Make Me a Match

Posted on July 12, 2011 by

The Orthodox Jews have been using matchmakers for generations with great success. So why aren’t we?

Wikipedia summarizes the process:

In strictly Orthodox Jewish circles, dating is limited to the search for a marriage partner. Both sides (usually the parents, close relatives or friends of the persons involved) make inquiries about the prospective partner, e.g. on his/her character, intelligence, level of learning, financial status, family and health status, appearance and level of religious observance…

After the match has been proposed, the prospective partners meet a number of times to gain a sense of whether they are right for one another. The number of dates prior to announcing an engagement may vary by community. In some, the dating continues several months. In stricter communities, the couple may decide a few days after originally meeting with each other. Also the age when shidduchim start may vary by community. In frum circles, especially among Hassidim, eighteen is the age when shidduchim start and shadchanim take notice.

Also, the decision as to whether or not the mate is good can be made with the emotional boundary of the shadchan who, if so desired by the couple, can call and talk to either side in the beginning stages of the dating to iron out issues that can crop up during the dating process. Usually as the couple see more of each other the shadchan backs away and lets the couple manage it themselves. It’s expected that the couple keep the shadchan up-to-date on how the shidduch is going at regular intervals.

Imagine if we had something similar to this that was a societal norm. Everyone who was ready to seek a spouse could register with a matchmaker. There would a battery of personality tests and questions to find out all there is to know about the person, perhaps even including a lie detector test to better understand their past and their intentions for the marriage. Health records and STD testings would be a must. A DNA panel would be good too, if the person prefers to stay within a certain ethnicity or to rule out matches that could lead to degenerative diseases in the children.

The service would not be mandatory but choosing not to use it would be considered high risk. Casual dating and cohabiting would not be formally restricted but it would decrease ones marriage value and hence be culturally discouraged.

With widespread use of matchmakers people who want to marry for life would have a way to find a mate that is much less risky than the standard method.

I can imagine something like this having a dramatic influence on the culture. The best part is that no new laws or restrictions would need to be passed.. we would just need a few successful entrepreneurs.

No discussion of matchmaking would be complete without this clip from Fiddler on the Roof.

Posted in: Relationships