Section: Halacha   Category: Tshuvos
Rav Moshe Shternbuch - When An Engagement Is Broken
Rav Shternbuch says (2:622) that breaking an engagement is a very serious matter and it causes embarrassment to the other side.  The Bais Shmuel (YD 51:8) says that there is a Cheirem from the Ge'onim.  Some say that this only applies if this cheirem was written into a document beforehand.

The custom is that when a Shidduch goes bad, the offended side usually writes a letter of forgiveness (Shtar Mechila) to the side that initiated the break, stating that they forgive the other side wholeheartedly for the embarrassment and that they absolve them of any obligation owed to them.

However, says Rav Shternbuch, this is not so simple.  The lingering effects can have devastating consequences in the future as many people unfortunately experienced.  Therefore, suggest Rav Shternbuch, even after receiving the Shtar Mechila, it is best to go before three people and request that if you are chayav cheirem and deserve to be excommunicated, they should absolve the cheirem.  The three people should then answer, "Mutar Lach, Mutar Lach, Mutar Lach", you are unbound.  Although this is not customary, if one side caused grief to the other side it is wise to do this.  If however there was a legitimate reason to break off the engagement, then he says, this is not necessary.

Important Note: We try to convey the Tshuva to the best of our ability. We admit that our understanding may not be accurate. Please also understand that this Tshuva may not be the final word on this topic. One should consult a Rav before drawing any conclusions.

This article has not been reviewed by the posek of the AskRevach section, Rav Peretz Moncharsh.  Any questions regarding this topic and Halacha L’Maaseh may be asked to him at