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TorahAnytimes Newsletter Pinchas

Parshat Pinchas

Compiled and Edited by Elan Perchik


"The TorahAnyTimes" Newsletter

Parashat Pinchas
19th of Tammuz, 5780 | July 11, 2020

Compiled and Edited by Elan Perchik

Dr. Jack Cohen
Marrying the Wrong Person

Generally when dating, the focus is on who you would like to marry. That seems plainly obvious and unnecessary to even state. However, at times unknowingly, individuals head down a path which is leading them straight to marrying the wrong person. To avoid this mishap, here are some invaluable guidelines to consider:

Never expect the person you are dating to change. This is supremely important and cannot be emphasized enough. What you see is what you are getting and will get for the rest of your life. Sure, people mature and develop, but if that is expected and you are always on the lookout for it, it will always be around the next corner and that corner may never come. Should you expect even a little change and incorporate that into your evaluation of the person? The answer is no. Never marry potential. If you cannot be happy with the person as they are now, then do not get married. In line with this, it is equally crucial that you be honest with yourself. You may find qualities about the person you are dating which deep-down make you feel uneasy and uncomfortable. That feeling, unless you are mistaken, will not change. Trust yourself and make the decision with your head.

This leads to another critical point of how to judge and assess your dating. Many daters ask if they should date with their heart or with their head. Should the decision to proceed forward in dating through engagement and marriage be fueled by a rational, thoughtful and logical set of considerations, or should it be gauged by how you feel, how excited you are to see this person and be around them, and how much you yearn and long to have them in your life? You may obtain different answers depending on whom you ask, but if you are seeking to make the right decision for a long-term committed relationship, the answer is completely with your head. This means, contrary to popular belief, that you should not get married when you are in love. Sounds radical, but consider the following.

When meeting someone with whom you feel attraction, emotional compatibility and common life values, you may internally sense an extreme pull to that person. This can happen the first date you have with them. However, at that point, and even after a couple months, your emotions are still in a transfixed state of looking at their positive qualities and perhaps even envisioning what marriage would be like with them. That is your emotions talking. “I love them” and therefore “I should marry them.” But that is a recipe for disaster. Do not get married when your decision to do so is because “I love them.”

Instead, dating should progress along a continuum, whereby you get to know the person more and more and can, with a clear head, articulate what you like about this person and why moving forward with them makes sense. This should continue for a significant amount of time, enough that the eventual next step to get engaged is not a decision, but an organic process. It only makes sense that we should continue and get engaged and married. As you can see, that is a logical thought process, not an emotional one. There is no weighing of “I like this about him/her, but I’m not so sure…” “Well, how do you feel about it?” This dialogue is a recipe for a mistake. It targets the heart and not the head.

Moreover, the golden rule is that if you need to ask the question if you should get engaged and marry someone, the answer is no. It should be so clearly evident that this is the only logical next step to take and it is a truly organic and natural process. Taking this into consideration will save you much heartache and headache. Young men and women often struggle and agonize over this, seeking advice as to whether they should get engaged.

Needing to ask that question itself should be telling you as a dater what you should do. If you have been using your head all the while during your dating process, such doubts and uncertainties should not arise. You will know with clarity and comfort what is in your best interest, and feel no anxiety over making the next move in life.

This does not mean that discussing your dating life with someone you trust should be done away with. Quite to the contrary, given the magnitude of the decision, it is extremely helpful to discuss how things are going and ensure that you are thinking right and are on track. What you should avoid, as mentioned, is getting to a point where you are struggling to come to a decision and your emotions weigh on you. That is an extremely difficult and uncomfortable place to be in. If that is your case, you can now relax and follow the above guidelines.

The only exception to this is if the uncertainly you have experienced and are experiencing is a reflection of your unreadiness for marriage. If you find yourself oftentimes saying “I don’t know,” and being wavy in other areas of life, very likely, that same attitude and nature of yours is carrying over to your dating life. In such scenarios, the answer is not to silence your uncertainly and move forward with engagement and marriage, but actually step away from dating temporarily and get yourself to a point in life where you can be self-aware and in touch with yourself. If that is not in place, you will likely be finding yourself asking other people if you should get married. And relying on other people’s opinions is letting other people run your life, which is the last thing you want. In this case, take the time to become more decisive and aware of who you are and what you want in a marriage partner, and then reengage in dating.

