the single man or woman that was presented on the group get the credit for being the shadchan? In such a case where the shidduch happened through the WhatsApp group, both should get the credit: the administrator, and the shadchan or shadchanim.
Another example is a case where two singles meet at an event, and after the event, one of the singles wants their own private shadchan to facilitate the match. Who is the shadchan here? If two people meet at an event it is wrong to bring another party into it unless the organizer agrees to it. When it is because of that event that the couple met each other in the first place, then the organizer is the shadchan. There was once a unique situation where people organized a fundraising singles event. A couple who met and became engaged from that event decided to give credit to the person for whom the fundraiser was benefiting, and not the organizers. They explained that they were embarrassed to admit that they met at a singles event!
In conclusion, there will always be situations where the shadchan feels unappreciated, discounted, or passed over for a shidduch he or she made. But the one thing that shadchanim who are yirei Shamayim know is that no person can take the credit away from where it counts. Hashem chooses his partners, the shadchanim. Bearing that in mind is the key to successful shadchanus.
Baila Sebrow is president of Neshoma Advocates, communications and recruitment liaison for Sovri-Beth Israel, executive director of Teach Our Children, and a shadchanis and shidduch consultant. She can be reached at Bsebrow@aol.com. Baila also hosts The Definitive Rap podcast for vinnews.com, Israel News Talk Radio, WVIP 93.5 FM HD2, and talklinenetwork.com. Questions and comments for the Dating Forum can be submitted to firstname.lastname@example.org. Read more of Baila Sebrow’s articles at 5TJT.com.
Respect is a two way street. Not all, but enough shachanim have lost my respect by utterly failing to do basic functions their jobs, especially for older singles. They don’t verify basic information like accurate representations of age, they don’t check for gittin and civil divorce paperwork, they don’t ascertain willingness to relocate, how many children and of what age… basic demographic stuff that they are supposed to check (or say they will check). Just throwing some shidduch resumes together because “he wears a hat, she wears a skirt” is not proper matchmaking.
No shadchan should ever throw singles together, just because they have a beating pulse! Compatibility and respecting the wishes of the client are first and foremost However, there are people who are not necessarily honest with the shadchan. They may say they want to relocate, but that may or may not be true. The same with age, or other stated facts. With regard to background checking, it behooves the individual considering a match to contact references and verify information.
Good article. The lack of hakaras hatov is particularly disturbing. But making a shidduch is not about getting “credit” or making money. Importantly, making shidduch is chesed, a crucial mitzvah. I agree with Robert’s sentiment that shadchanim are culpable too for the lack of respect being given by singles (“respect is a two-way street”). All too often shadchanim act more like brokers looking to make a transaction than individuals looking to make a big mitzvah. More consideration and sensitivity is needed by all.
While it’s true that there are matchmakers acting like brokers, they make that very clear from the beginning. Singles can avoid them. However, there are more matchmakers who do it lsheim mitzvah only and the only credit they seek is from Hashem.