The Jewish Thinking Man’s Guide To Dating

Dating is a great way to get married… unless you are doing it wrong. Here is the Jewish Thinking Man’s Guide To Dating as I learnt it from my father, with additional pieces thrown in on which he has not been consulted.

Every Jewish match is the right one. There is a specific match for you predetermined before your birth and this person you marry. End of discussion.

However as you are wondering and questioning, yes its not that simple. You need to do some qualifying. Why? Because that is what Eliezer did in the Torah. When Eliezer was sent by Avraham to find a match for Yitzchak, prior to entering the village he was instructed to go to he made a deal with God. The deal was, the woman who offers to give water to him and his camels is the match for Yitzchak.

Eliezer made a qualifying condition so he would know who was the person God intended Yitzchak to marry. We learn that we are also to make qualifications for a potential spouse. Therefore do not say “I will know the right one”, or worse “I will feel when I have met the right one”.

How do you do this?
Make a list for yourself of at least ten qualifying conditions for a match. These are specific, and discovered by inner questioning.


Here are some questions to ask yourself should you find it difficult to create this list:

  1. How tall?
  2. What language must she speak?
  3. Must she have a similar culture to you?
  4. Must she be organised?
  5. Spiritual?
  6. Wealthy?
  7. What expectations should she have of income?
  8. Occupation?
  9. Halachik observance?
  10. Desire to have a large family?
  11. What community does she want to live in?
  12. Where will your kids go to school?

Important note: Being attractive should not be on this list. Why not? A woman is attractive to her husband when he is thinking positively about her, when he is not she does not appear attractive to him. Therefore attraction is not dependent on the woman, but on the man and is not for this list.

Now that you have your list break the list down into two lists. One list are Deal-Breakers, i.e if one of the items on the list was not present the match is off, and the other list are Important-Preferences. Deal-Breakers should have at least five and no more than ten entries, and Important-Preferences can have another ten.

After getting to know a woman on a few dates consult the list to determine whether she matches your Deal-Breaker list, if she matches the entire list then you may be ready to propose.

Notes
1. You never want to edit the list after meeting a date, this is too prone to bias, and ruins the agreement you are making with God (as per Eliezer).
2. Poeple are complex and this is a simple set of instructions. Seek personal guidance.

Redefining Purity

Channuka can be said to be many things, and I would not degrade this. I have a family member who makes a hilarious comedic impression of Jewish teachers declaring certain Jewish holidays to be all about this! or all about that! It seems you could say it is all about anything and make a decent reasoning, yet this is not really a problem.

This is really the segue for me to talk about a new concept I see in Channuka, so I will be very brief in explaining why I am happy with a Jewish idea being about so many possible things. The parable to clarify this is explained by my teacher Rabbi Efim Svirsky: Three blind scientists are examining an elephant. After careful examination of different portions of the elephant they each give vastly different descriptions of the elephant. According to the first it is broad and rough(the body). For the second, long and rubbery(the truck), and the third described it as sturdy and firm(a leg). So too an idea in Judaism. A table can translate to one word: table, but a piece of wisdom cannot. When we describe the times of Channuka it is not that there were many reasons for it, but rather that it contains that which is beyond words.

I hope this explanation is somewhat sufficient. Anyway….to my intended thesis: Channuka is all about Purity 馃檪

To be precise the word is Tahara 讟讛专讛 in Hebrew. Before I enter into the description of the concept, let us ask how it is seen in the story. The Hellenists impurified the temple, and all the utensils, and oil. The Maccabim rededicated the temple and utensils, and found pure oil, which had not been impurified.
The parallel to desecrating the temple and utensils, but not destroying them is of course that the Hellenists did not attempt to commit genocide against the Jewish People, rather they desired to stamp out the Jewish faith.

A further hint to guide us: We are taught that Pesach is the source of emancipation in the world and that without Pesach we would have no concept of this (see Pesach – not for now). It seems to me that similar to this Chanuka is the source for Tahara, and that were it not for Chanuka we would have no concept of Tahara in the world.

