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Fascinating Insights—The Sefer (in English)
We know that breaking a
Shiduch (engagement) is no small matter. We see
the seriousness of a broken engagement
from the following words of the Gra, although we don’t follow it: It is
preferable to get married and then divorced rather than break a Shiduch (if the
Shiduch had Tennaim). It should be noted that a
excommunication was placed upon a person who broke a Shiduch, although some say that this
only applies if this Cheirem was written into a document beforehand.
Concerning dating someone who
had a broken engagement, one should be certain that a Shtar Mechila—where the
offended side writes a letter of forgiveness to the side that initiated the
break—stating that they forgive the other side wholeheartedly for the
embarrassment and that they absolve them of any obligation owed to them, was
written. R’ Moshe Feinstein
wrote in regards to a case of a broken engagement that a Shtar Mechila is
the lingering effects can have devastating consequences in the future as many
people unfortunately experienced, R’ Shternbuch
advises even after receiving the Shtar Mechila, it is best to go before three
people and request that if you deserve Cheirem, they should absolve the
Cheirem. The three people should then answer מותר לך
מותר לך מותר לך, you are unbound. Although this is not customary, if
there is a concern that one side caused extreme grief to the other side and it
is fitting to be excommunicated for this since there wasn’t a sufficient reason
to break the engagement, it is wise to do this. If however there was a
legitimate reason to break off the engagement, this is not necessary.
Regarding Shadchanus of a
broken engagement, the Aruch Hashulchan
rules that if a Shiduch is broken, the Shadchan can keep the Shadchanus. In a
case where the Shadchan wasn’t paid, and the wedding was called off, R’ Nissim
relates that it is a Machlokes between the Taz and the Beis Shmuel
if the Shadchan gets paid in such a case. This applies where the Shiduch fell
through after the Tennaim as if it happened before, then the Shadchan doesn’t
get paid. If the Shadchan was paid early, the Shadchan must return the money.
Rabbi Alt merited to learn under the
tutelage of R’ Mordechai Friedlander Ztz”l for close to five years. He received
Semicha from R’ Zalman Nechemia Goldberg. Rabbi Alt has written on numerous
topics for various websites and publications. He lives with his wife and family
in a suburb of Yerushalayim where he studies, writes and teaches. The author is
passionate about teaching Jews of all levels of observance.
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