Friday, July 2, 2010

Soulmates? Bashert? What's The Deal?

It seems like the concept of finding one's soulmate or bashert is on people's mind's these days. First was Sterngrad with "Soul Mates" and now a piece on JPost called "Dating Games: '1 beshert, 2 beshert, 3 beshert, 4'" that almost seems like an outgrowth of Sterngrad's post and my comments there (particularly some interesting ideas from Sotah 2A), which I won't rehash here.

I definitely think everyone's bashert is out there somewhere, and if I recall hearing from serveal rabbeim, you always get the chance to meet him/her. What you decide to do then, in terms of actually ending up married to him/her or not, is entirely up to you. That's where the element of free choice comes in. Particularly if people are motivated by other factors that can negatively influence a person's choice, such as money.

There is a famous story that is quoted regarding the Steipler wherein an older yeshiva bochur came to ask for a bracha to find his bashert. The Steipler replied that this not-so-young man didn't need such a bracha, since he had actually already met his bashert. But, the Steipler continued, the bochur thought her nose was too long and thus passed on the chance to marry her (evidently she had married someone else). This very interesting, long post about Finding the Bashert cites Peninei Rabbeinu KeHilos Yaakov, 1986, p.36 as the source, though the author relates a more generic version of the story. I heard the one about the nose, and although it's a bit more dramatic, (and possibly embellished a little) I think the effect is greater.

I remember reading in a dating/marriage book (I forget which one, since I've read quite a number of them), that when you finally decide to marry the person you think is "the one," even if they aren't, you can make the conscious decision to "make" him/her into "the one," by cultivating the relationship and nurturing it into that perfect-as-can-be marriage. It's an interesting concept. Even if it isn't true in it's entirety - I certainly think everyone would certainly benefit from adopting that mindset when they get engaged and married. We'd certainly have fewer early divorces.

Anyway, may we all find the right one for us - regardless if they are announced via bas kol or we find him/her in some other fashion - soon!


  1. This is the approach I like to take toward finding one's marriage partner. Is the idea of a "bashert" nice? Yes, but I think it causes more neuroticism than anything else. My view is, if two people believe they have what it takes to cultivate a loving, happy and lasting marriage and are committed to creating such a marriage, then that's the best possible scenario. That should be the focus rather than if Hashem is sending Heavenly signs that this is "bashert."
    Great post! IY"H, We will all have the sechel to build the marriages and homes that will successfully nuture the next generation of Klal Yisrael.

  2. Interesting JPost article. I would love to agree with your post, and believe that there is ONE person out there for all of us. My problem with this is what happens if, like you said is possible, someone chooses not to marry their soul mate/bashert and instead marries someone else. Well, then their bashert is left all alone all by themselves. And the bashert of the person they married is also left with a missing half. Let's say those people don't want to marry the wrong person. Their right person is unavailable to them and it's not their fault! It just doesn't seem fair to me that someone is left as a missing half simply because free will allows a person to pass up on their bashert.

    Perhaps my belief in Hashgacha Pratit and Hashem's involvement in the world and fate/destiny, is stronger than my belief in free will, but I like to believe that even though free will gives us the power to mess things up, Hashem doesn't give us too much power and we mess things up too much.
    Just curious, do you think our free choice really allows us to have that much of a negative effect on the world?

  3. SternGrad - I will refer you back to a comment I wrote on your post:

    "Regarding your second question, I don't necessarily have an answer per se, other than the idea that just popped into my head:

    Yes, it is seemingly unfair for HaShem to snatch away someone else's bas kol guy/gal to be another's zivug sheini. BUT, what if that person who's bas kol guy/gal is going to someone else is because that THEY themselves aren't where they are supposed to be according to their spiritual potential, and thus need a zivug sheini as well! So it is a "fair" trade off. A doesn't live up to the potential to marry B, and C didn't live up to their potential to marry D, so A ends up marrying D, whose religious/spiritual level better suits him/her.

    This is the part that is mind boggling, especially since the mathematics are beyond my ken - is permutations the right word for this sort of calculation? At any rate, that is definitely an adequate explantion (at least in my book) for the great "difficulty" G-d has in managing the world's shidduchim charts."

    So I don't think person A's bashert goes unmarried because he chose to marry the wrong person. I do no believe that HaShem is so cruel to punish an innocent person like that. I do think that this is perhaps a very negative, self-pitying idea that has been cultivated in the shidduch world by older singles who think "woe is me" and still stick to their guns about being picky etc, and not doing absolutely everything they can about finding their shidduch - or even thinking about settling (to whatever degree) and building up that relationship as a possibility instead of waiting for mister/miss perfect to show up.

    I think people do have the ability to really mess up their lives - look at all the divorces out there. A lot of them are not related to two people who truly loved each other and simply couldn't make the marriage work: rather, the marriage was doomed from the get-go because they each made a bad decision. HaShem isn't going to prevent us from making a mistake, because then we don't have free will.

    But, I do believe that there is a clear difference between what we choose to do in our own lives and how our choices affect the world at large. My beliefs are based on shiurim and conversations I've had with rabbeim on the whole free will/G-d knows everything conflict. In short, HaShem's overall plan for the world is going to work out the way He wants it to, particularly with regard to world history, etc.

    It's a lot like what Mordechai told Esther about going to see Achashveirosh unannounced - perhaps this was her very moment to save the Jews, but if she didn't go, someone else would have filled that necessary role. The same thing applies to everything we do - if there is a goal we are supposed to fulfill in our lives that will have a major impact - even perhaps our tachlis in life - but we bungle it up and choose not to fulfill that role, HaShem has plenty of shluchim to make sure everything goes according to plan.

    If individuals have a great negative effect on the world, like Hitler y'mach shmo v'zichro, it only happens for whatever reason G-d has in mind. We can't understand it, but the world won't end because a single individual wants it, unless G-d approves and allows it.

    Everyone's story in finding their bashert is different, whoever their bashert may be. You could go out for years then meet the right person and decide you know he/she's the one in a matter of weeks. You could date the same person for a year or more, then finally confront them about being serious about marriage, which wakes them up to the truth of your relationship. No story is the same as the next, and people need to realize this.

    Your story will be revealed in time, and you'll smile every time you retell it over your engagement, marriage, and to your children and grandchildren. Cultivate patience, keep your emunah/bitachon strong, and never give up hope.

  4. we had this discussion many times in school, and the end of it always was that we spend so much time worrying about finding our "bashert" that we miss out on the great person standing in front of you! when you marry the person, he/she becomes your bashert. i also remember learning that a person has 7 different basherts, depending on his/her spiritual level at the time. Your bashert can change as you change. you are not the same person you were when you first started dating, you've grown hopefully hence you need someone who has achieved the maturity level you have now that you didnt have x-number years of go

  5. Shades of Grey- wow, I think your answer was longer than your original post. :) You're right that we should always try our best and not sit around waiting for Mr/Ms Perfect to show up. I guess to me it's more sad to say there is a soulmate out there for everyone, but you might not find that person either because you or they choose someone else, than to say there isn't just one right person, so no matter who you end up with things will be OK and you shouldn't worry in the back of your brain that maybe there is someone out there who fits you better who you were really supposed to be with.


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