A recent Yated letter compared shadchanim to realtors, who are generally only paid on commission. The letter commented on the noticeable difference in the level of personal service offered by realtors (as well as the time realtors invest in each and every attempted home sale) versus the letters writer’s experience with shadchanim. The writer therefore felt that shadchanim’s current compensation structure is precisely where it should be and there is no justification for shadchanim to be compensated for their efforts in setting up dates, since it entails little effort, save the sending of a few emails. What do the panelists feel?
When I first read the recent letter to the Yated that is the basis for this question, my initial reaction was to begin comparing and contrasting the two professions. Who in fact spends more time with their clients, who provides better customer service, whose job is more time consuming…
But the truth is, it doesn’t matter. It really doesn’t. There is little value in comparing professions in such a manner, as there are countless professions in the world and all those who dedicate themselves to their umnus with honesty and alacrity are more than deserving of the salary they earn.
It would be akin to asking, who is busier, the mother who tends to 6 six children, shops, cooks, cleans and works part time, or the father who works 60+ hours a week to provide for his family? As almost any married person has hopefully learned, such a discussion is an effort in futility. Both parents are working themselves to the bone for their mishpacha and each one plays a vital role in building their home. Without either partner, the home would fail, and therefore, delving into an investigation of who works harder can do nothing more than undermine the continued success of their family. The same is true here. In each case, both parties contribute a role and expertise that is necessary for mankind to function.
What does concern me greatly, however, is that this recent letter makes it quite clear that many people are acutely unawares of what kind of time and emotional investment being full time shadchan calls for. To that end, I would like to elucidate what it really means to be full-time shadchan b’zmanainu.
Let us begin with the first and most crucial step of being a shadchan, meeting singles. This requires a combination of having singles call, come to the shadchan’s home, and traveling to different cities and Yeshivos numerous time per year to attend events and meet with 20 or more singles in one sitting. Followed by returning home and organizing notes, resumes and pictures in order to actually remember the singles they just met. This alone consumes hundreds of hours, and the shadchan has not even begun to redd a single shidduch yet.
Shadchanim then begin to rack their brains and see which singles might match up well with each other. Once ideas begin forming, then come the innumerable phone calls, emails and text messages trying to get a yes from both sides so that the singles can actually go on a date together. What may have been only a few emails to you, is but a small portion of the thousands of emails a shadchan is sending on behalf of the myriad singles they have met.
Getting a yes. It sounds simple enough, but as we all know, “simple” is the last adjective one might use to describe getting a yes for a single. A name is given, and then the research begins. This is often followed by frequent, and sometimes honestly unnecessary questions to the shadchan before a yes is given, if it is given at all. Assuming the yes is given, the shadchan then approaches the other side and goes through the exact same process yet again. Should they say no, it’s back to the drawing board.
Two yesses are given. A few dates happen. Mazal tov! If only. At this point the shadchan regularly becomes the life coach. Helping the couple with practicalities such as arranging schedules and providing ideas for where to go on a date, along with the logistics involved when singles live in different locations. Not to mention the hours spent mentoring the singles as they try and discern if this is the person with whom they will spend the rest of their life with. Once again, should either side say no to another date, its back to the drawing board.
And of course, all of this work must be duplicated on behalf of all the singles they are working on.
How about a shadchan’s personal time? When attending a vort, chasuna or bris for a family member or friend, 95% of their time is often spent talking with singles or parents needing their attention, leaving them precious few minutes to enjoy the simcha they are attending. And by and large, this is something shadchanim do with grace, care and patience. Furthermore, the phone calls and emails generally do not cease on erev or motzei Shabbos/Yom Tov, Sunday’s, or any other day off, much like so many other busy professionals.
All this while being constantly asked, “do you have a date for my child yet?” “I heard that so and so would be good for my child, do you know them?” Each shadchan absorbs the anxiety, and often the fear and pain, of the families that so deeply need their services.
Within the structure of the current North-American Shidduch System, the role of the active full-time shadchan is an absolute necessity. This is something which really needs no further expounding, and our singles would find themselves at a crushing loss without the existence of full-time shadchanim at the helm of the Shidduch System.
While there are a few exceptions, for the vast majority, should a shadchan be considered very successful, they might make one shidduch every six weeks or so. Which most likely translates to a grand total of $20-35k in shadchanus per year for most shadchanim. All for a job which truly consumes their lives.
So, dear reader, I leave it to you. With a greater appreciation for all that a shadchan must do to succeed at their craft, and recognizing the paramount role they play in the continuity of Klal Yisroel, do you indeed feel that shadchanim’s current compensation structure is precisely where it should be and that there is no justification for shadchanim to be compensated for their efforts in setting up dates, since their work entails little effort, save the sending of a few emails?