Monday, December 18, 2006

What May I Say?

The most recent issue of the Jewish Observer has a feature about Shidduchim. It's almost as juicy as TomKat's wedding. Sells magazines.

Anyway, the article told tales of people's inadequate judgement in telling or not telling information about the families involved in the shidduchim.

There was a story about one girl whose brother in law (sister's husband) served prison time for a conviction he received despite his innocence. It involved a car accident, and the prosecution maintained that his headlights were off, and basically, he ended up in jail for 2 years. The boy "found out" soon before they planned to get engaged, and ended the relationship. Was this someone's responsibility to reveal?

That did not affect that young woman directly.

But what about a broken engagement? Is someone else obligated to tell that?

In Seminary, a girl posed a question. A boy she knew was engaged to a girl who had experienced a public nervous breakdown, but he had no idea. Was it her responsibility to tell him that? THe answer was complicated and involved whether she was on medication, and other factors.

Obviously, one shouldn't say, "I don't see it," although I am so tempted to sometimes. Because I don't want them to come back to me and say, "That date was horrible, why didn't you TELL me??"

But I think if there are creepy things lurking in a family's history, it could affect the couple. But then only people with similar situations can get together?

Someone once asked me if a girl I know had an eating disorder. He asked if she had ever had one. Yes, she had. But I knew if I said so, he'd never consider it. So I said, "not that I know of," that way, I didn't say no, or yes. But had it gone through, I'd have felt terribly guilty for not warning this family of what might come back around.

A man asked me if the girl got along with her parents. I was privy to information that she had NOT gotten along with them. But it was NOT my job to tell him her family history.

But does he have a right to know?
Do any of us have a right to know this important yet personal and delicate information?


At 12/18/2006 5:36 PM, Blogger Independent Frum Thinker said...

You raise very important and pertinent questions.
Honestly, you really need to get guidance from a respected Halachic authority on what is permitted, what is forbidden, and what is required to disclose.

At 12/18/2006 6:23 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The same way you accuse Jewish Observer of using Shidduchim to sell magazines, you're using the topic to generate comments! Talk about the pot calling the kettle black....

At 12/18/2006 8:16 PM, Blogger Michelle said...

yes but i dont make $$ from comments, and i wanted to write about that 4 my own interest

At 12/19/2006 6:12 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

IFT's take is the best - you have to ask in each individual case. End of story.

At 12/19/2006 7:01 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The Rabbanim are busy enough

At 12/19/2006 7:31 AM, Anonymous SIL said...

I think the larger issue is that the requirement of research is highly flawed altogether and should probably be abandoned. Your post proves that.

At 12/19/2006 8:30 AM, Blogger Michelle said...

sil-wouldn't you be furious if right after you got engaged/married, someone dropped a bombshell on you about your new family? something that could affect your marriage, your family, and your future?
(And I DON'T mean "reputation," I mean your own well-being)

At 12/19/2006 9:22 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

At the end of the day, it's all in the hands of Hashem. You see time and time again, that information that could've ruined a shidduch wasn't given, and often it's a silly thing that both parties are glad didn't come out (i.e. he only wanted someone who wanted to live in Israel and she refused to go out with anyone who wanted to live in Israel and someone neglected to mention that and they now live happily ever after [in Israel]). In truth, based on the pasuk "MeiHashem Yatzah Hadavar," many gedolim have written that shidduchim is the only thing where no hishtadlus is necessary-it's all from Hashem. R' Yaakov Kamenetsky says (I believe) that the whole "checking out" process is just to make ourselves feel calmer-it does not actually accomplish anything. I think that a huge part of the issue in shidduchim today is the craziness with the questions on wholly insignificant irrelevant information (i.e. of the plastic tablecloth genre). We focus too much on skirt size and looks and forget that it's really the middos etc. that counts. I think that if we fixed this, we could alleviate a some of today's issues.

At 12/19/2006 11:13 AM, Blogger pobody's nerfect. said...

nobody said anything contradictory here. Ask your Rabbi if you have a big question, but in general- deep dark secrets are not the shadchan's territory. Once a relationship gets "serious" though, it becomes the responsibility of the involved parties to disclose any relevant information about physical or mental illnesses, whether in themselves or in their families. It needs to be said to a) establish honesty and openness in the relationship and b) because if it's too much for the other guy/girl to handle, it wasnt a good shidduch anyway.
Michelle- in regards to a friend who suffered from an eating disorder (check out the link for a detailed discussion on ED's, depression, and shidduchim), if she didn't get help then you should encourage it now. otherwise, it's not the shadchan's business.

At 12/19/2006 7:13 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

If you feel your conversation with someone asking information is heading in such a direction you could always excuse yourself politely--for another reason and then ask a shaila--either by calling the shmiras halashon hotline or another Rabbinic Authority.
(I have done this more than once when I knew the girl I was being asked about had an unstable family life, another with an eating disorder, and another who has been on and off prozac for a few years.)

