Monday, June 19, 2006

Bashert and It's Discontents

Many, many people on these internet dating sites never find a match. In looking at these sites one gets the impression that they are much like the sanitarium in Thomas Mann’s The Magic Mountain. Easy to check in, very difficult to check out. Jdate exploits the already existent hope that most everyone can and will find someone.

There is this widely held idea of a bashert. Many who haven’t heard of a bashert talk of finding their soul mates. These notions are commonly understood as an ontological entitlement, the idea being that everyone already has a bashert, a soul mate somewhere out there, and it’s only a question of finding the person. Your counterpart is earmarked and reserved for you and vice versa. It’s a bit like finding your table at a big wedding. There is some jostling and confusion, but there is a seat set aside just for you, and there is a card establishing your rights to the seat. Substitute mate for seat. In the end, it will all sort itself out, and everyone will walk hand in hand with their mate. The rightful order will have returned, and every lid will have its pot.

It is so very odd. Here are people, generally not religious, who don’t believe in individual divine providence, and certainly don’t believe in the androgynous myth of Plato, thinking they are guaranteed, destined, maybe even predestined to meet their one and only counterpart. When someone peddles this thesis, and has been divorced and widowed and what not it becomes truly surreal. I think there is this idea that when the first marriage or second marriage or third marriage doesn’t work, it is because the divorcees have not found their real bashert. Since we are all entitled to one bashert, we must go on. It makes no difference that after three divorces, the chances of getting divorced a fourth time is north of 80%. Somehow life is incomplete until we find our true soul mate. What choice is there but to keep trying?

Some people can look like your bashert but really are not. It’s tricky, and extreme vigilance is always advisable. Sounds right. But we are also told that when you meet your bashert you just know it. You know its right. It feels right. You fall in love. You feel totally at ease. There is excitement and joy when you’re together. You can’t stand being apart. We also know 50% of marriages end in divorce. The inevitable conclusion must be either a lot of people married knowing they were not marrying their bashert, or these indicators could use some work.

It IS true, as the Talmud says, God matches matches, so to speak. God himself, kevayachol (the Hebrew technical term for ‘as it were’ or ‘so to speak’), works on this very difficult problem of creating matches. What people don’t remember is that after the Lord created heaven and earth, he regretted what he did, ooops as it were, and brought us the flood. Creating a relationship with someone you can live with, even after you have chosen them from all the other candidates takes practice even for you know who, kevayachol. (Numbers, Kings 1 & 2, Isaiah and many other places)


At 7:02 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

i believe bashert and have found my soulmate. but how does time enter the equation? do you wait until the end of time to find your mate or do you jump into marriage when you think you've found your bashert?

At 1:24 PM, Blogger evanstonjew said...

My view is that you frequently do not know with any certainty, even in the middle of a relationship, whether or not your companion is your bashert. In fact, I was once thinking of writing a book with the title "Your Bashert: Is it worth the effort?"

At 10:53 AM, Blogger Baalabus said...

See the Rambam an Avoth (1st Chapter?), where he completely ridicules the notion of bashert. I believe he ends the discussion there by saying that the one you marry, well, that's your bashert.

At 1:36 AM, Blogger Mr A said...

A large part of the problem is that with feminsim in the mix, even amongst the Mod. Orthodox, there is an inability for women to approve of a man, lets not get into love. In turn, men look at women as trophies of their worldly and often superficial worth. This has been going on for several generations now. Much of this has to with all the diversity training in education. And perhaps the second generation of "enlightened" Jews, which include Mod. Orthodox do not want to be re-live or be reminded of their childhood home memories such as an out of control mother and a cowering father. Unrequainted hostility and abuse perpetrated by the mother and spinelessly abosrbed by the father is an all too frequent situation amongst our people. In my shul, the women are liberal, and the men are to the right. For Jewish people to find their bashert, the ladies have to return to reality, stop being an automatic enemy of the male gender, and our men should stop demanding swim suit models. Its not that people are not meeting their Beshert, its that they are rejecting or repulsing their beshert. And as for me, Hashem has blessed me with a wonderful wife from South East Asia. I have to believe that my match was made in Heaven as well. Life was never sweet like this for me, and many other male Jewish male refugees. She stopped going to shul with, albeit she goes on occasion because the women border on being nasty to her. Connecting the problem of people not finding matches with intermarriage is a direct link. Our ladies have to compete with each other as women, and perhaps gentile Women who see value in the Jewish men who tire of the rejection as opposed to competing with men. Our ladies should be less demanding with money & Status requiems while the men should be less aesthetically superficial. And then, we will see more matches made. A restructuring of family values back to what is prescribed in torah might help people find each other. What can I know? Send back some hate-m-a-l-e.


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