Using Money Effectively and Fairly
By Moshe Pogrow, Director, NASI Project
(This article is the seventh in a series.)
(To view Part I – Introduction, click here.)
(To view Part II- Meeting the Shadchan, click here.)
(To view Part III- Getting the Shadchan’s Attention Part I, click here.)
(To view Part IV- Getting the Shadchan’s Attention Part II, click here.)
(To view Part V- Using Money Effectively and Fairly Part I, click here.)
(To view Part VI- Using Money Effectively and Fairly Part II, click here.)
FAQ About the New Compensation Structure
Real estate agents only get paid when they close a deal. Why can’t shadchanus work the same way?
For starters, I refer the reader to article one in this series. That will give a greater appreciation for the role of the shadchan, and its total lack of resemblance to that of real estate agents.
It is interesting to note that for every one home being sold and/or for every potential buyer, there are many people looking to be the agent. In shidduchim, it is the reverse. For every one active shadchan, there are tens of singles desperate for their attention. Since there are more than enough realtors for the available sellers and buyers of a home, the seller and buyer are treated royally by whatever agent is involved. Yet there are not nearly enough shadchanim for shidduch-seeking singles, especially the underserved singles, so what ends up happening is that very few of them get any kind of personal attention.
Why is it that we don’t have enough shadchanim willing to focus on singles who fly under the radar? Are agents who find houses nicer, more caring, and more thoughtful than agents who find shidduchim? Or might it be that being a real estate agent is a viable parnassah, while shadchanus is not. And the few providers who do exist are completely overwhelmed.
Who loses out the most from a lack of shadchanim for under-the-radar singles? Is it the shadchanim who burn out and quit within a year and a half? Is it the shadchanim who, within 18 months, decide that they will spend 95% of their time on the very-easy-to-set-up singles? Or is it the underserved singles and their families, who now have no address to turn to?
Who would benefit the most if investing oneself in shidduchim was as viable a parnassah as real estate? Would it be the people who get plenty of shadchan attention anyway? Would it be the shadchanim, who instead of quitting and becoming accountants and insurance brokers would consider staying in the field? Or would the biggest beneficiary be the underserved singles and their families, who would now have ample service providers to help them?
It should be plainly evident why there is an urgent need, on the individual and communal level, to completely revise the way we think of shadchanus.
Won’t this model encourage shadchanim to redt inappropriate shidduchim just to cash in on dates?
That is precisely why compensation is only for Date 2. If it is a terrible idea, one side or another (or both) will refuse to continue. If it is a decent idea that warrants a second date, even if it requires some extra encouragement from the shadchan, then yes, the shadchan has earned their $500-$2,500, depending on the situation. Usually the most difficult part of the shadchan’s job is getting to Date 1.
Remember, this concept is for singles who are currently underserved by the current shidduch landscape. For singles who haven’t gone out in quite some time, the shadchan surely deserves to be compensated for the challenge in getting them a date. In truth even for a date 1 a shadchan deserves compensation -and I have often compensated even when there had been no prior offer, if it was clear that the shadchan extended themselves-, but being that the offer for date 2/4 is significant, it is okay that there is no offer for date 1. Offering compensation only after Date 2/Date 4 protects the person making the offer from having to pay for a really poor shidduch suggestion, as well as to make the person making the offer be assured that they will not taken advantage of.
Won’t singles and their families possibly end potential shidduchim prematurely in order to save on the Date 2/4 offer?
These offers are most effective when the single, along with anyone who has a say in continuing a shidduch, is unaware of the offer. Obviously, if singles ended a shidduch in order to save the money that was committed for a second or fourth date, this system would backfire. The offers I am proposing are most effective when made by family members, friends or relatives on behalf of someone they care deeply about, without the person’s knowledge.
When this concept gain traction, people will realize that allowing the fair cost of the process to derail a shidduch is simply foolish, and doing so will certainly not encourage the shadchan to continue to work with that single. When that happens, it will no longer be necessary to have others make the offers on behalf of a particular single, but astute families will do it themselves, understanding that it is no different than the money needed for all other aspects of getting married. They will understand that without agreeing on an arrangement, it is frankly unreasonable to expect a shadchan to make any particular single a priority, yet that is precisely what we are doing every time we visit them.
Who can afford such high amounts?
As stated numerous times, this concept is limited to singles currently under-served by the shidduch landscape. Under this system, their biggest challenge should be so much shadchan attention that they aren’t sure what to do. Halevai.
Truth be told, singles who barely get any shidduch opportunities, usually need only a few good shidduch suggestions/dates, and they are standing under the chuppah. When all they lack is opportunity, it will not take long for them to be engaged. This new system will not be as expensive as it might appear at first glance.
In addition, it is crucial for us to realize that there is no more important wedding cost than getting to the chuppah. If this is the fair price of generating the necessary shidduch opportunities for a particular single, then so be it. Cut out the flowers, the band and the unnecessary gifts, and serve cold cuts for the main dish. The most important wedding expense is what it takes to get someone engaged, and one of the most effective methods of hishtadlus is to increase the shadchan attention they receive.
How should this become widespread?
I would like to propose a novel method: that shadchanim treat themselves as professional service providers. When a single comes to meet with a shadchan, essentially requesting their services, a clear agreement should be arranged with clearly-delineated compensation for Date 2/Date 4 and engagement. Families (or someone on their behalf) that reach out to shadchanim need to strongly encourage this, with the understanding that the single will be better off as a result, replacing the underlying sentiment that maligns shadchanim as greedy and selfish.
If, when singles met shadchanim, this arrangement was set in motion, and if the dollar amounts for Date 2/Date 4 and shadchanus truly reflected the assessed effort required, we would be assured that the singles who need the attention the most would receive it.
Why don’t shadchanim just discuss this up front?
Because they are very sensitive about seeming money-hungry. As a whole, shadchanim are uncomfortable with the undeserved bad rap they get from families and singles, and they are uncomfortable with singles and families being upset at them, which would only be exacerbated if they stated their requested fee for a completed shidduch up front. We met five minutes ago, you haven’t even set up my child, and you’re already telling me how much you want to get paid?
So shadchanim say nothing about compensation when meeting a single or when redting a shidduch. And when the shidduch is completed, they are at the families’ mercy. By then, the parents are already calculating the cost of the l’chaim, vort, clothes, wedding, sheva brachos, gifts and apartment. The shadchan is far down on their list. All too often, the sentiment is, “How much do I have to give to be yotzei?”
A point to ponder. Outside of the cost of a wedding ring, which can theoretically be a mere prutah, shadchanus is the only other halachically required expense of a chasunah. We do not have to have a vort, l’chaim, miles of flowers, or endless hors d’oeuvres. We do not have buy the chassan and kallah thousands of dollars’ worth of jewelry and Judaica.
We do, however, have to pay shadchanus.
Instead of trying to figure out how much you can get away with, or how much you have left over after everything else, consider shadchanus on equal standing with every other wedding-related expense. However you are paying for those, and whatever level of luxury they are at, should be reflected in your shadchanus.
Think about how painful it is for a shadchan, a human instrument of Hashem who matched your children together, to attend the lavish wedding of a couple they set up and to receive a check of $1800 or less. Is what this person did less valuable to us than the cutting station?
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