16 Nov PAYING THE SHADCHAN
There is a great mitzvah for one to be involved with making shidduchim between a boy and girl. Hashem was the first shadchan in the world who made the shidduch between Adom and Chavah. The Chozeh from Lublin is quoted as saying one who is involved with making shidduchim will merit having children who are talmidei chachumim. Therefore, it is important for one to try to match people up with each other even if one is not sure if it will work. One is permitted to arrange a shidduch on Shabbos, and if necessary even to speak about financial obligations.
We all know that a person who is involved with trying to pair up two individuals is called a shadchan. However, where did this term come from and what does it mean? The source of the word shadchan means peace and harmony which the wife will have when she finds her match and establishes a home with her husband. The Aruch says the word shadchan comes from “tying” since the person involved with pairing up two people is tying them together as one couple.
Paying a Shadchan
Just as in other business dealings, a shadchan must be paid a fee for arranging a shidduch. There is no difference if the shadchan was asked by one of the parties or if he volunteered his services on his own. Even a non-professional shadchan must be paid for his services. Furthermore, a shadchan may ask bais din to force both parties to pay him. Where the shadchan said that he or she does not want to get paid, no money is given to the shadchan by any party, even if the shadchan later changes her mind and decides she wants to get paid. Some Sefardisha circles have the custom not to pay a shadchan for her services. If the shadchan told the boy’s side that he does not want to accept money, this does not exempt the girl’s side from giving money to the shadchan.
Who Is Obligated to Pay the Shadchan?
There is a discussion in the poskim as to who is obligated to pay the shadchan for the shidduch that was made. Some say since the favor was done for the boy and girl, they are both obligated to pay the shadchan. However, others say that the boy’s and girl’s parents pay the shadachan, and this is the overwhelming custom today. In a situation where the parents did not pay the shadchan, the boy and girl are still not obligated to pay the shadchan.
The amount to be paid to the shadchan is based on the local minhag of each specific place. When the fee is agreed upon, the shadchan may not ask for additional payment for costs he may have incurred during the process of making the shidduch. If one side cannot pay the shadchan then he has no right to go to the other side and ask for the money due to him from the first side who could not pay. A shadchan who did not discuss a fee before arranging a shidduch may not demand an extraordinary high fee (out of the ordinary) when the shidduch is completed. There is a discussion in the poskim if a shidduch was made between people who live in different countries which local custom one must follow when paying the shadchan.
When to Pay
There is a discussion in the poskim when is the correct time that the shadchan should be paid. Some are of the opinion if there is no custom when to pay the shadchan he should be paid after the wedding. Those who have the custom to make a t’nayim should pay the shadchan after the t’nayim is completed. Those who do not have the custom to make a t’nayim should pay the shadchan when the shidduch is completed, although some have the custom not to pay the shadchan until after the wedding is over. If the shidduch was broken, the shadchan does not have to give the money back as long as he did not give false information about the boy or girl which caused the shidduch to be broken. In a situation where the money is not given until after the wedding the shadchan does not get paid if the shidduch was broken. If the shidduch was not completed then the shadchan does not get paid even if he spends a lot of time trying to put the boy and girl together.
The Importance of Paying a Shadchan
It is stated in the name of the Chazon Ish that one who does not have children for many years after their marriage it can possibly be because the shadchan who made their shidduch was not paid.
Using Masser Money
In most situations one may not use masser money to pay a shadchan for his work regarding the shidduch.
The poskim are in dispute in regard to dividing payment in a situation where more than one person was involved in a shidduch. There is a discussion in the poskim on how much has to be paid if one shadchan started the shidduch and another one finished the shidduch. This issue has many details and one should consult with a Rav when this situation arises.
Making a Shidduch between Non-Jews / Non-Observant Jews
It is preferable to avoid making a shidduch between two non-Jews. One may make a shidduch between two non-religious Jews if there would otherwise be a risk of intermarriage and one will be getting paid for his services.
Can a Shadchan be a Relative or Friend?
Many times a relative or friend wants to make a shidduch between two people and the question arises if doing so is permitted. The custom is that a relative or a friend can be a shadchan.
Mentioned a Shidduch
Many times it can happen that a person mentions a prospective boy to a girl’s family or vice versa and they are not interested at that time. Then as time passes another person mentions the name. If the second person only knew about the boy and girl because of the first person then they both get some amount of money. However, if the second person thought of it on his own then the first person who mentioned it does not receive anything (unless the reason they are going out is because it was red by two people).
“It’s not For Me but for My Friend”
It happens very often that after a boy goes out and it does not work he suggests
shadchanas since he did the work to make sure they go out.
Being a Witness
A shadchan is permitted to be a witness by the t’nayim or kiddushin (if he is not a relative).
Many questions one gets about a prospective boy or girl can involve loshon hora. Is one permitted to tell derogatory information for shidduch purposes? Below we will discuss some things which may be said and other things which may not be said.
The poskim say that one may tell an interested party about a serious physical or mental illness, a lack of religious observance,45 if there is an adoption,46 or the party’s financial status. The reason why revealing this type of information is permitted is because if the other party would find out this information they may hold back from going ahead with the shidduch.
Information which is not so important should not be told over to the other party. This includes information regarding a minor illness or physical weakness. One who is specifically asked information must tell the other party the information (unless it has nothing to do with the shidduch).
Serious information should only be told if it is to benefit one of the parties, it cannot be exaggerated, and there must be a good chance that the information will be taken seriously and acted upon.
One who was not asked a specific question does not have to answer anything he was not asked. For example, if one is asked “does the boy wears a hat in the street”? he may say for davening yes, but for going to the mikvah he doesn’t.
One who is asked if a boy is nice looking may answer honestly because the girl can see for herself anyway.
Whatever may be permitted to say in regard to a shidduch must be said only to a person who has wisdom, and one who will not spread the information to other people.
There are a lot of other cases which can arise regarding this inyun,54 and anyone who is unsure whether to give over certain information should speak with a halachic authority beforehand.
Lying about Age
A question arises if one is permitted to tell a shadchan he or she is younger than their age in order to facilitate a shidduch.55 Some poskim say if one of the sides is already looking for a shidduch and is having a hard time finding one then he or she may lie about their age. Horav Elyashiv zt”l says that one who is twenty can say he is nineteen.57 When this question arises on would discuss it with his Rav.
“Younger before Older”
Many times when a shadchan presents a shidduch to one party they say that it is a nice shidduch but it is not our custom to give the younger child before an older one, and we have an older child that has to get married first. This idea is what Lavan said to Yaakov when he gave him Leah and not Rochel,58 and is brought down in halacha as well.59 However, some say that there is no concern of a younger child getting engaged before an older one.60 Nonetheless, one should discuss this issue with his Rav.
It should be pointed out that when dealing with questions of shidduchim one should consult his Rav.