The Matchmaker

Commentary by Dr. Ursula A. Falk


The Schadchan


Historically the Schadchan was a matchmaker  who brought Jewish, often orthodox, young men and women together with the intent of marriage. If he was a professional he would receive a fee for his services.  If not, he or she would do this service as a mitzwe, a good deed, to assist the genders of finding each other, getting married and creating Jewish families.  The intended individuals would meet each other to see if they were compatible and potentially could have a satisfying life together.  In Europe these practices were not unusual and continued for some time.  Often the two people who were possible candidates hardly knew each other.  Parents were involved and they were very active in making decisions for their offspring.  The practice kept Jewish people together and helped to perpetuate Jewish life, the Jewish religion, customs, beliefs, compatibility and more.

          In more recent times the stress was on love.  Ideally people would meet each other, accidentally, at parties, at friends' houses, and they would “fall in love” and  be married eventually.

Love is still considered by the majority as the ideal way of being together and to have the potential of being happy ever after.

          Times and life have changed over the centuries.  In the modern world matchmaking, frequently without the labeling, has again come into vogue.  Couples today can meet each other through the internet.  They “wink” at each other's photographs and/ or names, their potentials, their common interests, etc.  Frequently the given individuals are grossly disappointed when the real person appears in the flesh.  There are those folks who are forever searching for the ideal person, who is nonexistent.  They live in the proverbial Hollywood or nirvana world where they will be idolized by their chosen partner and cared for in every conceivable way.  The love will be unconditional.  It can be likened to the love of the giving mother and the protective father, all combined into one human who cannot do enough for them. Of course, these Camelotian figures will also be sexualized and will give them the intimacy and gratification that each needs.

           In an ideal world it would of course be best if individuals would find their own “soul mate” without the help of artificial means, of trial and error.  With distances and equality between the genders it is often difficult to meet the love of one's life.  The pressures of education, work, economics, choices or lack of same, and satisfying partners can be difficult to obtain. Parents and their judgment are in our day frequently denigrated and ignored.  Each partner wants to make his own choices, wherever that may lead.  Partnering without permanent commitment is often the order of the day.  People have children regardless of their state of matrimony and the old time morality is set aside for instant gratification.  Divorce has multiplied and “eternal” love for nearly fifty percent of the population is nonexistent. Couples who get together with good intentions often find the fatal flaws in one another.  Maybe he/she weighs too much, is not smart enough, not tall enough, mammary glands are not big enough, talks too much, doesn’t earn enough, snores at night, does not pay attention enough, is not religious enough, and a sundry of other unpleasant discoveries.

          Folks look critically at a potential partner, see his or her flaws but rarely their own, and do not see their contribution to the situation that disturbs them.

Whatever we label the Schadchan, he or she still exists, whether it is in the form of a “friend”, the computer, or someone not labeled.                                   


Dr. Ursula A. Falk is a psychotherapist in private practice and the co-author, with Dr. Gerhard Falk, of  Deviant Nurses & Improper Patient Care (2006).

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