How Much Does a Spouse Cost?

[Be-Ahavah U-Be-Emunah – Shelach 5770 – translated by R. Blumberg]

How much does a spouse cost? A lot! And rightly so, for that is the most important thing in life. When people are married, and married happily, they solve all their problems together, but if they are single, or having a rocky marriage, everything limps along. For something worth a lot, you’ve got to pay a lot. Thus, you’ve got to pay a lot of money to the matchmaker, whether this is his profession, a secondary occupation or a one-time act. A couple is worth all the wealth in the world. So, please pay several hundred shekels in advance for the time investment, and if the match works out, each side should pay 5,000 NIS, for a total of 10,000. That’s very little compared to the cost of the wedding, especially if it is an expensive wedding.
And why SHOULDN’T you pay the matchmaker? After all, if you hire a surgeon privately, you pay him an enormous sum, and that is just for his treating the human body; all the more so here, where it is for the soul. We pay lawyers thousands and tens of thousands, and that is just to safeguard money; all the more so here where one’s very life is at issue. It’s not enough to cry over there being 600,000 unmarried males and females amongst our people, and to exclaim, “What will be with them?”
Rather, we have to make an effort to solve the problem. After all, we don’t rely on miracles, and we don’t wait for a match to fall out of the sky. You also can’t rely on those good souls who devotedly volunteer to make matches, because they have other commitments. They don’t have oodles of time at their disposal. A matchmaker must make calls, match up candidates, persuade, follow up, remove all obstacles, and patch up all the quarrels. And all that requires a great investment in time.
One therefore has to be serious and pay out a serious sum of money. Not in advance, as noted above. Rather, with G-d’s help, after the match works out well. After all, there are other mitzvot as well for which money is collected, and the Halachah delineates set sums for each type. You’re not paying for the mitzvah itself, but for the person’s time. People in this category include physicians, mohels, Torah scribes, cantors, people who give Torah lectures, Rabbis, and soldiers as well.
Just relying on volunteers is not a serious approach. If someone strives and exerts himself for something so important, he should be paid. And even if it happened without any effort, he should be paid 10,000 shekels. That’s a paltry sum compared to what a wedding cost. After all, it is thanks to the matchmaker that everything turned out well, and the couple is together, in love and brotherhood, peace and friendship. That is certainly more important than a band or a photographer or another plate at the meal. And even after the wedding, the matchmakers and pre-marital counselors very often accompany the couple.
It is hard to understand why people expect others to make an effort for them for free. As noted, one should not pay in advance, because there have been numerous instances of terrible fraud. One should pay only several hundred shekels for the ongoing expenses. A real estate agent likewise takes a lot of money, and here we are talking about more than a home. We’re talking about the CONTENT of the home, the SOUL of the home. The Rabbis said: One’s wife is one’s home. So, pay the matchmaker, pay the counselors, and you’ll be privileged to build faithful homes in Israel.