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Today, the role of the Shadchan is, depending on your community, to suggest to the prospective match that they meet, to introduce them, to arrange their meetings, and/or to advocate / be the intermediary for their communications while they are dating.

However, in the halachic literature about Shadchanim, much of the discussion is about their brokering the financial arrangements between the two sides of the match - who will pay for what, what the dowry will be, how long the parents will support the couple, etc. In fact, the Rema (C.M. 185:10) classifies a Shadchan as a type of broker. There is no explicit mention (with which I am familiar) of the Shadchan being involved in the actual matching up of the prospective couple.

Did the old-time Shadchan serve as the one who suggested the match? Was there such a thing as a "professional" match-suggester, as we have today?

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Shadchanim often suggested the match, in addition to working out the financial settlements. I reference Gluckel of Hamleyn, a memoir written in the late 1600s/early 1700s. The writer was a wealthy and prominent Jewish woman who lived in Germany in those times. She had many children and was very involved in marrying them off with the appropriate financial packages. She clearly writes that shadchanim would often suggest the match and work out the settlement, too. Like today, marriages were also often arranged by friends and neighbors, in addition to professional marriage brokers.

The case where one person suggests a match but a second party works it out is discussed in Halachic literature, as to how to split the shadchan's fee. That, too, would indicate that the one who suggested the match also qualifies as a shadchan.

  • +1 - If you can provide me with sources to any of the halachic literature referenced in your second paragraph, I'd give you a checkmark. – Y     e     z Feb 1 '15 at 23:47
  • @YeZ Check out the edited answer. – MTL Feb 2 '15 at 15:43
  • @Shokhet thank you. Hadn't noticed the edit. – Y     e     z Feb 2 '15 at 18:36
  • @yEz That's not the case in the Avnei Neizer. There, Shadchan A connected the couple and also worked out all the financial arrangements, etc., with the parents of the couple. Ultimately, the match did not materialize. Later, Shadchan B made marriage and financial arrangements for the boy and the younger sister of the original girl. Shadchan A demanded compensation because he had set the groundwork for negotiations between the families. The Avnei Neizer ruled that Shadchan A was not clearly entitled to any compensation, but that it would be good to give him something. – Fred Nov 30 '15 at 22:51
  • -1 since you still have provided no legitimate source for the claim that merely introducing and getting a couple together constitutes shadchanus. (If you find another source and edit your answer, then ping me and I'll undo the downvote). – Fred Nov 30 '15 at 22:54

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