Q: Our daughter has baruch Hashem become “of age,” and with the suggestions coming, we want to clarify a few points:
How can we tell a shadchan that we are not pursuing a certain shidduch, if we consider it inappropriate because of something negative we heard about the boy or his family? (We prefer telling the truth so that the shadchan won’t continue nagging us.)
Sometimes we are privy to a specific detail that the shadchan seems not to be aware of. Are we permitted to divulge the information, l’to’eles, and for our benefit, as well, so that he doesn’t continue pressuring us?
When the shadchan doesn’t leave us alone, pressuring us to give a specific reason for our lack of interest in the proposition, are we permitted to do so?
A: The above questions are relevant to many of us. We will therefore try to impart a general ruling in this area. However, this does not absolve an individual from seeking detailed advice from a Rav, for specific cases.
The questioner seems to be asking how one would reject a suggested shidduch because of a “flaw.” We must preface the answer with the understanding that the heter to inquire about the suggested bachur is because of the to’eles involved. It is therefore permissible to listen to negative information (in accordance with the conditions delineated by the Chofetz Chaim), to suspect its validity, and to refrain from pursuing the shidduch because of the negative information culled. On the other hand, the shadchan has no direct to’eles from the information, and it may therefore border on lashon hara. The heter to divulge the information to the shadchan is based on the type of “fault” involved. Differences that stem from belonging to different sectors are not considered faults, and therefore telling the shadchan about them would not constitute an issur. When the flaw is common knowledge (as in a missing finger), one may say, “We are not considering such a suggestion.” But, regarding all other “regular” faults, including details such as “not the biggest learner,” “not socially inclined,” “not the cleverest,” “not the typical,” or regarding family issues such as “the father is a difficult person, meddles, doesn’t keep his promises,” etc., one should stick to the standard phrase “It is not suitable for us,” and not discuss the details.
In the case of a significant detail (e.g., a health or emotional issue, etc.), it is important to know that rumors are, under normal circumstances, not thoroughly researched. Therefore, though the family may listen to such information l’to’eles, and suspect its validity or refrain from pursuing the shidduch, the info may not be passed on to the shadchan. The details are likely to turn out to be incorrect, or misconstrued, and as long as the information is inconclusive, it is forbidden to relay to the shadchan (who, as mentioned, gains no direct to’eles from the knowledge). If the information is researched properly, in some instances it may be permissible to say. A Rav should be contacted for specific situations.
Based on all of the above, the decision of how to reply to a shadchan is dependent on the type of problem involved and not on “pressure” from the shadchan. Pressure from a shadchan does not render divulging information permissible.
The following questions and answers were taken from the Mishmeres Hasholom pamphlet in Israel. For details and inquiries please e-mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 972-2 5379160.
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