Sunday, August 20, 2006

The Shidduch Business

There was a letter in the Yated about "stealing Shidduchim" The letter-writer was upset that sometimes when she "redds" a shidduch, the young man/lady seeks information, and the person providing the information assumes the role of Shadchan. Is that the right thing to do? Probably not. But for some reason, it bothers me more that someone's complaining about "stealing" a Mitzvah. No siree, it's not a Mitzvah. That's for the old-fashioned people. It's her business.

Here's how I see it. My mother asks for soda from the basement. My brother and I get up at the same time. My brother beats me to it. Did he "steal" my mitzvah? Maybe he even pushed me out of the way. But I made the effort. I jumped up. I was on my way, but essentially, I didn't bring it up. Am I gonna write a letter to the Yated about it? No.

Why not? Because there was no money involved.

This person seemed to be worried about the $hadchanus than the couple getting together. And that bothers me. For it to bother this person so much to take the time to write a letter about it urging people not to do it, just creeps me out.

Worse, a Shadchan called the house offering a shidduch. "How much do you charge?" my mother asked. An obscene number was mentioned, and my mother politely declined. Is there a reason my parents should shell out the amount they'd spend on a used car to some full-of- himself moron taking full advantage of idiots who cry themselves to sleep when they're not married by the age of 20?

Call me idealistic, but isn't this a mitzvah?

26 Comments:

At 8/20/2006 6:52 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

1) I think the shadchan has a valid point.

2) Neverthless, I think your description of some shadchonim, "full-of- himself moron taking full advantage of idiots who cry themselves to sleep when they're not married by the age of 20?" is quite funny, and unfortunately seems to be accurate at times.

 
At 8/20/2006 7:04 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I can understand your views but I'll have to disagree. As I myself was not too long ago in the shidduch scene myself, I can understand your frustrations, very well. However, some people are not trying to involve themselves with shidduchim for money. I am constantly on the phone- trying to help my friends out. Whether its calling strangers to try to set them up, find out about potential guys or being a reference. All this takes my time and effort.
Last wk I called a woman on behalf of a friend to find out about a guy. The woman asked me if I knew of a 'shidduch' for another guy she knew. The way she described the guy it sounded like a potential for a friend of mine. I told her I would get back to her w/ references & info. Which I did that very SAME day. Today, the woman calls me franticlly, leaving 2 messages and when she couldn't get thru she called one of the girl's references - prepped her on the situation and asked for the girl's number. She called the girl and started 'demanding' to know whether she would move to this and this city etc and that she had to know bec the boy was interested... The girl was mortified! I was pissed off at the nerve of this woman. I will not be making a cent of this shidduch should it work. I am helping my friend, calling referrences etc... bec I want to shield her from all this 'unpleasantness'. her parents are uninvolved and she needs a 'rep'. I am being her rep. for a reason. When a person puts in effort to think of someone or to work with you in trying to set you up- its absolutely RUDE to just suddenly take their idea and drop them out of the equation.
Additionally, many times a shadchun could have put in serious time over an individual's singlehood- setting them up, talking to the mother etc... and yes she/he deserves respect and appreciation for his/her work!!!
I really sympathize with you. I remember 2 years ago when I was single- I loathed every shaddchun. Every time s/o called with some 'guys' name and tried to push me. I was like oh 'they're probably counting the $$$ to the bank'. You never know how you might meet your bashert. You have to try and be openminded. Even if you feel the indiv. setting you up might have other motives as well- they still might be the 'shliach' to set up up with the right one.

 
At 8/21/2006 7:53 AM, Blogger Lakewood Venter said...

I am sure you have heard of the Gemarah that says that one who "steals"a mitzvah from another must pay a fine of 10 Zehuvim[gold coins] to the one who lostthe opportunity to do the mitzvah!

 
At 8/21/2006 9:29 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

You have to ask yourself why people charge so much to make shidduchim.

Answer: Because some people pay that much. If people didn't pay, they'd lower their prices.

Is it a business? Yes, but so are a lot of things in religion. How about rabbis who make more money than their congregants?

Bottom line - your anger should be at the idiots who pay the 10-20 grand (or however much they pay) for shidduchim moreso than the people who accept the dough. I don't know about you, but if someone wanted to give me 20 grand I would take it.

