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Hakhel Email Community Awareness Bulletin


Below is an archive of a series of postings from Hakhel's daily emails on the topic of Shemiras HaLashon in Shidduchim, provided to us by Rabbi Dovid Weinberger, Shlita, Rav, Congregation Shaaray Tefilah, Lawrence, and the Mechaber of many renowned Seforim.   


A Word of Caution

Although I will attempt to delineate many of the halachos that pertain to Shemiras HaLashon in the realm of Shidduchim with appropriate sources, nonetheless, due to the complexities involved and minutia that change the Halacha drastically; Shailos must be asked from appropriate poskim.  


Lesson #1  


Appropriate Conduct in Seeking Information about a Prospective Shidduch.

The Halacha is very clear that a person may request information from as many people as he would like in order to obtain accuracy and comfort regarding the prospective individual that he is inquiring about.  Although certain inquiries perhaps would seem to be absurd in certain people’s eyes, nonetheless, if this information is vital to the inquirer, one may inquire about it.  Additionally it is prudent to not be reliant on hearsay, and to make proper inquiries in order to avoid problematic situations later, including separation and divorce.


In spite of the Halachic permission one has to inquire, one must initiate the inquiry by stating that he is seeking information for a Shidduch.  It is generally not allowed to accept any derogatory information as fact, but only to be concerned about it as a possibility of truth insofar as its relevance for the Shidduch.


Although there are those individuals who when told that it is for a Shidduch might not be honest with their information and the inquirer would prefer not to mention that fact so that they will get accurate and true information, nonetheless, it is forbidden to do this and one must expressly mention at the outset that this information is relevant to a prospective Shidduch.


If a person is able to get the information without using an intermediary that would be preferable in order not to involve additional people in hearing the information.  In the event, however, that he believes that he will not get correct information and the Shaliach will, e.g. his Rav, his uncle, etc. then he may ask a third party to obtain the information on his behalf.


(Chofetz Chaim, K’lal Daled, Seif Yud Aleph, Be’eir Mayim Chaim Daled)  


Lesson #2  


May the Shadchan or anyone else deviate from the actual age of a prospective Shidduch candidate?


1.  In regard to this question, there are differences of opinion amongst the Poskim.  Clearly, without a Halachic directive, one may not just assume that he could lie about the age of a prospective Shidduch.


2.  HaRav Yosef Sholom Eliyashiv, Shlita permits a slight deviation of approximately one year.  On the other hand, HaRav Shlomo Zalmen Auerbach, Z’tl did not permit any deviation whatsoever.  HaRav Binyomin Zilber, Z’tl ruled that this issue is dependant upon what the norm for people to be makpid on was.  It is hard to be able to put this ruling into effect as different countries have different norms and there are different concerns at different ages. Thus, a Shaila should be asked of a competent Morah Hora’ah prior to making a decision on applying this rule.


3.  Numerous talmidim of HaRav Aharon Kotler, Z’tl have stated that Rav Aharon allowed a 30 year old to say that he was 28.


4.  Clearly, if a woman is above 40, it would be prohibited to say that she was younger, due to the possibility that she may no longer be of child bearing age.


5.  Notwithstanding any of the above, if a person tells you that he is unequivocally makpid on age, he has the right to know the truth, and you may not deviate one iota.


6. If it is known that the girl is older than the boy by a number of years, and one was not asked about it, there is no obligation to relay this information.


Sources:  Sefer Titein Emes LeYaakov, Siman 38; Sefer Chelkas Yaakov 1:177; Sefer Doveir Mayshorim  13; and Sefer Chavetzeles HaSharon 63.  


Lesson #3  

General Guidelines- Inquiry Regarding a Shidduch


            We are all Dayanim when being asked regarding a Shidduch. We must understand the seriousness of our response realizing that we are dealing with people’s lives. As long as we are following Halacha, it is not our obligation to worry about the outcome, because we are doing what we are mandated to do according to the Torah.


