Medical Reports in dating – Heinous or Harmless

From Hashkafa.com

Can I see a medical report about your sexual / emotional health? Is this an appropriate question when dating BTs?

Is this done? Is it offensive? Is it considered a reasonable request?

Is it taboo to talk to a date about their previous sexual history, what kind of people they’ve had relationships with, what happened, did they get their fingers burnt, did they need therapy, did they get so badly grossed out or hurt by a previous partner that they now have fears, anxieties or inhibitions, did they ever get raped by a previous partner or some other random party goer? Was the rape first degree, second degree or what? Did they ever do drugs? Are there any long term consequences of their drug use?

I just read the above paragraphs on hashkafah.com and I am a little disturbed. Obviously the person posing the question feels that this is something that should be done. I think my issue with the question is if you ask this of BTs, you have to ask of ALL the people you date – BTs, FFBs, converts, everyone. Don’t discriminate. But I am not even sure if this is appropriate at all. Thoughts?

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27 Comments

  1. batya from NJ says:

    Just b/c one asks these questions does not mean that the date will answer it honestly! I would hope that over the course of a relationship these issues would be addressed b/f a commitment is made but there are no guarantees & even asking these questions like i said above, doesn’t mean that the truth will anyhow be uncovered. such is life. you just have to go with your gut & hope that there aren’t too many skeletons in the closet b/c when they jump out it’s not always so pretty ;)!

  2. HaSafran says:

    And this is exactly what you would expect of a system that has prospective partners “go out” four or five times over a month or two before they get engaged. There simply isn’t enough time for these two people to learn about each other FROM EACH OTHER.

    Everything needs to be done beforehand by the handlers. G-d forbid that the young bochur or girl waste their time on someone who will not work out – you know, like most everyone else in the universe.

    What can be explained away in terms of “preventing bittul Torah” or “preventing little Moshele from getting his heart broken” which will further hurt his shiddach chances, is little more than a furthering of the “parenting” problem: eventually, a parent needs to loosen the apron strings and let the child live a little.

    I know WAY TOO MANY young people who, even though they are married and might even have children of their own, who are still being “parented” and consequently, have still not grown up themselves.

    I’m surprised that the shiddach situation is not yet at the point where the prospective in-laws do a full background/credit/drug check on the young man/woman and her family, as if they were being hired for a govt job. Though, maybe it IS at that point already.

  3. Upon reading the first sentence, I immediately had the exact same reaction as you. I thought to myself, “I doubt it’s alright to ask for such information, but fine, that’s a serious question that deserves serious consideration. But, whether or not you can ask for such documentation, it doesn’t matter whether he or she is an FFB or a BT. What, BTs have more sexual or emotional issues than FFBs? Excuse me?”.

    I’m reminded of a dispute between Rabbis Benzion Uziel and A. I. Kook. During the days of the British Mandate, the question came up of new Jewish doctors using cadavers for medical training. Rav Kook ruled that because the mitzvah of kivud ha-meit applies only to Jewish corpses, and that in any case, the non-Jews themselves don’t care, he said, what happens to their corpses after they die. Therefore, said Rav Kook, we ought to use non-Jewish corpses in our medical research and training. Rabbi Uziel indignantly replied that “such things ought not be said, much less written.” He said that the mitzvah of kivud ha-meit applies to all humans, Jewish and not, by virtue of their tzelem eloqim. Furthermore, he said, it didn’t matter whether or not the non-Jews were particular about their corpses; if Judaism says their corpses deserve respect, then we must respect them, even if the gentiles themselves do not. Therefore, Rabbi Uziel said, it makes no difference whether the corpse is Jewish or not, and if autopsies are forbidden on one, they are too on the other. But as it turned out, he said, the mitzvah of kivud ha-meit prohibited only wanton and careless desecration of a body, and not the careful and precise research which a doctor would do, and the mitzvah of piquah nefesh only reinforced this leniency, because the research will save lives (and so maybe even wanton and reckless desecration of bodies would be permitted if it were to save lives).

