A Shadchan’s Perspective on the Shidduch Crisis: Shadchan Crisis IS the Shidduch Crisis

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Traditionally, before making suggestions, Shadchanim strived to get to know the person usually by a face-to-face meeting, and stayed involved until the engagement, helping the couple smooth out the bumps along the way. Many Shadchanim today, however, frustrated by an increasing sense of failure, end up shying away from wholeheartedly being involved.

The overwhelming, pervasive sense of failure and the many hours spent on unsuccessful suggestions engenders the inevitable expectation of failure. The full-time Shadchanim who are motivated exclusively by altruistic intentions, not able to make ends meet, move on to take other employment. The sad reality is that the shadchanus, shadchan fee, has remained constant since 1970s where $1000 is today worth about $5700. Paying a shadchan $1000, in today’s dollars is like paying the 1970s shadchan $175. Some shadchanim will not work on a shidduch unless offered $10,000 from each side.

The young shadchanim presume that their primary loyalty is to their husband/wife and their children and turn their backs and back burner the myriads of singles who have no other avenue to meet potential wives and husbands because of the religiously dictated separation of the sexes. The alternative then shifts from the traditional shidduch method, which are done privately with discretion minimizing the humiliation and vulnerability that those in shidduchim feel, to “singles” events so that private humiliations become devastating public humiliations. Those who the Orthodox and ultra-Orthodox rely on have become, because of circumstance, unreliable.

Meanwhile, thousands of Jewish singles are plagued with thoughts of despair and hopelessness such as: “The shadchan knows hundreds of people, and I haven’t got any suggestions in months! Is something wrong with me? “

The net result is that in reality there is no shidduch crisis, there is a shadchan crisis.

Relying on the unreliable is the pathetic reality: the shidduch crisis is a shadchan crisis.

I and a few others saw the need to use contemporary technology to help shadchanim work more expeditiously and to facilitate shidduchim. We created Yismach.com which was at first nothing more than an electronic file cabinet, where the established, recognized, professional shadchanim can draw the up to date information of those in shidduchim. We then added search filters in Yismach.com to help the shadchanim narrow the range of possibilities for each person in shidduchim. We davened for everyone who entrusted us with information and the shadchanim promised to ensure the confidentiality and respect the dignity of those in shidduchim.

We started in Israel where the rate of engagements over the two years that we are functioning, the rate of engagements is accelerating rapidly and over 300 who signed up are now engaged or married. Opening this up to America and Europe was met with another problem: American frum shadchanim more often than not do not use a computer but do use their smartphones, so that Reb Lowenstein in Lakewood, a very successful shadchan does all his work on his cell phone. We therefore had to make a mobile phone app. As our services are free relying in donations, one person pledged a donation which would have covered the cost of creating this app, but only gave 20% of what he pledged, so we started to charge a nominal $50 registration fee as donations were few and far between. To provide greater incentives for shadchanim to devote their time, we added to our system a shadchanus field where people can offer greater shadchanus than the minimum and in fact those that offered higher amounts did get many more suggestions.

Much ink has been spilled about the shidduch crisis, with much of it pointing an accusatory finger at the singles themselves for their single state. But we are all complicit, and many of us are guilty, of not doing enough. That must change. Everyone can – and should – make shidduchim. It is an act of chesed that is not limited to those professional shadchanim who are often overwhelmed by the sheer numbers of singles, and the young shadchanim who get caught up with their day-to-day lives. Rather, it is imperative that more people take on this task, set up their friends, their friends’ children, etc. without hesitation. And we should all encourage shadchanim to redouble their efforts both by social support as well as increase the financial incentives. Initiatives such as Yismach should be provided with the financial backing.

Rav Aryeh Levine always used to say “There is no such thing as a good shidduch.” – “only a fitting shidduch.” As the old-time yentas used to say, for every pot there is a cover.

Our job as shadchanim is to serve as a vessel for Hashem to make the fitting shidduch – where they find each other’s missing half.

The pragmatic standard for shadchanim is being able to stand up to the ultimate test after death when asked a series of questions including “were you busy with pru urvu?”, (Gemora Shabbos 31b) The Maharsha says that “Were you busy with pru urvu” — includes did you make shidduchim for widows and orphans. I was told that Rav Zilberstein says this now applies to everyone, since they have to rely on others to help their shidduchim.

This obligation falls on every single Jew. If you are not doing it yourself, then at the very least contribute financially to support those who are busy with this day and night.

What’s in a Name? Who you are compatible with!

The Torah tells us that Adam named all the animals.

The Torah tells us that names were changed; Avrom to Avroham, Sari to Sarah, Yaakov to Yisroel.

