Find Your Soul Mate

QUESTION #1: How do you find your soul mate?

By Rabbi Tully Bryks

How Do You Find Your Soul Mate?roposalAs this is a personal and intimate topic, there is a lot of material that I share when I speak to groups in person that would not be practical or appropriate for this forum. Still, I am including some of the basic Jewish principles that will hopefully give daters better insights and methods to help find that special someone.

One of the many beautiful Jewish concepts is the idea of a soul mate. Forty days before a baby is born, a proclamation in heaven declares the ideal future soul mate for that baby’s soul.[1] When G-d created the first person, the verse says, “G-d created ‘Adam’ in His image, male and female He created them[2].” The definition of the Hebrew word “Adam” is person. A careful reading of the text indicates that this 1st person was some sort of hermaphrodite.[3] G-d then took from the rib of this dual-gender being and created two separate genders.[4]

If G-d is all knowing, why would He need to experiment first with a hermaphrodite and only on the 2nd try would He successfully create the ideal of separate genders? One way to explain this is to consider two destitute people. One was always poor, while the other had once been very rich and then lost all of his wealth. Generally, the person who used to be wealthy has a greater need and longing for the riches to which he had already been accustomed. Similarly, when different gender souls dwelled together as one, and then their bond was broken, the longing for the other half of our soul is that much more intense.[5] When we find our missing soul mate and get married, we become like two halves of a whole.

If G-d has chosen our soul mates, why do so many marriages seem unsuccessful?  Roughly 50% of all marriages in the U.S. end in divorce.[6] Even among Jews, the divorce rate is still a frightening 30%,[7] and the divorce rate among Orthodox Jews of roughly 10% is still unacceptable.[8] Considering that G-d has chosen our soul mates, why isn’t the success rate 100%?

While there are several answers to this question (including unrealistic “happily ever after” expectations of marriage as depicted in many Hollywood Blockbusters), one definite possibility is that while G-d may have chosen our soul mate, we are not guaranteed to marry our soul mate! The good news is that even though we are not guaranteed to marry our soul mate, we are guaranteed to meet our soul mate.[9] Plus, just like for all other aspects of our lives, G-d gave us the Torah as an instruction manual on how to get the most out of life. heart Engagement ringBy utilizing commandments in the Torah, we can increase our chances of finding and marrying our soul mate. For example, based on some of the Torah’s rules, we can narrow down potential soul mate candidates:

  1. Our soul-mate cannot be an immediate relative, as we are prohibited from marrying a sibling,[10] parent,[11] grandparent, grandchild[12], aunt/uncle/niece/nephew[13] or sibling of spouse[14] (while spouse is still alive).
  2. If someone is a kohen (priest), there are limitations as to who his soul mate could potentially be, which correlates to the people he is not allowed to marry.[15]
  3. Our soul mate could not be someone from the same gender, as the Torah prohibits Homosexual acts.[16] It is important to note that the Torah only prohibits homosexual acts, but does not in any way condemn a person for having homosexual feelings.[17] On the contrary, most people are born with desires or inclinations for things which are prohibited to them. Some examples could include a desire for pre-marital heterosexual relations, extra-marital relations, non-Kosher food, theft and numerous other temptations one can face on a daily basis. Having an inclination to follow our passions is not inherently evil.[18] On the contrary, G-d gave us an evil inclination to help us fully reach our potential in this world.[19] It is also important to note that we have no right to judge anyone else and think that we are better than someone who gives in to his desires,[20] whether for homosexual acts or for violating any other commandment/s. Only G-d knows who we truly are.[21] We need to be respectful and loving to all,[22] even if they don’t practice religion the same way we do. As an added incentive, if we judge others favorably, G-d will judge us favorably.[23]
  4. The soul mate of a Jew cannot be someone who is not currently Jewish, as intermarriage is prohibited.[24] While that non-Jew could convert, their soul is actually transformed during the conversion process.[25] As such, even though it is possible that a Jew’s soul mate could be the soul that will eventually occupy the body of someone who is currently not Jewish and will eventually convert, that eventually newly-transformed soul has not yet been born. As such, there is no benefit for a Jew to date someone who is currently not Jewish. If they never end up converting, you can’t be soul mates. And if the non-Jew does end up converting, you are still not soul mates with the current non-Jewish soul and would be getting to know the wrong soul, which is the true essence of who we are. As an additional incentive and validation for G-d’s wisdom, the divorce rate among intermarried couples is 2 to 3 times as high![26]

