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I heard that breaking off an engagement to marry is bad. Is this true?

I see that there are reasons that allow one to break an engagement: Chelkas Yaakov (EH 80)

So is it not permitted to break it without a reason? Or, is it just that you do not need to pay a cancellation fee (if you had one) if you have a real reason?

I heard that you need to ask for forgiveness if you break an engagement. Is this true?

Please provide sources for you answer, as well as where can I read more on this subject in Hebrew or in English.

  • I'm still learning about the most current shidduch protocols. Please explain you do not need to pay a cancellation fee (if you had one). Who or what is this fee for? And forgiveness from whom? – DanF Apr 22 '15 at 20:21
  • @danf what are you learning? I also want to. I guess that both sides want insurance that the other side will not back off and the money that they spent on preparing for the wedding will not go to waist and they make an agreement that the side the backs off needs to pay the other side – hazoriz Apr 22 '15 at 20:24
  • @danf I found something see shulchan Aruch even ezer 50.6 – hazoriz Apr 22 '15 at 20:39
  • Interesting. I learned something, though I still find it somewhat confusing. Thanks for the link. Though, no further comments, for now, as I admit my ignorance. – DanF Apr 22 '15 at 20:48
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    If there are good and sufficient reasons to break the engagement, then I'd think it's imperative to do so. I mean, if the marriage would be inappropriate, how can you go through with it? But that's just my take: no source. – msh210 Apr 23 '15 at 2:03
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Nitei Gavriel - Shiduchim V'tanoim - 41:1 in the name of Teshuvas HaBach 23, Sh"ut Noda B'Yehuda 68, Sh"ut Toafos Re'em 41, Sh"ut Maharsham 4:154 says that it is forbidden to break an engagement. However this is in a case where there is Tanoim.

In 41:2 he elaborates in the notes that even without Tanoim one should not break a Shidduch, however he says there is no penalty if one breaks a Shidduch where there is no Tanoim. He further elaborates in the notes that even if there were things that were paid for, it would only be considered a Gerama B'Nizokim which is Chayav B'Dinei Shamayim.

He finishes off by saying that even without Tanoim it should only be done with Hatoras Chacham and asking Mechila.

There is many more details in his Sefer.

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