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Dear Jido,

I very much respect the shadchanim working in our community – for the most part, they are trying to help, and sometimes do so with no pay. So please understand this is not against them in any way or form. However, whether we realize it or not, we have a crisis in our community, in that many young people are getting divorced, or not married at all.

I have a theory that this failure to match up our singles stems from an all-around lack of objectivity. Parents as well as the shadchanim are not letting their children go out with great prospects either because of a) family image b) money concerns c) lashon hara they’ve heard from others d) selfishness or e) all of the above.

The system may work for the rich or for those who come from a rabbinical family – but it seems to go south from that point onwards.

I also believe the shadchanim sometimes get swept up in image. Why should they help a no-name family when they can help a well-known family? The problem is that many shadchanim hold back the names of girls and boys because they believe that only certain families deserve to be matched together. This is just plain wrong and unfair.

The Prosecutor

Dear Prosecutor,

Phew! Even Hillary didn’t get such an indictment! Perhaps we should start a campaign to “Make Shadchanim Great Again.”

Fortunately, those dedicated to helping our young men and women get married are doing an important job in service of Hashem. They deserve our thanks. Is the system perfect? No. Are there pitfalls? Yes. Have there been mistakes? Yes, and they hurt deeply and last a long time. But the responsibility does not rest solely on the shoulders of the shadchan.

Everyone brings baggage to a marriage and a good shadchan must be diligent in fleshing that out when suggesting a match. From where can they get such information? From the parents, the boy’s rabbi, the girl’s high school or seminary principal, as well as the boy and girl themselves. If those involved are not honest and open, it is only the couple that will suffer down the line. To place that blame squarely on the shadchan is unfair.

As far as favoritism in whichever way it manifests itself — rich and famous, rabbi or prominent member of the community – it is sometimes very difficult to look beyond that. In fact, status is sometimes a very important factor in a match. Our rabbis say a girl from a rich family should not marry beneath her station because she will not be happy (Rachel and Rabbi Akiva being the notable exception). First-born males and baby-of-the-family girls naturally expect to continue to being treated the way in which they are accustomed. It’s likely that neither would be satisfied if they should marry each other.

There are numerous factors that go into making a good match and a healthy marriage. According to Rabbi Avigdor Miller, one of the most important factors to remember when looking for a mate is to be realistic. Often, girls, and boys have very unrealistic ideas about what it takes to make a marriage work. They also sometimes misjudge the type of person who would both mesh with their own personalities and compensate for their shortcomings.

No one likes to wash their dirty laundry in public, but in the interest of having our children establish strong, sturdy marriages, perhaps everything worthy of being known should be disclosed confidentially to the shadchan. We must trust that the shadchanim are acting l’shem shamayim and with the best of intentions. Be’ezrat Hashem, with the honest disclosure of all parties regarding the prospective couples’ pluses and minuses, we will see our children and grandchildren build batim ne’emanim b’Yisrael.

Jido