            My advice when being asked about a particular party is not to just offer information, but rather to tell them to ask you specific questions and that you will try to respond as best as possible.  The reason for this is quite clear; when we are reflecting on someone’s life--their present and their past--we could very easily say something that Halachically should not be said and can become an actual detriment to the shidduch.  As such, tell the person to ask you pointed questions and you will do your best to answer correctly and with integrity.  In offering responses, you must bear in mind the prohibitions of Lifnei Iveir Lo Sitein Michshol–not placing a stumbling block in front of the blind, which in this case refers to the one seeking the information.  Additionally, we must also be cognizant of the Torah prohibition of Lo Sa'amod Al Dam Rei’echa–not to stand by while your brother’s blood is being spilled, which sometimes might necessitate a response that will negate the Shidduch in order to save a person from a horrific or very difficult marriage.


            If you who are being asked do not really know specifics, it is best to say that you really don’t know than to respond with bits of pieces of information that ultimately could be more hurtful and can give off negative impressions when in reality you just don’t know either way.  Just because you’re asked, there is no obligation to respond--especially when you really do not know the person well.


            Even where you do know but you do not want to get involved, you may tell the inquirer to ask someone else who might know them better. The Steipeler Rav, Z’tl, used to tell people when they didn’t want to respond to particular inquiries about a certain family, that they may say in a friendly manner:  "I am sorry, I am not the Lishkas Modi’in - the information booth!"


Specific details to follow in next segment.  


Lesson #4


Some additional rules for the Shidduch Inquirer: 


1. Do not ask about a number of candidates if you are really only interested in one of them, in order to hide the person you are truly looking into.


2. Although you are not permitted to believe the information you hear as being absolutely true, you may act on the basis that it MAY BE true.


3. Never ask a person for information who is known to have had a disagreement either with the party you are asking about or his/her family, or a competitor.  


Lesson #5


Specific Details-Inquiry Regarding a Shidduch


A person may ask numerous people until he feels comfortable that he has inquired sufficiently.  One may also ask any question that he feels a need to.  Although, unfortunately many questions border on the absurd, nonetheless, a person has the right to ask whatever it is that he feels he needs to know about a family or prospective boy or girl. 


We must be cautious however and realize that certain terminologies that are used by the inquirer might mean different things to the respondent.  This is especially true when we are dealing with different countries, cultures and backgrounds, i.e., litvish, chassidish, sefardi.  For example, the response given to an inquirer who is from a more modern background has a very different connotation than when given to a person an inquirer of a “yeshiva” or “chassidic” background.  Furthermore, the question such as “Is he  a Masmid?”, “Is he a Ba’al Chesed?”, or “Is he a Ba’al Kishron?”, are questions that to one individual might mean that the prospective shidduch learns Bain Hasedarim; while to someone else it may mean that he is Makpid only on the time during the Seder that he is learning.  Unfortunately, all too often when the responder does not fully understand or is not on the same wavelength as the inquirer, the answer can mean the end of a potential Shidduch.


The solution really is that people be very careful about what they are asking and not use generic terms, and rather be very specific about what they want to know.  Instead of just asking:  “Is he a Masmid?”, ask if he learns, during Sedarim, Bain Hasedarim, after night Seder.  In regard to a Ba’al Chesed one should ask very pointedly for examples of situations with his friend where he sees Chesed demonstrated etc.


In another scenario, many parents have a very strong belief that their son is a tremendous Ba’al Kishron and therefore deserves an extremely bright girl to match up to his intelligence.  You ,the responder, are aware that their son is but average, i.e., you are his Rebbi or past Rebbi, may say that the girl is of equal caliber, although she is just average.  The reason for this, says the Chofetz Chaim, is that the parents are fooling themselves into thinking that their son is more advanced or intellectually on a higher level than he is, unfortunately quite possibly ruining their child’s zivug--while in reality this young lady’s intelligence is on par with their son’s.