By limiting one’s dating efforts to those whom a Jew is permitted to marry, one narrows down the potential dating pool to roughly 1% of the population, significantly increasing the chances of finding your soul mate. Judaism has many other guidelines that can affect relationships and our ability to make objective assessments about potential marriage partners. Examples include how we dress,[27] and even include how we interact with each other, such as the prohibition against intimacy before marriage.[28] As an additional incentive and validation for G-d’s wisdom, the divorce rate among couples who engaged in premarital relations almost doubles![29] In addition, they have a higher rate of extra-marital affairs.[30] Thus, following as many Jewish laws as possible increases our chances for marital bliss (For more about finding happiness, see the Purpose of Life question).

In addition, following traditional dating strategies can also prove helpful. The “shidduch” concept is often misunderstood as an archaic blind match-making process, whereby old people set up matches for the young without any input from those who are actually dating. Hollywood productions have only helped to further distort and misrepresent the true nature of the “shidduch” process.[31]

In reality, Jewish law demands that potential mates must meet each other and need to be attracted to one another.[32] But in addition to the need for physical and emotional attraction, potential mates need to ensure that they have shared values and life goals. Specifically, they need to complement each other so that the combined soul may fully realize its potential.[33] To help ensure that all these goals are achieved, the “shidduch” method has significant advantages over the modern secular system:

  • In the modern secular dating world, potential partners usually meet each other at parties, clubs, bars, beach settings and other venues that typically accentuate the personal and physical attraction elements of a relationship. While physical attraction is a must for any successful relationship, the risk of becoming physically or emotionally involved and attracted at the early stages is that it tends to cloud one’s judgment when evaluating a potential mate’s values. Even when friends and relatives notice that the prospective match is completely off target, the response is often something along the lines of, “but we’re in love.”[34]
  • In the “shidduch” system, a friend or relative who knows you and who knows the potential mate, suggests the match. Both parties have a chance to evaluate the potential match from behind the scenes and objectively agree that the proper values are in place. Only then does the blind date commence. At that point, they can freely evaluate the physical and emotional attraction, knowing that it is now safe to “fall in love.”

There is much more to be said about this topic, but it is too intimate and personal for a forum such as this. One is advised to consult their own Rabbi or Rebbetzen (Rabbi’s wife) for personal guidance about their situation. I am also available to speak to groups about the topic in more depth, utilizing powerful and personal examples.

Ultimately, if one believes in G-d and believes in soul mates, it would be most advantageous to try to implement as many of the Torah guidelines as possible to increase the odds of finding and keeping your soul mate!

For references to this article in the news, CLICK HERE.

To learn more about finding your soul mate, click on any of the items below:

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Books Shidduch Secrets

Books Finding and Keeping Your Soul Mate

Books the River the Kettle and the Bird

To comment on this article or to see more recommended reading about this topic, scroll down to after the footnotes.

[1] Talmud Sotah, 2A

[2] Bereishis (Genesis), 1:27

[3] Rashi on Bereishis (Genesis), 1:27; Bereishis Rabbah, 8:1

[4] Breishis (Genesis), 2:21

[5] Rashba, Brachos, 61A

[6] OECD (Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development) –

[7] Barna Research Center

[8] “Heal Our Nation, Save Our World” (2010)

[9] Talmud, Moed Katan, 18B; Talmud Yerushalmi, Kiddushin, 3:12, Breishis Rabbah, 68:3; Midrash Rabbah, 59:2; Also heard in the name of the Steipler Rav