The Torah tells us what the Avos named their children and why. In one case, it was Hashem who selected the name, Yitzchok.

Today, it is not until the bris that the boy has a name and it is not until a girl’s father is called to the Torah that she is given a name.

Often names are changed or added for someone who is critically ill.

And quite a number of times, people who are having trouble finding their zivug were told by Rav Chaim Kanievsky or other Gedolim to change their name to some specific name or in some cases to add a name.

If you want to change your mazel, the Gemorah says change your name – change where you live.

Forty days before a boy is conceived, a voice comes from heaven and announces that “bas ploni” for “ploni” this boy to be born in 9 months and 40 days later is for someone, perhaps not yet conceived, who is the daughter of some specific person who will have a specific name. The angels throughout the universe repeat the name of the boy and the name of the girl he is destined to marry.

So what is in a name? Do we not all blindly accept Shakespeare’s dictum that a rose by any other name will smell just as sweet?

When it comes to shidduchim, a common practice is to ask either a major Hasidic Rebbe or a recognized mekubal – in both cases they will ask your full Hebrew name and your mother’s full Hebrew name and then will tell you to proceed with the shidduch or to seek another.

As a professor, whose background is positive empiricism, I was approached with a system to predict compatibility taken from old sefarim. Set forth were four different systems which predict compatibility. Under close examination, these systems do not conflict, but focus on different aspects of a relationship. I put this system to a blind test. Several years ago, I posted on Janglo, a board for Anglos in Israel, that someone claims to have discovered a system that predicts compatibility and in order to test this, we ask that people send in their Hebrew name, their mother’s Hebrew name and their spouse’s Hebrew name and their spouses mother’s Hebrew name and we will send back what this system finds and we ask only whether it accurately reflects their existing relationship.

Out of 60 respondents, all 60 without exception reported that it was accurate. This did not prove anything to me, as the distribution was skewed. The majority of cases, the result was that they are living in a peaceful state with each other, not especially bad or especially good.

It was the extreme cases which convinced me. An elderly woman married over 60 years who was told that the result was that her relationship was very good, reported that she is so in love with her husband that every time he comes home, her heart flutters, she is so excited to see him, and grateful that she has the privilege to be with him.

And when the result was that it was bad, we got a result, how could you possibly know, no one knows how horrible my life is – I keep davening for my life to end. I would never divorce my husband because of the children, but my husband is violent, explodes unpredictably and beats me mercilessly. She says that we cannot fathom the depths of her suffering which she has to bear alone. And she continues, no one knows, she has kept up appearances and everyone, friends, neighbors, rabbonim think that they are happily married.

In the Chida sefer it says – How do you know that you married your zivug hagon (bashert)? You can only know at the end of your life, if the relationship during its entire span was effortless, it was the zivug hagon. The Maharal and others talk about two kinds of marriage, this one – the preordained one you are destined to marry and another type – zivug lefi maseh. The second one can also work. Rav Shlomo Zalman Auerbach at the hesped of his wife said that he does not have to ask mechila from her because they both followed the halochos of bein adam lechavero. People who knew Rav Shlomo Zalman told me how he had a sense of humor and was very sensitive to the hurt of others. An elderly neighbor told me that one Simchas Torah, when he was a young bachur, during dancing he bumped into Rav Shlomo Zalman and was so deeply embarrassed and asked mechila for bumping into him. Rav Shlomo Zalman with a twinkle in his eye acted shocked and asked him what is he asking mechila for and this bochur repeated that he bumped into him. Rav Shlomo Zalman acted surprised “You bumped into me?” The bochur said yes, holding back his tears. Rav Sholomo Zalman said again, “You bumped into me?” “I do not think so” – and Rav Shlomo Zalman bumped into him “but in case you did – now we are even.”

According to some, marrying your one and only is rare for a number of reasons, and not marrying at all and for men to elect to never have children, after they die – without getting into detail – they are not in a good place. Marry you must. If you marry your lost other half, that is a rare privilege that I hope everyone who has it should appreciate it every waking and sleeping moment of their life.

Yismach has a single goal – to expedite shidduchim. We now offer a service- for shidduch screening purposes only- you give us the names and we will tell you what this system predicts. Please only use before you go out on a date, not as a relationship is developing, nor to justify a divorce or to break up a marriage. While the system tests whether the relationship will be seamless and effortless, a sign of a true soulmate, you can make relationships work with various people, nevertheless- zivug lefi maseh. There is a modest fee for service. If you are interested in trying this go to the Names section on the Yismach home page.

This new service is another way Yismach helps expedite shidduchim to “make it happen”.