LAWS OF MATCHMAKING
Q. A common question that is asked to the
office- What is the
going rate that one should pay to a matchmaker if they successfully match you with
your spouse (regardless if this is a friend, relative or volunteer matchmaker)?
The current rate is approximately $2,000 per couple. The actual
amount though should be discussed between the singles and their Rabbi.
Shidduchim According to Halachah
Rabbi Doniel Neustadt
Yoshev Rosh, Vaad Harabbonim of Detroit
It is a mitzvah to arrange a shidduch [colloq: a match] between a man and a woman for the object of matrimony. It
is permitted to arrange a shidduch on
Shabbos, and if necessary, it is even permitted to discuss the financial
arrangements on Shabbos.
The poskim debate whether or not it is permitted
to arrange or promote a shidduch between
non-observant Jews who will not observe even the minimum halachic standards of family
purity. Some permit doing so only for a professional shadchan
whose livelihood depends on making shidduchim, while others do not permit it even in that case. But if the
shidduch is made for the purposes of potential
kiruv or in order to avoid the tragic
alternative of intermarriage, then the shidduch
may be proposed and followed through regardless of payment. Even a
professional shadchan, however, is advised by the poskim
not to get involved in arranging a marriage between non-Jews.
Question: During the
shidduch process, what type of information may or may not
be withheld from the other party?
Discussion: It is prohibited for either
party in a prospective match to give false information or to withhold pertinent
information about themselves. In certain cases, withholding or falsifying information could result
in the invalidation of a marriage.
The poskim give some examples of information that may
not be withheld in a prospective match [and which, if withheld, may invalidate a
marriage]: serious physical or mental illness, infertility, accurate financial
status, lack of religious observance, previous marital status, previous
illicit relationships, conversion, adoption.
One is not required
to divulge a deficiency which most people do not consider to be an impediment, such
as a minor illness, a physical weakness or a minor blemish in one's lineage. Similarly,
it is not required to divulge a transgression in the distant past for which the
sinner has repented.
Since it is often difficult
to gauge and judge minor drawbacks versus major deficiencies, a
rav must always be consulted.
Question: When being asked for information
about a prospective shidduch, what type
of information may be shared with others?
Discussion: An individual who is asked for
[or is aware of] information about a shidduch must
divulge what he knows regarding a “major deficiency,” as detailed above.
One who deliberately withholds such information transgresses the prohibition of
lifnei iver lo sitein michshol and other
about a shidduch may be conveyed only
with the proper intention—for the benefit of one of the parties, not in revenge
or out of spite. Even then, the information may only be relayed when:
- The condition is serious.
- The condition has not been exaggerated.
- There is a reasonable chance that the information
will be accepted and acted upon. If it is likely to be ignored, it is prohibited
to relay it.
One who is unsure if a particular point of information is a major deficiency
or if the above conditions have been met should consult a rav
before divulging or withholding any information.
Question: Is it a requirement to pay a
shadchan for his services or is it just
Discussion: As with any other business transaction,
a shadchan must be paid a fee for arranging
a shidduch. It makes no difference if the shadchan
was engaged by one of the parties or if he volunteered his services
or even if the shadchan is non-professional;
in all cases the shadchan must
be paid for his services. The shadchan may petition
a beis din to force the parties to pay
The amount to be paid
is divided equally between the two sides, even if the shadchan
spent more time with one of them. At the
shadchan’s discretion, he may charge only one of the parties involved half of the
going rate and forgo the other half. He may not, however, charge more than half
to one side, even if the other side is poor or for some reason refuses to pay. The
shadchan may forgo payment altogether,
in which case there is no compelling reason to pay him.
Although the obligation
to pay is the bride’s and groom’s, it has become customary for the parents
to pay. In light of this, if the parents fail to pay, some
poskim rule there is no obligation for
the bride and groom to pay the shadchan.
If the match is not
completed, the shadchan need not be
paid, even though he invested a great deal of time and effort in pursuing the match.
The poskim debate the division of payments in a situation
where more than one shadchan is involved,
or when the match began with one shadchan
and ended with another. Whenever there is a dispute, a rav should be consulted, since there are many details
involved and no two cases are alike.
shadchan whose fee is outstanding should not be a witness to
the marriage ceremony.
Question: Is there a set amount of money
that one must pay a shadchan?
Discussion: The amount to be paid to the
shadchan is based on the customary local
fee. Once the standard fee is agreed upon, the shadchan
may not ask for additional compensation to cover special expenses
that he may have incurred in arranging the shidduch.
