Q: Recently, my friends and I were discussing the issue of giving information for shidduchim — how touchy and complex it is and how much caution it requires. I was shocked to hear from one of those present that he knows people who avoid answering shidduch inquiries altogether, or answer only positively, without giving any negative information, so as not to get into uncertain situations…
In my opinion, this is serious misconduct that can cause huge damage to the inquirers. Absence of the requested information may cause them to fall into a shidduch that is not well-suited to them, or in an even worse case — into a shidduch with real problems, and who knows how that could end up.
I want to ask where the “Golden Mean” lies in this area — how to distinguish what shidduch inquiries one is permitted to answer, when it is obligatory to answer, and when it is prohibited to answer?
A: (a) The questioner is very correct in complaining about those who avoid responding with negative information about the boy or girl in question. Of course, this is intended in a case where there is a serious and basic flaw that halachah requires reporting to the inquirer so that he/she will not be deceived. If the one being asked does not reveal such information to the inquirer, he violates the prohibition of “You shall not stand aside while your fellow’s blood is shed” (see Be’er Mayim Chayim, Hilchos Rechilus 9:1) and other prohibitions.
(b) The questioner wishes to clarify what one may answer, what one is obligated to answer and what one is prohibited to answer. It is difficult to detail all of the rules in these matters in this column, because the subject is very broad. Each case must be considered individually and, in many cases, consultation is needed regarding what and how to respond. The Chofetz Chaim (Hilchos Rechilus, Klal 9) goes into this subject at length and also warns us to think well before answering. Indeed, much siyatta diShmaya is needed in these matters.
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The views expressed are of the individual author. Readers are encouraged to consult their own posek for guidance.