[10] Vayikra (Leviticus), 18:9

[11] Vayikra (Leviticus), 18:7

[12] Vayikra (Leviticus), 18:10-11

[13] Vayikra (Leviticus), 18:12-14

[14] Vayikra (Leviticus), 18:18

[15] Vayikra (Leviticus), 21:14; Talmud Kiddushin, 78A; Rambam (Maimonides), Mishna Torah, Issurei Biah (Laws of Forbidden Relations), 18:3

[16] Vayikra(Leviticus), 18:22 and 20:13

[17] Vayikra(Leviticus), 18:22 and 20:13; Rambam, Mishna Torah, Hilchos Issurei Biah (Laws of Forbidden Relations), 1:14; Jewish Action Magazine (1998) quoting Rabbi Aharon Feldman;

[18] Talmud Shabbos, 156A

[19] Talmud Kiddushin, 30B; Derech Hashem (Way of G-d), 1:3:1-3

[20] Pirkei Avos (Ethics of our Fathers), 1:6 and 2:5; Talmud Shabbos, 127B; Sefer Hachinuch, Mitzvah 235; Rambam (Maimonides), Hilchos Teshuvah (Laws of Repentance), 4:4; Sefer Chafetz Chaim, Positive Mitzvah 2 and 3 and Hilchos Lashon Hara (Laws of Gossip), 4:3 and 4:9; Shmiras Halashon (Guard Your Tongue), Sha’ar hatenuvah, 4

[21] Devarim (Deuteronomy), 29:28

[22] Rambam, Mishna Torah, Hilchos De’os, 6:3

[23] Talmud Shabbos, 127B; Tiferes Yehoshua, p. 102; Shmiras Halashon (Guard Your Tongue), sha’ar hazechira

[24] Devarim (Deuteronomy), 7:3; Rambam (Maimonides), Mishna Torah, Issurei  Biah (Laws of Forbidden Relations), 12:1

[25] Rashi, Bereishis (Genesis), 12:5; Orot, Page 157

[27] Talmud Yerushalmi, Terumos, 1:4; Talmud Brachos, 24a; Shulchan Oruch, Orach Chaim, 75:1; Mishna Berurah, 75:2

[28] Vayikra(Leviticus), 18:19; sifra, Acharei Mos,13; Avos d’Rabbi Natan, 2; Rambam (Maimonides), Sefer Hamitzvos (Book of Commandments) #353

[29] Anthony Paik, “Adolescent Sexuality and Risk of Marital Dissolution,” Journal of Marriage and Family 73 (2011): 472-485, p. 483, 484.

[30] Reginald Finger, et al., “Association of Virginity at Age 18 with Educational, Economic, Social, and Health Outcomes in Middle Adulthood,” Adolescent & Family Health 3:4 (2004), 169

[31] Examples of inaccurate depictions include “Fiddler on the Roof,” “The Chosen” and “A Stranger Among Us.”

[32] Talmud Kiddushin, 41A; Rambam (Maimonides), Mishna Torah, Ishus, 3:19

[33] Bereishis (Genesis), 1:18 and Rashi there; Talmud Yevamos, 63A

[34] Rav Hirsch, Bereishis (Genesis), 24:67

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  1. How do you feel about my (43 years commitment) common law husband marrying his dental hygenist? Michigan does not recognize common law marriage

  2. This is probably the best article I ever read on this topic! It is both scary and reassuring at the same time.
    Would really love to hear a recording of the more thorough version if possible?

    • There is no public recording available yet, but I can certainly keep u posted once I have one.

  3. Dear sir, What ever extra reading and tradition you are using to interpret scripture, throw it all away. First of all there are no verses (they were added for easy reference to locate portions of scripture quickly), When Adam was created he was entirely male and eve was formed after but both were called Adam until he named her. Each of those names are words with definitions that detail attributes. Everyone who listens to man will follow man, where as those who listen to G-D have the choice to follow G-D. Best way to cleanse your mind and soul are to start from the beginning and fast and pray while requesting G-D himself to open the scriptures to your understanding. I have read several of your articles on this site and Do Not Disagree but rather am pointed to the errors found in them and desire that you take into consideration that a man in a dark room unfamiliar to him, if he should calmly reevaluate his situation he will by Patience find the Light.

  4. Kol hakavod on a great article!

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