Finding a Match is Hard Work

[Be-Ahavah U-Be-Emunah – Re'eh 5770 – translated by R. Blumberg]

Question: Singles often find themselves bitter at those people who are able to make matches but who don’t even try. They are also bitter at matchmakers who, while trying to make matches, seem not to invest much thought in it, trying to slap together “any Kippah with any skirt.” In reality, matchmaking in the Charedi world goes better than in our community. It seems as though one of the main reasons for this is that matchmakers there receive appropriate remuneration for their activities; they therefore perform more seriously and energetically. Why should the Rabbis of the National Religious public not enact a binding ordinance requiring that every matchmaker be given an appropriate sum? Wouldn’t many people then try to make matches in a serious, worthy manner?
Answer: It’s true. You really do have to invest much thought before you suggest a match, because inappropriate suggestions breed aggravation and frustration. Moreover, the couple should be accompanied after they meet in order to help them in their decision making, one way or the other. Often the couple is deterred by all sorts of extraneous details. They forget that man is not an angel, that he should be judged based on how he mostly is, as Rambam wrote in Hilchot Teshuvah: “If he is mostly meritorious, he is righteous.” For someone to be considered righteous, that is enough. It’s not rare for couples to decide to break up, but following long talks with the matchmakers, to agree to meet again, and in the end they wed and produce a steadfast, Jewish home.
Matchmakers, whether professionals or not, need nerves of steel and have to be ready to suffer criticism. Very often the couple has other problems apart from mutual compatibility, and they find a ready ear in the matchmaker, pouring out their distress and seeking good advice and support. It involves a lot of effort to convince the couple to view matters in proportion and not to examine the prospective candidate’s minor shortcomings with a magnifying glass. Here is an example of a negligible shortcoming: A man came to the Talmudic sage Rav and asked regarding himself: “If a non-Jewish slave cohabits with a Jewish woman, what is the status of the resulting son?” The Rabbi answered, “He’s a legitimate Jew.” That person then said, “If you hold that way, give me your daughter as a wife.” The Rabbi replied, “I won’t do it.” Rav Shimi bar Chiye questioned Rav’s response by way of a folk saying: ‘The Rabbi says, theoretically, that a person is a legitimate Jew, but in actual practice refuses to give him his daughter when it comes to the test of reality.’ Rav responded, “Even if the man was as great as Yehoshua Bin Nun, I wouldn’t give him my daughter, and it’s my business as to the reason.” Rabbi Shimi bar Chiye said, “If that person was as great as Yehoshua Bin Nun, he would find a match easily. Here, however, it is Rav who rules that he is legitimate, and if he does not wish to give him his daughter, who will do it?” Rav still refused. When a similar question arose before Rav Yehuda, he gave the following advice: “Go hide.” In other words, he advised him to conceal his identity or to wed a woman born of a similar background. Likewise, the Talmudic sage Rava advised, “Flee
to a place where no one knows you” (elaborated-upon translation of Yevamot 45a).
The question is asked: How is it permissible to trick people and to hide such a severe blemish? Does this not halachically constitute forbidden deception? Rabbi Yaakov Yisrael Kanievsky, author of the “Kehilot Yaakov” answered this question: Regarding people who are as hard to match up as to split the sea, when people agree to wed, their joy is great, and they will not agree to wed just anybody, but only the person they themselves have chosen, whom they find pleasing. At that point, they will not be willing to end the match over normal shortcomings, but only over terrible shortcomings that one would never agree to” (Kehilot Yaakov, Yevamot, Siman 38).
It follows that a non-Jewish father would not be considered a terrible shortcoming, and it should not be taken into consideration. It is clear to us, however, how much work a matchmaker would have to put in to convince the prospective suitor that such is the case. It is therefore clear that the matchmaker must be paid, whether he is a professional or an amateur; such is the Charedi practice, whether the matchmaker was approached, or whether he himself initiated the match. Several hundred shekalim should be paid in advance to cover phone calls and investment of time, and if the efforts succeed, thousands of shekalim should be paid, and one should not feel sorry about it. All these are negligible sums compared to the expenses of the wedding, and certainly as compared with the great joy of the marriage.
At this time, I would like to announce that two matchmakers’ sites have been opened on the Internet. The candidate does not sign up, but goes through the matchmaker who lists the candidate’s details anonymously. Afterwards, he looks through the listings on the site, identifies those suitable for his candidate, and he calls that suitable person’s matchmaker, and the two, together, work towards the match’s success. Here are the
The sites also provide much guidance for matchmakers.
Mazel tov!