||TEN KEYS TO CHOOSING OR BEING A GOOD SHADCHAN
- Thursday, January 4, '01 - Parshas Vayigash 5761
1. OPPORTUNITY TO EXPRESS. The single
must be able to express who he or she is. The matchmaker must hear the single and answer
to-the-point, on each point.
2. REAL COMMUNICATION. The communication must be comfortable and productive. The
shadchan must be receptive to the single's reality and priorities.
3. REAL PERSON. The shadchan must take enough time to get to know the single as a
unique individual; without superficiality, impositions of the shadchan's agenda or
assumptions or sweeping generalizations.
4. CONSTRUCTIVE CRITICISM. Since some singles do not know themselves or how unrealistic
their expectations may be, the shadchan may have valid and constructive criticism.
However, Torah law requires that it be delivered with concern, warmth, respect, tact and
softness. If the criticism cannot be properly administered, it may not be given at all.
5. DILIGENT RESEARCH TO "DAMAGE-PROOF" A MATCH. Jewish law prescribes
priorities and criteria for finding a suitable mate. The internal qualities are of highest
priority, the surface matters are subsidiary. Candidates must be prepared for the mature
responsibilities of marriage, functional (in psychological and practical terms),
mentshlach (fine, honorable and decent as human beings). If a person can be a cause of
damage to a marriage partner; is untrustworthy, cruel, irresponsible, abusive,
antagonistic, rude, insolent or unstable; call a known rov before making a match.
Reasonable and diligent research must be made, since every single represents him/herself
as wonderful. Err on the side of getting more (not fewer) references and check not only
for reliable and meaningful data; check for inconsistencies and fabrications. Lives are at
stake, children stand to be emotionally crippled, future generations stand to be burdened
by the societal ills of dysfunctional and broken families. Much of this can be avoided by
competent and responsible matchmaking. The shadchan must have a reasonably reliable and
honest knowledge of each single.
6. DON'T PRESSURE. The good shadchan does not pressure, impose his taste or will, rush
or manipulate a single. The single's intuitive feel must be given weight. If the single
doesn't like a match enough to want to marry, that cannot be disrespected. Some people can
use some mild prodding or dialogue about the match. Look first and foremost at the
prospects for a successful and lifelong marriage, minimizing the chance for a marriage
that is shortlived and destructive.
7. MUTUAL AVAILABILITY. Return phone calls or be reasonably accessible to receive them.
The single and the matchmaker must both be available or there is no basis for any
practical working relationship. When you don't have a match at the time, tell the single
how often to keep in touch (different shadchanim vary).
8. HAVE A VALID CASE. Be able to articulate the attributes or basis for recommending a
match. This must be substantive and specific. To say that two unstable, rude or
dysfunctional people "have something in common so it should work out" is
superficial and destructive. Convey that your thought went into it and why it should
succeed. This is not accomplished until the single agrees that the criteria are
meaningful, valid and indicate a reasonable prospect for a marriage that can last. Never
be evasive or vague. Never use generalizations nor impose your priorities or taste.
Remember the difference between answering a question and negating it. Have answers. Don't
be judgmental, arrogant or rejecting.
9. BE SCRUPULOUSLY HONEST. This includes: no substantive omissions, shtick or
deception. If someone thinks he is marrying A and you are delivering B, the marriage may
be subject to annulment or you may have an avaira or enemy on your hands who you would be
better off without. For example, do not misrepresent health, age or psychological
condition. Be more interested in success and integrity then the "scorecard."
Quality counts more than quantity. Lasting and happy marriages count. Round-trip tickets
into and out of marriage don't. If a divorce is attributed to the absence of competence or
integrity on the part of the shadchan, it is a blight on that shadchan, who should be
chased out of the profession; like an accountant who keeps getting clients jailed by the
I.R.S., an engineer whose bridges keep falling into the river, a surgeon who maims more
patients than he heals or a plumber who keeps flooding his customer's homes.
10. DON'T HAVE IMPERFECTION-PARANOIA. Don't be afraid of singles' shortcomings (when
they are not destructive ones). An important part of successful, meaningful and realistic
matchmaking is completing each person's shortcomings with the other person's strengths.
Also, each must be able to accept the faults which another person has. To say that just
because they are married "it will work out" is not true nor reliable. Remember
that today's divorce rates are frightening and staggering. Get to know the single well
enough for him/her to talk about shortcomings so that you can work with what is truly
there (what to reveal to a prospective match is a matter for a rabbinical shaala, but you
should have a sensible idea as to which couple is a match and which is a disaster). Know
when shortcomings can get in the way of a match. There won't always be one. That's better
than being the cause of a disaster. If in doubt, don't promote a match. Your goal is: a
good, responsible and lasting match. Know which differences allow a couple to complete
each other and which differences mean that a couple is incompatible.