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Let's lay down assumptions:

  1. The shidduch dating system in which young men meet with young women to interact socially is permitted, and in fact practiced, only with the intention of potential marriage as a result.
  2. If it is known to either party that they and the other party are both carriers of a certain disease such that their children have a significant chance of being affected by it, then they would have no intention of marrying.

The second assumption has given rise to "Dor Yeshorim" in which many young men and women may give blood to be tested to see if they are genetically compatible.

In light of the first assumption, though, although it may be wise, is it necessary to test genetic compatibility of the potential couple before they meet even for the first time?

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Its probably best to do open testing so in most cases do not need to worry about anything. –  Ariel K Dec 2 '11 at 4:37
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An alternative is for someone to get tested for carrier status for the Ashk'nazic diseases (if Ashk'nazi): if he's a carrier for none, his dates need not get tested at all. –  msh210 Dec 2 '11 at 8:07
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@msh210, some people don't want that knowledge weighing down on them. Dor Yeshorim addresses this by not stigmatizing anyone. Several decades ago (pre-Dor Yeshorim), R' Moshe Feinstein felt that he'd seen so many cases of depression and anxiety that he didn't want people to be burdened their whole lives thinking "I'm a carrier." Hence he recommended not getting tested until someone is of likely-to-get-married-soon age. (Could it be argued that in today's age of bioinformatics, someone with a strong science background won't be so bothered knowing they're a carrier?) –  Shalom Dec 2 '11 at 13:08
    
Can you explain your question a little bit more. Are you arguing that it should be necessary, or trying to explain why it shouldn't be? –  Menachem Dec 2 '11 at 17:06
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@Menachem, The assumptions imply that it is necessary to test, as genetic compatibility is a prerequisite for intention to marry and intention to marry is a prerequisite for dating in the first place. –  jake Dec 2 '11 at 17:51

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up vote 5 down vote accepted

Well, what's the alternative, really. A few things could happen:

Couple have a first date, decide not to go forward.

Okay.

Couple goes out on first date, are on the fence, get genetic testing -- testing says they're incompatible, they break up.

Okay.

Couple goes out and are really really into each other. Then they start to think about genetic testing.

A few things can happen here:

  • They just woops, keep pushing off genetic testing, we'll do it one of these days ... maybe ... but hey shouldn't we just have faith in G-d as clearly we belong together ... (witness how difficult it has been to get everyone onboard with genetic testing).

Not good.

  • They get the test and break up, causing a great deal of heartbreak and emotional scarring.

Not good. Would have been best they hadn't gone through all this dating.

  • They're awfully, awfully torn; finally their genetic counselor says "well the best thing is to just get married and then do amniocentesis, you can always terminate the pregnancy if it turns out to be Tay Sachs."

The couple has now put themselves into a situation where keeping halacha will be of nearly superhuman difficulty. Not good. (This is the reason R' Moshe Feinstein and R' Moshe Dovid Tendler aren't crazy about testing fetuses -- there's nothing you can do about the results that's within the bounds of halacha, according to them, so why torment yourself?)

So given the probabilistic expectation here, it's very, very wise (and therefore recommended) to get tested first. Are we absolutely black-on-white required to avoid unnecessary situations that cause heartbreak? Or that make keeping halacha incredibly difficult? "Very much should" is good enough for me.

It's about what makes for good policy, really.

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Rav Eliezer Yehudah Waldenberg, zt"l, (known as the Tzitz Eliezer) allowed aborting a fetus that tested positive for Tay-Sachs disease, up until the start of the seventh month. In addition, some genetic testing can be done VERY soon after conception. If an abortion is done within 40 days after conception, there seems to be either a lesser issur, or no issur at all. (I actually support using Dor Yesharim before a first date - I'm only refuting the statement "there's nothing you can do about the results that's within the bounds of halacha") –  user1095 Feb 5 '12 at 20:04
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@Will -- correct, I'm describing R' Moshe Feinstein's viewpoint here. Though I think all would agree it's far better to not get married to someone that will necessitate an abortion, as you've said. But I'm quoting Igros Moshe on amniocentesis. –  Shalom Feb 6 '12 at 0:05

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