What Is Tahara-Purity?

The Hellenist belief system recognized all the moral, and righteous traits we do. They believed so much in the infinite beauty and depth of the world. They were amazed at man’s capacity, and the wonder of the world G-d created. On all this we are partners in belief with the Hellenists, we get along great, but we also know there is something more.
The Torah praises the Greeks, they have so much right, they are into self improvement, respect for man and the world, etc. They may have stuff wrong, but they learn. They respect learning.
The mistake is that they should have come to us, the Jews; the bearers of the Torah and learnt from us, instead they tried to stamp us out, and figure it out themselves.

Why Did The Helenists Reject Torah?

Because, they rejected Tahara-Purity. They rejected the idea of having a place where the world and the beyond met.

In-short: the Hellenists were on the right track, but they were lacking a guide. Purity is the guide. When we do not know what to do we look to the Torah, we connect ourselves to the source of all. We go to the mikva; the primordial waters, the womb. We nullify ourselves in the process of touching the infinite. When you have this in your life you have a guide. When you live with this idea then you are pure.

The Hellenists were our brothers in bringing the world to a higher place, but did not wish to be connected to the source.

Why is purity so difficult to define? It is meant to represent the touch between the infinite beauty of existence and the unknowable that birthed it. It is therefore slightly immeasurable.

Purity=Touching the Source

Warmly,
Rabbi Dovid Baars

Chanukah – Dreams

Chanukah Sameach, Happy Chanukah! In this week’s Torah portion Yosef is called out of prison. The impetus for this is the king of Egypt’s dream. The Pharaoh has a dream which perturbs him and he cannot find a satisfying interpretation for it.
The portion starts with the line: 讜址讬职讛执謺讬 诪执拽值旨謻抓 砖职讈谞指转址郑讬执诐 讬指诪执謶讬诐 讜旨驻址专职注止郑讛 讞止诇值謹诐 讜职讛执谞值旨謻讛 注止诪值芝讚 注址诇志讛址讬职讗止纸专變
After two years鈥 time, Pharaoh dreamed that he was standing by the Nile.

These two years Yosef had been in prison.

What is the significance of these two years?

The Midrash explains that this two year period was a set period of time decreed by God because Yosef had asked the servant of Pharaoh to intercede with the king and free him. Yosef showed a lack of belief in God’s will to redeem him by asking the servant for assistance, and therefore remained in prison for two more years until the dream catapulted him out.

Now, this answer should be very bothersome! Yosef showed lack of trust in God, because he asked for human assistance?! How are we to draw a lesson for our own lives? Should we not use worldly measures to help us achieve? Are we to only rely on divine interference; on miracles?

The Midrash then brings another explanation: God kept Yosef in prison these two years so that Yosef would be redeemed by a dream. The king’s dream.

Beautiful!

Explanation: Yosef, the man of dreams… perhaps he had lost his dream. Perhaps he was desperate….He asks the servant for help. Nothing comes of it. Yosef’s desperation was generated by his lack of belief in himself. Yosef lost touch with his innate value, his mission in the world.
Yosef fell asleep. For two years he slept. God woke him up…with a dream. The dream of the King of Egypt. Meaning that Yosef needed Pharaoh to dream in order for Yosef to dream himself, and be freed.

Lesson

We are dreamers. We dream of the destiny of our elevated, lofty, holy souls. We dream of making a difference, and changing the world. We dream of all we are capable of.
Then we fall asleep. Something happened, something frightening, sad, we feel alone. We hide from our dreams, and we fall asleep. When we are asleep we want to escape the loneliness, but nothing works, because we have no dreams. We cannot reenter the light until we wake up. Even were someone to wake us up, we need to still wake ourselves up.
What can wake us up?
A dream. A story. When we hear a story that contains our own story we can wake ourselves up. Hearing the story of our soul’s imprisonment, and the struggles and longing for freedom and greatness can inspire us, and wake us up.
Seeing someone else asleep to their dream; to their greatness is a tragic experience, and sadly many, many parents, teachers, and friends go through this.

