Instead of continuing on the thread I started in last week’s blog, I’m going to touch on something I’ve mentioned in the past, but worthwhile bringing up again because of its timely relevance to Parshas Bereishis.
There’s a famous film, Pretty Woman, about two people from very different social worlds, who come together for what was supposed to be a brief and temporary relationship, but end up riding off into the sunset together, seemingly forever, won over by love and romance. What many people don’t know is that the ending of the original script was not so joyous. In the original and more realistic ending, the two parted ways because of their different social classes, with the man throwing her out of his car. But Hollywood producers realized that the truer ending would not sell; no one wants to pay money to see reality. And they changed it before it hit movie theaters.
Unfortunately, too many Torah Jews today are living in Hollywood-land, when it comes to shidduchim. I keep hearing singles tell me that they can get a sense from a first or second date if something has potential. Apparently, they know what “works” or “doesn’t work” for them; let’s be honest, nothing has worked for them yet and that’s why they are still single. And yet they still say, “I want to feel it.” Or “I just want it to be real”. “I want it to be natural.”
I don’t blame them. Everyone I help wants to be married, but no one wants the hassle and frustration of dating. People dream of a simple, smooth, and easy process, but that’s not what shidduch dating or marriage is really like. And even with Adam and Chava, we see their challenges. They didn’t have dating struggles, since they had no alternative people to be with. And yet, they weren’t born as two people married. Adam was created. Chava was created afterwards. They had a very non-smooth process they went through very early in their relationship, including getting kicked out of Gan Eden. It wasn’t simple for them, because Hashem wants humans to face and overcome challenges.
The Zera Shimshon writes that in Parshas Bereishis, it says, “Let us make man” and people may claim that using “us” instead of “me” proves that Hashem is not the only G-d. In his book on the Zera Shimshon, Rabbi Nachman Seltzer conveys why those specific words were chosen, and emphasizes that someone who wants to err or stick with their excuses, someone who wants to “base his belief system on an inaccurate concept”, will ignore the truth and reality no matter how apparent or blatant it is. We can’t help change them.
And that’s how I feel about people who reject a shidduch without a good reason after only one or two dates. If people are dating properly, they will rarely know if someone has the potential to be their match until a third date. The idea of “feeling it” with someone or “knowing” on a first date is the Hollywood version of romance, not the Jewish process of dating for marriage. Dating is about building a relationship, and that takes time. People should not be opening up on a first or second date too much, putting everything on the table so soon. Most people who open up too soon, with someone who is essentially a stranger, have unhealthy psychological needs. It is not the natural state of people, and especially as they get older and are unmarried, to open up to every date so quickly. I’m going to refrain from throwing out all the psychological terms that define and explain this phenomenon, because I know we learn more from Torah than from apikorsim or atheists who called themselves psychological theorists. But both Torah and psychology agree on this point.
Remember, humans are the only creatures connected before and at their creation. Male and female animals were all created individually and separately, but Adam and Chava were both spiritually and physically connected from the start. The Ramchal explains a Kabbalistic perspective that the relationship between man and woman in our world here is based on a spiritual relationship in which both souls were connected before birth. At the designated time in our physical world, Hashem empowers people to be reconnected and unified with their “soul mate” in a human, physical relationship.
Ramchal emphasizes that you should not be trying too hard to control your shidduchim, or you could adversely impact your own future. A shadchan – whether it is a professional matchmaker, your neighbor, a relative, or friend – who suggests or introduces you to a potential match is just messenger of Hashem sent to bring soul mates together. However, you can choose not to meet someone who is suggested, or you can meet your bashert but reject them for superficial or material reasons, refusing to give a proper chance to the person with whom you have a supernatural spiritual connection.
I’m not talking about a religious connection, where you and your date have hashkafic compatibility. I’m talking about a spiritual connection where we understand Hashem brings people together for a reason, but we don’t know what that purpose is. You and your future mate were destined to be together for a purpose. Maybe you are weak in an area and your bashert is supposed to help you improve; maybe the two of you are supposed to build a better world for everyone; or maybe you are actually supposed to suffer together as a tikkun for past souls. We don’t know. But Hashem did not unite your souls because you both laugh at the same jokes or you have the same type of family background. As long as you are looking for a Hollywood romance, you will likely miss your real opportunity for marriage.
As Rav Herschel Berkin explains the Ramchal, “…there is no way that a human being could possibly know anyone’s true match. Only Hashem who created the neshamos can know their original connection from the time of creation. Hashem is the true matchmaker.”
So, if you are telling a shadchan, “I know what I need” or “I know that the shidduch you suggested is not right for me” on a first or second date, without having a credible explanation for why you are rejecting a potential match, then I would not be convinced that you are serious about marriage and you completely trust Hashem to make your match. You are putting too much weight on your own decision-making or on your unrealistic expectations influenced by the non-Torah society around us.
When Hashem brings true basherts together, He puts a chein into both, creating a desire to be together. Despite the intellectual awareness that this is not who they thought they’d marry, once they get to know the other person, they want to be together. This means that yes, physical attraction can grow once they have emotional intimacy and mutual respect. Or that family backgrounds are less important than you initially thought. Or whatever differences or bumps you experienced in the first few dates slowly resolve themselves or become less important. That chein is not something that you can feel or experience on a first or second date. That is only something you develop or feel after you have begun to develop an emotional connection and deeper relationship, when you’ve begun to learn more about the other person. A man won’t know if the woman can be his Ezer Kenegdo, and she won’t know if she can fill that role either, on a first or second date.
This doesn’t mean to ignore red flags. Nor does it mean to go out with every single person suggested to you. More on this next week…