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Becoming One    

Becoming One

How many women refuse to date a man who is not making enough money to support her in the style she envisions for herself? Those who marry for money are two-time losers…


There’s a serious crisis in the world today and I’m not referring to the Middle East political situation or the oil spill in the Gulf. It is the singles dilemma. Without quoting statistics, it is quite apparent that the number of singles in their late 20s and 30s has grown significantly over the years. Why has finding one’s soul mate become so difficult?The Talmud (Sotah 2a) states that ‘it is as difficult to match up people as to split the Red Sea’ so it has never been an easy task. But if HaShem can do anything He chooses, why are so many people, especially in the Dati Leumi (National Religious) circles, searching for years in pain and loneliness? 

For the non-religious, the answer is quite simple. It is not necessary to get married when all the benefits of marriage are quite literally at their fingertips. There is no rush to wed in Holy Matrimony when playing house is common and acceptable.
But for those who valueTorah ideals and understand that marriage is a sacred commitment, the whole issue becomes more complicated. There is a conflict between shidduch dating (dates arranged by a shadchanit, matchmaker) and meeting at parties or other social gatherings, offset with a clash between those who are shomer negiah (guarding the touch) and those who find it an archaic restriction. Since there has been much written about the latter, I will focus on the dating aspect.
I was raised in a traditional home and grew up as a secular Jew. When I finally came to the conclusion that I had to marry someone Jewish, that was all that mattered to me. Being shomer negiah and shidduch dating was not even part of my vocabulary. Now that we are Shomer Mitzvot (observant of the commandments), I reflect on the ‘hows’ and ‘whys’ of finding my husband. I know that if I had been screened by a Shadchanit at the time, I doubt that his name would have even come up on the radar. We had little in common other than our religion and attraction.  But G-d, in His Infinite Wisdom, arranged for us to find each other in spite of our differences and impious lifestyle of the day. I’m in no way proclaiming this scenario as advisable, but thankfully when one has fallen into a pit, it’s important to know that G-d is there with His ladder, ready to help you out.
It wasn’t until we had serious marital difficulties that I came to understand the connection we had. At our first counseling session, we were each asked to fill out a form with pages of personal questions. I was certain that after reading my answers the therapist would tell me it was a lost cause and help me file for divorce. Instead, all the answers ‘matched’. By that I mean, all the important life goals were in line for both of us.  In other words, despite all the negativity, ill-feelings and personality conflicts, the bottom line was that we were in it for the same reason – the RIGHT reason. Around the same time, I discovered ‘The Garden of Emuna’ and Rabbi Lazer Brody’s discs on marriage and that clinched it.
The point of relating this story is what we can learn from it. What makes a good shidduch (match) is the internal, spiritual soul of the relationship. While physical attraction is important, it is secondary to the true connection, the Divine bond made in Shomayim (Heaven). I once met a young woman who was introduced to her husband by a pre-arranged long distance phone call. Their entire courtship was via telephone. They spent hours discussing their aspirations and visions, which were all for the sake of Heaven. Finally, once they decided to meet it was only a formality as they already knew they were going to get married. This is the true essence of finding one’s mate. 
I believe this reveals the problem with today’s dating scene. Too many people are looking for something they can’t find because they are searching for an elusive happiness and self-fulfillment that doesn’t exist. Sadly, many men are superficial, seeking the perfect looking woman. If they only realized that a few years and several children down the road, their model-like ‘showpiece’ will be as ordinary as the next man’s wife. And how many women refuse to date a man who is not making enough money to support her in the style she envisions for herself?  When her man-of-means loses all his possessions in the next stock-market crash, what will she think then? It’s all from HaShem anyway, so find the man who suits you, not the man who wears nice suits. If he doesn’t show up in designer fashion, look inside his soul to find the real man.  If she arrives on a date and she isn’t what you’ve been dreaming of, talk to her. You may be surprised at what you’ll find hiding in the recesses of her heart.
Dating for marriage can be compared to the coming together of two Magnets. Anyone who has played with magnets is aware that attempting to join two like poles (south with south or north with north) never meets with success as they will forcefully repel each other. Yet by aligning the north and south, the unlike poles are strongly drawn to each other and embrace with almost inseparable strength. Hence the expression, opposites attract. Similarly, in the convergence of two Neshamas (souls), the qualities which complement each other are often opposite, harmonizing and magnetic.
But perhaps the answer to the initial question of why so many people are searching for years when HaShem could bring them their zivug today is Kedusha, Holiness, or lack thereof.  Just as we must all direct our lives in the service of HaShem and nullify our own egos for the sake of righteousness, the same mindset should be implemented when looking for a life partner. When those who are searching put their objectives in the proper perspective and have their priorities straight, they will surely see miracles.
Many years ago, while I was learning Home Economics in school (sewing, knitting, baking), the boys in my class were being trained in Woodshop. They learned how to make all kinds of handy wooden items for the home with their saws and sanders. It is said that you can’t put a square peg in a round hole yet if HaShem wants something to fit, it will. All you need to do is whittle down the edges. In most cases, there is someone out there for every single man and woman.  If at first glance it doesn’t appear that your square peg date fits the shape you have designed in your mind’s eye, try a little mental creativity.  With sincere Hitbodedut (personal prayer) and a lot of emuna, you will be able to see past the external to envision the beauty within.  In all other areas we endeavor to fine-tune our senses to grasp Divine messages. How much more so when trying to find our soul mate?
The Chassidic approach to finding a match for one’s child is different than the Dati Leumi crowd. When a child reaches marriageable age, the families often arrange a suitable shidduch and the children then meet to see if they agree.  This is not to say that it is without effort, but most manage to find their zivug (soul mate) in a timely manner. I used to disagree with the fact that a couple only spoke to each other for a very limited time before they decided to get married.  After all, how could they really get to know each other so quickly? The fact is, they don’t, and they don’t really need to… until they have been blessed under the Chuppah (wedding canopy).  As long as all the important criteria are met, everything else will fall into place.  When a couple creates a marital union based on Torah and Mitzvot and seeks constant guidance from a reliable Rabbi, Shalom Bayit (peace in the home) is assured.
A fundamental purpose of marriage is to complete our souls since without both halves joined together we are not totally whole or fulfilled as human beings. From the very beginning of Creation G-d instructs us as to this hallowed act; ‘Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother and cleave unto his wife’ (Genesis 2:24).  It is this sanctified unification between husband and wife which allows HaShems presence to merge into their lives. We also enter into the Kiddushin (Marriage ceremony) in order to fulfill the mitzvah (commandment) of Pru Urvu, to be fruitful and multiply. In this as well, G-d is a vital partner.  
King Solomon summed up the commitment between a man and woman in ‘Shir HaShirim’ (The Song of Songs) which declares “Ani L’Dodi, v’Dodi Li”, "I am My Beloved's, and My Beloved is Mine". This is also a beautiful allegory for the love between the Jewish People and HaShem, the Master of the Universe.
Once a person internalizes that the pursuit for one’s zivug is to facilitate serving our Creator and not to indulge oneself, it will all come together with clarity and ease. Then the darkness will be replaced by radiance, and celebrations will abound with gladness and joy!  May it be G-d’s Will that all the halves in quest of their other, soon become one!

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Esther11/7/2010 9:41:32 PM

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