A Guide to getting and giving information for a shidduch

1Each one of us may at any given time be called upon to divulge information about an individual or a family in regard to a shidduch. Furthermore, parents who are looking for a shidduch for their children are pro-actively making calls regarding prospective shidduchim. They are searching for information, character analysis, health information etc., much of which will help them make up their minds whether or not to pursue a certain shidduch.

With this in mind, we must all be aware of the enormous responsibility of what we say in response to these questions. Our words can literally make or break a shidduch. Therefore it is obligatory for us to become acquainted with the halachah of what we can and cannot say. Sometimes people speak when they should be quiet and sometimes they hold back when they should speak up. It is imperative to know when we must convey information and how it is to be conveyed.

Follow the following guidelines:

1. When asking someone for information regarding a shidduch, one must always preface the request by saying; “The reason I’m asking you for this information is because someone is considering a shidduch with this person.” This focuses the mind of the person being questioned and makes sure that what they say will be constructive.

2. Before you answer the question, ask yourself how well you know the person, and what is your source of information? How do you feel about the person and what is going to happen to the information once it is disclosed?

3. Is the source of your information firsthand, second hand or mere hear say? Say only what you know to be 100% true and don’t exaggerate or embellish.

4. If you don’t like the person or have a grudge against them, don’t act as a reference.

5. The Torah2 states, “Do not stand aside as your fellow’s blood is being shed.” This means that if you have essential information about someone who has a fault that would be detrimental to establishing a Jewish home, a happy marriage or a wholesome relationship, then, you are obligated to divulge that information.

6. This includes issues such as; seriously flawed character traits, immodesty, lack of religious commitment, definite health or emotional problems. If you are not sure whether certain information you have would be definitely detrimental to a shidduch then ask a Rav before divulging it.

7. Such information must be transmitted “L’Toeles” — constructively — for the constructive purpose of aiding a shidduch inquiry. If possible stop the suggestion without divulging the information by saying, “I don’t think this shidduch is for you.” However, if the inquirer persists then it is permissible to pass on the minimum information required to convey the point. One must ask the person to keep the information strictly confidential, and if you are sure that the information will be shared, a Rav should be consulted.

8. Subjective, essential information such as; middos, intelligence, family, age — that is important but not crucial — when asked, one should always tell the truth, however, one should not volunteer negative information, unless this fact would be ultimately detrimental to the establishment of a happy wholesome Jewish home. If you are not clear whether this information would be detrimental or not, then it would be better not to mention it until clarified.

9. There are many minor issues, such as personal preferences, that do not stand in the way of a shidduch. When asked about these issues, one may answer as long as the information is being offered for a constructive purpose. Under no circumstances may a person lie, however choosing not to answer does not violate the above prohibition.

10. One should report facts, rather than opinions. One should avoid labeling. When asked to assess another’s character one should never give an assessment as a factual definitive description of the other, rather as a personal assessment based on one’s experience.

11. One may not request information from a known enemy of the person or one who has had a disagreement with them.

12. Supply only information that assists the inquirer in deciding whether to pursue a particular shidduch. Leave out extraneous detail.

13. If one finds out negative information in a shidduch inquiry, one should use that data solely to determine whether or not to pursue the particular shidduch for which it was gathered. If a decision is made not to pursue the shidduch, it is forbidden to share the information you have with others, be they the shadchan, one’s parents or neighbor.

14. If a person decides not to pursue a shidduch they should not reveal the reason why they stopped unless there is a very clear purpose. All one should say is, “I decided not to pursue this shidduch, it was not for me.”

15. If in the course of an inquiry one finds detrimental negative information that a shadchan should know about before they suggest the shidduch to others, one should ask a Rav what to do.

16. Shadchanim need to be extremely cautious about information they share or offer when discussing shidduchim.