Somehow in the last quarter century the prevailing belief has become that singles should eagerly allow any potential helper into their personal lives, express gratitude merely for being thought of, and even pony up large sums of money just to speak with said potential helper.
Singles have not only allowed themselves to be degraded; they pay for the privilege. No security, no money back guarantees. If the matchmaker or guru fails, the single takes the blame. If the single complains, he or she will be slandered and blackballed.
What a racket.
The entire community is in on it, too. Those who supposedly have a direct line to G-d praise matchmakers for their selfless, holy work. The future of the Jewish people depends on them! We must celebrate them and make sure they are amply rewarded whether or not they produce results. They are our only hope! So says the Lord Almighty.
If a single goes out with a dozen people without success, he is sent for coaching and mentoring. If a matchmaker makes hundreds of attempts without success, she is not sent for rehabilitation or fired. She is praised for trying and even given cash just to keep going.
Then we have our poor, pathetic singles. They pay appropriate lip service to the notion that shidduchim come from Hashem. They run around from cemetery to cemetery, they seek blessings, and they purchase books filled with segulos that their grandparents never heard of. This is hishtadlus.
When that fails, there are many Torah scholars and holy people who will mention their name in a prayer at one of the particularly opportune times that only come around every few weeks – for a modest contribution, of course. For those who are really serious about getting married, there are premium heavenly intervention services that will pray for 40 consecutive days, or even a year, or even forever.
How will you know they are really praying for you? How will you know this is helping you? Don’t you dare even ask, heretic.
But I digress. I am here to tell singles that you should not allow anyone who comes knocking into your personal life. Here are three warning signs that I urge you to heed.
1) A would-be matchmaker informs you that she “made” a certain number of shidduchim. Your immediate response should be to inquire how many matches she actually attempted. What’s her batting average?
The rate of success is what really matters, not the number of successes. Would you invest with a stockbroker who boasted of having picked a few winners, without wondering about his overall track record? Would you try a new drug based on a certain number of people being helped, without knowing the percentage? I sure hope not.
I don’t believe a shadchan should ever take credit for making a match. The most she can take credit for is making an introduction and possibly providing some support along the way. But if she is going to take credit for matches, it is only fair for her to take responsibility when it doesn’t work out, and she should be required to state her actual rate of success.
If she blanches at any of this, she probably won’t be a net positive in your life. Only people who are truly humble about their role in the process will behave with sensitivity.
2) She expects a “registration fee” or other payment before getting the actual job done. Sorry, folks, but this has scam written all over it. You don’t pay a headhunter before you land a job. You don’t pay a real estate agent before you sign the contract. You don’t even pay a barber before he cuts your hair! So too, you shouldn’t pay a shadchan before you seal the deal with your future spouse.
If she is good at her job, this won’t deter her. It is only because so many shadchanim are so bad at what they do that they need to demand payment earlier and earlier in the process.
Shadchanim who have no formal training, receive no certification, have no oversight, and make no financial investment in their work refer to themselves as professionals. Name one other profession that operates like that. Name one other profession where people who fail miserably at their jobs receive increased financial incentives just to keep trying.
Pay only for results, not hope.
3) Someone wants personal information from you, but won’t provide any information about herself. If a shadchan wants to know where you live, where you daven, and who your rebbe is, aren’t you entitled to know the same about her?
If she wants references to vouch for your sanity and fitness for marriage, shouldn’t she provide references to vouch for her competence and sensitivity in searching for your soul mate? Since shadchanim are the ones being hired to do a job, they should be the ones providing a resume.
If a shadchan is put off by your request for information, they have no business in your personal life. If you wish to set boundaries for how your personal information will be shared, or you assert what works and doesn’t work for you, and you receive a condescending, even abusive reply, let Hashem find another shaliach.
Inviting such a person to be involved in the most personal and intimate aspects of your life indicates a lack of true belief in Hashem, and a self-esteem of approximately zero.
Singles, it’s up to you. It’s your personal life. You live with the consequences of the shidduch process, and the power to decide on the process is squarely in your hands. If you wait for other people to make it “safe” and change things for you, you will wait forever.
It’s your personal life. Respect it.