Volume 29 Number 96
                 Produced: Sun Nov  7  9:54:28 US/Eastern 1999

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

Shidduchim and Lashon Harah (4)
         [Ada-Rivka Stein, Eliezer Finkelman, Zvi Weiss, Joel Goldberg]


From: Ada-Rivka Stein <AdaatSBCo@...>
Date: Fri, 29 Oct 1999 00:35:27 EDT
Subject: Shidduchim and Lashon Harah

In order not to infringe on copyright, I cannot quote the whole article.
However, I would refer all those interested in this topic to "Chofetz
Chaim - a Daily Companion" published by Artscroll, by Michael Rothschild
with Rabbi Shimon Finkelman. (It is divided into selections for each
day, so it takes just a few minutes and is very good for increasing your
awareness of these issues. May I also recommend "Chofetz Chaim - A
Lesson A day", also from Artscroll by Rabbi Shimon Finkelman and Rabbi
Yitzchok Berkowitz)

There is an article entitled: A halachic guide to getting and giving
information by Rabbi Moshe Mordechai Lowy of Toronto.

I will try to summarize the main points, but I recommend reading the
entire article (indeed, the entire book).

He mentions that "Lo selech rochil be'amecha" - don't go as a peddler of
gossip - is in the same posuk (sentence) as "Lo sa'amod al dam re'echa"
(don't stand by as your friend's blood is shed"."  Therefore, we _are_
obligated to warn someone about a danger (in shidduchim, business, or
other situations) with the following provisions.

 The asker should specify that they are asking for to-eles (a valid
purpose) - e.g. a shidduch, so as not to make the one who answers guilty
of speaking loshon hora without a purpose, and so the person will know
how to answer constructively with the needed information.

(an interesting note: if we need to point out to our children that they
should not learn from so-and-so, we must tell them that we are allowed
to say this and it's not loshon hora, in order to properly train them in
what is allowed speech and what's forbidden speech. I can't find the
page at the moment but will try to send it later)

Make sure the information is accurate.  There are rules about when you
can repeat something that is secondhand.  Don't embellish or exaggerate
beyond what you know.

Make sure your intention is help the person you are addressing, not to
harm the person about whom you are speaking. The Chofetz Chaim says that
you should work on yourself to try to think positively about the subject
of the conversation.  If you find you cannot change your attitude, refer
the questioner to another person who can give them information.

You must also tell the information in the least harmful way. If you can
stop by potentially harmful shidduch just by saying "it's not for you",
or by telling a minimal amount of information, don't say more than is

You must also take into account whether the person you are addressing is
discrete.  If they might spread the information, you should try to find
another way to warn those involved.

Rabbi Lowy also says that you should only warn people if you know
something that is "detrimental to establishing a Jewish home, a happy
marriage and a wholesome relationship."  He mentions "seriously flawed
character traits, immodesty, or a lack of religious commitment, and
definite health or emotional problems."  These are listed as "Category
1" and should be told even if you were not asked.

Category 2 is something subjective, but essential, such as intelligence,
middos (character), family, age.  You shouldn't offer negative
information but if you are asked, you should tell the truth.

If you're not sure if something is essential, don't speak until you can
make sure.

Under category 3 he lists minor issues, which may be a matter of
personal preference.  Here you may answer if asked, but you aren't
guilty of "lo sa'amod" if you prefer not to answer.

If you know something secondhand which might be serious, you should try
to verify it.  Also be careful about analyzing and labeling - stick to
objective facts.

If is always best to ask a shayla! In the US, you can call 718-951-3696
9-10:30 p.m. I am sure others can provide Shemiras HaLoshon hotline
numbers in other countries!

(I will close with an anecdote that illustrates a few points. A young
lady of my acquaintance was asked if X would be a good roommate for Y.
She said something nice and pareve.  A few days later she told me that
she had asked a shayla because she actually felt that X would be a very
negative influence on Y, but by the time she got the answer that she
should express her opinion, the arrangement had been made and it would
have been awkward to change it.  Now, we are just hoping for the best.
So, ask a shayla in a timely manner!)

From: Eliezer Finkelman <Finkelmans@...>
Date: Fri, 29 Oct 1999 04:11:15 EDT
Subject: Re: Shidduchim and Lashon Harah

In a message dated 10/27/99, Moshe Nugiel writes that adhering to
prohibition of Leshon HaRa keeps us from warning our friends of
ill-advised business dealings, or unwise proposals of marriage.

<< We accept the guidelines of the Chafetz Chaim.  If the result is that
our neighbor gets cheated on a set of new tires, or, chas v'shalom, that
a marriage takes place which we know is doomed to failure, so be it. >>

But the Hafetz Hayyim, like other authorities in this area, requires
disclosure when needed to prevent a loss to innocent third-parties.  The
relevant Torah verse, "do not stand idly by the blood of your brother"
(Lev.  19:16).

I do not have a copy of the Hafetz Hayyim at hand, but I have this
paragraph from the Rabbi Eliezer Waldenberg's responsa, the Tsits

I shall add to this what I found in the book Pithei Teshuvah, on Orah
Hayyim #156, where it is written: "I wish to mention here, concerning
all the books of Mussar which shout at the world about the sin of Leshon
HaRa, and I shout at the world about its opposite, a greater sin than
that, and more common, and that is someone who keeps himself from
speaking in a place where it is needed to protect a victim from the
oppressor, comparable to someone who saw someone lying in a crafty
ambush against another beside a wilderness road to kill him, or he say
someone tunneling at night into his house or store, is it possible that
he would hold back from telling his friend to watch out from him because
of the prohibition of Leshon HaRa?  His sin would be too great do bear,
for he would transgress 'do not stand idly by your fellow's blood.'  So
to in the matter of money, which comes into the category of returning
lost objects, and now, what difference does it make to me if he digs a
tunnel, or he saw his servants stealing from him secretly, or his
partner deceiving him in business, or his fellows tricking him in
commerce, or he lends money to someone who does not repay; and similarly
in the matter of matchmaking, and he knows that he is a bad man,
worthless, and it is bad to make a marriage with him, and all of this is
in the category of returning the lost object of his body and his
money. . . "  And these are very instructive words, strengthening what
we have said in this matter, as long as all of his intention should be
not to hurt this one, but to help the other, and for the good of the
community, to save them and to protect them, for he fulfills in this way
a great mitsvah of inestimable worth.