At 12/19/2006 10:52 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"The same way you accuse Jewish Observer of using Shidduchim to sell magazines, you're using the topic to generate comments! Talk about the pot calling the kettle black."

What's the problem? Michelle wasn't accusing them of doing anything unethical. One of the purposes of the Observer is to sell magazines. One of the purposes of a blog like this is to generate discussion. After all the comments are part of what makes a blog interesting.

So Michelle, please go ahead and keep writing posts that generate comments. If you can make money from them, then more power to you.

As for the problem you mentioned in the post, sorry, but I can't give you much insight.

Another anon

At 12/20/2006 12:16 PM, Blogger AnnieGetYour said...

When you say "not that I know of" (re: the boy asking about an eating disorder) you ARE saying "no." And lying. If you don't feel comfortable answering you should just say that he should ask the girl. Don't lie.

At 12/20/2006 6:59 PM, Blogger Michelle said...

anniegetyour--i don't think i'm lying. Am I blonde? Not that YOU know of, you've never seen me. So, knowing that I am not the girl's closest friend, and receiving that response, I'd think, allows the person to think, "maybe she did have one, but this girl didn't know about it. I'll ask someone else."

Another Anon--thank you for defending me. You're right. Does anyone complain to Us Weekly for featuring TomKat all the time? Sure I'd rather read about Lindsay Lohan's breakdowns, but hey, what sells magazines? It's a business to make money. Just like almost EVERYTHING ELSE in this society.

Anon 9:22-we all know that it ultimately is up to Hashem. I had a really bad experience---which I'm still unsure whether it could have been prevented with better research--but i guess I further prove your point. It was meant for me to experience that.

At 12/21/2006 7:46 AM, Blogger AnnieGetYour said...

Michelle, you said

"He asked if she had ever had one. Yes, she had. But I knew if I said so, he'd never consider it. So I said, "not that I know of," that way, I didn't say no, or yes."

Sorry if I misunderstood, but it seems as if you knew that she had an eating disorder, and then told him "not that you know of," which would be a lie.

Not sure what you mean with the "am I blonde" comment though.

At 12/21/2006 10:01 AM, Anonymous Chani said...

I have to agree with Annie. If someone gave your name as a reference for shidduchim, the other party is probably assuming(like I would) that you are a close friend. If I called a friend who'd been given as a reference & I asked a specific question like that & recieved such an answer, I don't think I'd bother asking anyone else. Unless I had a reason to believe that such a problem had existed. Saying "Not that I know of" is a lie because you do know that she had an eating disorder. Did you ever ask anyone what to say if that ever happens again?

At 12/21/2006 2:17 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

instead of "not that i know of" how about, "i can find out for you." then call the girl and ask what she wants you to say in such a situation. if she asks you to say no, you have a possible problem. there are special halachos of shmiras halashon just for shidduchim. you should learn them.

At 12/24/2006 6:00 PM, Blogger pobody's nerfect. said...

i agree with anonymous. if someone is close enough to you that they've listed you as a reference, you should feel comfortable approaching them to ask what she wants you to say about this very touchy topic.

At 12/26/2006 7:23 AM, Anonymous Haych said...

I think there is a much larger issue needs to be addressed. If I know that an eating dissorder will become my identity when it comes to shidduchim I would be very tempted to not say anything. If I know that I'll be crossed of the list if someone knows that my grandparents are separated, it would be realy hard for me to set myself up for failure.
I do belive that divorce/eating dissorderss/medical complications are all things to be considered but they are not a persons identity.
Do you expect a perfect person, you know what you will get, a pack of lies. You are asking for it. no one is perfect and has the perfect family backround and if they say they do they are covering up something.
A Rabbi that I know always says that research is way overrated, if you know too much you would never get married.
There is another side to it too. I have a friend who was realy excited about a shidduch that someone had sugested. He fit her "list" perfectly, he was exactly what she was looking for. They went out on 2 dates and she was so frustrated b/c it just didn't work, it bothered her b/c this sounded so perfect on paper and she realized just how riddiculous it was. She ended up marrying someone who was so different from what she thought she wanted but they are both so happy and bring out the best in eachother.
I think that people have to stop wasting time on silly questions. Find out a little about hte person but let the person speak for themselves too.

At 12/26/2006 2:08 PM, Blogger Michelle said...

haych--thats the problem-everyone IS seeking unrealistic perfection. thats why i was afraid to say anything bout that girl.

At 1/14/2007 7:11 PM, Anonymous Frum Satire said...

Generate all the comments you want. Isnt that the point of blogging, getting random folks to give you crap or make you feel like a celebrity. Here is my question, because I had to deal with this and every one I asked said the same thing. If one was sexually acvtive in the past and did pretty much everything. Is that person required to tell the guy/girl? Obviously if your suitor asks you, but what if they dont. This is also assuming that you are completely free of STD's.


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