Q: My classmates and I are just starting out in shidduchim, and I assume I’ll soon be getting inquiries about a very good friend of mine. I’d therefore like to be prepared with the halachically acceptable way to offer information.
My friend is an intelligent girl with outstanding middos and yiras Shamayim, and she is well-rounded in every way. The problem is her family background. She has a few siblings with a genetic disease, and one of her parents suffers from a mental illness. There are problems in the previous generation as well, with one of the grandparents also suffering from mental disorders. (The girl, though, is totally well in mind and body and not affected by the family health issues.) From all that I know, what am I permitted to reveal when asked specifically about the problems? And what should I mention if I am asked about the family in general and not about their health issues?
A: It is difficult to answer your question on this forum because of the many particulars that must be considered before presenting a definite ruling. Some things to take into account: What type of genetic disease do the children suffer from? What are the doctors’ opinions regarding the chances that your friend is a carrier of the disease? Can she be tested to verify this? And more. The same goes for mental issues, where all the details must be weighed: The nature of the disorder, whether the grandparent is the father or mother of the ill parent, if it is medically believed to be hereditary, and so on.
Every case is individual, and the pertinent information should be carefully assessed. In some instances it may be necessary to reveal what you know even when not asked, while at other times there would be no reason to raise these issues. Each situation should be considered independently by a competent Rav who will carefully consider the details and then offer a halachic ruling.
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