To be continued…

Lesson #6


Specific Details-Inquiry Regarding a Shidduch


An extremely important area of consideration is when parents are very involved with the children’s shidduchim and sometimes are not are not necessarily looking out for the interest of their child as much as their own interest.  Examples of this would be marrying into an affluent family, a mishpacha with great yichus, etc.  It is difficult to delineate explicitly what areas should not be an issue to consider, as sometimes the aforementioned examples are indeed appropriate. 


Each family must have a Rav with whom to discuss issues of shidduchim beyond the attributes of being bnei Torah, yirei shomayim, people of integrity, alleh middos, etc.  We have unfortunately seen parents who have sometimes ruined appropriate shidduchim for their children due to nonsensical and inappropriate desires. 


To be continued…


Lesson #7


Specific Details-Inquiry Regarding a Shidduch


Generally speaking, issues regarding a prospective boy or girl that are visible and can be seen by the other party should not be told up front.  Rather, the person should see for themselves if this issue bothers them or not. 


Included in this category are issues such as height, weight, other physical features such as a slight twitch, a slight limp, etc.  These issues could bother one person and yet not another, and if mentioned right at the outset it might be imagined as being far worse than reality, and the person would have no interest in going out. 


If however you are being asked explicitly if the person is tall, short, heavy, slim, etc., you are obligated to be honest and respond accordingly.  Nonetheless, in all situations you should attempt to expound on the positive virtues of the individual so that people are not caught up in minor or sometimes seemingly insignificant aspects of one’s physical appearance.


In the event that the question is being asked by a relative or very good friend and you know that they would be very upset if you did not tell them something about the person’s physical appearance, you may offer the information even though you were not explicitly asked.


To be continued…  


Lesson #8


Specific Details-Inquiry Regarding a Shidduch


We had mentioned previously that an individual may ask any question that he so desires regarding a prospective shidduch, and the respondent should respond to the best of his ability.  However, the only time one is allowed to offer information when they are not asked is in regard to a serious impediment in the person which the shidduch will not see on his/her own, or a matter which would constitute a serious impediment to the marital relationship.  An example of the latter would be when you know the girl to be extremely soft and sensitive, and you know that the boy is harsh, strong, and somewhat crass. Due to the fact that this may not come out or be discerned on a date, and you know the two personalities well, you may offer this information even if you are not asked--or if possible simply state that you do not recommend the shidduch. 


We had also mentioned in a previous lesson that blemishes which will not impede on a marriage or will be seen should not be offered in advance unless the inquirer is a relative or close friend who you know would be makpid.  . However, Poskim recommend that even then it would be best if the prospective shidduch would relay this information on their own after a number of dates. Then, you are absolved from saying anything at the outset.  In the event that they are not planning on doing so, then you have an obligation to reveal that information at the outset.  The following would be included in this category: serious medical illnesses both physical and psychological, genetic diseases where there are at least two or three of the relatives that have the same genetic problem, adoption, addictions and serious aveiros of recent activity.


In regard to a Ba’al Teshuva most Poskim are of the opinion that one should be told that the prospective shidduch has come to Yiddishkeit on his own.  However, it should be stressed that the Gedolim of the past generation have looked very favorably on Ba’alei Teshuvah, who exemplify wonderful Middos and Yiras Shomayim. 


Lesson #9


Specific Details-Inquiry Regarding a Shidduch


As mentioned previously, illnesses both medical and psychological that are of a serious nature that would be not known otherwise and will not be told by a prospective boy or girl should be told to the person seeking information.  We must bear in mind that psychological issues are of a wide range, sometimes simple medication can allow for a normal and healthy marriage.  Thus, there is a difference between an individual who is taking medication for a slight neurosis and perhaps temporary in duration, versus an individual diagnosed with a serious personality disorder, psychosis, bipolar, etc.  Additionally, in regard to medical issues, understand that a person who has hay fever or allergies is not considered an illness comparable to an epileptic, diabetic or serous asthmatic, etc.