  4. lady lock and load says:

    I think a Kohen is not allowed to marry a woman who had relations with a Non Jew. In this case it is good for the shadchan to ask the woman before hand.

    • mekubal says:

      Technically a Kohen can’t marry a woman who has had any sort of incestuous union, including a woman who has had relations with non-Jew, but also included are women who have been victimized by close relatives and raped ChV”Sh. However that is not the only issue that forbids one to marry a Kohen.

      Typically the Shaddchan will inform the young lady of the all of the things that forbid her to marry a Kohen, and then simply ask are you eligible to marry a Kohen, so as not to cause the young lady anymore embarrassment or pain than absolutely necessary.

      • fille says:

        How is having relations with a non-jew incestuous?

        Do you imply the non-jew was the father????

        • mekubal says:

          In the Hebrew, certain forbidden relations are classed with same word, which is typically translated as incestuous. Hence I went with that…

  5. I think these are important questions and things to know whether or not you’re dating within the Jewish community (BT, FFB, converts…whatever) or just dating in general. Things about sexual history affect a person in a very deep way and they are valid questions to ask. However, I think these are also truly sensitive issues that need to be brought up at the right time, place and by the right person. I think asking for a written medical report is crass and rude, regardless of who you are, but I think a discussion is valid. I also think going into the discussion with a list of questions (whether written down or memorized) is also kind of rude. The discussion, I think, should be organic and should flow the way any conversation should, with an emphasis on sensitivity and genuine caring.

    I don’t think it would be more necessary to ask a BT these questions (although they have had a more “liberal” life before becoming a BT – on the other hand, I’ve heard plenty of stories/rumors about FFB guys and gals so who knows?). I think if you really want to be in a relationship with someone, then you should be ready and willing to share information with them and they should be ready and willing to share information with you. It definitely should be a two way street. I definitely do not think, however, that these are questions that should be asked before you even consider a person. I believe in getting to know the person and then starting to ask the tough questions. If you try to dive right to the heart of a person, you’re going to miss a lot of important information.

  6. Frayda says:

    I beleive that these things should be discussed between the two daters if things are getting serious. I do not think this information should be revealed prior to the people dating and a medical report is way too invasive.

  7. mekubal says:

    I agree with Frayda. At some point in your dating relationship many of those things should be discussed. However asking for medical records is absolutely heinous. That indicates an essential lack of trust. Quite honestly if you have come to a point in your relations where it is tznua to discuss those things in any real detail, you should trust each other enough to not need demand medical documentation.

  8. fille says:

    I do not think that viewing medical records is such a good source of information.

    After all, the doctors know what you tell them (or what they discover). How should they know about a rape or about being uncomfortable with sexual relationships due to past experiences??

    So I suppose that medical records do not say anything about the psychological dimension .

    As far as sexually transmitted diseases are concerned, I think it is a good idea to have tests and check the results. Not only before marriage (with anyone), but also regularly during marriage, since you cannot assume that your spouse will tell you if he cheated on you…

    • batya from NJ says:

      fille, if there is trust in a marriage then i really don’t think getting tested for STDs is required. if there is reason to doubt one’s spouse b/c of prior infidelity or whatever, that is another story. i think that it is absolutely not necessary in most normal healthy marriages especially in the orthodox world (& i say that b/c i am not as familiar with the other denominations) but of course i know that there is plenty of infidelity occurring in the orthodox community as well sadly enough.

      • fille says:

        Well, since most STD are curable now, I guess you can do without permanent testing.

        However, it would be a systemic error to deduce that your spouse is faithful because you never caught him cheating.

        And since cheating has so far-reaching implications, it is really not easy to admit it…

        • batya from NJ says:

          um fille, i believe my spouse is not cheating b/c i TRUST him, as he trusts me which i believe is important in a good marriage. how sad is a marriage where spouses cannot trust one another…

          • fille says:

            The fact that you trust him does not exclude that someone betrays your trust.

