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Matos-Masei-Many people suggested a shidduch and no one succeeded



I had a daughter in shidduchim and someone suggested the name of a boy. I investigated the boy and felt that he was not what we were looking for and I informed the shadchan of my decision. In the next half a year the shidduch was suggested six more times and even though I realized that each person suggested the shidduch independently, each time I turned down the suggestion right away. Finally, after rejecting for the seventh time, I decided that perhaps there is something to the fact that the shidduch keeps being suggested and I should reinvestigate. I reinvestigated and found that the information I found out earlier was incorrect and I decided that I was interested in the shidduch. I tried contacting the last shadchan but he didn’t answer my phone calls. So I turned to another shadchan who arranged the shidduch and handled everything until my daughter got engaged to the boy. My question is who and how much should I pay to the various people who were involved in the shidduch?


As usual, the first point to determine is the relationship between you and the various shadchanim. Since all of the shadchanim wanted to work for you and to be paid for their work, they were seeking to be your employee. There are two kinds of employees: those whom you hire whose relationship with you is governed by the halachos of sechirus poalim, and those who work without having been hired whose relationship with you is governed by the rules of yoreid.

All the people who voluntarily suggested your future son-in-law were not formally employed by you and their status is that of a yoreid. In contrast, the shadchan whom you finally asked to handle the shidduch is your employee.

The Chafetz Chaim writes in two places (See Ahavas Chessed, footnote at the end of Chapter 10) that one should always fix a price in advance with his employees so that there won’t be an eventual disagreement concerning the price. However, in your case the fact that you did not set a price is not a problem, because, as the Chafetz Chaim himself writes, in the absence of an agreement between you and your employee, compensation is determined by custom and there is a custom about how much to pay for a successful shidduch.

The custom nowadays is to split the entire task of completing a shidduch into three component tasks. The first worker is known as the maschil-the one who begins. The second worker is the emtso’ei-the one who deals with the issues during the course of the shidduch. And finally there is the gomeir-the one who completes the shidduch. Furthermore, the custom defines the tasks that are included in each component.

The tasks that were performed by the shadchan whom you hired, were that of the emtso’ei and the gomeir since he exclusively managed the shidduch and brought it to fruition. Since the custom is to pay one third of the total price of a shidduch for each of the three tasks, your employee is entitled to two-thirds of the total compensation for the shidduch.

Since the price that people pay for shidduchim is not uniform, and you did not make up a price with the person whom you asked to take care of the shidduch for you, the Gemoro rules that such an employee is entitled to the lowest amount that is customarily paid for the task. The reason one must pay only the least price is because your employee wants to receive money from you and the rule is hamotsi meichaveiro olov horayo-one who wishes to receive money must prove that he is entitled to the amount he wishes to receive. Since the price that is paid to shadchanim starts at four thousand shekels, your employee is entitled to two thirds of four thousand shekels i.e. two thousand six hundred sixty-six shekels.

Turning now towards the others who suggested your eventual son-in-law, since they were not hired by you, their claim to be paid is based on the laws of yoreid. They voluntarily worked for you, hoping to be successful and to receive payment from you. The amount you must pay to the various shadchanim in your exact case is not discussed by the poskim so we must compare it to somewhat similar cases that are discussed and apply the principles to your situation.

A case that is discussed is where one person proposed a shidduch or a deal but was unsuccessful and then a second person independently made the same suggestion and succeeded where the first one failed and he brought his proposal to a successful conclusion.

One poseik who discusses this issue is the Shev Yaacov (CM 13). He rules that since the first shadchan could not do the job and the second person could, the only one who is entitled to payment is the second person. He derives his rule from the Torah that gives credit for bringing the bones of Yosef from Egypt for eventual burial in Eretz Yisroeil to the Jewish nation and not to Moshe who did the initial forty years of work. Chazal state that the principle is that credit for mitzva performance is given to the one who completes the task even if he does a lot less than those who performed earlier portions of the task. It is not clear if he maintains that even if the first person had a positive effect on the successful outcome of the second person’s success he is entitled to nothing. (See Mishpatei Yosher page 235.) However, it is clear that the one who finished the job is the main worker.

The second opinion is that of Rav Yedidya Weil (Res CM 9) who ruled that the first person is entitled to the portion of the maschil, the one who proposes the shidduch. The basis for the divergence of opinion between him and the Shev Yacov is that whereas the Shev Yacov required success, Rav Weill viewed the task of proposing a shidduch to be unrelated to success. The task is just to propose the name to the parties and does not require success. Of course, if the shidduch is never completed successfully no shadchan gets anything, but if it is, the one who gets the payment for having suggested the shidduch is the one who first made the suggestion according to Rav Yedidya Weil.

The third opinion is that of Rav Shlomo Kruger (Chochmas Shlomo CM 185). The question that he addressed concerned a broker who acted on behalf of a buyer and tried unsuccessfully to reduce the seller’s price. The buyer then sent a second person who was successful in convincing the seller to sell for the lower price that the first agent tried unsuccessfully to get. He ruled that the second person deserves the larger portion of the agent’s fee, but he must share part of the fee with the first agent since the nature of business is that people need pushing to agree to an offer. Therefore, even though the seller rebuffed the first agent, nevertheless, the first agent presumably influenced the seller’s eventual agreement to reduce his price and therefore, he deserves part of the agent’s fee.

Another poseik who ruled similarly is the Levushei Mordechai (CM 1, 14). He was asked concerning a shadchan who gave three names to the father of a boy. A second shadchan praised one of the proposals very highly and caused the father of the girl to investigate the boy. However, nothing more happened until the first shadchan reopened the shidduch and he successfully completed the job. The question was whether the second shadchan was entitled to anything since he was neither the first to propose the shidduch nor the one who completed the shidduch. The Levushei Mordechai ruled that the second shadchan should be paid a share of the shadchanus fee because he did cause the father of the girl to investigate the boy, which was necessary for the successful conclusion of the shidduch. He takes issue with the Shev Yacov’s entire approach, since the Shev Yacov based his ruling on rules which concern other facets of Jewish law which do not necessarily apply to employee-employer relations. He specifically cites the ruling of Rav Shlomo Kluger and proves that this is the proper approach when dealing with employer-employee issues, namely that everyone who works deserves to be paid even if he himself could not complete the entire task.

The Sefer Yehoshua (Even Ho’ezer 66) ruled similarly. In his case a person proposed a shidduch but it didn’t work out and one of the parties became engaged to another person. However, that broke up and eventually the first shidduch was suggested again and worked out. He ruled that the first shadchan deserves partial payment since even though when he proposed the shidduch it did not succeed, nevertheless his proposal contributed towards the second shadchan’s eventual success.

We note that the approach of Rav Yedidya Weill is totally different since his approach is that one is paid as a maschil even if he didn’t accomplish anything. Furthermore, the consensus is like Rav Shlomo Kluger (See Mishpatei Yosher page 238).

In your situation, no one actually convinced you to accept this boy and it was just the fact that the name was mentioned so often that caused you to revisit the case. Therefore, it seems that all of the shadchanim deserve an equal amount of the first third of the shadchanus fee. Since the entire amount that is allotted for proposing a shidduch is a third of four thousand shekels and there are seven people to share this fee, you should pay each two hundred shekels.





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