—————————

Chanukah is the story of a miracle that was small, we did not gain sovereignty over our land, we did not merit the miracles of the first temple, we were not accomplishing anything significant, but….it woke us up. The dream of the Maccabees has inspired us in our own dreams for the past two thousand years. It gives us a story of light shining through darkness that helps us tell the story of our own souls in our own struggles.

This Chanuka be open to being awoken. Be open to dream. Your potential is limitless.

Love,
Rabbi Dovid Baars

Sh’ma B’ni Musar Avicha, V’all Titosh Torat I’mecha

Yaakov settled in the land of his fathers, the Land Of Canaan.
Bereishit Rabah teaches: Like a man who is sitting amongst a pack of wild dogs. He was sitting amongst the descendants of Eisav.
Further: He was following his fathers path of teaching students; of bringing Torah into the world; of bringing his Chachma down into the world. Migayeir Geirim (Converting others) is similar to Migurei Aviv (The land of his fathers).

Fearful of the growth of his mighty brother Yaakov strengthened himself with spreading Godly light; wisdom. With this he built his own camp.

Rebbe Natan Breslover teaches that Yaakov wanted to serve Hashem, as his fathers did……..and that we all find ourselves in this stunning verse, we are all looking to serve Hashem like our fathers…………

We are so connected to our parents. I believe this is a special type of Teshuva to go back to the Torah of our fathers. Sh’ma B’ni Musar Avicha, V’all Titosh Torat I’mecha, My son, listen deep to lessons of your father, and beware of abandoning the Torah of your mother.
The father gives us our first concept of God. Our mother, our first concept of the All Loving Shechina.

Take a moment to heal and bring the light of Hashem into our relationship with our Father and Mother.

Our beliefs and minds were imprinted first by our parents. From them we received trust, acceptance, personal space, the goodness of people, the beauty of our souls.

And remember Chazal teach that we picked our parents. They are the most perfect parents for you.

Eleh Toldot Yaakov Yosef, (These are the offspring of Yaakov, Yosef)

We all know that Avraham had Yishmael, Yitzchak – Eisav, but Yaakov? He had a Yosef……. psshhhhhhh Yosef was mamesh a copy of Yaakov. The Medrish teaches all the things they were similar. Mamesh everything that happened to Yaakov happened to Yosef.
He is like the perfection. The Torah teaches this with a mashal:

A coal man is watching a flax man riding his flax camel into the city, the coal man wonders out loud “How is the flax man with his huge flax loaded camel going to fit into the gate?” A wisecracker responds “One spark from your coals can reduce the mountain of flax to nothing”.
Eisav is the flax, Yaakov the coal, and Yosef the spark.

So we something very strange though…. The Torah also teaches (Bereishit Rabah) that Yaakov wanted to live in peace, so the fury of Yosef was sprung on him! Rashi explains – Tzadikim want to live in tranquility, Hashem therefore rules that they have so much good in the world to come it is not fit to have such tranquility in this world.

What does this mean? Was Yaakov looking for an easy life?

This really the same thing. We all want to serve Hashem, to do teshuva, to be whole with our parents, to change the world. We want to be great! Mamesh Great!
The only way is through a Yosef. Yosef goes down into slavery – Yosef goes into the deepest work that there is to be done in our souls!! Tzadikim want the next world! – They totally want the will of Hashem. They have already made it, but they need the Yosef going in this world through all the darkest places.

What is the most important character trait to look for in a spouse?


To answer first consider another question.

What is the mission statement of marriage?

I.e. what is the goal of marriage?

A suggestion:
Yaakov is mamesh the highest, he is the most shalem, he is emet – truth, he is so whole and perfect and the midah that expresses that into the world is Yosef. Yosef is Yesod, foundation, purity, finding security in Hashem.
When we marry we are completing ourselves. We are taking ourselves to the place where we can be whole. The goal of marriage is the goal of our lives – to be great. To be our highest selves.
As Rashi teaches when we want to be whole (following the Torah of our fathers), living in tranquility, then the fury of Yosef jumps on us.
So then the most important trait is the willingness to grow through challenge. To be wrong, to stand corrected.
My suggestion is to marry someone ready to grow.
Chazak.

