We were recently redd a shidduch for our son by a shadchan who, I was told by others, often makes “rich” shidduchim and gets compensated substantially by the mechutanim. My husband and I are regular middle-class people who just get by. We happen to have a son who is a metzuyan, boruch Hashem, and so we have been getting a lot of redds, including from this shadchan, whose latest idea seems to be on the mark.
Before proceeding, should we clarify with him first that if the shidduch comes to fruition, our bank account will only allow us to compensate him like regular people would? Or would we come off looking petty, cheap and weird for even bringing it up now?
Once again, before addressing this question, and due to the potential halachic ramifications of doing so, I would like to make mention that the following was reviewed by a rov before submission. Nonetheless, this response should not be relied upon for practical halachic decisions. If one is in need of guidance with respect to paying shadchanus, a shaila should be asked of a rov who is familiar with such inquiries.
While I have heard susurrations of shadchanim who have made a niche for themselves through servicing the dating needs of the well-heeled, I am not personally aware of any shadchanim who work exclusively for such a demographic. Additionally, I do not believe there are any shadchanim who demand or expect shadchanus in excess of their respective minhagei hamakom. Indeed, I cannot recall ever hearing a shadchan state explicitly that they have a set fee which must be paid across the board in order to receive their ministrations.
Furthermore, even if an advance agreement were made with a shadchan which stipulated a superfluity of shadchanus to be supplied upon the completion of a shidduch, it is not at all clear that such a treaty would be halachically binding (see Rama, Choshen Mishpat 264:7; Shach, ibid., 15; and Ketzos Hachoshen, ibid., 3). Not only would such a pact be questionable if it was issued verbally, but even if a formal contract was made, it may have no effect on the accord, depending on the nature of the kinyan (see Pischei Teshuvah, ibid., 8; and Aruch Hashulchan, ibid., 20).
All told, a.) it is unlikely that the shadchan here has a personal rate sheet, b.) shadchanus is not generally discussed with shadchanim at the outset of a suggestion, and c.) any such covenants requiring shadchanus above and beyond the standard amount may have no validity to them anyhow. Consequently, at this stage, I would recommend proceeding with the idea and focusing on the shidduch rather than the shadchanus. Should the match prove successful, provided that proper and normative shadchanus is given, I cannot imagine the shadchan being anything other than appreciative.
May the Masbiah L’chol Chai Ratzon grant us all a parnassah tova, b’heter, b’nachas, b’revach, ub’kavod.