Mishmeres HaSholom: Ask the Rav

Q: A friend inquired about a shidduch that was suggested to her son — a girl who lives on my block. My friend emphasized that she was especially relying on my information and I felt a strong sense of obligation, so I told her everything that I knew about the family. Among other things, I also told her that, a few years ago, this family went through a very hard period, with shalom bayis problems that were eventually mediated with the involvement of local Rabbanim. The minute my friend heard this, she immediately nixed this shidduch and even though I tried to tell her that the situation now is totally fine, and that the children are nice and successful, she would not agree to reconsider.

Ever since that conversation, I am plagued by guilt and fear that I did not act appropriately with regard to the information that I revealed, and I thereby ruined this neighbor’s daughter’s future.

Was I really amiss? And if so, how can I correct it?

A: The question as to whether or not to report about parents’ shalom bayis problems when responding to inquiries regarding their children’s shidduchim, depends upon the severity of the problem. There are cases where the relationships are completely unhealthy (sometimes even to the point where the couple is waiting to get divorced just as soon as they finish marrying off their children), and in situations like these, there is a strong claim that it is permitted to divulge this information about the family, because a house like this is not a “home” and it is considered a significant deficiency. However, since such information usually is hearsay, it should be emphasized when providing the information: “I heard about it, but did not personally witness it.” The way the question here was phrased, it seems that we are not speaking of such an extreme case: there were shalom bayis problems, but they were taken care of and mediated, and now the situation is more or less normal. In this case, it does not seem like it was necessary to tell about it, especially because most probably it was only knowledge from hearsay and not definite and clear knowledge.

Now that you already gave over this information to the inquiring family, there is some room for leniency to say that bedi’eved, in retrospect, maybe there really was a significant deficiency and therefore there was not a complete transgression, and you need only to accept upon yourself to be more careful in the future.

And HaKadosh Baruch Hu in His mercy will send your neighbor’s daughter her true zivug who is worthy of her, and most probably the aforesaid suggestion was meant to be rejected, and was not destined for her in Heaven.