We Do Not Know What People Are Carrying

During my training as a Psycho-Spiritual Therapist a client I was guiding lead us (me and him) to a place in his subconscious mind where he was a child fleeing Nazi guards during the Holocaust, and he left younger siblings behind who could not make the escape. He remembers running and leaving them.

This subconscious (past-life?) narrative was woven into his life beliefs, thoughts, and ways of being.

What do we know about what another human is carrying with them?
What do we know.
Lets be compassionate to one another.

Critical Idea For Life Spirit

The balance between simply being unconditionally present, and being responsible.

A child needs to learn responsibility. His roles, his obligations. He must earn, and deserve, but the child in a different way critically and crucially needs a love and acceptance that is infinite.

We prepare for shabbat, but once it is shabbat it no longer matters.

Great people hold large powerful roles of responsibility in God’s world, but their inner strength taps from a subterranean flow of pure unconditional love.

The truth is that the level of unconditional love is really more true, a parent has loved their child from before the baby was born, and will continue through any mistake to harbor that love. This relating quality is the one we long for, but it paradoxically can only be appreciated by accepting our roles and duties.

Only by hard work does the marriage reach golden maturity, but the love will have been unconditional and unchanging in its deepest nature from the first day.

The same by a parent, and the same by God.

HERE IS THE LESSON

You need to cultivate a strong bond of infinite unconditional love as your baseline. In all your relationships the foundation needs to be ‘the pure being in me is one with the pure being in you’. When we get too involved in roles, and needs, and deserving we lose the spirit of life.

There is so much to learn more in this idea, perhaps we will learn the teaching together soon.
Warmly,
Rabbi Dovid Baars

Dance, Dummy

There is a story that really hits me; it is one of my favorite stories. This is from Rebbe Nachman who was unique and famous for his original stories.

Once, the king’s son believed he was a turkey. He would act exactly as if he was a turkey, gobbling under the table naked, and eating scraps from the floor. Of course the king was beyond himself, he did not know what to do, and brought in every expert and specialist to help his child, but nothing helped.

One day a wise man came to the capital city and paid a visit to the king. He heard about the Turkey Prince as the king’s son was known. The wise man begged an audience with the king and said “you have nothing to lose, let me try to help your son, but you must not interfere”. The king agreed.

On the first day the man observed the prince naked on the floor, and after some time the wise man removed his own clothes and joined the royal child. The prince was surprised and said “what are you doing here?!” The man answered “I am a turkey.”

The two spent a few days on the floor like this, then one day the wise man sat down on the floor wearing pants. The prince was unsure, but the man assured him that “even turkeys can wear pants.”

After another few days the wise man wore a shirt, assuring the prince “turkeys can wear shirts too if they want.”

This continued until the prince appeared fully cured.

This story says so much.

  • Act on what is right even if you do not fully integrate the belief. The prince believes himself to be a turkey, but even turkeys can go to work. Strive to do what is right and true even if you have not begun to feel that it is good and sweet. A friend of mine in a rebellious teenager phase of life recalled to me how the great rabbi Rav Noah Weinberg asked him why he wasn’t doing what he believed to be right and true, with no answer besides him being a teenager Rav Noah bellowed “So dance dummy!

  • The power of rock bottom. The change came when being a turkey for the rest of the prince’s life was fully accepted by the king, the wise man, and even the prince. Often the fear of the worst case scenario paralyzes, and keeps any real progress far away. As we all know no one changes until they are accepted. Recently while coaching a young man we both burst into laughter after touching with absolute acceptance his worst fears.

There are many more lessons to be gleaned, but it is almost shabbat here in Beit Meir, Israel and my wife Leah could really use my help.

Shabbat Shalom,
May you really find your soulmate those of us married and those not yet married, in this shabbat we read about Yitzchak finding his wife Rivka.
Rabbi Dovid Baars