Paying The Shadchan (Part 2)

(This should not be relied upon for practical halacha. When a question arises a Rabbi should be consulted.)

Section 2: Who Is Obligated To Pay The Shadchan

1. The Avnei Nezer (Choshen Mishpat 36) writes that the obligation to pay the shadchan belongs to the chosson and kallah. However, the parents customarily pay the shadchan.

2. Some poskim feel that because the parents customarily pay, the obligation to pay the shadchan now belongs to the parents, and not to the chosson and kallah (see Erech Shai Choshen Mishpat 185).

3. Harav Yisroel Belsky shlit”a also maintains that the obligation to pay the shadchan is that of the parents. He explains that even if the children do not live at home and are financially self-sufficient, as long as the parents are involved in the shidduch process, (giving the children advice, coordinating the vort and wedding), they bear the brunt of the obligation to pay the shadchan. However, if the parents are completely removed from the shidduch process, then they are exempt from paying the shadchan and the chosson and kallah must pay (Shu”t Shulchan Halevi Chapter 27 Note 2).

4. The Sefer Erech Shai (ibid.) agrees with the aforementioned poskim, who rule that a chosson and kallah who live with their parents are not obligated to pay the shadchanus (rather the parents must pay). He then adds that even if the parents cannot afford to pay the shadchan, the chosson and kallah still remain financially exempt. Harav Belsky shlit”a (ibid.) adds that while the chosson and kallah may not be obligated to pay the shadchan, if their parents cannot afford to fulfill the obligation, they should do their best to go above and beyond the letter of the law and complete the payment themselves. (see also Shu”t Teshuvos V’hanhagos vol. 3 457:3 and Sefer Yismach Lev page 22)

5. The custom is for the kallah’s family to pay for half of the shadchanus and for the chosson’s family to pay for the other half. This is so even if the Shadchan spent more time and effort with the kallah’s family than with the chosson’s family, or vice versa. If one family cannot afford to pay the shadchan, the other family is not obligated to pay the entire bill, but rather they should pay slightly more than half the bill in order to appease the shadchan and avoid any potential arguments (see Sefer Erech Shai Even Haezer 50, Shu”t Beis Yitzchak Even Haezer 115, Shu”t Binyan David 53:3, and Sefer Hanisuin K’Hilchosom).

Section 3: When to Pay-

6. The Rama (Choshen Mishpat 185) notes that the custom varies regarding when to pay the shadchan. Some pay immediately following the engagement (or tenaim), while others pay closer to the wedding. The Aruch Hashulchan (Even Hezer 50:42) writes that the custom in his area was to pay the shadchan immediately following the tenaim. [See also Sefer Halichos Yisroel 4]

7. The poskim disagree as to when to pay if there is no prevalent custom in the area (Rama and Taz ibid.). Harav Yosef Shalom Elyashiv zt”l writes that if there is no prevalent custom in the area, the payment is only required before the wedding and not following the engagement (Koveitz Teshuvos 1:207).

8. As cited above, many have the custom to pay the shadchan immediately after the shidduch is completed. Even if the shidduch is broken later, the shadchan does not have to return his fee (Aruch Hashulchan ibid.). The halacha may vary if the shadchan withheld information which, upon the uncovering of said information, led to the termination of the engagement. (See Shu”t Levushei Mordechai Tenina Choshen Mishpat 15 and Sefer Halichos Yisroel 11) For normative halacha, a rabbi should be consulted.

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Paying The Shadchan (Part 1)

(This should not be relied upon for practical halacha. When a question arises a Rabbi should be consulted.)

There is a mitzvah for one to be involved with making shidduchin between a man and a woman. Hashem was the very first shadchan uniting Adam with Chava.

Section 1: The Obligation To Pay The Shadchan-

1. As with any other business transaction, a shadchan must be paid a fee for arranging a shidduch (see Rama Choshen Mishpat 185).

2. The poskim stress the importance of paying shadchanus (paying the shadchan). Harav Mordechai Winkler zt”lai, writes that many rabbanim, himself included, refused to orchestrate a wedding (serve as the mesader kiddushin) if the shadchan was not yet paid (Shu”t Levushei Mordechai 11).

3. Many poskim write that paying the shadchan is a segulah for having children (see Sefer Maaseh Haish vol. 1 page 215) and for shalom bayis [marital peace] (see sefer Netai Gavriel on Tenaim page 386 and Sefer Hanisuin K’Hilchosom chapter 4).

4. It makes no difference whether the shadchan was hired by one of the parties or if he volunteered his services. In either case he must be paid for his services (see Biur Hagra 185:13 and sefer Simcha Laish 10).

5. Even a non-professional shadchan must be paid for his services (Hanisuin K’Hilchosom ibid.).

6. If need be, the shadchan may petition a beis din (Jewish court) to force the parties to pay his fee (Levushei Mordechai ibid.).

7. The shadchan gets paid even if he did not exert a significant amount of work for the shidduch. Merely arranging dates/meetings over the phone is enough to warrant payment (Edus Biyehosef 2:35).

8. One is not allowed to use “maaser money” to pay for obligations and debts. Therefore, one is not allowed to pay the shadchan with “maaser money.” (see sefer Zichron Yehuda 192 and Sefer Emes L’Yaakov on the laws of Tzedaka)

9. Harav Gavriel Zinner shlit”a rules that if one agrees to pay the shadchan more than is the standard fair, he may use “maaser money” to pay the amount that is above the standard fair (Netai Gavriel ibid.).

10. There is no obligation to pay, if the shadchan states that he does not want to receive payment for the shidduch (Pischei Teshuva Even Haezer 50:17). Harav Moshe Shternbuch shlit”a explains that this is only true if the shadchan explicitly says that he will not receive payment for the shidduch. Merely saying the phrase, “I do not work on shidduchim for the money” does not remove the responsibility of payment from the couple. When that statement is said, the shadchan is merely trying to relay the message that the main reason that he became a shadchan was in order to help people. He still requires payment for the shidduch (Teshuvos V’Hanhagos vol. 3 457:3).

11. If the shadchan absolves all parties from payment he may not change his mind after the engagement or wedding and then demand payment (Minchas Yechial 2:4). However, as long as the shadchan is still working on the shidduch (before the engagement or before the shadchan is “removed” as the middleman) he may change his mind and may refuse to continue working unless he will get paid if the couple marries, and at which point the families will be obligated to pay the shadchan the full fair that a shadchan normally receives.

12. Harav Moshe Shternbuch shlit”a writes that he has heard that in many sefardic communities the custom is to not pay the shadchan (Teshuvos V’Hanhagos 1:736).

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