A Time for Speech, A Time for Silence

Hilchos Rechilus — Closing Illustrations (continued)

The Chofetz Chaim now moves on to the important and sensitive topic of shidduchim. He states what, on the surface, seems a simple halachah:

The Radomers are considering Yossi Gerdman as a match for their daughter. They are very excited by the information they have heard and are on the verge of arranging a meeting. Mr. Radomer’s close friend, Mr. Backston, is aware of this and is concerned. He knows something that the Radomers don’t know — Yossi is very hot-tempered, which, of course, can be very detrimental to the success of a marriage. He knows with certainty that if the Radomers would know this information, they would never consider Yossi for their daughter.

Mr. Backston is obligated to share this information with the Radomers.

However, the Chofetz Chaim cautions that sometimes, what some consider glaring faults are, in fact, qualities to be admired. In his words:

One must be very careful not to act shamefully by speaking negatively about a shidduch prospect when there is no basis for this. For example, sometimes the young man is a sincere, innocent type, who is not sharp enough to recognize the shrewdness and sneakiness of others; or, he does not want to sit with others his age and ridicule people as some are wont to do. Therefore, they speak of him in town as a total fool, and as a result, people do not want to consider him for their daughters; if he is engaged, his future in-laws might consider breaking the shidduch …

May Hashem cut off all lips of smooth talk! Not only are these people baalei lashon hara, they are also baalei motzi shem ra (slanderers), since their criticisms are false.

The Chofetz Chaim labels such slanderers machti’ei harabbim, those who cause many to sin. No one wants to be ridiculed, so good, sincere people often feel compelled to adopt this loud, mocking style so that they will be treated with honor, not scorn. Initially they do this out of fear, but eventually they become used to this type of behavior and it becomes part of their very nature.

The Chofetz Chaim advises us to keep far away from the coarse individuals who are the cause of such behavior. He cites a verse in Mishlei: “My child, if sinners entice you, do not consent … do not walk on the road with them; restrain your foot from their pathway.” He also cites a mishnah: “Better to be called a fool all one’s life, rather than be consid­ered wicked for a moment before Hashem.”

In the opening chapter of Mesilas Yesharim, Rabbi Moshe ChaimLuzzato tells us what this world is really all about.

Hashem has placed man in a world where there are many factors thatcan distance a person from Him … Man is truly placed in the midst ofa raging battle, for all things in this world, whether for good or for bad,are tests for a person.

One of the greatest tests a person can face is peer pressure. Whenpeople who are popular and influential are behaving in a certain way,the temptation to act like them can be exceedingly strong. “I want to be liked and respected. I want to belong and to be part of the crowd. And Icertainly do not want to be looked down upon or, worse yet, ridiculed.”

It is at such times that one must take to heart the mishnah the Chofetz Chaim cites: “Better to be called a fool all one’s life, rather than be considered wicked for one moment before Hashem.”


Faults that are clearly relevant should be revealed, but beware of revealing “faults” which, in fact, are not faults at all.

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© 2020 Chofetz Chaim Heritage Foundation

© 2020 Chofetz Chaim Heritage Foundation