In the area of shidduchim, there are numerous rules and regulations that are adhered to in the matchmaking process. For example, it is prohibited for either party in a prospective match to provide false information or to withhold pertinent information, for doing so could result in the actual invalidation of the marriage (Igros Moshe, Even HaEzer 1:79-80). Information regarding serious physical or mental illness, infertility, lack of religious observance, and other such serious issues, may not be withheld. However, one is not required to divulge a deficiency that most people do not consider an impediment, including a minor illness or physical weakness, and there is a dispute between contemporary poskim as to whether it is permitted to slightly “adjust” the age of a boy or girl, when declaring their age. Often, older singles will answer vaguely when asked about their age, and according to some, there is legitimacy to this practice.
When a 36-year-old bachur, learning in the Mir Yeshivah in Israel, was offered a shidduch with a girl nine years younger than him, he was unsure how to relay his personal information to her. Having been spurned a number of times due to his “advanced” age, he believed that perhaps in this situation, he should “adjust” his age to be closer to that of the prospective mate, so that she will feel more comfortable and amenable to go out with him. On the date, if she were to ask him his age, he was hesitant to say that he was 36 years old, for that might turn her away. He inquired of his rosh yeshivah (one of the Mir roshei yeshivah) and explained the entire situation. He was told that if she asks him this question, he may answer vaguely and give a lower number, since people are not so makpid in this and do not always scrutinize.
Although armed with his rosh yeshivah’s p’sak, the bachur nevertheless decided to use this opportunity to ask his query to the Gadol HaDor. He drove to Bnei Brak, and when he had a private moment, he presented his question to Rav Aharon Leib Shteinman zt”l. The elderly Rav looked at him closely and replied, “She already knows about one of your deficiencies (advanced age); do you think it’s worth it for her to think that you’re also a liar?”
The bachur was shocked at these words and recoiled in shame. Rav Aharon Leib softened his gaze and explained matter-of-factly, “If she will ask you how old you are on a date, it is not because she does not know your age. Of course she knows your age. In today’s day and age, she no doubt checked up on her computer and found out precisely how old you are. Why then is she asking you this question? Because she knows that many older singles are not truthful when declaring their age, so the fact that she is asking you is for one reason only: to see if you will tell the truth or if you are a liar!”
The date did materialize and, just as he suspected, the girl asked him how old he was. He replied truthfully that he was 36 years old. With Heavenly assistance, the two went on a few more dates and eventually were engaged to be married. A date for the wedding was set and, at one point during the engagement period, the ecstatic kallah divulged to her chasan that when she asked him how old he was on their first date, it was not because she didn’t know his age. She had looked him up and knew all his personal details. She just wanted to see what level of honesty he was on – and he had passed the test!
When the bachur went back to his rosh yeshivah to give him the news about his engagement, he also shared his conversation with Rav Aharon Leib, and how the Rav told him to be precise with the truth. The rosh yeshivah was so happy for his talmid, but his reply to Rav Aharon Leib’s comment was even more telling. “Believe me,” he said, “the fact that Rav Aharon Leib has ruach ha’kodesh and can see the future does not impress me. I knew that already. What I am amazed by is the fact that he understands the minds of young people so well and that he knows how people use their computers to acquire knowledge in this day and age. I wonder if he can even describe what a computer looks like!
“I use computers quite a bit, and I thought I knew what they were all about, but it didn’t occur to me that this girl would use hers to find out information. Rav Aharon Leib, on the other hand, has a much broader view, and he knows exactly what people use their computers for!”