When asked about my roommate in a shidduch call, am I obligated to say that she is messy?
The prohibition of lashon hara forbids speaking harmfully about another Jew, even when it is true. The obligation of ahavas Yisroel requires a person not to say about someone else what one wouldn’t want said about himself.
However, it is only lashon hara if it is repeated for no positive purpose. If the information is shared for a reasonable purpose there is no prohibition of lashon hara, provided that: (a) One is certain that the facts are true. If one heard it from a reliable source he should say that this is what he heard (a rumor should not repeated at all). (b) The facts are stated, with no exaggerate. (c) One’s intention must be to help and prevent potential harm. If one is also interested in besmirching the prospect, he may not share the information and should recommend someone else who they can speak to.
One may only share information that will bring benefit. However, if the inquirer trusts the judgment of the responder, one should only say that it’s not a good shidduch without sharing the details. Likewise, if the shidduch was already finalized, one may not warn them of a flaw unless it justifies canceling the shidduch.
To avoid misleading the inquirer (in either direction), one should not offer general descriptions (“he’s a chassidishe bochur” “she dresses tznius”) but should offer concrete examples. Also, since certain flaws may be suitable for the other party (“he’s absentminded” “she’s messy”), one should first inquire about what they are looking for before sharing irrelevant negative information.
The one who is researching the shidduch should not accept the information to be definitely true, but rather as a possible concern. He should state clearly that he is calling for the purpose of a shidduch so that the one answering is not transgressing lashon hara. One should not approach an enemy of the bochur or girl, since even true information will be shared not solely for the purpose of benefiting the parties, thus causing that person to transgress.
 ספר החינוך מצוה רלו.
 ראה שבת ל”א ע”א.
 חפץ חיים הל’ לשה”ר פרק י’ אות ב’, ובהל’ רכילות פרק ט’ אות ב’.
 קונטרס ביום שידובר ע’ ל”ד.
 חפץ חיים כלל ד’ אות י”א בהגה”ה.
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