T o add a Jewish sensibility to next week’s Valentine’s Day, JInsider wanted to offer an alternative to the Hallmark view of love and the exploitative manner that personal relationships are often portrayed on TV talk and reality shows. To that end, we asked our experts to offer practical wisdom on finding a soul mate.
A Verb Not a Noun
Contrary to popular culture we don’t find a soul mate; we co-create our own soul mate. Soul mate is a verb hiding out as a noun. Over the course of our relationship with someone we love, we engage in soul mating. Only at the end of our relationship, after we have helped each other seek the truth about ourselves and become the best people we can be, do we actually know we have found our soul mate. In other words, at the beginning of a relationship, when we say we found our soul mate, we are not expressing a fact but an aspiration, a yearning. Then the life we build with the person we label our soul mate either does or does not witness to the truth of our intuition.
Imagining we found our soul mate, rather than recognizing we are soul-mating, is actually an attempt to mitigate the destabilizing truth we all know deep down: love is insecure and unpredictable. The uncertainty and fragility of love is too hot to handle and so we create illusions of permanence. We imagine we have found our soul mate (and often make a habit out of our love) to defend against the vulnerability and instability inherent in passionate romantic love. The paradox is that permanence is the fantasy and permanence erodes romance and love, while it is precisely due to the impermanence, insecurity and uncertainty of love that we long and desire for greater intimacy. This insight is captured in the Jewish wedding, where there is no vow “until death do us part” and where shattering/breakage is already experienced under the chupah.
Perhaps this is the difference between soul mate and its analogous Jewish expression: bashert. Bashert means destiny, which as opposed to fate, ultimately depends on our actions. Soul mating is having the faith to consciously learn the risky dance between closenesss and distance, giving and taking, gratitude and resentment, loyalty and betrayal, happiness and disappointment, controlling and surrendering, spontaneity and boredom, trusting and doubting, knowing and not knowing — between living inside and outside the Garden. Soul mating is embracing the sacred messiness of life.
– Rabbi Irwin Kula is a media commentator and author of “Yearnings: Embracing the Sacred Messiness of Life.
Not a Lollipop
Your soul mate isn’t someone outside of yourself. Sure, that person is independent but he or she is the other half of your true self. You were separated at birth. So when you’re looking for this person, you’ve got to do so as if you’re looking for a lost object. If you lost your grandma’s sapphire necklace or the key to the safe, you’d get out there and look for it, not wait for it to come to you. And you’d keep at it until you found it. King Solomon says, “The person who’s found a wife has found good.” Getting into a proactive mindset, seeking and finding is the point of departure.
In the search you have to look beyond what you first see. Before you checked into this earthly plane of existence, in your spiritual source, you and your soul mate were radiant, clear, focused. But down here things are different. Life has a way of covering us with soot. There are a whole host of pressures that over time diminish the glow of the soul as it was on high. When you finally find your other half, you may not recognize him or her. This process is about stuff that’s more than skin deep and you have to be willing to go to that place in order to find.
Ask the right questions. Is this person’s vision in alignment with your vision? Another way of saying that is, “Whom do you want to be married to when you’re 64? Eighty four?” Then work backwards. Marriage isn’t a one-night stand.
And remember that the other person is not your lollipop. They don’t exist to make you feel good. Marriage is much bigger than just being a social convention or a means to physical and psychological gratification. Look for the person who can help you build a life, a home, help you create a space where life is lived as it’s meant to be. Stop looking for the body and start looking for the person.
– Shimona Tzukernik is a writer, lecturer and the founder and director of OMEK, a center devoted to transformational learning for women..
More Stories Like This
The Jewish Week feels comments create a valuable conversation and wants to feature your thoughts on our website. To make everyone feel welcome, we won't publish comments that are profane, irrelevant, promotional or make personal attacks.