Kibbud Av VaEim Regarding a Shidduch


The Halacha states (Shulchan Aruch, Yoreh De’ah, end Siman 242; Noda B’Yehuda 2, Evan HaEzer Teshuvah 45) that a child does not have to listen to his/her parents in regard to a Shidduch.  Nonetheless, it would be prudent and wise to generally follow their advice and guidance.  In the event that the prospective shidduch is an appropriate one, and the parent is negating it for inappropriate reasons, i.e., not prestigious or wealthy enough, then the child may exercise their right not to listen, but should do so with the guidance and advice of a competent Rav or Posek.  However, if the individual that they seek to marry is indeed inappropriate, and would cause the parent much shame and tza’ar the child is obligated according to Halacha to listen to the parent (Bais Hillel Yoreh De’ah Siman 240; Maishiv Davar, Yoreh De’ah Siman 50).  


Lesson #10


Breaking an Engagement


                According to the halacha it is generally forbidden to negate a shidduch without both parties agreeing.  This is based on shame and embarrassment that the other party will suffer, as well as financial commitments that have been made previously.  This prohibition exists even if formal tenaim were not made. In certain circles, there is even an issur cheirem to break an engagement, whereas other poskim are of the opinion that the cheirem does not apply today.  According to numerous poskim, the one who breaks the shidduch is obligated in a k’nas (financial fine based upon the Beis Din evaluation).  This issue is one that has many stipulations regarding kabalas kinyan (a formal tenaim document, etc.), and requires halachic guidance from a renowned posek.  There are numerous circumstances in which one is permitted to break a shidduch.  Some of those situations are where the boy or girl have deteriorated spiritually in the interim, or one of the families fooled the other family regarding information that was concealed until now.  The particular types of issues that fall into the aforementioned category require the input of a competent Rav or posek. The poskim differ regarding situations, such as a previous engagement that the other party was unaware of, differential in age or in the boy’s financial ability, or negative information that comes out at this point and had not been known previously.  



Lesson #11


Breaking an Engagement


When a shidduch is broken, gifts of the chasan and kallah given to each other as well as gifts from the respective parents are returned.  This is true even in a situation where it was an inappropriate basis to break the engagement.  Generally speaking the one who broke the engagement is obligated to pay the other side for any unreimbursed wedding expenses that they may have to date.  Due to the complexity of this matter, a competent posek must be consulted.


It is customary that a shtar mechila is written and signed by both sides.  No shtar mechila is necessary when one of the sides fooled the other as we had mentioned earlier.  It is still best to obtain such a document even in that circumstance.


If a shidduch unfortunately is broken the one who ended it should not reveal any derogatory reasons to others but rather say that it just did not work out.  It is permissible however, for the other side to state that “we were willing to go ahead.”


Lesson #12


Rules for the Matchmaker


1. Do not suggest a Shidduch if, objectively speaking, it is not in the best interests of each of the parties involved. Put yourself into their respective positions. You are doing a great chessed, not playing games of chance.


2. Generally, do not be guided by what you believe is best for a person but by what that person feels is important to him/her.


3. Do not overly “investigate” the two and their families before proposing the match. This is the responsibility of the parties and/or their parents.


4. Do not suggest a Shidduch unless:


(a) You believe, based upon your current knowledge, the two could be a good match, and you are unaware of any reason the relationship could cause pain to either one or could result in one party being a negative influence on the other.


(b) There is reason to believe their meeting will ultimately result in engagement.


(c) You are unaware of any medical, emotional or character deficiency that would render one party unfit for marriage at the present time.


(d) You are unaware that one party lacks something subjective that the other is insistent upon, or has something subjective to which the other has explicitly expressed strong objection.


One final note:  If you are not sure whether to redt the Shidduch based upon the above circumstances, call the Shemiras HaLashon Shailah Hotline (718-951-3696, between the hours of 9:00PM through 10:30PM, Eastern Time), and a qualified Rav will guide you.  


