Monday, January 14, 2013

Breaking engagement when she doesn't love him - Rav Sternbuch

Rav Sternbuch (4:277): Dealing  with a broken engagement

Question: I received a letter regarding a woman who had broken her engagement just before the wedding. The normal practice is to ask him for forgiveness and he should give a document of forgiveness to her. See what I have written in volume I # 775.  However I am being asked regarding a case where the man has already married another woman and stubbornly refuses to forgive her. The woman has had many tragedies and she attributes this to the sin of embarrassing him by breaking the engagement. In addition she has not succeeded in finding another match.

Answer: It is well known that there is an ancient cherem not to break an engagement. See Shulchan Aruch (E.H. 50:6) as well as (Y.D. 236:6) and the Taz ... See also the Maharsham (vol 4) that there is concern that there is a cherem from Sanhedrin. However in our times the normal practice is not to write a cherem. Nevertheless perhaps in Heaven this is considered a serious sin and she would be placed in nidoi. I suggested that she request from three bnei Torah that they release her from the cherem. They should give some reason and justification and then they should release her from the cherem and they should say just as we release you in the beis din below so should the Heavenly beis din release you. They should fine her an amount to give to charity according to her ability to pay and this should help with Heavens help.

Their is another suggestion for this woman who is now a baalas teshuva and has realized that the breaking of the engagement was a mistake. The reason that she broke the engagement was because she was influenced by "enlightened" people that require that an engagement be based on having a strong personal connection - and even being in love with each other - before it is correct to get married - Gd forbid! It also seems that she was reading secular newspapers at that times or she was associating at that time with girls - even religious ones - who influences her with their incorrect views - G-d forbid! Now this woman is aware that family life according to the Torah is totally different and that is the beneficial and truly rewarding path to go.

Consequently in regards to Heaven  if she will now change her way and reduce the number of dates prior to engagement  as well as afterwards before marriage - and both are matched in their values concerning building a home of Torah - there is no greater teshuva than this.

Regarding the man who already has married and yet refuses to forgive her - he is cruel and heartless. That punishment that the Torah required for her for what she did to him - is now on him. G-d should quickly help her and she should get pleasure and happiness in life and with a proper and pleasant marriage.


  1. > yet refuses to forgive her - he is cruel and heartless.

    Um, maybe that's why she broke the engagement?

    At any rate, I'm wondering: since when is there any legal state for what we call "Engagement" (as opposed to bonafide eirusin) that she should have to ask his forgiveness? And frankly, if he is a jerk why should she have to automatically?

    1. Tenaim is a legally binding engagement. Some people have the tenaim prior to the wedding and some do it at the wedding.

    2. But what is the case here? Was it a breaking of tenaim or a breaking of the verbal engagement? And again, why is there an automatic assumption of the need for apology on the part of the woman?

    3. In many circles, including in all likelihood HaRav Shternbuch shlita, an "engagement" automatically includes a tenaim at the time of the engagement.

  2. See what I have written in volume I # 775

    Should be #735. See here:


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