Part 4 of a Plea to Singles
Now that we understand who our real shadchan is, the second rule of dating with emuna is: Guard your personal holiness.
Dating has to be taken very, very seriously – this is by far the most important decision you’ll ever make in your entire life! Everything else in your life depends on this decision – where you live, the kids you will have, everything. You have to be incredibly focused on the end goal – marrying someone who will be an appropriate partner so that together, you can build a holy, Torah home. You must be compatible on so many levels in order to accomplish this.
Hence, you want to do your utmost to make sure that you maintain boundaries while dating. This gives you a fair shot to date with your head and make level-headed decisions, before letting the heart jump in. To get married, you do need both – but the head has to be in control, because the heart is wild by nature and can cause you lots of pain if it’s not put in check. However, if the head comes first, the heart will surely jump in at the right time.
This is just one important reason why the laws of shomer negiah and yichud – the laws of separation of the sexes (outside of marriage) with regards to physical touch and not being in private together – are so crucial to finding your true soulmate. I could write 10 articles on this important subject alone, so you’ll just need to trust me (and read Rabbi Arush’s books mentioned below) that I learned the hard way – be lax on these important boundaries, and the results will be disastrous. Failure to adhere to any one of these laws doesn’t just open the door for the heart to get off track. They can get the heart off-track and super-glued there, and just like removing skin that has been super-glued together, the pain involved in separation is intense. And the risk that you will stay with the wrong person for fear of that pain is something to contend with as well!
There is also one more very substantial reason to be vigilant about guarding your personal holiness while dating. As explained in Rule #1, Hashem created your soul, and your soulmate’s – you need His direct guidance to find and recognize the right one. Throughout the Torah, we see how much Hashem hates licentiousness and anything related to it. By negating these laws, you send Hashem a clear message that you think that you know how to date better than He does. In response, Hashem says (so to speak): “You think you're so smart, and you know what you're doing, and you don’t need to keep My laws? OK, I’ll let you date on your own, and we’ll see where that gets you.” Anything, but not that! Hence, all areas of personal holiness should be your foremost priority to strengthen yourself in, and constantly ask Hashem to give you the free gift of teshuva for whatever areas you need to work on.
An added bonus is that personal holiness is THE pre-requisite for shalom bayis – peace in the home - and having a truly happy marriage. The work you do on yourself now, will bear big fruit later. Additionally, personal holiness is the key to maintaining the proper roles in marriage. When a man acts as the receiver, instead of the giver, and expects to get pleasure, meals and foot rubs from his wife, then he takes on the role of the woman, who is supposed to be receiving from him. Two women in one house equals deep trouble! Therefore, men need to start working on personal holiness while dating so they will know how to be good husbands. Women need to work on their personal holiness so that they will be attracted to a man who knows how to give, instead of thinking that they need to court men and compromise their dignity and modesty in the process, while finding themselves in a dead-end relationship with a man who is only a taker.
Guarding your personal holiness is also a wonderful “creep weeder” – the kind of people you really don’t want to marry hate personal holiness with a passion, because they’re steeped in the exact opposite. If someone pressures you in the slightest to give up even one tiny detail of personal holiness, run in the opposite direction! Of course, if the prospective partner respects you even more, then you know that you have the potential to have true marital bliss with this person. The more you work on yourself in personal holiness, the better the spouse you will merit, and the more shalom bayis you will have.
To understand much more about personal holiness (and a lot more about marriage, and life for that matter) that is beyond the scope of this article, and get wonderful advice on dating as well, men must read The Garden of Peace for Men and women must read Women’s Wisdom: The Garden of Peace for Women.
To be continued