Lesson #13


Attributes in Searching for a Shidduch-Part 1


The Steipeler, Z’tl, as well as many other Gedolim, did not feel that regarding a boy one should look for the biggest baal kishron or iluy, rather the ma’alah should be of one who is a ben aliya.  The Chasam Sofer writes that a zivug hagun that a girl should seek is a bochur who is a yorei shomayim and ba’al midos as well as a masmid in learning. 


The Chasam Sofer in a letter to Rabbi Akiva Eiger, his father-in-law, informs him of the engagement of one of his daughters to one of his talmidim in his yeshiva.  He states that the bochur is still young in years and is an average talmid at present, but has the potential to become an outstanding talmid chochom in the future.  He is a yorei shomayim and a tremendous masmid.  The Steipler in the Sefer Peninei Rabbeinu Kehilas Yaakov, vol. 1 page 14, responds to an inquiry regarding what one should look for in a shidduch and says:  “You do not need many ma’alos except for three things:  diligence in learning, a clear seichel, and good midos”.


The Bach, as well as many other achronim, said that many prominent people and gaonim were not makpid if a family member of the prospective boy or girl was a ba’al aveira or even a meshumad.  Their main focus was the particular person in terms of yiras shomayim, midos, etc. (Teshuvas Bais Chodosh Hayeshanos).  


Lesson #14


Attributes in Searching for a Shidduch-Part 2


The famous Mashgiach, Rav Eliya Lopian, Z’tl, states that “Middos Tovos are the foundation to build oneself and to reach all other lofty madreigos.  Very negative character traits are an illness that very few are able to cure themselves of.”  It is for this reason that many Gedolim stress the aspect of Middos as the most important element of Shidduch as is borne in the Torah with the choice of Rivka as the Shidduch for Yitzchak.


Similarly, the Chazon Ish says the most important conditions are Taharas HaLev, Ahavas Torah, and good middos.  The Meiri (Shabbos 11A) rules that in addition to checking into the Yichus and the relatives of the prospective girl, one should be exceptionally thorough in the investigation of Middos, because negative traits can destroy the entire marriage.  Rabbeinu Bachya (on Parshas Chayei Sara) tells us that children are drawn after the middos of the mother’s family, just as the taste of wine follows the vessel in which it is stored.  Thus, Chazal were particularly mindful of a mother’s Middos Tovos.


The Steipeler, Z’tl, once told a boy that money and looks is a good thing, but only if the Shidduch is going in a good direction.  However, regarding proper Middos, one cannot be Mevater in any which way, because a women without proper Middos is considered Gehenoim in the house.  The Steipeler repeated this numerous times.


Rav Moshe Shternbuch, Shlita, in his Sefer Teshuvos VeHanhagos brings from the Chazon Ish that the Ikar Middah to be most concerned about is that the girl is not stubborn, for stubbornness can be a tremendous impediment to life together.  


Rav Elyakim Schlesinger (Bais Av Al Hatorah, 2:33 ) says that the Chazon Ish was accustomed to saying the following four middos are essential in regard to a Shidduch: lev tov, easygoing middos, Ahavas Torah, and Histapkus--satisfaction with what one has. 


Lesson #15 

The Shadchan


1.  It is a mitzvah to be involved In the process of helping to arrange shidduchim. and one may do so on Shabbos and Yom Tov, even though there will payment for such services.


2. There is an absolute obligation to pay a shadchan, just as one must pay any broker who renders a service.  The shadchan may seek recourse in beis din in order to collect what is rightfully owed. Great poskim have said that shadchanus is “the most kosher money.”


3. Shadchanim are entitled to payment whether they acted of their own accord or whether they were brought into the process by one of the parties.


4. It is generally accepted that the parents of the chassan and the parents of the kallah evenly divide the payments to the shadchan, even if the shadchan was more involved with one side or worked longer with that side.


