Aug 20, 2011
The 7 Shidduchim Methods
How do shaddchanim, both professional and dabblers in the field, think? Here are the 7 methods they use to make a match.
By Rabbi Yair Hoffman, Five Towns Jewish Times
How do shadchanim, both professional and dabblers in the field, think? What methods do they use to present possible shidduchim to would-be clients?
The shidduch crisis has certainly been a dominant theme of conversation in religious Jewish circles. This article represents an attempt to help address the crisis in a small way. The best way to address it, however, is to explore exactly how we think about shidduchim.
A brief survey reveals that there are no fewer than 7 different methods employed by shadchanim. What follows is a brief synopsis of each of these methods and a modest suggestion:
1. The "working memory" method
It seems that many shadchanim have about five or six candidates of each gender in their working memory. Working memory is defined as the information that the person can access immediately. Often the shadchan will choose the best available candidate in his or her working memory that would be compatible with the person the shadchan is currently thinking about.
2. The "just bumped into the other person" method
Often a shadchan (generally among the dabblers) will have met a person of the opposite gender right before they encountered the person they are now discussing. The shadchan will often view this as a directional signal of sorts from above and will attempt to put together the shidduch on this account. What is interesting to note is that the method is often successful.
3. The "similar nuance or trait" method
At times the shadchan's subconscious mind will notice a trait, a nuance, or even a turn of phrase that both candidates share. This similarity, in the shadchan's mind, will cause him to put both of them together, for some reason. This too is a method that will often produce results. By the same token, a shadchan may put two people together because they share a similar struggle or difficulty.
4. The "first person that pops into the head" method
A shadchan will at times have a name pop into his or her head in what seems to be an out-of-the-blue idea. It is unclear, exactly, how this mechanism actually works. When questioned, the shadchan cannot identify why he or she thought of it. They just did.
5. The "opposite trait" method
A shadchan (usually the professional ones do this) might often view a trait of the candidate and decide that this person requires someone with the opposite trait. The shadchan will then look for someone who exhibits that trait.
6. The "most benefit to the shadchan" method
At times a shadchan will present to his or her client a prospect that brings the shadchan the most benefit. This benefit could be a personal, family, or social benefit, or even a financial benefit. This is not necessarily a negative thing. Real-estate agents, when meeting a prospective buyer, will only show listings that they themselves have listed at the onset. There is nothing wrong with this. Shadchanim who do this are no different.
7. The "database/sort by" method
This method is a most effective one. All possible candidates are perused by the shadchan, limited only by what would be beyond the parameters that would fit the candidate in question. After this short list is determined, the shadchan will sort them by the preferences that the candidate voices. For example, if the person needs someone who is "warm and loving," the short list of candidates in the parameter guidelines is sorted by the shadchan's perception of this quality within them.
Addressing The Crisis
The shidduch crisis is indeed real. Young ladies suffer from something that can be termed "the six-to-one ratio." The particular sociological rules we follow have created this problem, notwithstanding that the total numbers of boys and girls are nearly equal. From a mathematical perspective, consider the following example:
A boy who has decided to date at the age of 24, for example, may date a wide range of girls. He can date a girl who is 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, or 24. The available pool of eligible young ladies is much larger than that of young men. Men start dating later and it is not so acceptable for a young man to marry an older girl.
This crisis calls for us as individuals to do what we can to address it.
I would like to suggest that even the dabblers among us adopt method #7 along with whatever other method that we employ when thinking of shidduchim. This means that we should sit down and compile a list of all available people that we know, of both genders, so that we can best meet the needs of our fellow members of K'lal Yisrael.
Doing such a thing might be considered a hiddur mitzvah in our performance of chesed. Baruch Hashem, our community offers Torah classes. Our shuls are brimming to capacity with minyanim. These thankfully are daily occurrences.
The third pillar upon which the world stands is chesed. If we were to make such a database of the single people that we know, and if we were to spend 10 to 15 minutes per day working on this database to come up with matches, we would be doing a remarkable thing.
Finding shidduchim for others is a fulfillment of the biblical commandment of Ve'ahavta lereiacha kamochaŚloving our neighbor as ourselves. It is a means of coming closer to Hashem, our Father in Heaven.
It is also a remarkable chesed, an act of kindness. Since chesed is one of the pillars upon which the world stands, in an almost unprecedented year of tragedy in our community such an initiative on the part of individuals might make a difference in a world in crisis.