Dei'ah veDibur - Information & Insight

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11 Elul 5765 - September 15, 2005 | Mordecai Plaut, director Published Weekly










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Home and Family

Getting Along With the Shadchan

By Rebbetzin Nomi Travis

Question: ". . . my own experiences with shadchonim were mostly bitter..." Piah*


Dear Piah,


I often hear complaints about matchmakers. Recently, in a frum publication, I found numerous letters to the editor both from shadchonim and parents. Some criticisms, judgments, justifications, you name it. It was a forum of opinions coming from varied positions.

I'm not trying to defend my colleagues, just to point out, from my end, ideas to make our contact with you more pleasant. For it goes without saying that understanding is extremely beneficial — if not essential — for positive outcomes.


You might have your own way of doing things. However, don't try to convince us to manage the situation exactly the way you would have handled it. It will only backfire — no one likes to be bossed around. Remember that in life, the key to getting along is adjusting to the other person rather than only seeing things from your viewpoint.

Try to understand how the lady on the other end of the line works. If she was highly recommended and you want her professional input, be prepared to work with her and not against her. For example, some matchmakers like to be contacted often; while others prefer to call only when they have something specific to say. Many request appointments; others are satisfied with only general information and references.

Misunderstandings occur often. However, most of them get cleared up if there is a willingness to talk respectfully and listen. If there is no basic communication, the suggestion most likely won't get off the ground. I personally have found it much easier to relate to people coming from cultures similar to mine.

Furthermore, a match is also needed with the go-between and the people involved. For instance, often relatives feel too concerned by family ties to be the intermediary. It might be touchy for them to be impartial and ask about finances. Therefore, an idea might be followed through by someone else, depending on the nature of the contacts and relationships in that particular case.


Generally, even the most experienced in the field won't be on target immediately. It can take a lot of time to get to know both sides until an agreeable suggestion comes up. Be patient. Often, inasmuch as we try our best, trial and error are unavoidable. I had wonderful ideas that didn't materialize, while doubtful ones were successful.

Rather than holding against being set up with someone that is totally not appropriate, try to judge the matchmaker favorably. Perhaps you found out information we don't know. Or we might have misunderstood what you are looking for. At the end of the day, people are very complex and even when on paper it sounds great, I can't even begin listing the endless reasons why people might not like each other . . .

Certainly, if there are no suitable suggestions, it's praiseworthy for us to admit it, rather then putting you through a list that is far from what you are looking for. In fact, names don't mean anything to me — they all sound the same. Only as I try to get to know them, can I have a better grasp of who they are.

Shadchonim are human (too) and usually have good intentions. I really felt for Mrs. A. who has several children of marriageable age. Common friends asked me to keep them in mind. Finally when I came up with an idea, she said that she only considers ideas from someone who knows both sides well. With the passing of time, the mother became more desperate and asked me to try to help. Upon inquiring thoroughly about someone I know to be an excellent girl and suggesting her, she didn't even bother giving an answer. When I called, she said, "When you have someone better, let me know . . . " For whatever reasons not revealed to me, she might not have been suitable, but there was no reason to put her down. In fact, her expectations of me don't seem to be realistic, for she asked so many questions, as if I was supposed to know him inside out. And I am acknowledged for being thorough, interviewing and making inquiries . . . !

Busy Shadchan

I don't enjoy missing calls . . . When the answering machine is loaded it's hard to figure out whom to call back first! One of the most frequent complaints I get is that it's not easy to get through to me. Which means, when it is convenient for that person to call, I'm not always available . . . But I do try to make set hours. Unfortunately, often then the line is busy. What am I supposed to do? Be on call 24 hours a day?

Most people who are trying to help others are difficult to reach. If you need to be tolerant with other busy services, why not be patient with the matchmaker, too?

In fact, when you ask someone for a favor and act impulsively and impatiently, ultimately it won't help you at all. You can be assertive, yet respectful at the same time.

Shmiras HaLoshon

We might not be able to always explain puzzling situations, because of laws of speech. For example, in order not to hurt the rejected side, I had to cover up with a general answer like "I wasn't given a reason." And it's pointless pressuring for a relationship to be pushed when we clearly know what the answer will be.

I have tried to protect the privacy and reputation of both sides even when a match was not successful. I remember, following rabbinic advice, having even made up that the boy wasn't feeling well before the date and apologized in his name. The relationship wasn't going to work out anyway, but the rabbi I consulted agreed that there was no purpose in the girl harboring resentment for his rude behavior.

Also, in particular cases, I was given a halachic ruling not to reveal certain information until the dating progressed. How can the shadchan be criticized, if an authority was asked? What we think is right is not always in accord with the rabbinic decision. A psak can be painful and difficult to understand. You might want to request further clarification, but remember that rabbis are the vehicles for Hashem's will to be transmitted. Reliable rabbinic authorities can think in an objective manner on how to apply the Torah law to different cases.

In fact, I asked one of the Gedolim what was my responsibility as the intermediary. Mainly, I need to give over information and references, rather than making full inquiries, with the given that in each individual case, the revelation of "red lights", such as negative issues, must be referred to rabbinic advice.


Human nature is always fascinating, for all people are special in their own unique way. Obviously, some are more stable and developed as well, with talents shining forth from their spiritual accomplishments and conduct.

Your dear child is not the only special person. People have no idea what a shadchan goes through trying to help someone. I remember recently someone reminded me of her situation, asking why I wasn't in touch, etc. She was surprised to hear how much effort I was exerting for her without her knowing. I had been davening, interviewing potential candidates, and making numerous calls to mashgichim, Roshei Yeshivos, etc.

In addition, if the match was successful, don't just say it was by chance. Believe me, I have heard comments like, "She doesn't really know what she is doing, she just happened to have good luck on the x and y shidduch".

More often than not, the most I feel is that despite a fiasco, I brought them a step closer to their zivug. Unfortunately, most efforts go unappreciated. Success shouldn't just be measured by an engagement. Valid efforts, even if not fruitful, are still products of hard work. You have no idea how much a kind word of appreciation can brighten up our day!

Consequently, if you and the matchmaker can't work together, she might not be the right Divine agent for you. Sometimes awkwardness or discomfort is unavoidable. It's not always possible to see things eye to eye. Perhaps in the future, the relationship will be smoother, as people and circumstances change. For just as there is an intended match, there is also an appropriate time, and even a blessed intermediary!

Rebbetzin Travis has many years of experience and success in helping people through shidduchim. Please note that all names have been changed unless specified, with the exception of well-known public figures like Gedolim and educators. Any comments, questions and stories can be sent to: or at (02) 656-3111


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