5. Unless otherwise specified In advance, the shadchan’s fee is determined by the normal fee paid in the location of the chassan and kallah, regardless of the amount of time and effort the shadchan invested.  If the chassan and kallah live in different places, and the normal amount paid in one’s location is different than that of the other, a Rav acceptable to all parties should be asked to determine the fee.  The payment to the shadchan is assumed to include reimbursement of all the shadchan’s expenses.  In the event that those expenditures exceeded the normal fee, the shadchan is reimbursed for those additional expenses as well.


6. The accepted custom is that the shadchan is paid at the time of the engagement, If the engagement Is broken, the shadchan must still be paid.


7. Unless otherwise stipulated at the outset, the shadchan does not receive any payment or reimbursement, if the proposed match did not lead to the couple’s engagement.


8. If more than one shadchan was actively involved from the start, the normal payment is evenly divided among them.


Lesson #16


The Shadchan (continued)


9.  There are different customs as to how the payment to the shadchanim should be divided when numerous individuals were involved.  One common arrangement is that the shadchan or shadchanim who initiated the shidduch and the ones who completed it equally divide the normal fee.  The others who were involved receive a token payment.  The practice in some communities may be different.


10.  When there are two shadchanim, one of whom dealt with both the chassan and the kaIlah and one of whom worked with only one of the parties, one common arrangement is that payment is evenly divided between them--even if the initial idea for the shidduch came from one of them, who then involved the second person.  Here too, the practice in some communities may be different.


11.  One may not interfere and try to serve as a shadchan to advance a shidduch if someone else is already effectively involved. Similarly, it is improper for either side to involve a second shadchan if the first shadchan is prepared to continue his involvement.  If there is a problem in dealing with the initial shadchan, a Rav should be consulted.


12.  If someone suggests a shidduch which was rejected, and that same shidduch was later suggested by a different shadchan and it was then accepted and brought to a successful conclusion, one common arrangement for dividing the payment is:


• If the second shadchan knew of the first shadchan’s suggestion, the first shadchan receives between 1/3and 1/2 of the payment.


• If the second shadchan was unaware of the first shadchan’s suggestion, the second person receives the entire payment.


Due to the complexities of these halachos, a prominent Rav should be asked for advice.


13.  Any questions or disputes regarding the payment of shadchanus must be resolved by a Rav acceptable to all the parties or before a beis din.


Lesson #17





The Steipeler was once asked regarding a shidduch that was suggested and then pushed off--should one try to reintroduce the shidduch and pressure the individual to reconsider.  He quoted the Sefer Chasidim, Siman 514 that showed that one should not do such a thing.  On yet another occasion he responded to a similar inquiry and said that if one begins the shidduch process and sees that it does not go forward, he should not do hishtadlus to push it, because most probably this is not the right shidduch (Orchos Rabbeinu p. 264).


There are times that a person worries about what their neighbors and friends might say about their children or themselves regarding a shidduch.  A young man once came to the Chazon Ish and poured out his heart seeking the Gadol’s advice.  The bochur said that his neighbor has a tremendous hatred and ruins every potential shidduch that comes his way when he is asked for information.  The Chazon Ish responded and told him: “Don’t worry about your neighbor, when the right zivug will come about, either your neighbor will not be asked, or he will be quiet, or his words will have no influence.  All of his efforts thus far, were only regarding shidduchim were not your proper zivug and therefore he was successful in ruining it--for your benefit!”


Lesson #18


Hishtadlus (continued)


The Medrash (Bereishis Raba 68:4) relates the famous Chazal that Hakadosh Boruch Hu sits and makes shidduchim constantly announcing bas ploni l’ploni. Chazal say that Hashem sometimes matches them baal korchum, even against their will.  The sefarim explain that the concept of a zivug is not in the realm of nature at all, but rather completely and totally in Hashem’s hands.  Although we are enjoined to do our hishtadlus in the realm of teva (nature), one will not be successful if their zivug has not been ordained by Hashem.  This is what Chazal mean when they say Kasheh Zivugo Shel Adam Lefnei HaKadosh Baruch Hu KeKriyas Yam Suf (Rashi (Sotah Daf 2a) comments and says that just as the laws of nature from creation were changed at the time of krias yam suf so too the shidduch of a person is above the laws of nature and does not follow normative rules).    The Ran in Moed Katon (18b) adds that although it is decreed from Heaven who he will marry, if someone else comes along, who is not the proper zivug and davens to Hashem to marry that particular person, it could be that his Tefillah will be answered.  So great is the power of Tefillah (it is for this reason that we do not daven for any particular individual, but rather that Hashem allow us to find our proper zivug).  If a person prays and is successful in derailing Hashem’s decree of bas ploni l’ploni, the Ran says that at the end, the decree will be maintained through either divorce or death so that the proper individual will marry his or her bashert.  