 
At 8/21/2006 10:58 AM, Blogger Rafi G said...

people also make money selling lulav and esrog, writing sefer torah, mezuzos and tefillin, along with selling matza and wine for kiddush, doing bris milah and pretty much most other mitvos you can think of.
The shadchan (should be at least) investing time and energy and effort in trying to match people up and there is no reason a professional shadchan should not charge, considering that is acceptable.
A friend who just matches up two friends together, on the other hand, should possibly not charge. Their is little effort invested and the mitzva involved is (should be) more pure and less business...

 
At 8/21/2006 11:01 AM, Blogger Y.Y. said...

if you wanna get married you gotta pay
besides my parents would gladly sell their car in exchange for their kids to do a shidduch why are your parents so selfish to decline a shidduch just because of some money unreal

 
At 8/21/2006 12:17 PM, Blogger Michelle said...

YY--I failed to mention that the situation didn't seem "shayuch" anyway. And my parents aren't selfish. In fact, Yo Mamma so....she ain't....

Also, yes, I agree that a lot of time and energy goes into a Shidduch, and certainly the ones being set up need to take a Xanax. Panicking and all. I believe your story, and I'm not even surprised by it.

As for taking money for other Mitzvot...my original draft included a paragraph about it, but I took it out at the last minute. I think those things are different. With Lulavim and Esrogim, there's Hiddur Mitzvah, Sefer Torah, there's a lot of materials involved as well as risk, etc. I don't see how shidduchim (when approached in a business-like, thoughtless manner) can be compared to those.

And, certainly, there ARE Shadchanim who are out for the Mitzvah. Kol HaKavod...I'd like to believe that most people that set me up are, Thank G-d.

 
At 8/21/2006 3:28 PM, Blogger Semgirl said...

Over Shabbos, I heard a very frustrating story. The lady we spent Shabbos by was best friends with someone and knew a girl she thought was excellent for her friends son. So she tried to Red the Shidduch . First she spent over a month on ph calls and getting info for the boys family and they agreed to it. Then the girls family spent a mnonth getting info. After all this , one of the girls friends said that this girl 'dresses intersting' . So suddenly the boys mother doesnt want it. The lady who red it was furious after all the time and effort that went into it and doesnt want anything to do with his family again. They sent many shiluchim and and she told them she wont speak to her again.

I know the lady who Red the Shidduch, very well and she always does it LShem mitzva. In fact, A few times she even bought an ENG. RING for a Poor CALLA

So I guess it is like any other job or endeavor in life. There are are good and bad, and the good ones work very hard and deal with a lot of stress and agravation, So they definitely deserve compensation.

 
At 8/21/2006 8:49 PM, Anonymous OS said...

First point, when did the concept of shadchanus become customary? True that Eliezer was one of the richest man in the Mid East in his day, but was that only from finding Yitzchak a wife??

If people will view this as a business, then they have every right to lament their lost profit. However, call a spade a spade and for this woman to say that her "mitzva" was stolen from her, well I think that is her being overly sanctimonious.

In all of my efforts to set up the singles that I know... And trust me, having no ring on my finger, the situation may be futile as my suggestions are too easily dismissed [usually with a "But why isn't he for you?" aka "What's wrong with him" paranoia that disregards personality compatibility]... I have never made a phone call for whatever jewelry/money/gift that might be bestowed upon me when my efforts finally DO succeed.

When I "play matchmaker," I do it in the hope that I will be able to join in the mitzva of simchas chassan v'kallah, never relying on the middah of hakaras hatov of the happy couple.

 
At 8/22/2006 8:40 AM, Blogger JBL the first said...

Y.Y. that was a real cheapshot. Even if the shidduch was applicable, who says people should pay soo much.
Of course there is alot of work going in to a shidduch but 2000 dollars is by far more than enough. Anything more than 1000 bucks from each side is pure blackmail.....

 
At 8/22/2006 9:19 AM, Blogger Y.Y. said...

jbl
my opinion is that $5000 each side is more appropiate how many months does this shadchan work to close a shidduch? so $10,000 covers maximum 2 months of work
michelle will you be happy with 1200 a week? i dont think so

 
At 8/22/2006 10:07 AM, Blogger XVI (R) - NY said...

