Ethics

For the week ending 6 July 2013 / 27 Tammuz 5773

Handling Sensitive Information.

by Rabbi Mendel Weinbach zt'l
The Color of HeavenArtscroll

Question: Someone recently asked me to provide some information about a young lady I know in order to decide whether to meet her for the purpose of matrimony. I am aware that she has a medical problem but am reluctant to ruin her chances for a long-awaited marriage. What is the right thing to do?

Answer: “You shall not place a stumbling block in the way of a blind man.” (Vayikra 19:14)

The Midrash explains that this refers to misguiding someone who is “blind” in regard to a particular matter by giving him advice that is against his best interests. If you are questioned directly about her health situation, you must answer honestly. If no question is asked about her health, you may assume that this is not an issue (since the asker may himself have a problem which forces him to compromise on this point) and you are not required to volunteer the information you have.

It is interesting to note that the Midrash’s prime example is when someone is asked whether a particular lady is a kosher candidate for marriage with a kohen and he lies by replying in the affirmative. This example is particularly relevant in this age of ba’alei teshuva. A young lady may be a wonderful candidate for marriage but ineligible for a kohen either because her father is not Jewish or because of premarital relations with a non-Jew.

In general, one should consult a rabbinic authority familiar with the laws of lashon hara if any question arises in providing information on shidduchim.

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