Our custom is to pay
the shadchan immediately after the
shidduch is completed. Even if the
shidduch is broken later, the shadchan does not have to return his fee as
long as he did not give erroneous information which led to the termination of the
word shidduch is Aramaic for “peaceful”
or “tranquil” (see Targum on Sefer Shoftim 3:11), referring to the peacefulness which a woman senses when
she finds her match and establishes her home (Ran, Shabbos
maintain that the word shidduch
means “to bind or tie together” (Aruch).
3:1, based on the Midrash Rabbah,
Tzav 8:1, that Hashem himself arranges
matches. See also Chikrei Lev, C.M.
ha-Shulchan 107:8. See Kaf ha-Chayim
306:50 who says that whenever possible, it is best to delay
discussing finances until after Shabbos.
Teshuvos Meishiv Davar 2:32,
Teshuvos Maharam Brisk 1:82 and
Yismach Lev, vol. 1, pg. 20, quoting Chazon Ish and Rav C. Kanievsky.
See also Igros Moshe, E.H. 4:87-1.
Heitev, Y.D. 2:15 and Darchei
Teshuvah 154:6, quoting Chavos Yair
185. See also Chelkas Yaakov 1:174.
Igros Moshe, E.H. 1:79-80.
 E.H. 39:5; Igros Moshe, E.H. 4:73-2.
 Otzar ha-Poskim 39:7. See Kehilos Yaakov, Yevamos 38 and ruling of Rav Y.S. Elyashiv (quoted in
Nishmas Avraham, vol. 5, pg. 118).
 Teshuvos Chasam
Sofer, E.H. 72, quoted in Pischei
Teshuvah, E.H. 38:14.
 Chafetz Chayim,
Hilchos Rechilus, Klal 9, tziyur 3:6, 11.
 Noda b'Yehudah
2:50, quoted in Pischei Teshuvah,
 Igros Moshe, O.C. 4:118; Minchas Yitzchak
3:116. See, however, Maharsham 7:152.
 Minchas Yitzchak
7:90; Tzitz Eliezer (quoted in Nishmas Avraham, E.H. pg. 252).
 Minchas Yitzchak
 Such as an ulcer;
Rav Y. Zilberstein (Emek Halachah, Asyah,
 Chavos Yair 120. See Teshuvos Knei Bosem 1:121 and Nishmas Avraham E.H., pg. 26,
for an elaboration. See also Titein Emes l'Yaakov, pg. 85, who quotes a dispute between contemporary
poskim as to whether it is permitted to
slightly "adjust" the age of bride or groom, such as from age 20 to age
Yitzchak 6:139. Such information, therefore, may not be
repeated by others when they are asked for information, ibid.
Chayim, Hilchos Rechilus, Klal 9:1,
tziyur 2:3. See also Pischei Teshuvah,
O.C. 156 and Chelkas Yaakov 3:136. See also Practical Medical Halachah, 3rd edition, pg. 166, quoting an oral ruling by Rav M. Feinstein
that a disability which may impact negatively on an individual’s functioning
as a spouse or as a parent must be revealed.
Chayim, Hilchos Rechilus, Klal 9:2.
 Rama, C.M. 87:39
ha-Gra, ibid. See Teshuvos Maharash Engel
 Rama, C.M. 87:39 and 185:10.
Shai, E.H. 50.
Yitzchak, E.H. 115; Halichos
 Rav Akiva Eiger, C.M. 185; Pischei
50:16, who reject the mistaken notion that a shadchan
must be paid even if he forgoes his payment.
Nezer C.M. 36. See Halichos Yisrael 3.
Shai C.M. 185. See Yismach Lev, vol. 1, pg. 22, for other opinions.
Yosef, C.M. 185.
ha-Poskim 42:45-15; Rav Y. Kamenetsky (oral ruling, quoted
in Apiryon l'Shelomo, pg. 40).
See also Yismach Lev, vol. 1,
pg. 108, quoting Rav C. Kanievsky.
Teshuvah, E.H. 50:16. If there is no clear custom as to
the amount a shadchan receives, a
rav should be consulted.
ha-Shulchan, E.H. 50:42; Beis
Yitzchak 1:115; Halichos Yisrael
4; Pischei Choshen, sechirus, pg. 337. When a shadchan
does not get paid on time, the Biblical prohibition of delayed payment
(bal talin) may apply; see
Halichos Yisrael 1-2. See also
Yismach Lev, vol. 1, pg. 23, quoting Rav
ha-Shulchan, E.H. 50:42. But in a locality where the
shadchan is customarily paid after the wedding,
and the couple in question do not get married, the shadchan
does not have to be paid; see Chut
Shani, Shabbos, vol. 3, pg. 243.
Mordechai C.M. 15, quoted in Pischei
Choshen, ibid. See Halichos Yisrael 11, who discusses whether the shadchan
should be paid if the shidduch
was broken because of information of which the
shadchan was unaware.