            So I hope for you that your trust is justified.

            However, if you take a larger sample of let’s say 1000 couples. In all the couples, the spouses trust each other. In 1% of those couples, one spouse cheats regardless. This leaves you with 10 Trusting persons who could be infected by STD without having a clue that they are running a risk.

            Now I suppose that the real percentage is not 1% but nearer to 10% or 20%, even in orthodox families…

          • fille says:

            In short:
            It is a logical fallacy to think that you run no risk because you trust.

            On the contrary: trust might even increase the risk on this particular issue, because it keeps you from adopting measures that could reduce risks. (like regular testing)

          • mekubal says:

            Actually the Kinsey study found that only 11% adults in committed relationships(whether married or not) have extramarital affairs. 94% of married men have never cheated on their spouses.
            Within Orthodox homes frequency of sexual relations as well as sexual and marital satisfaction is remarkably higher, thus likelihood of extramarital affairs occurring within those relationships should be, considering the elimination of risk factors, be markedly lower(though no actual study was done in regards to extra-marital affairs within the Orthodox Jewish community).

            Other than that, I agree with Batya in a healthy marriage one should trust one’s spouse. Personally I think there needs to much more than an at most 6% statistical likelihood of something occurring before I would risk the damage to the relationship that would come from a stated lack of trust.

          • kisarita says:

            actually if you live in New York State and you have insurance, your gynecologist probably tests you automatically for STDs without you even being aware

  9. sheldan says:

    As stated here, I say heinous.

    If I read this correctly, this sounds like a written medical report that goes into a lot of private things. That is different from a discussion between the parties involved. This discussion ideally should be after the parties have found some common ground and are well along in establishing whether a relationship is viable, but in some cases the shortened time to establish this may lead to less discussion on important issues. So is the original question being posed to “save time”?

    It really does not matter whether this is posed to a BT, FFB, secular, or any other dater, a “formal” questionnaire like this is unacceptable. Sadly, this reminds me of all the discussions on this blog regarding all the “conditions” that must be met for a shidduch to proceed. Granted, some of this stuff may be more serious than that, but again this should be the topic of serious conversation between the parties themselves–and the way it is brought up is important.

    Originally, I had thought that this referred to genetic disorders and there are ways to handle this (a registry which identifies if two carriers of the same disorder are being considered). I don’t think this is the same thing–it’s much more intrusive.

    (Shaking my head and wondering what’s coming next…)

  10. RubyV says:

    Heinous.

    Imagine being the survivor of a sexual assault and then have some idiot who doesn’t know you demand the details. Yet another assault.

    This is the kind of information that usually comes up in a natural way after getting to know someone. It is not information that strangers are entitled to.

    It smacks of blaming the victim for her rape because she wasn’t ffb.

    Disgusting.

  11. Michael

    “Not necessarily. My becoming a BT involved almost no change whatsoever in my basic lifestyle. Just because I ate pork meant I have premarital relations as well? It doesn’t follow. Nu, so now I wear tefillin and tzitzit, but otherwise, my life hasn’t really changed very much.”

    I should have qualified my comment with that they “may” have had a more liberal experience. As someone on the outside of Orthodoxy I wouldn’t have considered you (from the way it sounds to me personally) to be a BT, but as I read, I learn. I always considered Baal Teshuva to mean people who weren’t religious really at all returning to Orthodoxy, not necessarily someone just upping their level of observance. But, like, I said, I read and I learn, which is a good thing!

    Oh – I also put quotes around liberal because as far as I’m concerned it’s a relative term. I also didn’t mean to imply that liberal meant pre-marital sex. Like I said, it’s a relative term and means different things to different people, so I wasn’t defining it one way or the other.

    Hope than clears up my comments!

    Mallory

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