Sunday, February 22, 2009

The Tongue III - Giving information

The third situation is that of a person called for information.

This person must be careful to be honest and careful not to speak Loshen Hora. To this end when calling for information tell the person that you are calling to ask information for a shidduch.

Do not ask:"What can you tell me about so and so?"
A person asked for information should only answer specific questions rather than giving a narrative. They should be asked direct questions and not vague general questions. First of all, one gets better information with direct questions, but also, a person asked a direct question can answer to the point.
Naturally the person giving the information should give first person information. If what one is saying is only hearsay one must say so. Specify that what s/he is saying came to him/her second hand. Certainly one should limit oneself to facts and not hearsay.

Even when dealing in facts, what is told has to be with the intent of giving the best information so that the person who is asking will get a full picture of the one asked about. The information should be given for the benefit of the party requesting the information with no thoughts of finally being able to give over a piece of gossip or taking revenge on someone chv"s.

It is generally difficult to give subjective information. For example, if someone asks whether a girl is pretty or slim. What is pretty for one may be comely for another (beauty is in the eyes of the beholder), and where one feels only a size 6 will do, another will be happy with a size 12.

Giving a size may be deceptive because of body types. Sometimes the size 12 may look like a 10, and the 10 may look like the 12. Just to sidetrack a moment in regard to sizes, most boys have no idea what a size 4 or 10 looks like, they think in terms of people, i.e. is she like my sister.

The only way to give good information when a subjective question is asked is to know the person one is talking to, and know what meaning s/he is imbuing the question with. This is not always possible. The same is true when asking for information. If one is close to the person who is giving the information, they will know what kind of “measuring scale” they use. If they say someone is smart, we will know what level of smart this person is telling us about because we know their opinion of who is smart and who is not.
If we do not know the person well, then how can we know what they mean by “smart” or by “outgoing” or “neat” etc.
A person may be a “neat freak”, and anyone less orderly is considered “messy”. Or a person may be above average intelligent and consider someone who is just average not very smart. It is almost like talking a different language.
You are using the same sounds, but the meaning is very different. One could say it is like the English language; one may say “night” and the other understands “Knight”.

Many times we are called to answer subjective questions from people whom we have never met. Sometimes we may feel that if our answer is interpreted the wrong way, it may ruin a shidduch. In such a case a safe answer is “I do not know.” Another method is to interrupt the conversation with an excuse and call a Rav. Then call the person back.