Rebbetzin Dayan was talking with her close friend, Mrs. Toby. "What's doing with your daughter, Sara?" Mrs. Toby inquired. "She's a lovely young lady and I'd love to see her married!"
"She is meeting with shidduchim," replied Rebbetzin Dayan. "If you have any suggestions we would be happy to hear."
"Actually, there's someone I know who may be very appropriate," said Mrs. Toby. "His name is Avraham Rosen and he comes from a wonderful family, who were close neighbors of ours for many years. I believe he's busy now, but will let you know if he becomes available."
"Thank you," replied Rebbetzin Dayan. "We appreciate it."
A few weeks later, Mrs. Toby called Rebbetzin Dayan. "Do you remember the shidduch I mentioned a few weeks ago, Avraham Rosen?" she asked. "He's available now."
The two women spoke for a while; Mrs. Toby described the young man. "This sounds very promising," said Rebbetzin Dayan. "Let me speak with my husband and daughter and I will get back to you."
The Dayans agreed that it was worthwhile pursuing the shidduch. The fact that the suggestion came from a close friend who knew both parties well made the suggestion even more attractive.
Rebbetzin Dayan called Mrs. Toby. "Yes, we're interested."
"Oh, I'm so happy," said Mrs. Toby. "I just adore Sara, and hope that this works out!"
Two months later, Rebbetzin Dayan informed Mrs. Toby that Sara and Avraham were planning to get engaged "Oh, how exciting!" exclaimed Mrs. Toby. "It should be with lots of mazal!"
"We will be hosting a l'chaim to celebrate their engagement, IY"H, tomorrow night," said Rebbetzin Dayan. "We look forward to seeing you there!"
When Mrs. Toby arrived, Rebbetzin Dayan greeted her warmly. "I'm so happy for Sara!" exclaimed Mrs. Toby.
At the l'chaim, Rabbi Dayan turned to his wife. "You know," he said, "we have to give Mrs. Toby shadchan gelt (fee)."
"I'm very happy to give her," said his wife. "It's the least we can do to thank her."
"It's not only that," said Rabbi Dayan. "In communities where the practice is to give shadchan gelt, Mrs. Toby is even entitled to demand it legally as payment for her services, like any other service." (Rama C.M. 185:10)
"Really?" asked his son, Zvi. "But Mrs. Toby does not do shidduchim in any professional capacity, nor did she indicate at all that she expected payment when she made the suggestion. She is a close friend of ours who was trying to help Sara."
"The fact that she did not indicate that she expected payment does not make a difference," replied Rabbi Dayan. "She is still entitled to ask for payment afterwards, even though she is a friend." (Chochmas Shlomo 185:1)
"The Shulchan Aruch talks about this?" asked Zvi.
"The Rama rules this way in a similar situation, when a person provides lodging to another," replied Rabbi Dayan. "It was common for in-laws to provide meals for their newly married children for a specified number of years. If they continued to provide lodging beyond the agreed time, they can charge the couple afterwards, even though they didn't indicate beforehand that they now expected payment. We do not automatically assume that they intended to provide lodging for free." (Rama C.M. 246:17)
"If they did intend to provide the lodging gratis," asked Zvi, "can they turn around afterwards and demand payment?"
"No," answered Rabbi Dayan. "The Rama concludes that if the host intended to provide the lodging gratis, he may not demand payment later, even if he subsequently enters a quarrel with the lodger and wants to charge him now retroactively."
"I would hope so," remarked the Rebbetzin. "It would be strange to host a family for Shabbos and then charge them for it."
"If a person has a guest for Shabbos, the circumstances usually indicate that he intended to do so gratis," explained Rabbi Dayan. (Aruch Hashulchan C.M. 246:19) "Similarly, if the shadchan said at the outset or clearly indicated that he suggested the name without expectation of payment, he may not demand payment later, nor it is not necessary to pay him. (Pischei Teshuva E.H. 50:16) An expression of gratitude is still appropriate, though."
"What about other work?" asked Zvi.
"The Rama expands this principle elsewhere to anyone who does work that benefits another," replied Rabbi Dayan. "The recipient cannot claim that the worker did the job for free since he wasn't instructed to do it. This is because the recipient gained a benefit from the worker. (Rama C.M. 264:4)
"What about communities that don't have the practice of shadchan gelt?" asked the Rebbetzin.
"There, the shadchan cannot claim payment unless he stipulated so ahead of time," replied Rabbi Dayan. "It is still appropriate, though, to make some gesture of appreciation for having rendered the suggestion."