(Tsits Eliezer, 15:13)

Eliezer Finkelman.

From: Zvi Weiss <weissz@...>
Date: Sun, 17 Oct 1999 17:23:53 -0400 (EDT)
Subject: Re: Shidduchim and Lashon Harah

> From: Chaim Shapiro <Dagoobster@...>
>    I find myself in a terrible bind these days.  Being married, I am
> often asked question regarding my friends or my wife's friends in terms
> of Shidduchim.  I have seen the horror of divorce in my community.  I
> have seen weddings that should never have taken place, weddings in which
> one party has serious emotional and/ or physical problems which were not
> relayed to the prospective match by shadchanim.  I have seen children of
> these divorces, forever scarred by the fighting between their parents.
>    But, what can be done?  Halachaiklally as I understand it, I can not
> comment on an individuals problems unless I have seen them myself!
> Second hand information or good detective work is not acceptable.

 I *think* (and strongly urge that you ask a Shaila about this because
it IS discussed) that you may state that a matter is second-hand -- as
long as you emphasize (a) that you are not certain (b) that it must be
checked out and (c) that you are acting ONLY in the best interests of
the potential couple without any ulterior motives.  The real problems
arise if you know that the other party will NOT attempt to clarify data
supplied as second-hand (which is irresponsible on THEIR part).  I am
fairly certain that where there is a major risk to a potential marriage,
the matter CAN be raised -- but you need pretty detailed halachic

>    Unfortunatly this is not working.  I feel an achrais to tell a person
> infromation I may know about an individual if it will greatly affect
> their staus as a married couple.  I personally know several individuals
> who are already married and are hiding very important information from
> their spouses!

AFTER the marriage, I think that the situation is somewhat different and
before you "spill the beans", you really need detailed analysis and

>    On the other hand, the shidduch system has serious problems itself.
> Any hint of a problem and a person is dropped.  I know of people who hid
> the fact that a sister had kidney stones out of fear that it would
> prevent other siblings from getting married.  I understand that second
> hand information can damage a person's ability to find his/her basheret.

Actually, I am pretty sure that information that should not affect the
COUPLE is "prohibited" from disclosure.  In the example, above, it is
not only an issue of "fear" -- providing this data is [in most cases, I
think] an example of Lashon Harah.  In this case, I think that even
FIRST HAND data would be prohibited to reveal.

>    But, is the cost too high?  Aren't there already enough scarred
> children of divorce from marriages that should never have occured (which
> begs the question about the bashert nature of their births)?  I am
> looking for any practical solutions or ideas?

The Chofetz Chaim Heritage Founadtion has a video that discusses what
may be discussed.  It has an intro by R. Shumel Kaminetzki SHLIT"A and
is led by several Rabbonim considered experts in this area.


From: Joel Goldberg <joel@...>
Subject: Re: Shidduchim and Lashon Harah

Chaim Shapiro <Dagoobster@...>
Asks about the problem of lashon hara and giving out information with
respect to shidduchin (potential marriage partners.) Then he asks about the
flip side:

>On the other hand, the shidduch system has serious problems itself.
>Any hint of a problem and a person is dropped.  I know of people who hid
>the fact that a sister had kidney stones out of fear that it would
>prevent other siblings from getting married.  I understand that second
>hand information can damage a person's ability to find his/her basheret.
>I am looking for any practical solutions or ideas?

My short answer to this is: As long as the "very frum" world denigrates
the information contained in secular education, people will not have the
tools to differentiate between family history that is relevant to
marriage, and that which is not.

My wife has Cerebral Palsy, which amounts to brain damage. She is
considered to be 100% disabled. However, my own "secular" knowledge
informed me that CP does not affect anything relevant. And yes, I was
correct.  We will be married, IY"H, seven years in January at which
point our four children, all perfectly healthy and conceived without
intervention, will be 6,5, 3 and 6 months.

My wife is the eldest of 6 children, spaced over 20 years. The youngest
has Down Syndrome. Her family is yeshivish, I can drop all kinds of
names of well known rabbanim who are close relatives. No attempt has
ever been made to hide either my wife's or her brother's disability. The
speech my father-in-law made at his son's Brit appears in Artscroll's
"Longing for the Dawn."

Her brother, Ner Yisrael Baltimore, Mir Yeshiva Jerusalem, etc. etc. had
no trouble getting shidduchim. (Except for one girl who turned him down
because he had also gone to Johns Hopkins on the side.) He married a
Five Towns woman, also Yeshivish, but also secularly educated (speech
pathology.) Two healthy children.

Her sister's husband is an MD, with smicha and also a registered Mohel
(trained under "Yossele" of Jerusalem.)  Two healthy children and a
B'sha'a Tova.

Neither of the spouses had any doubts about the implications of either
the CP or the Down Syndrome. Both knew that CP is an injury that has no
family implications whatsoever, and that women over 40 are simply at
higher risk for Down Syndrome children.

I don't think educational values can be changed, but this is my opinion
of what it would take to solve the above problem.

Joel Goldberg
Beit Shemesh, Israel.


End of Volume 29 Issue 96