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Literally, mediator or go-between. The shadkhan was a matchmaker employed by parents to arrange their children’s marriages. The shadkhan’s profession attained importance in Jewish life in the early Middle Ages. His legal position was regulated by the rabbis, and he is already mentioned in the Talmud. Piety, modesty, and the early age of marriage among Jews tended to preserve the shadkhan as a go-between until recent times. In modern Yiddish and Hebrew literature, as well as in folk stories, he is usually pictured as a ne’er-do-well, sometimes funny, sometimes downright ridiculous.

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