Ask the Shadchan

jewish dating

To the Shadchan:


I am a married 24-year-old guy. My mother is really pushing me to set up my younger sister with my best friend. I would love to – I mean, who wouldn’t want to have his friend for a brother-in-law? So what’s the problem? My friend is a wonderful person, with excellent middos and well educated both in Torah and secular studies. Unfortunately, however, he is bipolar. He told me this and swore me to secrecy. He is usually on meds and is stable, but I just can’t bring myself to fix my sister up with him; there are many difficulties that I would not wish on her. My mother thinks I am being selfish by not helping my sister. How can I tell her that I really am doing the best for my sister, without betraying my friend’s trust?  

The Shadchan Answers:

This is a very difficult question, but I will try to answer it as best as possible. Please note that, because of the sensitivity of this issue, I sought out both rabbinical and professional advice, which is reflected in my answer.

You have a best friend who has sworn you to secrecy. My first thought is that burdening you with this secret was a lot for your friend to ask of you, since you may be a reference for him. You are now in an uncomfortable and precarious position. Whether or not the shidduch with your sister is pursued, it is crucial that you consult with daas Torah (a Rav) to see what you are permitted to say, what you are obligated to say, and what you may not say about your friend.

Bipolar is a mental illness with varying levels of severity. You say your friend is on medication. Is he diligent about taking his medication? What happens when he is off his meds? Is he currently seeing a therapist/psychiatrist? These are questions that need to be researched, but you, as his best friend, should not be the one to research them – nor can anyone do so without your friend’s permission.

I think you need to broach the subject with your friend and tell him that your parents are interested in him. He may not be interested in your sister. If that is the case, the whole issue is a moot point, and you can tell your mother that he is not interested and leave it at that.

If he is interested, you must emphasize to him that, before he even thinks of dating your sister – indeed, before he goes out with anyone – he needs to consult daas Torah. He must seek guidance from a Rav who understands and has been involved with mental illness regarding how to proceed. This includes when and how to disclose the information that he is withholding. It is also common in a situation where medical issues are involved that permission is granted to speak to the medical professional treating the individual. Your friend also needs to find a third party who knows both him and your sister to redt the shidduch. You cannot be the shadchan. And, as I said before, you must speak to a Rav to find out what your obligation is in this scenario.

Many people who are bipolar marry, have children, and lead productive lives, with few people knowing that there is a problem. Perhaps your sister and your parents would not have an issue with her marrying someone who is bipolar. On the other hand, it could be that they would not consider such a shidduch under any circumstances, and your mother might be very upset that you did not make this information known in advance.

What is absolutely clear is that it must be disclosed at some point. In too many instances, we hear of marriages that break up shortly after the wedding. In most of these cases, it was due to a serious problem that was not revealed. It is unfair for the injured party to have his or her life ruined by people who knew and did not reveal these issues before they went out. And while it is understandable that people who are bipolar or have other mental illnesses would be tempted not to tell a prospective mate, they should realize that if the prospective shidduch rejects them because of it, that shidduch and that family were not for them. Anyone with a medical or other difficult personal issue can take heart from the knowledge that if a shidduch is bashert, everything works out, even when the medical condition is known.

I hope everything goes well for your family and that your sister, with Hashem's help, will find her true zivug (mate).





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