It’s often that we as a couple receive requests to be involved in aspects of Shidduchim, it is more than once that our couch has hosted a couple at various stages of a relationship or marriage.
Aside from the cups of tea and tissues, there is little really that can be given – each couple has a unique relationship and dynamic, issues, and expectations. So often helping boil down the issues and express them in a safe and mediated setting can bring out that which has been deliberately avoided, sometimes for years.
When we have these moments, I sometimes like to tell this story:
My wife and I had literally just begun dating, although we enjoy debating this often I think this occurred on our 3rd date, my wife holds that one of the dates wasn’t a date – hence the Makloket.
We had just walked around the Old City in Jerusalem, possibly one of the most profound backdrops to any date, a place where so much human history has unfolded, that history is really a chain of individual stories, stories created when men and women have children who go on to have their own unique chapter in life. It was a lovely time, we walked and stopped under the orange tree, visited the Kotel, and drank Sachlav from Cofix.
As we walked and spoke and began falling in love we decided to take a walk from the Old City up Jaffa back to the Central Bus Station, we knew that we had enough time to stroll and still get Elisheva back to Kiryat Arba, near Hebron where she was living.
As we entered the Central Bus Station and ascended the escalator things seemed to be winding up great on the date, the romance and connection were shattered by the sound of the first gunshot.
Immediately the entire bus station was a chaos of screaming people in a panic, the crowd surged and collided against itself in a mad dash towards the downstairs exit. As we were pushed down the escalator to the bottom floor others began to trip and fall, we were suddenly pushed towards a small phone shop. Fairly immediately the women and children were pushed to the back of the shop into a small supply shop, standing at the front the man on my left drew a firearm and we waited.
From outside there was another terrible crack of a gunshot and suddenly, there was stillness.
The special forces unit came and cleared the Bus Station and we were led outside and quickly moved away from the scene, there was no de-briefing, no more buses, and as of yet what exactly had transpired. We wandered back towards town and having nowhere in mind of where to be and for how long until the bus station would be closed.
We ended up at the iconic Y café (on Nissim Behar Street) a favorite of Jerusalem poets, philosophers, and writers, we ordered a cup of tea and Elisheva called her mother and told her what had happened. I had a moment to walk around the corner to the Yeshiva of the Leshem to speak with Rabbi Chaim Mizrachi and return before we walked back to the Central Bus Station:
It’s a terrible date story, really was one to remember – I remember thinking at the time the profoundness of experiencing such an event, did it have some kind of symbolic or heavenly purpose for us a couple to be together or was it an omen to separate.
Rabbi Chaim Mizrachi is perhaps most known as a Kabbalist and spiritual advisor and he told me emphatically:
“Ultimately; who you marry remains a choice – circumstances can draw us together or apart depending on our reaction”.
Humans are very interesting, we seek out meaning in the smallest of our circumstances – the inventor of Logotherapy; a school of thought within psychotherapy which describes a search for a life meaning as the central human motivational force, Dr. Viktor Emil Frankl (26 March 1905 – 2 September 1997) was an Austrian neurologist, psychiatrist, philosopher, author, and Holocaust survivor he penned the popular quote:
“Life is never made unbearable by circumstances, but only by lack of meaning and purpose.”
That has, unfortunately, a double-edged nature to it – where meaning is often not particularly present we are often able to inflate it until for us personally, it is a mountain from a molehill.
Perhaps nowhere is this more observable than in Human relationships – seen clearly in the chasm between lust and genuine love: Moreover, it is particularly easy to be clouded in our perception, the desire for connection and acceptance is often more motivating than obvious issues and noticeable red flags.
Much like our Parsha that ends the book of Exodus, we move from the turbulent past of the Israelites into the hard work of forging a relationship with Hashem and each other as a unified people – we meet each other in the middle of whatever chapter we are in our lives and must decide to undertake the writing of a new book together.
It is the decision and the remembrance of this choice that ultimately creates the existence of the relationship.
There are no steadfast rules that can apply to every human relationship and dynamic, what works perfectly for one couple would easily undo another – we need to apply patience and a great deal of love to the seed regardless of the conditions of the soil that we find ourselves planted in.
We discovered a love and friendship beyond the borders of the situation we found each other in and despite our favorite disagreement as to whether it was date two or three, I think we can both agree that the terrorist attack changed the circumstances dramatically and that our decision to be together and choose each other had nothing to do with that terrible incident.
May you be blessed to choose your soulmate wisely and successfully.
Rabbi Jonathan Goldschmidt 2021 ©