I am a young woman who got married two years ago, baruch Hashem, when I was 30 years old. I know how hard and painful shidduchim can be, so I am trying to help out my numerous single friends.
Recently, I redt a shidduch to a ba’al teshuvah who hasn’t dated much. He looked into it and said yes. The girl said she wanted a certain shadchanis, whom she is close with, to look into it. I respect that, but here is what I found insulting: Apparently the shadchanis wrote an e-mail to the guy, saying that she heard he got redt a shidduch to a girl she’s close with and that she would be the go-between! I found out about this when the guy e-mailed to ask me if I knew this shadchanis.
I am insulted because I feel like I was pushed aside. How should I handle this situation?
By Baila Sebrow
You were wronged, my friend—big-time. There is not a shadchan on the face of the earth who has not experienced a similar discouraging episode. Furthermore, there have been even more-disheartening incidents where the shadchan, after introducing the couple, mentored them while they were dating, only to find out eventually, by accident, that an engagement has taken place. Unless someone you suggest a shidduch to signs a contract identifying you as the original person who came up with the idea of the shidduch, there is no recourse.
Having endured the painful process of finding your bashert, you understand how difficult it is for those who are not so lucky to have found theirs yet, and you decided to help others achieve that goal. Unfortunately, not everyone is as idealistic as you.
For the most part, singles and their parents are grateful when someone thinks about them and cares enough to suggest a shidduch. These people understand the agmas nefesh of a shadchan having to go the extra mile in seeing even one date come to fruition. Such people, even if the shidduch may be off-target, will still show hakaras ha’tov to the shadchan who took personal time to assist them. They respect the shadchan who is working on their behalf purely for the sake of the mitzvah.
Some singles will even send a small token of appreciation to the shadchan who may have just lent them a listening ear and validated their needs by understanding what works best for them to achieve their goal. And when a shadchan redts them a shidduch where both sides agree to go out, these people never stop thanking the shadchan—even if the match does not lead to marriage.
Then there is the small percentage of singles who have little appreciation for the people who go out of their way to improve their situation. These are the very singles who complain that no one cares about them and that their married friends do not bother to set them up. They find reason to criticize shadchanim, and sometimes believe that the shadchanim are helping everyone but them. Furthermore, if a shadchan recommends a shidduch that is not to their liking, they waste no time in viciously slandering the shadchan. And what did the shadchan do to deserve such an abusive reaction? He or she made the misjudgment of generously trying to help a harsh person.
Most shadchanim are decent, G‑d-fearing women and men who are committed to the cause, liberally giving endless hours of their time while expecting nothing in return.
To be fair, I should mention both the positive and negative aspects of shadchanus. Hopefully, your personal journey as a single girl involved positive relationships with your shadchanim, but you need to understand where some singles are coming from.
There are some shadchanim who have no business practicing this form of chesed. They do not understand the needs of singles in that each person must be treated individually according to their own needs and as appropriate for their hashkafah, age bracket, and status in life. Every person is a unique individual, and the shadchan must hear and respect what he or she yearns for.
And, regardless of a shadchan’s good intentions, misunderstanding or miscommunication has been known to cause disillusionment. Feeling overworked or underappreciated has resulted in some shadchanim, perhaps inadvertently, causing much damage. I have heard of shadchanim who have said untrue things about the singles who ticked them off, ruining those singles’ chances of ever receiving plausible suggestions in the future. Sad, but true.
In this case, it seems that the girl is the one who truly wronged you. She accepted a shidduch that you suggested of your own goodwill, but she then decided to push you aside and make her friend the shadchan. Not to condone her inexcusable behavior, but perhaps we can give her some benefit of doubt and assume that, at some point, she was mistreated by shadchanim who did not know her well. As a result, she grew a tough shell and doesn’t mind acting unethically toward you, someone who was selflessly trying to help her achieve happiness.
Even though you know the girl, I do not recommend that you contact her. She might get angry and drop this shidduch altogether, out of spite. I have seen this happen before. You do not say that this girl is also a ba’alas teshuvah. That leads me to believe that she knows and understands the protocol where a shadchan is concerned, but is too focused on her own needs to even consider your feelings.
The guy appears to be going along with the girl’s actions in working with the newly appointed shadchan. Yet I believe he has no clue that he, too, is wronging you. Being a ba’al teshuvah, he may not know the ropes, and might even think that you are actually OK with the way things are evolving. The fact that he e-mailed you asking if you know the shadchan the girl chose and is keeping you up-to-date on the events is an indication that he is oblivious to your anguish.
You therefore need to sit down with the guy and explain to him how these things work. Inform him that the shadchan—in this case, you—who initially thinks of the idea and then redts the shidduch to the boy and the girl is the broker in the deal. Do not be shy in telling him that you feel insulted.
I predict that once this guy understands where he went wrong, he will apologize to you. And that is the extent to which you will get vindication. If he really likes this girl, he will not want to antagonize her by going against her wishes. He will, in all probability, thank you for what you have done on his behalf, compliment you, and even pay lip service by telling you that in his heart he considers you to be the shadchan.
I regret to say that even though you are not being treated kindly, the new shadchan on the scene is here to stay in their relationship. I know how that hurts you. If it is any consolation, please know that you are gaining powerful s’char for what you have done. Hashem is the ultimate shadchan, and anyone who partners with Him in this incredible mitzvah is praiseworthy. Do not let this incident discourage you from making future shidduchim. Continue what you are doing in helping to bring happiness to others. Your work is holy and you will be blessed for all your efforts.
Baila Sebrow is president of Neshoma Advocates, communications and recruitment liaison for Sovri-Beth Israel, executive director of Teach Our Children, and a shadchanis. She can be reached at Bsebrow@aol.com.
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