When Silence Is Not Golden

Having informed us in strong terms what we are not permitted to relate when providing information concerning a shidduch, the Chofetz Chaim now discusses negative information which should be related. At times we must remain silent, in keeping with the commandment, “Do not go as a peddler of gossip among your people” (Vayikra 19:16), while at other times we must speak up, in keeping with the end of that same verse, “You shall not stand aside while your fellow’s blood is shed.”

If a shidduch is being considered and one is aware that either the young man or woman has a serious flaw of which the other party is unaware, then it must be reported.

For example, if either a young man or woman has a serious hidden medical problem, or is lacking in basic religious observance, these facts must be told. Of course, the conditions for speaking loshon hora l’toeles (for a constructive purpose) must be fulfilled; the speaker must be certain that the information is accurate, that he is not exaggerating the flaw in any way, and that he is reporting the information for a constructive reason and not because he has a personal interest in seeing this shidduch proposal rejected.

The Chofetz Chaim cautions us not to offer negative information about a young man’s level of Torah knowledge. There is no universal standard by which to judge someone’s Torah knowledge. If the girl’s family considers a high level of learning a priority, then there are ways by which they can determine the boy’s level without others having to come forward and offer their opinions. If they did not take these steps, then we can assume that the matter is not such a priority to them. One would, therefore, be guilty of loshon hora if he were to offer such information.

If one knows that the home of either party is one of pritzus (low moral standards), this must be reported. But, says the Chofetz Chaim, this is true only if there is a reasonable chance that the information will be taken seriously and the shidduch will be rejected. Otherwise, such information will be used after the marriage as “ammunition” when problems develop (and, assuming the information is true, they probably will develop). In such a case, reporting the information will only serve to cause rechilus to be spoken.

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© 2020 Chofetz Chaim Heritage Foundation

© 2020 Chofetz Chaim Heritage Foundation