1 Elul 5762
Is it considered lashon hara to say that someone has gone off the derech? My brother is not frum and this issue comes up a lot. People that know him ask me how he is doing and it is very hard for me to answer them – some people get confused and ask me, “Why is he living there?!? Is there a frum community there?” etc. I don’t know if it is better to try to avoid answering or to be honest and say that he is not frum.
This issue also arises in shiduchim. When people look into me and are trying to get to know about me and my family, (either a shadchan or a prospective shidduch), should I tell them so that they know about my family or is it still assur to say because it is lashon hara?
Thank you very much for your help.
Name & Seminary withheld
Dear Name Withheld,
Well, if there is a simple way to avoid giving a direct answer to the question, that would be best, since it probably is lashon harah to say that someone went off the derech. If pressed, then you really should say “I don’t really feel comfortable talking about this” and hope that they will call it quits. If neither of these options seem feasible, then you could tell the truth. This is something which is known to many, many people and your intention is not to spread the matter any further, so you can be mekel.
Explaining your brother’s situation to shadchanim would be considered “lashon harah l’toeles”. The shadchan needs to have this information so that she can find the right boy for you. So, there is no problem telling her this information. (I am assuming that the shadchan in question is the sort of person who will use the information only for the shidduch purpose and won’t go around telling people about your family for no purpose!)
Rabbi Asher Balanson