The current structure of shadchanus of compensation upon a completed shidduch with nary an allowance for the level of difficulty in getting that particular shidduch off the ground would seem to discourage shadchanim from focusing the majority of their time on singles who are less easy to set up.
In addition, the current structure, which makes no allowance for the time, energy and expertise that a particular shidduch required to navigate it as it moves along, rewards and encourages the yes/yes-no/no style shadchanim, and “punishes” or at the very least discourages the shidduch manager style shadchanim who are expert and dedicated shidduch managers, who really invest themselves in the particular shidduch they are redding and give the couple and their families extensive time to guide them through the process.
This is happening at a time when our community more than ever needs shadchanim to really go to bat for the less-easy-to-set-up singles, as well as shadchanim who are highly skilled and willing to spend the time guiding the singles throughout the shidduch process once a particular shidduch is underway. Of course, the chesed component is somewhat of a motivator, but it only goes so far, as is obvious from the current reality that plays out on a daily basis.
What adjustments in the current shadchanus structure would you suggest to alleviate these issues?
While it is true that the prevalent minhag hamakom across North America appears to follow the view that there is no differentiating with respect to shadchanus between a shidduch that required minimal effort and one that necessitated superhuman skill and exertion, there still remains room and reason to diverge from this standard practice. Indeed, not only is there a strong precedent to make such an exception (see Pischei Teshuvah, Even Ha’ezer 50:16, and Aruch Hashulchan, Choshen Mishpat 185:13), there are certainly families who clearly acknowledge when the intensity of labor far exceeds the norm by gladly granting the shadchan commensurate compensation. Consequently, given the degree of need in our day and age, and the number of singles who rarely receive attention – due to any variety of circumstances that lie beyond their control – I would strongly suggest that we consider re-adopting the opinion that when a shidduch calls for more work, the shadchan is given a recognizable bonus in recompense.
To expound a little further, there are two points that I would like to share regarding the importance of augmented shadchan compensation.
First is simple hakoras hatov. When a family is struggling in shidduchim; when suggestions, yeses, and quality dates are few and far between; and when all seems lost, one of the first responses is to malign the system and demand greater and enhanced awareness and energy from shadchanim. When a family is having a rough go of things, shadchanim are often the first to be thrown under the bus, and are hastily accused of only being willing to spend time on the “easy” cases. I have personally observed this phenomenon time and time again.
As such, when a shadchan who appreciates the depth of need heeds the call – setting nearly everything else aside – and, after spending tens or hundreds of hours on behalf of one family, brings an engagement to fruition, it is only fair that all of the past pain and petitioning should not be forgotten. When one understandably, but undeniably, implores a shadchan to go above and beyond, it seems only logical that the shadchanus should go above and beyond as well, to whatever measure one is capable.
Second is to ensure that other families who are facing the same challenge are equally positioned to receive assistance. No matter how compassionate and well-meaning a shadchan may be, when there is no indication whatsoever that a family appreciated how thoroughly the shadchan poured their heart and soul into a shidduch for that family, the likelihood that the shadchan will do the same for another family drops precipitously. This is not a sign of malice or even regret. It is just the nature of human capacity. Whatever one’s job may be, when their extra effort is neither recognized nor monetarily rewarded, it strongly discourages a person from putting forth that additional effort in the future. It just doesn’t feel good. And, believe it or not, shadchanim are no less human than the rest of us.
Accordingly, when one has been fortunate enough to be in receipt of the vast majority of a shadchan’s time, effort, energy, emotion, and expertise, offering that shadchan increased compensation may mean the world to them. Hence, when one goes the extra mile with shadchanus when apropos, it will typically give that shadchan the level of gratitude that anyone would need in order to engage in a repeat performance for somebody else who profoundly needs the shadchan in that same way. In short, not only does a surplus of shadchanus satisfy the obligation of hakoras hatov, it also allows one to fulfill the essential edict of v’ahavta lerei’acha kamocha in an exemplary fashion.
May the Tam Umitamom Im Temimim see to it that all who generously submit a surfeit of shadchanus are bestowed with brocha v’hatzlocha, as affirmed by the Aruch Hashulchan (ibid.) of those who give of themselves in this way: “V’tov ayin hu yevorach.”