Soul Mates?

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Dear Rabbi,

I would like to ask a question relating to one’s zivug / bashert. I have heard different things about this (not from rabbis). One is that there are 9 potential soul mates for each of us. I have also heard 3? I have also heard that someone does not become your bashert until you walk down the aisle which indicates it is all your own choice, but I have also heard Hashem knows when you are born and who you will marry. (So what about people that get divorced and married again?) Then I hear people saying if it’s meant to be it will be, meaning that if this is one’s intended it will happen anyway. Something that has recently puzzled me is that there are 600,000 souls corresponding to the letters / words in the Torah. So if that is the case, how come there are 14 million or so Jewish people all very different? Could you provide more information on this as it fascinates me, especially because I am single.

Thanks, Adam

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Dear Adam,I will try to offer some thoughts on this fascinating but complex subject.

I have not heard about a particular number of potential soul mates. There is doubtless something to the notion that your soul mate is who you make him/her, and that the full appreciation of bashert may only come after years of marriage.

The Talmud indeed says that a person’s soul mate is “proclaimed” at the time of conception, yet that depends on each of the party’s fulfilling his/her potential and becoming the best that each can be. If they do not, they may meet and even marry, but the “match” may be imperfect, or may not work at all. Matches are made in heaven, but good marriages [or otherwise] are made on earth.

Letters in the Torah and souls: It has been suggested that as a soul is an incorporeal, infinite thing, it can be subdivided many times. People can therefore share a soul, and the kabbalists maintain that most souls come back to the world time and again.

I hope this has helped,

Rabbi Simon

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Dear Rabbi Simon,
I hope you fasted well yesterday.
Thank you for the insights into the Kinnot, making them easier to understand.
In the afternoon, I was listening to a shiur on Eichah on Torahanytime.  As an aside, the speaker mentioned that the 1st perek of Eichah is the source for the order of the alef bet as we know it.  Other chapters also follow the alef bet chronology but with ayin en peh interchanged.
He quoted Rabbi Shimon Schwab as his source.
Although he did not elaborate on this, surely Sefer Tehillim predates Megillat Eichah by centuries.  Several psalms are written in the alef bet order (e.g.
psalm 119).
Can you please clarify?
Thank you & best wishes.
PhilippeHi Philippe
***
TY for your sophisticated Q.
I have also heard that the question of the sequence of samekh and 'ayin is subject to dispute. It seems that there are indications that in Paleo-Hebrew the order is reversed from what we know. It is alleged that chapters 2, 3 and 4 of Eichah (chapter 5 is not alphabetical) reflect the original order. Of course, as you say, ch 1 conforms to the order with which we are family.
You are right that Tehillim predates Eichah, however a critic can claim that the order was redacted to bring it in line with the accepted/preferred sequence. This is particularly true for ch. 119, where each of the 8 vv per letter are their own group, and each set of 8 vv. can easily be repositioned. The question is in Ps. 34 or 145, if the internal logic of the passage sheds light on the correct sequence. In Ps. 34, some claim that the v. starting with the letter peh makes more sense to follow the verse starting with samekh (due to the common appearance of the word ra'). I am not convinced that this argument is compelling.
I will stick with the mesorah, that 'ayin belongs before peh. Best to look before speaking.
Rabbi Rashi Simon
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