I recently started the parsha of shidduchim. I have met with several shadchanim since I got back from Eretz Yisroel. While some of them sat down to speak to me, some merely bumped into me and asked me my name, where I learned, and what my parents do. Then these shadchanim began sending résumés to my mother.
My question is: Do these shadchanim really have a picture of who I am and what I’m looking for? Am I right for feeling that they are just matching me with a girl who “learned in the same type of yeshiva”?
Bekitzur, do shadchanim really get a clear picture of what the singles they are redding are about and what we’re looking to do?
In short, no, they probably do not, and that is probably just fine. To elaborate, for a shadchan to excel at their craft, not only do I believe it unnecessary to delve into the innermost depths of the single men and women they meet, in most cases, I would even venture to say that doing so is detrimental. Human beings are infinitely complex, and the only entity that can fully fathom and correctly connect two such beings is the Infinite One Himself, HaKadosh Boruch Hu. The rest of us are merely intermediaries, hoping to merit a small place of service in His lofty ministrations.
As such, the closer one comes to concluding that they have discovered two people who are, in fact, a perfect pairing, the more liable they are to be wrong. Indeed, it is challenging enough for a person to honestly understand themselves, let alone someone else. Thus, it would be immensely difficult to imagine that one could possibly unearth a precise understanding of not one, but two, other human beings, and to the degree that they could be deemed to be the completion of one another for a lifetime.
As I understand it, the goal of a shadchan is not to attempt to arrive upon ideas bordering perfection vis-à-vis a comprehensive comprehension of the essence of a dater. Such would constitute far too tall a task. Rather, it is to glean a bit about the personalities and character of the daters they meet – which can be reasonably accurately accomplished simply through brief conversation by those blessed with augmented intuition – and to then factor in basic and primary life goals and hashkafos, accompanied by some relevant familial considerations. This can all be aggregated by an experienced shadchan in relatively short order. At that point, the shadchan needs only to make suggestions which appear to be within the realm of a potentially suitable match, and trust that Hashem will take over from there.
Hence, there are shadchanim who will endeavor to needle into some of the details – either to assuage the feelings of a dater, or to try and be more on the mark with their ideas if they feel the need for more information – and other shadchanim who will strike up a short dialogue and run with ideas from there. But even that is not always such a bad thing. Different shadchanim have different processes, and either modus operandi works.
And if there are any reservations with respect to the veracity of this reality, one only has to review the success rates of the most prolific of shadchanim. Of the thousands and thousands of suggestions that a shadchan puts forth – even one who might spend a full hour every time they meet someone new – only a handful will actually go out. And of that handful, if even 10% of them get engaged, one would be witnessing the work of the crème de la crème of shadchanim. As should be quite clear, then, we are all basically grasping at straws, and any measure of success is but siyata diShmaya for those who are zocheh lekach.
Yes, a shadchan must put meaningful thought into their ideas. Yes, a shadchan must be adept at guiding couples through the maze of interpersonal interactions and relationship development. Yes, a shadchan must have the capability to aid in the process of astute decision-making from the early stages of a suggestion all the way to engagement. But to think that any of us even begin to perceive that which is really happening when it comes to the joining of a chosson and kallah is a grave mistake. When one steps over that line, and assumes to have taken the mantle of true shadchan, they are being mishtameish bisharvito shel Melech – making mundane that which is holy – and engaging in act which is unlikely to lead to triumph on any front.
Consequently, my advice to those in shidduchim would be to refrain from getting bent out of shape over how long a shadchan spends in a meeting; present themselves as best as they can in the timeframe provided; investigate the suggestions that seem solid and discard those which do not; and be assured that the Netzach Yisroel is overseeing everything, and bringing us all exactly where we need to be, exactly when we need to be there.