Hello, my name is Gabriela, I am from Argentina. My question is: why G'd created soul mates and then separated them and made them look for each other during their lives? What is the purpose of that? I dont understand.... [How does this fit into Jewish values?]
I am responding somewhat reluctantly, as no one can presume to know why God does anything. God’s ways are different than ours.
By soul mates, I guess you mean one’s intended spouse. The simplest response to your question is that if God has designated the intended, part of that designation would include the “game plan” to bring them together. As to why they are not brought together magically, and have to seek out the intended, perhaps this is by way of projecting that no one should expect blessing to be handed to them on a platter. They need to work for it. In this instance, it means to seek out one’s future spouse, and also to make sure that the seeker works on himself or herself to be the best possible “soul mate,” or is it “sole mate?”
The Jewish tradition that claims that marriages are arranged in heaven is very old and a very romantic idea. It first appeared in the Talmud: "Rab Yehudah said in the name of Rab: Forty days before the creation of a child, a divine voice (bat kol) issues forth and proclaims in heaven, 'The daughter of A is for B!'" (Sotah 2a) Later in the Zohar, the classic work of Kabbalah, this idea found its full expression: "Each soul, prior to entering this world consists of a male and female united in one being. When it descends on this earth, the two parts separate and animate two different bodies. At the time of marriage, the Holy One who knows all souls and spirits, unites them as they were before and again they constitute one body and one soul…" (Zohar 1:91a) I believe that this is the basis of the term bashert, that every person has one person who is their destined partner in life.
If we were to understand this idea literally then you are asking a valid question. It might seem cruel for god to create our destined partner, a soul mate, for us and then to separate us from them so that we have to spend a life time searching for the person with whom we are supposed to be. Of course, there is something to be said for having to labor at accomplishing significant things in life. Searching for a treasure makes the treasure even more precious. I am not sure we would value our soul mate as much if we didn’t have to go out into the world and search for them ourselves. That search also allows us to learn about ourselves, our likes and dislikes , and our priorities. Remember that the Talmud also tells us that while God may make matches, match making is as hard as "splitting the Red Sea." (Bereshit Rabbah 68:4) Even if someone is our soul mate does not mean that it is enough to simply be matched up with them.
Personally, I do not understand this idea quite so literally. We cannot know God's ways or the mysteries of the universe. Love itself is also a mystery. Why do two people fall in love with one another (and why do they sometimes fall out of love, if they were destined for one another)? What is it that draws them together? We can’t know the answers to these questions.
Yet when we fall in love and find the person with whom we wish to spend our lives, we feel such a deep sense of connection that our love seems to transcend the mortal world. That is why people in love often describe that person as their "bashert," as their soul mate, with whom they were destined to be. Once they meet they cannot imagine their life without them. That is nothing less than a miracle - and surely, in some way God must be responsible for bringing these two people together and inspiring a love that transcends self interest. In counseling couples before marriage and speaking to seasoned couples who are still very much in love after decades of marriage, they often describe their relationship as two halves of a single soul. So maybe this idea of being separated from ones partner only to find them again in the world is not so much a description of what happens but what it means to be completely in love with another person. This is not a statement of what is, but a description of what we strive for in a marriage.
Gabriela, thank you for the question and for the opportunity to offer a response. Notice I did not say "answer" as Jewish tradition loves the notion conveyed in the phrase Dvar Achar. It means another interpretation – not my right versus your or someone else's wrong one. Rather, this is my interpretation, my response to your query.
I do not believe the notion of a Beshert(a) intends to be presented as a fact. Rather it means to convey a value, a hope and/or experience, one that describes – even if words are insufficient – a genuine soul-filled and enriching connection, one which joins certain persons to us and with us in ways that may only be described as sacred, holy. And while one hopes that connection means the link with one's spouse, I suspect that, even should we remain single, there may be others in our lives to be included in such an embrace of the heart.
In short, I believe you are describing a metaphor as though it were a simple and passive fact or reality. So to speak, somewhere out there is my Prince or Princess. No, our task isn't just to hope for such a one independently to enter our lives, rather it is to make such true by our actions and in our relationships. Hard work, I know, but work very much worth doing.
Copyright 2020 all rights reserved. Jewish Values Online
N O T I C E
THE VIEWS EXPRESSED IN ANSWERS PROVIDED HEREIN ARE THOSE OF THE INDIVIDUAL JVO PANEL MEMBERS, AND DO NOT
NECESSARILY REFLECT OR REPRESENT THE VIEWS OF THE ORTHODOX, CONSERVATIVE OR REFORM MOVEMENTS, RESPECTIVELY.