I recently worked hard and made a shidduch, and each side paid me $1,100. While I know that that’s a lot of money, in my opinion it’s not enough to get me to continue to make more shidduchim. Is it perhaps time, in the year 2021, to up the shadchan’s money to $2,500 from each side? $1,100 is what people were paying 25 years ago.
Perhaps, then, more people will try to make shidduchim. It can only help. Everyone is complaining that shadchanim are overloaded and that there are not enough shadchanim, so maybe we should pay a little more. Money talks. And don’t tell me that people have no money. There is plenty of money for other things. There will be money for this, as well.
On the one hand, I think it is undebatable that our generation has demanded shadchanim to toil tirelessly like never before, expending herculean efforts in their milieu, and that for one to flourish as a shadchan on a truly expansive level, it requires virtual full-time attention. And in that respect, I do believe it fair to say that shadchanim are underpaid and under-felicitated for their work product and results. On the other hand, however, with regards to the wholesale upping of the rate of shadchanus by nearly 150%, I would like to offer three counterpoints.
1. If one is wading into the waters of shidduchim for the sake of money, they would be well-advised to find another pool. Shidduchim has never been a lucrative field, even for those who have made it their primary source of parnassah, and I do not imagine that reality will change, or even needs to change. There are plenty of people who are ready and willing to devote themselves to the future of Klal Yisroel vis-à-vis shidduchim, and to do so with money relegated to an afterthought at best. And for as long as that is the case, the rate of shadchanus cannot be expected to skyrocket. It is simple market economy. No one will pay more if the overall market asks for less.
2. The rate of shadchanus is dictated by minhag hamakom, and, by and large, the rate of each community is no great secret. As such, if one takes it upon themselves to redd a shidduch, does so successfully, and finds themselves in receipt of the going rate, they have in no way been duped. Whether the shidduch went smoothy and straightforwardly, or was mindbogglingly complex and exhausting – and notwithstanding the matter of whether or not normative shadchanus is less than what it ought to be – if someone has been paid what they knew they would be owed at the outset, there are no further unsatisfied obligations to be discussed.
3. There are few suppositions which are more uncouth than the notion that another person can afford something solely because someone else thinks they can or should. This argument arises in myriad communal conversations when finances come to the fore, and it is often a terribly crude and insensitive proposition. Freely spending other people’s money is always easy, and it is also always none of our business.
Being a frum Jew is expensive. Shabbos is expensive. Yom Tov is expensive. Tuition and daycare is expensive. Countless mosdos are in need of societal support, and thus tzedaka is expensive. Feeding, clothing, and providing the multitude of vital needs for a large family is expensive. Making a simcha is expensive. At every turn, life is expensive in the frum universe. And many, if not most, of us live each day under crushing debt merely trying to cover the bare necessities. Accordingly, to assert at any moment in time that everyone must pony up large sums of money for this, that, or the other, based on nothing more than an unsubstantiated claim that people seem (operative word) to have the money for other things, and thus, perforce, those same people must also have money for this new thing, too, is both unmerited and sophomoric.
Practically speaking, then, if there is an overwhelming feeling by the majority of shadchanim in any locale that the rate of shadchanus is inconsonant with the level of exertion they are being asked to outlay on behalf of the very inhabitants of that same location (and in some places, they would be absolutely right), I would strongly recommend that a delegation of shadchanim sit down with a number of rabbonim in that city and work towards an equitable and implementable resolution. Provided that an increase which is neither petty and paltry, nor exploitative and extortionary, can be reached, I would hope that all parties can walk away from the table feeling that their needs have been appropriately attended to.
May the Poseiach Yad Umasbia bestow parnassah tovah b’heter, b’nachas, ub’revach to all those in the Am Nosha BaShem.