Matchmaker, Matchmaker Make me a Match…Do We Still Need the “Shadchan”?
Most observant Jews use a matchmaker – or a shadchan – to find a spouse. This traditional method of
dating has been the primary way Jews have searched for a marriage partner since the times of the
Torah. But in recent years, many have voiced dissatisfaction with it. I’m often asked if this approach if
Recently someone wrote to me: “For five years I’ve been in touch with numerous shadchanim and I
haven’t received a call from a single one of them. Do you think the shadchan system needs to change?”
Others ask about Shabbat retreats and events held for a mixed crowd of men and women. Perhaps, that
would be a more effective. What can we do to make it easier for singles to get married?
In truth however, the way in which we find a spouse is a total mystery. Sometimes one finds a match
through a matchmaker. Sometimes a match is made through a friend or a relative. At other times it
seems to come about by accident. How it happens and when it happens is something we’ll never
understand. Only G-d knows.
The key thing to remember is that it is G-d who arranges matches.
No one else. This is the mindset you must have when searching for your better half.
All you need to do is put in a little effort. G-d will take care of the rest. You don’t have to figure it all out.
Put your best foot forward and let G-d take it from there.
Because how you find your “bashert” is not up to a shadchan. The matchmaker does not have any
control over when or how you’ll meet your spouse and neither do your friends.
Unfortunately, it’s common for people to blame their prolonged state of singlehood on the
matchmakers. But the matchmakers are not in charge. They do not run the world. Of course, they may
think they run the world, but we know they don’t.
And guess what. Finding your match doesn’t even depend on your behavior. So blaming yourself or
others or your circumstances is not the answer. In fact, it’s completely counterproductive.
You have to believe that every single match is a miracle.
The fact that two halves of one soul manage to find one another in this big, crazy, mixed up world is
nothing short of miraculous. But matchmakers don’t perform miracles. That is not their job. They merely
do what they have to do to help the miracle come about.
Jewish tradition teaches us that the one you are supposed to marry is the one you will marry. No
shadchan – no matter how bad – can stop that from happening.
You are not dependent on a matchmaker. You call them only because you are supposed to make an
effort. You’re just doing what you need to do, but ultimately matches are made in heaven.
Very often, we see matches that seem to make little sense. And that’s because they don’t. Marriage is
not something that “makes sense.”
Matchmakers employ their own logic and reason to figure out whom to set up. But in reality there is no
sense nor discernable rhyme or reason to explain why two people end up together. People marry
exactly who they are supposed to marry simply because that is how it supposed to be. G-d decides who
each of us will marry and He arranges events so that predestined matches take place.
And then even after we get married, we might fail to appreciate that it is G-d who makes matches.
Sometimes we may feel we that have found the perfect match. And at other times we may feel that we
married the wrong one. Perhaps we made a mistake!
This is nonsense. Who we’re supposed to be with is not determined by what we think or how we feel. G-
d knows exactly what He is doing. So let go and trust Him.
Why Get Married?
The problem and confusion today is that people think you get married for “this” or “that.” They really believe that the only reason to get married is for some “this” and for some “that.” A little love, a little friendship – no! Marriage is bigger than that. So if we get this clear in our heads, you don’t marry someone because they are cute. You marry someone because you’re supposed to be married, and if you have a choice, marry the cute one, but not because he’s cute. You marry for the sake of marriage, and you marry the one who is nicer and easier to get along with. But why are you marrying him? To be married to him.
Can you marry anybody?
Theoretically, you can marry anybody….
Let’s look at this: a guy wants to be married for the right reason. What is the right reason? To not be alone, to be connected to another person and become one.
If that’s what he’s dating you for, because he wants to be married, than if you fit, you get along, and you are comfortable with each other, he will marry you. If he’s not thinking marriage, he’s thinking “this” or “that,” and he dates you, and he’s thinking, “Yes, you’re great, you’re fine. Yes, everything I have ever wanted you have.”
“Are we getting married?”
“Well, why not?”
“Because who knows? The next girl I meet may be even better.”
What does that tell you? Does he want to be married, or does he want to meet another girl? Does he want to be married, or is he looking for more of “this” and more of “that?”
If a guy comes back from a date and says, “She’s not my type.” Okay, fine! If he comes back from a date and says, “She’s wonderful. I have no complaints, no criticism. She’s everything a person could want, but the next one could be even better, so why should I marry her?” It might be true. It will always be true. What’s wrong with that is he’s not going to get married. Are you looking for who’s out there, or do you want to get married?
If a person says, “I met a very nice girl. She’s very good, but I want to keep looking,” that tells you he’s not focused on marriage – he’s focused on “things.”
When you go out three, four, five times and the guy says, “Yes, I want to marry you,” what is he really saying? I love you? He is saying, “If I marry you, I can love you.” Not, “I already love you, but if I am married to you I could love you.” Sometimes you go out with someone and say, “You know, if I were married to him, I’d commit suicide.” In other words, I can’t imagine ever loving him, so I’m not marrying him. Not, “I already love you, and that’s why I’m marrying you.”
If I marry you, I will love you – that’s what marriage means. Not, “if I love you, I will marry you” but “if I marry you, I will love you.”
So what should you see in a person before you agree to marry that person? Here’s the important thing: you already know that he is a good guy, you already know what he believes and what he thinks (you know that before you even go out). If you don’t, then you find out on the first two dates. On the first two dates, you do not ask yourself whether you want to marry him, because you barely know him. On the first two dates, all you need to know is whether you would enjoy another date (not whether you want to marry him). If you would enjoy another date, so you go out a third time. Would you enjoy spending another hour with him? Go out a fourth time. After four times, it is possible to know whether you can work together – you can know that. What is it that tells you that the chemistry is good? If you can sit with him for fifteen minutes and not say anything, and he doesn’t say anything, and it’s comfortable, that means there is good chemistry. If you feel pressure – you have to say something, or “why doesn’t he say anything?” – it’s not good chemistry. Good chemistry means he makes you comfortable and you make him comfortable. Which means that with him, you don’t have to put on a show. That is so good. So he’s a nice guy, he’s a good guy, he’s a smart guy, he’s a decent looking and makes you comfortable – go for it!
Your objective is to be married, so if all of that is there, marry him. You’ve got a long life ahead of you, and you’ve got to get it started. You want to start a family, you want to be a family – marry him.