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The Encyclopedia of Shidduchim

Updated: Sep 27, 2023


Dear Friends, this is the week I’ve been waiting for: we’re reading the Torah portion of Chayei Sarah! Everything you’ve ever wanted to know about shidduchim packed into one enthralling parsha. This week we could explore such salient subjects as:

· Yichus: May be disappointing to some, but there’s simply no choice; k’nanim are out, and daughters of accursed slaves are also not acceptable. The pool narrows…

· Gifts for the Kallah: stock up on bracelets and nose-rings.

· Lots and lots of tefillah. Even the shadchan needs to daven.

· No slagging off, shidduchim demand alacrity.

· You can’t seal a shidduch without the clear consent of both the boy and girl.

· Does the Kallah remind you of the boy’s mother? Check out what’s going on in her tent…

· And above all else, never, but never, attempt to poison the shadchan. It doesn’t turn out well.

However, due to popular request, rather than expound on the above, we turn our attention to The Shadchan’s Handbook: 10 Tips for Successful Shadchanim.

When Avrohom Avinu sought a suitable match, he didn’t have access to the wisdom of Sorah’s incredible binah yesaira. Instead, he turned to his faithful and pious servant, Eliezer.

Þ Avrohom’s agenda: bring a suitable wife for the saintly, Yitzchak. Eliezer’s agenda: How about my lovely daughter?

Tip #1: Be aware, even the most committed shadchan has interests. Whether it is ‘shadchan gelt’, honor (that was my 539th shidduch I must be the greatest shadchan on earth…), self -advancement (if I find a shidduch for my older sister, it’ll be my turn next…), business (if I pair up my niece with that clever boy, we’ll employ him and he’ll wake up our dying corporation…) or spiritual (what a budding talmid chacham…) – don’t expect the shadchan to be doing chessed shel emes.

  • Avrohom gave Eliezer a clear definition of what kind of young-lady he’s looking for, and where to find her, (and provided the resources he’d need for his mission).

Tip #2: Be specific. Say what kind of candidate you’re looking for, where you’re likely to find someone of that ilk, and facilitate.

  • Eliezer expressed his concerns – what if she’s not interested (and maybe you want to consider my daughter…)? And Avrohom heard him out respectfully, and clearly stated that which was non-negotiable.

Tip #3: We don’t need to spar with the Shadchan. Even if they sound pushy, insensitive, like they don’t ‘get it’, it will help you more in the long run if you can be respectful, appreciative and validating. We want the shadchan to remain motivated to help us. Match-making is not an easy profession. But at the same time, do be pleasantly clear and confirm that which is non-negotiable. (If you notice shadchan malpractice – work with someone else.)

  • Avrohom made Eliezer swear that he was going to abide by Avrohom’s directives. Rashi explains that since one swears using a d’var mitzvah (such as a sefer torah), and circumcision was Avrohom’s first mitzvah, Eliezer swore with this mitzvah ‘in hand’.

Tip #4: You can skip this step.

However, shadchanim do have a moral obligation of ne’emanut. By that I mean that they are often privy to private information about a shidduch candidate and his/ her family. Do they abuse this information or do they use it with scrupulous caution, lest any individual’s status be sullied? Is the shadchan respectful of the individual needs and preferences of the client, or are they judgmental, or even worse, mocking? Is the shadchan sensitively smoothing out the bumps of an already trying nisayon or are they yet another challenge to be contended with?

  • The Torah teaches us that Eliezer had supernatural k’fitzas ha’derech – a condensed process, which hastened the clinching of this shidduch.

Tip #5: The shadchan must not schlep.

  • Eliezer understood what signs would clearly indicate that Rivka was ‘the one’.

Tip #6: It’s not enough for the shadchan to hear what you’re looking for. He needs to know how to translate the ‘what-I-want-in-a-shidduch-list’ into a system for identifying a suitable candidate when he sees one. You can ask your shadchan something like, ‘What makes you think that this is an appropriate suggestion for us?” P.S. It is helpful if the shadchan actually met the person that they are recommending (if the buses aren’t running, hop onto a camel).

  • Þ ויקד האיש וישתחו ל-ד' (כ"ד:כ"ו), - And the man [Eliezer] bowed and prostrated himself before Hashem

Tip #7: The shadchan should know and express that the match was not successful because of his brilliance, but because of the ultimate Shadchan.

  • Eliezer presented a detailed account of his shidduch-related mission to Rivka’s father (and brother).

Tip #8: It is an art to know what and how to present information to the ‘other side’. On the one hand, the Shadchan is a good salesman, on the other he may not distort or misrepresent. We can be instrumental in this by asking our shadchan, “How do you intend to portray ______?” Or we can define what we wish to be said and what not and to whom. For example, sometimes an older single who is speaking to the shadchan doesn’t want his / her parents to know about a suggestion until s/he knows if it has potential, since s/he doesn’t want to cause yet another disappointment. In that case she must tell the shadchan specifically not to speak to her parents until she thinks it’s appropriate. If you leave it up to the shadchan you are relying on his judgement.

  • Eliezer wanted to return to Avrohom immediately after determining that Rivka was the one for Yitzchak. But he waited until Rivka declared that she was ready for ‘the meeting’.

Tip #9: Don’t be controlling. Set up all shidduch meetings with full participation of the candidates.

  • Þ ויאמר אלהם אל תאחרו אתי...שלחוני ואלכה לאדני. (כ"ד:נ"ו) - And he[Eliezer] said, "Don’t delay me…release me on my way and I will go to my master [Avrohom]."

Tip #10: The shadchan needs to get back to the side that’s waiting for an answer as soon as possible. Keeping one person biting his / her fingernails in anticipation of the possible ‘no’, is cruel and inhuman. If you are the side that hasn’t made up your mind yet, at the very least, have the shadchan call the one who’s waiting and inform them that you didn’t forget about them, and hope to get back by ____ {stipulate a reasonable time limit}, at the very latest.

So there we have it, ladies. No need to be in a tizzy over shidduchim, everything’s right there, black on white, from The One Above.


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