There is a problem in that there are 2 types of shadchanim. There is the mutual friend shadchan who knows a guy and a girl and thinks that there is something there. Certainly time and effot go in, but the act is not a business deal. This is a good deed done by a caring friend to both sides. The shadchanus then is more of a token of gratitude than anything else. It can be expensive certainly, but the point is to say thanks for doing us this fantastic and huge favor. Also, and i didnt know this until about 2 weeks ago when i landed my first "kosher caf" shidduch, there is some sort of yiddish superstition about giving gifts so as not to curse the union. I dunno.

There is the other type of shadchan though and thats the yenta matchmaker. Thats the one with the little black book and the shingle on the door. Maybe its out of the goodness of their hearts or maybe its simply opportunistic, but these are business people and their comodity is marriage. They invest time and energy into researching and compatibility analysis. They look at family similarities and they goal/purpose synchronicity. It is a thorough job and it deserves reward. Now, like most any other form of effort or job done, compensation is demanded and the cost is dictated by market demand. Because of the shidduch "crisis," the exorbitant wealth of many jews who WILL pay out of the @$$ for this service and the rising value of oil by the barrel, shidduch prices have skyrocketed. However as long as people are willing to pay it is legit business, mitzva or not. It still requires work and work requires compensation.

The problem then is though, how easily this work is stolen. A shadchan that spends time setting up a guy and girl; makes the phone calls, does the background checks, deliberates between both parties, etc..., can easily have the work "stolen" by being elbowed out. because it is living people that are being sold, they are not in the shadchan's possesion and can take business elsewhere once the groundwork has been laid. THIS then is what the yated letter was all about.

If you want to take up arms against the prices then kol hakavod but its not fair to play the mitzvah card against someone whos business just also happens to be a good deed. If they werent egtting paid then there wouldnt be as many shadchanim. Annd if there wouldnt be that many shadchanim then there wouldnt be that many shiducchim.

 
At 8/22/2006 1:50 PM, Blogger Scraps said...

Actually, under some systems of shadchanus that I've heard about, the lady writing the letter would have gotten "partial credit" (i.e., partial payment) for coming up with the idea.

Personally, I'm rather glad that I've generally gone through friends rather than professional shadchanim.

 
At 8/22/2006 7:03 PM, Blogger HanginUp said...

I made two shidduchim before I got married - one gave me a simple gold bracelet and the other a piece of costume jewelry - did I care? No. I simply did it to be helpful - that's what we are all supposed to do. Now, years later I am a matchmaker for a well known website and one of the conditions upon becoming a matchmaker is that you are not allowed to accept any shadchanus - I am no less dedicated to the many singles I deal with on a daily basis because I am not receiving any monetary compensation for it - it's just a matter of doing the mitzvah. People get so wrapped up in the "business" aspect of shidduchim that they forget the whole reason behind it.

 
At 8/23/2006 4:42 AM, Blogger Mata Hari said...

I don't think your analogy with the soda is the right example. Let's try another. You're working together with some friends on putting together a chesed function - a tea or chinese auction. you spent a lot of time developing a pretty creative idea and mention it offline to one of your friends. At the next meeting, she appropriates it as her own, gets to be in charge of the project, and everyone cheers her on. How would you feel then? It's all for a mitzvah, right?

 
At 8/23/2006 6:28 PM, Blogger Hasid_Letz said...

Anonymous,

"You have to ask yourself why people charge so much to make shidduchim.

"Answer: Because some people pay that much. If people didn't pay, they'd lower their prices.

You're an economic genious, I must say. If people refused to pay, then matchmakers would just have to drop their price, or, else, lose money on the unsold inventory?

 
At 8/23/2006 10:58 PM, Blogger reluctant rebel said...

Actually I think the issue isn't so much the money as it is who gets the credit, which is what the money symbolizes. Everyone likes to get some recognition for what they do, even when it's supposed to be l'shem mitzvah, and by paying the shadchan your showing recognition and appreciation. I agree that it's wrong for shadchanim to request an exhorbitant sum of money, but I think people should show some sort of appreciation,which is usually done by paying some money.

 
At 8/24/2006 10:58 AM, Anonymous megapixel said...

ten to twenty thousand for a shidduch?? Are you joking or am I totally out to lunch?

