Friday, September 04, 2009

Is Lying About One's Age Grounds For Breaking A Shidduch?

Matzav.com brings a question that was asked to the author of the Chelkas Ya'akov, R' Mordechai Yaakov ben R' Chaim Breisch of Zurich. The question was whether or not a shidduch could be broken because the bride lied about her age. In the specific case at hand, she said at the time of engagement that she was 28, yet when it came time for the wedding three years later (three years??!!), it turned out that she was 36 at the time.

The Chelkas Ya'akov answers that the only time one can break a shidduch because of age is if the woman is over forty (because of childbearing concerns). Otherwise, a lie about one's age is not grounds for breaking a shidduch.

With all due respect to the Chelkas Ya'akov, I find this answer a bit difficult. Rather than focusing on the fact that the number of years was inaccurate, how about focusing on the fact that if she's willing to lie about this, it reveals a serious character flaw about the person. I know that I would not want to start a relationship with someone who lies about their age.

I can understand that the woman was scared -- she was 36 and single and probably figured that if she didn't find a husband soon, then she would never find one. I really do understand that. However, the fact that she was willing to fib about her age shows that she understood that the guy didn't want an older wife -- a fact that was borne out by the fact that he asked the question about breaking the shidduch when he did discover her true age. And even if the age issue isn't truly worth breaking a shidduch (suppose, for example, she truly beleived that she was 28 and only later discovered the truth), I would think that the dishonesty and deception that she displayed would be valid reasons to break the shidduch.

The Wolf

17 comments:

Garnel Ironheart said...

Wasn't there an episode of "Arrested Development" about this?

Anyway, if one partner is lying about something, what else will he/she lie about in the future?

Perhaps we can understand the Chelkas Yaakov as saying there is no obligation to break the shidduch but I'm sure the final decision is still up to the groom and his comfort level.

BrooklynWolf said...

Garnel,

I don't watch Arrested Development, so I can't comment there.

However, your explanation is a bit forced. Do you really think that if she lied and he's okay with it (i.e., he didn't think 28 or 36 mattered) that he would *have* to break the engagement? If the true age didn't bother him, why would he even ask the question in the first place?

The Wolf

Rami said...

I agree with the post and brought down some commentary on matzav but as usual there are idiots on there who would claim that the great sages are better than Torah. It clearly says in the Torah that lying is wrong and any person who goes against Torah prior to a wedding should be grounds for a dissolution of that engagement.

So the question here is middot and if she lied then that shows her true character.

Larry Lennhoff said...

I guess my thinking is still way too secular. A shidduch is an engagement, not erusin. It can be broken at any time by either party for any reason or none. The women in particular should revel in this - once bound in holy matrimony they lose the ability to end the relationship unilaterally.

BrooklynWolf said...

Larry,

What you say is true. However, in some circles, an engagement is taken very seriously -- hence the custom of the t'naim (which used to be done [and in some circles is still done]) at the engagement.

I've heard stories (but none I can back up with actual facts) of couples in chassidish circles who, rather than break an engagement, go through with the wedding and then get divorced after sheva brachos.

The Wolf

Larry Lennhoff said...

In the Wooster stories as well, once Bertie was engaged he was stuck unless the girl called it off. But he was stuck for life - the idea of getting married and immediately divorced would never have occurred to him.

Larry Lennhoff said...

Rami - the Torah sanctions lying for a good purpose - e.g, how Hashem reports Sarah's behavior to Avraham, or midrashically how Aaron would make peace between two people having a dispute.

Whether claiming one is 26 when one is actually 30 is for good purpose is arguable. Perhaps the woman thought that once the guy got to know her he would love her in spite of her age. On the other hand, this particular age difference is very important with respect to having children, as opposed to saying you are 50 when you are 55 or whatever.

Garnel Ironheart said...

Hey Wolf,

No I didn't mean that the Chelkas Yaakov would have forced him to break the shidduch.

If he was okay with her lying about her age, why would he have asked the shailoh in the first place?

הצעיר שלמה בן רפאל לבית שריקי ס"ט said...

My gradfather never knew he was seven years younger than his wife! Back then, you know...

Joseph said...

>In the specific case at hand, she said at the time of engagement that she was 28, yet when it came time for the wedding three years later (three years??!!), it turned out that she was 36 at the time.<

It wasn't so long ago that people would get engaged and then save up money so that could establish their own home. I know my uncles did that 70-80 years ago here in NYC.

When I was in Shidduchim, I'd sometimes get set up with girls who I just knew were much older than me and I resented it terribly -- especially since you can't confirm it by asking them.

G*3 said...

The problem of the woman lying aside, how is it a good idea for a couple to get married when one of them wants to break the engagement?

Anonymous said...

Someone I know was encouraged to lie about her age with the rationale that so many women do lie that it is assumed that all women do. And if she tells her real age then it will be assumed that she is lying and the guy will assume that she is older than she really is and not want to go out with her.

Ariella said...

I agree with you, Wolf. How can you trust someone who lies or hides something like that? And if you don't have trust in a marriage, what kind of relationship can you expect to have? But I do have to point out in the interest of accuracy that 40 is not the cutoff point for fertility. Actually an ob-gyn informed me that fertility drops at 35, and they do subject pregnant older women to more tests. But plenty of women have healthy babies in their late 30's, early 40's and sometimes even beyond. A friend of mine who marreid rather late in life still had 2 children when close to 40 and just over 40.

Honestly Frum said...

MY sister, who is 25, was told by a Rebbe who she went to for a bracha to lie about her age. I do not see that as being a productive way to begin a relationship.

ProfK said...

It's funny that it's a woman lying about her age here. When I was dating and for many decades afterwards (and yes, still now)the problem was the MEN lying about their age and making themselves younger than they really were so they could get the younger girls to go out with them. I guess the end result of all that lying was that many women the same age as or only slightly younger than these men ended up with no one to marry, so they too started lying about their age.

Bottom line? Lying for a shidduch is wrong, whether about age or something else. Because the obvious assumption is that if they lied about something "small" like age, what else have they lied about or will they lie about. If a husband and wife don't have truth between them, why bother getting married? The marriage is doomed to problems.

David said...

Unhappy question. She began the relationship with a lie, which pretty much establishes that she's willing to do that in order to advance her own interests.
It also suggests that she's interested in a man who would reject her for what might seem a bad reason-- if he's like that, does she really want him? If he's not, why lie?
I suppose the relationship could recover from this, but it's certainly off to an inauspicious beginning.

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