Parashat Chayei Sarah is known to be the Parasha of shidduchim. One who reaches the parasha of shidduchim knows very well how many questions of Lashon Hara arise after every date. Today we would like to explore some of these questions and see what the Poskim have to say about them.
- What is a Shadchan permitted to say to each party and what must be kept secret?
- A parent who finds out negative information about the other side. May they share it with their spouse, and can they tell the child, or must they keep quiet instead and just say some excuse to stop the dating?
- Does a person who knows about faults of the candidate have to reveal them to the other side or may he keep quiet?
It’s the dilemma of every shadchan, parent and friend, and indeed a valid cause for concern. On one hand, exposing the other party’s faults might be Lashon Hara, while on the other hand, not saying it is covering up important information which may lead to a terrible marriage and sometimes divorce, thus falling into the violation of לא תעמוד על דם רעך. The Chafets Chaim (ציור שלישי) draws the lines of when a person must generally inform the other and when he is permitted not to.
Extreme faults: Let’s say a girl is meeting or about to meet a boy and someone knows the boy has extreme faults, such that if this would have been known they wouldn’t continue the shidduch. This information may be told even if no one has actually asked. (בחפץ חיים נראה שיש לגלות אולם בשלמי שמחה עמוד נג כתוב בשם רש״ז אורבעך שזה רק רשות ולא חובה). But there are few conditions which must be met before speaking: Faults must be real faults—but whatever one might view as a fault might not necessarily be a fault. For example, if the boy is very ’simple’ and doesn’t joke around and ’hang out’ with others as all his classmates might do, one isn’t allowed to speak about that with a negative tone.
Saying over such things would be straight out Lashon Hara.
But if there is indeed extreme fault such as an internal sickness which isn’t visible, one must reveal it and doing so wouldn’t be violating any issur.
Another concern with the boy that must be told is if he has wrong views in religion or if he regularly commits sins.
However, one shouldn’t jump to say whatever he suspects before verifying its accuracy, and he shouldn’t decide quickly that it’s a negative thing before thinking it over well and consulting a competent Rabbi.
Once he tells the information over, he should be very careful not to exaggerate at all and say things precisely.
His intentions must be clean and honest to do the right thing and not in any way to avenge a hatred he has.
If he has other avenues with which to achieve the same results, one should do so.
One must also make sure that through revealing those things the other side wouldn’t suffer a greater loss than just stopping the shidduch from going forward. Rav Aurbach wrote (שלמי שמחה עמוד נב) that before saying over one should warn the other that he shouldn’t spread it over and that it should stay as a secret.
Sharing the information with family members.
The halacha we spoke above does not necessarily apply to family members who are discussing the shidduch and trying to make a decision if they should go forward with it. In this case, one should say over everything he knows and feels (obviously without degrading the other side and keeping a serious manner).
Especially when one is a relative, there is more obligation to help one another and not hide any information, this falls under the mitzvah of ומבשרך לא תתעלם (תשובות והנהגות ח״ד סי’ שיב).
Shadchan sharing negative information.
Since both parties rely on the shadchan, Rav Chaim Kanievsky ) מבקשי תורה כה עמוד שלד ) said he must be very honest and open, and say all that he knows (obviously with the parameters of Shmirat Halashon).
That being said, he must not change the age of the parties (שלמי שמחה לגרש״ז אורבעך). The person himself however, may say he’s a year or two younger if it really makes a difference (תתן אמת ליעקב פרק ה’ סי’ לח)
Concerning the looks, the Shadchan may describe the parties a bit favorably as it is something that will be known regardless as soon as they meet, and many times, as beauty is in the eyes of the beholder, features one may find unattractive, may find favor in another’s eyes.
Is a boy/girl dating obligated to tell the other party about their faults?
If it’s a medical problem such as a sickness or psychological concern (such as a person who might be on treatment), although one doesn’t have to inform the other party prior to commencing dating, before things get serious, they must be open and explain their situation. If it’s a small concern it can wait for a later time and sometimes a hint about their problem could be sufficient. Of course it’s hard to outline in this short article all the guidelines, but whenever one comes to such important crossroads, he should consult his Rabbi or contact the Rabbis at our Bet Horaah.