By Rabbi Chaim Chazzan
A shadchan suggested a bochur to the parents of a girl, but the parents of the girl informed him that their daughter is not yet ready for shidduchim. A year later another shadchan suggested the same shidduch and the bochur and girl ended up getting engaged. The first shadchan requested part of the shadchonus money, claiming that it was only due to him extolling the virtues of the bochur that the girl’s father agreed they should meet a year later. Does the first shadchan’s claim have any halachic basis?
Shulchan Aruch discusses paying a shadchan for his work, just as one is obligated to pay any worker. According to the halacha the payment is not for coming up with the idea of the shidduch, rather for actually bringing the parties together and serving as the go-between.
If shadchan A suggests a shidduch and the parties expressed interest in going through with it but something came up that torpedoed the shidduch and shadchan B convinced the sides to continue, shadchan A is referred to as the maschil – initiator and receives a third of the shadchonus money and shadchan B is considered the gomer – the concluder and receives two thirds.
Not every party that had influence in insuring the success of the shidduch deserves payment. For example someone provided information to one of the parties about the other side might be very influential in making the shidduch happen but obviously does not deserve compensation. The general rule of thumb is that if the shidduch would not have clinched without that party’s input he can be considered the gomer. Because often it is not clear how primary a role a particular shadchan played, a rov must be consulted.
In our case if the parents of the girl claim that regardless of the information provided by the first shadchan they would have pursued the shidduch all the same, they need not pay the first shadchan. However, if the parents agree that the seed that the first shadchan planted in his mind was the reason he agreed to go ahead with the shidduch, both shadchanim are considered partners in the maschil component, and therefore the first receives a sixth and the second receives the rest.