Mishmeres HaSholom: Ask the Rav

Q: As a shadchan, I’d like to ask a question regarding one of the most unpleasant situations in my field of practice. This happens when one side is interested in pursuing a shidduch and the other side is not. Often the distraught parents beg me to reveal the exact reason for the negative response, and explain that it is important for them to know for future suggestions. I’m afraid to say the truth, because of the risk of getting into lashon hara and rechilus, especially when the information is likely to offend or upset the people. Examples of such statements could be, “They heard that some of her/his brothers are a bit…” or “Her/his outer appearance is not so…”

How can I get around this?

A: With regard to lashon hara or rechilus, as long as the disappointed parents won’t find out who voiced the negativity about their son or daughter, there is no reason not to tell them what the other side heard about them. However, if the answer is likely to hurt or offend them, then there is the additional concern of onaas devarim. Therefore, in order to avoid offending them, you should reveal the reason for the other side’s disinterest in the most vague and sparing way, concealing most of the truth.

In cases where the parents could figure out between the lines who spoke about them, you should avoid revealing the real reason for the refusal altogether. You should keep in mind that even when it is permissible for people to disclose negative information to the other side, disappointed parents may perceive it as an affront. People don’t recognize their own shortcomings. Parents can therefore believe that the related information was exaggerated, or that it should not have been revealed at all.

In such cases, it would be preferable to avoid giving the reason for the prospective match’s rejection. If necessary, it is even permissible to contrive various reasons for the other side having turned down the shidduch.

The questions and answers above were taken from the Mishmeres Hasholom pamphlet in Israel. For details and inquiries please e-mail us at office@hasholom.org or call 972-2 5379160.

The views expressed are of the individual author. Readers are encouraged to consult their own posek for guidance.