Lesson #19


First Shidduch


The Steipeler, Z’tl, was asked about a bachur who went out with his first shidduch numerous times--and although everyone was pleased, his parents were concerned that maybe he should go out with others.  The Steipeler responded that if he had doubts then he should go out with others; however if everything seemed to be correct and proper in his eyes, then he should not push away this shidduch just to see what other girls might be like.  He said doing so would be causing tza’ar to someone else for no reason. If someone does this, he will suffer terribly throughout his life.


The Shidduch of Younger Sibling before an Older Sibling


The Chazon Ish learned about a mother holding back her younger son from going out because an older brother was not married.  He sent a message to her that it is totally permissible for the younger one to go out before the older one.  The Steipler explains the Shach (Yoreh De’ah 244) on this topic to mean that it is a father’s chiyuv to be MeShadeich his older son first, but a younger brother is allowed to get married first, especially if the older brother has difficulty with shidduchim.  Similarly, the Steipler says there is no hekpeidah on a younger sister getting married before an older brother.  He states that he himself married off a daughter before a son, according to the P’sak of the Chazon Ish.  In regard to whether a younger sister can get married before an older sister, it would appear to be a Machlokes Achronim.  According to many opinions, the older sister should be Mochel and allow the younger sister to get married before her (see Bach Yoreh Deah 244, Igros Moshe Chelek Bais).  



Lesson #20


Rav is quoted in Bava Basra (110a) as saying that when looking into a particular shidduch, one should first look into the woman’s brothers.  Chazal, after deriving the source for this statement from the Torah, teach Rov Banim Domim L’achei Ha’Aim--most children are similar to the mother’s brothers.  Rabbeinu Bechaya (Bereishis 24:3) says that most children are drawn in their middos to the nature of the mother’s family because the nature of wine is that it carries the taste of the vessel or barrel in which it is placed.  As such, the child growing in the womb of his mother will absorb the nature of her and her family by extension.  Rav Shach, Zt’l, in his sefer Michtavim says that this concept only applies to middos, not to hashkafa, so that even if the brother of the mother has corrupted dei’os, that is not a reason to negate a particular shidduch due to the fact that hashkafos have to do with bechira--and each and every child has their own freedom of choice.


The Steipler, Zt’l, was also lenient in this regard (although unlike Rav Shach, he was concerned with their hashkafa as well, not just the middos) and said that if there are a number of brothers that are proper, even if one is not, who is to say that your children will go after the inappropriate brother as opposed to the proper ones.  Additionally, he says that people look primarily at the specific child in question and this is an accepted norm in K’lal Yisroel to which we could apply the concept of Shomer Pesa’im Hashem.  Additionally the Steipler points out that it is quite possible that maybe the brother went off the derech before really receiving a proper Torah chinuch and is in the category of a Tinok She’nishba.  Finally, in Orchos Rabbeinu (Volume 1, p. 265) he quotes the Steipler, Zt’l, that the issue of checking into the mother’s brothers is referring to a time when the environment and the communities where yidden lived were proper.  In such a setting if a brother went off the derech, it was a real chashash of a p’gam in the family.  However, in our times, when the environment is polluted and people have brought into their homes inappropriate material, the fact that a child goes off the derech is not a proof of a serious blemish in the family--and as long as the young lady is a proper Bas Yisroel, one should not be concerned with the brother.