I can see why the letter writer would be insulted and upset at being cut out of the shidduch she created. two things seem to be bothering her.
1-money
2-mitzvah
as far as the mitzvah, i am sure in shamayim they see how her deeds are lshem shamayim and therefore she gets the s'char the same as she would if she would have done the entire deed. so let us put her worries at rest - she didnt lose a mitzvah at all!!!!!!ha!you sanctimonious woman you!

as far as it being an important issue for her to be writing to the Yated about it, we need to rethink that statement. Apparently it does not take much for poeple to be motivated to write them. See the current lively argument about LINEN: to strip or not to strip?
and the more recent ANIMAL CRACKERS: kosher or ever min hachai?

 
At 8/24/2006 12:24 PM, Anonymous Chani said...

While it is rude to take over someone else's shidduch, I wouldn't say it's worth writing to the Yated about. However, megapixel had a good point. People write to the Yated about some of the stupidest things. Maybe this lady's just really bored & has nothing better to do with her time.
One might play devil's advocate & say that people have been complaining about people not making shidduchim, so if someone's actually bothering to do it, maybe we should leave her alone.
As for the professional shadchanim with their exorbitant price tags, there's this thing called "the law of supply & demand." If you think it's worth the price, then pay it without complaining. If you don't like their price tags, don't use them. Not all shadchanim charge crazy amounts.
Making shidduchim is really hard. Just to get a guy & a girl to go out can take months,& tons of phone calls, & that doesn't necessarily mean that they're going to get engaged. Most shadchanim only get paid when a couple gets engaged.
Also, there is a big inyun of paying shadchanus. I've heard stories of couples who had trouble having children & they went to gedolim who asked if they had paid their shadchan. I don't know where I heard these stories & I can't vouch for them, but the point is still there. I'm not talking about $10,000, but some token of appreciation is definitely in order.

 
At 8/25/2006 3:08 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Under the normal rules of shadchonus gelt which is a time honored tradition the one who makes the suggestion is entitled to the fee.

My question is why do shadchonim not advertise their scale of charges in advance of the suggestion.

Answer
(1) Cos they like to pretend they're doing it only for the mitzva.

(2) Cos there's (normally) no fixed fee. How much can we charge you and get away with it.

 
At 9/07/2006 1:28 PM, Blogger AnnieGetYour said...

I just want to point out that the rate for shidduchim is arguably high. Charging for the service of a shadchan, while they do a good job, is just another instance of Orthodox Judaism becoming an expensive lifestyle choice.

These rates make it difficult for a poor girl to find a husband, despite already being at a disadvantage, as most people want wealthy in-laws. Yes, shadchanim work hard, yes, they do a great service and deserve to be paid, but I think that we need to reevaluate the cost of living in a Jewish community if $5000 on each side seems "fair."

 
At 2/14/2008 10:04 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I happen to be a shadchan who with tremendous help from god have made 9 shidduchim in the last 2 years.I think your opinon is very wrong and hurtful to those who put in endless hours redting shidduchim only to be met with severe criticsm from ungratefuls such as yourself. A person who devotes his time to this "buusness"spends hundreds if not thousands of hours helping other people and once in a while they finally make a shidduch where most people give about 1000 dollars or less. Its people like you who are creating the shidduchim crisis.

 
At 3/31/2008 8:08 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

There is a point which all of you seem to be missing. Shadchanus gelt is a SEGULAH for SHOLOM BAYIS in the ensuing marriage.

There are numerous cases of problems in sholom bayis, and when the people involved found out they should have given shadchanus gelt, and subsequently paid it, the problems resolved.

There are shadchanim with "fixed rates," and those who are doing it simply for the mitzvah and the sense of satisfaction in helping people find their bashert. But even in the latter case, it is in YOUR INTEREST to pay the shadchanus gelt. If a couple really doesn't have anything, they can suffice with a nice present from each side.
In most circles, $1,000 from each side is normal. Sometimes someone who is older or has certain medical or other issues may promise a larger fee, because they know it is difficult to find someone for them. If they promise this amount, they should be sure to give it, and not forget later. Everyone has their priorities, and the luxurious extras many people waste money on should not be at the expense of the shadchanus gelt. And yes, it does take a LOT of time and phone calls, before the shidduch, as well as during the engagement period, and even after that, if it is a good, responsible shadchan.

 
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