Finding and keeping your Bashert:
How to avoid the common dating game mistakes
By: Rabbi Shafier,
When my wife and I were newlyweds, we took up an informal study of
marriages. At the time, my parents had a close circle of friends, 8
couples, who got together regularly. After carefully looking at each
couple, we both reached the same conclusion: every one of them was
mismatched! Had we been the shadchanim, we would not have put any of
She was too smart... He was too frum... She was too sophisticated... He
was too loud...They just didn't fit together.
Marriage is not a
match of two like individuals
Our little study brought home one point: a good marriage isn't
necessarily a match of two similar individuals. It is a union of a man
and woman, vastly different in temperament, emotionality, frame of
reference, and priorities, each one with different strengths and
weaknesses. In a successful marriage, the couple completes one another,
so that his deficiencies are compensated for by her strong points, her
shortcomings filled in by his positive attributes, and the whole is much
greater than the parts.
So tell me what are
you looking for?
This highlights one of the common errors made in today's dating game.
When the Shadchan says in that sing-song voice, "So tell me, what are
you looking for?" out comes the laundry list.
"I need someone who is extroverted, funny, and outgoing."
"I need a woman who is very frum, good, kind, tolerant, and funny."
"I need a guy who is tall, a take-charge type, strong but not
And unwittingly, many people make the first mistake of the dating game -
they aren't looking for
their Bashert- they have
already formed him in their minds, and now are out to find the
one that comes the closest to that image.
It is almost like the children's toy Mr. Potato Head. You get to design
the doll, choose red lips, big ears, small eyes, short legs... Before
going out most people go through a sort of personal inventory: "Let's
see. Since I am...., I need..." Unconsciously, they put together a wish
list of qualities to take out into the market place. Then amazingly,
they find themselves frustrated. "I just can't find Mr. Right."
The wisdom of Shlomo
Not only isn't this a Torah approach to dating, it comes from a lack of
understanding of the complexity of the human being. For a person to
accurately choose the person that is right for them, they would need the
wisdom of Shlomo Ha'Melech.
Before anything, I need the self-understanding to answer: "Who am I?
What really makes me tick? What are my true strengths and real
weaknesses? How will I react in different life situations? What will I
be like in twenty years?"
The reality is that most people can't answer those questions even when
they are eighty years old, let alone when they are first starting out in
But even more difficult is the next step: defining what I need in a
spouse. Based on who I am and what my nature is, which qualities will
augment my own, and which will clash? Based on where I will be in life,
do I need someone who is emotionally supporting, or will I only flourish
if I have someone that I support?
Rosh Ha'Yeshiva - we
finally found him a Shidduch
I remember once, before giving shiur, the Rosh HaYeshiva (Rav Henoch
Lebowitz) remarked, "Boruch HASHEM, we finally found a shidduch for that
guy. What a temper that fellow has! I didn't know who we could possibly
marry him off to, but, Boruch HASHEM, we found the perfect shidduch for
Needless to say, everyone was curious as to who the perfect shidduch was
for this guy with the fierce temper.
The Rosh HaYeshiva continued, "We found him a woman with a temper bigger
than his. Now when he opens his mouth, she'll scream back even louder,
and he'll be quiet as a lamb -- the perfect shidduch."
Now, everyone knows that the worst match for a guy with a temper is a
girl with a temper. It's is asking for World War Three. Only the
Creator, who put them together understands their inner nature and
recognizes how they will interact. Only the Creator knows that this guy
talks a big game, but his inner being is really docile, that he won't
explode when confronted, but quite the opposite becomes placid. Only
HASHEM knows that what he needs for his growth is a strong woman who
will put him in his place.
Some jobs are better
off left to HASHEM
When a person spends some time thinking about the complexity of the
human, he'll understand the difficulty of finding the right match for a
person, and quickly realize that some jobs are better off left to HASHEM.
Then it starts to crystallize, "I really don't know that much about this
thing called marriage. I don't really understand why some couples
flourish while others disintegrate. In truth, I haven't been on this
planet long enough to really know myself, and surely not what I need in
the opposite gender to perfectly balance me."
Once a person reaches this understanding, then he is ready to use the
Bashert system of going out. This system resembles the way that many
people approach shidduchim. But don't be fooled - it is vastly
The Bashert System
The Bashert System involves two parts. The first is rather similar to
the way most people go out. Before the date, before there are any
emotional investments, you take a "paper test." On paper, do the two
match? Are they looking for the same things in life? Are they looking to
lead the same lifestyle?
Once that is established, then you meet -- and here is where things work
very differently -- the reason that you meet isn't because you are
looking for the person who is
best suited for you, nor because you are searching for the person
who you would most like to
spend the rest of your life with. You are looking for the person
who was chosen for you.
Forty days before I was born, a certain individual was hand-chosen for
me as the perfect mate, my life partner. Now I am going out to find her.
Not to find the one who comes closest to my image of what I want. Not to
find the person that I think will best suit my needs. I am looking for
my Bashert -- and to do that, I take the Bashert test.
The Bashert Test
The Bashert Test is to meet this person and see how I feel. Do I feel
comfortable? Do I enjoy her company? Does it just sort of feel right?
Not deep, mad passionate love. Not rockets on the fourth of July. Not
even "Wow!!!" Just does it feel natural? Did you enjoy the date? Do you
look forward to seeing her again? Does it sort of seem to click? If it
does, then she passes. That is the sign that she is the one destined for
The Bashert Test is based on the perspective that HASHEM runs this
world, and my job is to go out and do my hishdadlus, relying on HASHEM
to bring me what I need. HASHEM gave us the intuition to know certain
things, one of which is who is the right one for me.
Too smart for the system
One of the reasons that people get stuck is because they become too
"smart" for the system. A young man will say something like, "The dates
are great, I really look forward but she's not worldly enough for
me"...or not intelligent enough, not outgoing enough, or "I'm just not
sure that she's the right one."
Many times it isn't that he doesn't have an intuitive sense about her.
He does. It's just that he doesn't like what his intuition is telling
him. Sometimes it is because "What will the guys think?" or "Can't I do
better?" These "needs" are ideas he adopted from the outside world's
understanding of marriage.
But all of these blockages can be bypassed if a person focuses on the
viewpoint that HASHEM created this world and runs it. HASHEM has chosen
for me the perfect life's partner, and HASHEM wants me to find that
person. That person might not fit my very detailed, preconceived idea of
what it is that I think I need, or what it is that I want, but that
person is the one that's best for me.
When a person trusts in HASHEM and uses the tools given to him, HASHEM
helps him succeed in finding the one predestined for him - his Bashert.
Please visit R' Shafier's homepage: www.TheShmuz.com.