Are You Stuck in a Bad Relationship? The Torah Can Tell You
The Jewish New Year is almost upon us, and generally speaking, it’s one of the most difficult times of the year for Jewish singles with sincere hopes of getting to the chuppah.
Why? Because family gatherings offer many opportunities for (usually) well-meaning relatives to offer some variation of, “Don’t you think it’s time you settled down already?”
At the same time, unmarried people who are currently in relationships often find that the arrival of Rosh Hashanah is a natural opportunity to pause, reflect and assess whether their significant other is, indeed, marriage material.
You see, it often happens that a single will so eagerly desire marriage, that they will turn a blind-eye to the ample evidence and red flags that suggest that the other person is decidedly not on the same page as them.
So what does Judaism say a person’s reaction should be when one discovers that a prospective spouse may not be their “bashert?”
The answer comes in the Sefer Chasidim (514) — the classic Torah commentary that was written in the late 1100s by Rabbi Yehuda HaChassid.
In Genesis 24:29, we find a statement that Eliezer — the servant of our forefather Abraham — expresses to the family of Rivkah, regarding her proposed marriage to Abraham’s son Yitzchak: “And now, if you intend to do kindness and truth with my master, tell me; and if not, tell me, and I will turn to the right or to the left.”
After the proposed match had gone so well up until now, how could Eliezer be prepared to abandon it all and simply walk away on the verge of an engagement?
The Sefer Chasidim explains that the Torah includes these words to teach us that a person must be willing to walk away from a potential shidduch (match) at any point in the process, even if one has already invested much time and effort.
Rabbi HaChassid writes that if a person is pursuing a particular match, and subsequently discovers that the match is no longer suitable, he or she should immediately make an about face and pursue someone else. The rabbi concludes that this is the will of God — and that this kernel of truth always applies, even if the entire dating process had gone incredibly well up to that point, just as it seemed to have gone for Eliezer.
Indeed, everyone needs to make their own individual determination as to whether the “flaws” of their prospective spouse are something that they can live with.
At the same time, based upon my 16 years of experience as a professional Jewish matchmaker, I can share with you a few tell-tale signs that someone is very unlikely to desire a true relationship with you:
They won’t talk about commitment or exclusivity
Obviously, what this talk might look like will vary depending upon the stage of the relationship (e.g. 8 weeks vs. 52 weeks).
However, if your partner takes you seriously, they will be open to talking about it, and will want to address your feelings. If someone avoids the topics of commitment or exclusivity, it’s probably a sign that they don’t see any long-term future with you.
No introductions to friends or family
If someone is really in to you, they will eventually want to show you off! They’ll want the broader circle of people that they care about to know they’ve met someone terrific — and maybe even get an outside, objective perspective on how wonderful you really are.
Only interested in the physical side of relationships
There are many facets to a relationship. If the person that you’re seeing is only interested in physically connecting with you, it probably means that they’re not trying to get to know you very deeply. Someone who is envisioning a future with you will want to get to know you on a multitude of levels.
Rosh Hashanah and new beginnings
If you come to the realization that the person you’ve been dating is not your bashert, take heart. The Torah makes it clear that God has created an appropriate spouse for everyone (Bereishis Rabbah 65:2).
Additionally, woven into the fabric of Rosh Hashanah and the spiritual energy of this holiday is the potential for new personal beginnings. Our ancestors Abraham and Jacob were born on this day, Joseph was freed from an Egyptian prison on Rosh Hashanah, and this is also the day when it was decreed that the matriarchs Sarah and Rachel and the biblical figure Hannah would give birth.
The quicker that you can detect and terminate a failed relationship, the better. As the saying goes, “You can’t start the next chapter of your life while you’re still reading the last one.”
Rabbi Shlomo Zalman Bregman is an internationally recognized Torah scholar, #1 best-selling author, matchmaker, entrepreneur, attorney and media personality. His energetic and empowering messages currently reach over 350,000 people per week via social media, NYC radio, and newspaper columns worldwide. His website is www.RabbiBregman.com and his email is [email protected].