Compatibility, Not Chemistry. You have probably heard people reference a newly engaged couple, “Oh, they’re such a cute couple!” While this may be true, this has no substantial bearing on whether or not the young man and woman are suited for each other. And this is because while their chemistry may be great, which is what is highlighted when emphasizing that they are a “cute couple” or the like, they may not be compatible with each other.

When dating someone, do not confuse chemistry with compatibility. As in the scientific use of the word “chemistry,” it refers to two people who can interact, identify and relate to each other. But there are countless individuals in the world who can have great chemistry with each other, but a marriage between them would be disastrous. Likewise, you can have chemistry with people you are related to, who of course you cannot marry.
Chemistry is therefore not a good gauge of a sound relationship.

Compatibility, in contrast, refers to something completely different than chemistry. Compatibility is the breeding ground for love, which occurs when the recipient benefits. Love is when you give to your partner, and he/she benefits from that which you give to them. They value that which you give them. This does not refer to mere physical presents, but a much larger array of qualities. For example, you may be a very spiritual person who loves to learn and grow, attending and listening to Torah classes as much as possible. If when you share of your spiritual life which makes your eyes sparkle and gives you vitality, your partner is less than enthused and it doesn’t get them excited, then you giving them something of spiritual quality has little meaning to them. They are not benefiting, because they do not value it. What thus happens is that when you show your love to them – by giving them something of spiritual value – they are not feeling loved. In essence, you don’t speak the same “love language.” If you’d ask your partner when you share your spirituality with them, “Do you feel loved?” they would reply in the negative.

That is compatibility and that is love. You will feel loved when someone gives something to you which you benefit from and value. If though, what they give you does not make you feel loved and what you give them does not make them feel loved, you are not compatible. This is why couples can be giving to each other but feel empty. “I am giving so much into the relationship!” and yet it is dead. They are giving to their partner, but because it doesn’t have value to them, it doesn’t mean anything to them.

Staying in such a relationship is miserable, because it is devoid of love. What though does create love in a relationship, as you can see, is compatibility. When you give what the other person values and you receive what you value, then you have compatibility and you have love.

Now, you may say, why can’t I give what my partner values and he/she give me what I value even if we don’t value what we are giving? You can certainly do that, but you will then continue to be in a relationship where you are giving and not enjoying that process of giving, and to do that for years of a lifetime marriage is less than satisfying. You don’t want a marriage or a life like that. You will eventually dry up, because you’re giving something which you don’t value and may even perhaps disapprove of, which creates a passionless marriage. In a borrowed sense, it becomes a transactional relationship, where you give me something I want and I give you something you want, but I don’t enjoy that very thing. It is akin to having a job where you are working and giving of your time and effort, but you don’t enjoy it.

The above is also reflected in emotional compatibility. Ask yourself these types of questions: Am I more high-strung or laid back? Am I quicker to get upset about something and then forgive it easily or slower to get upset and then take longer to forgive? Am I more expressive or reserved? These are the type of questions which will inform you of your emotional world, and it is this which you want to match with your dating partner. Once you have identified yourself, you want to match that with someone else.

It is often said that opposites attract and if you are in a relationship with someone who is different than you, it is no problem whatsoever. Unfortunately, this is applied way too liberally and people believe that differences in a relationship don’t matter much. In your relationship, the more similar you are in terms of your emotional compatibility, the better and more satisfying your relationship will be for both of you. While there are gradations to qualities and characteristics, if your partner gives off a certain vibe (e.g. high-strung or reserved behavior) which is different than your own, you very well may not enjoy it. That high-strung/reserved experience they give you doesn’t add value to your life, and you may even dislike it. Since what they give you doesn’t “benefit” you in that sense, your emotional compatibility is off.

The lesson… marry someone you are fully compatible with and enjoy a passionate and thriving marriage. And that is an extraordinarily worthwhile investment of your life.

Ms. Chevi Garfinkel
Seek, Recognize and Revel

One of the most fundamental character traits and attitudes to inculcate as a Jew in life is hakaras hatov, recognizing and appreciating the goodness in our life. How, though, can we do this in the face of challenges? How can we manage to embrace life when it doesn’t go the way we hoped?

The Torah relates in Parshas Bereishis that the trees and grass had not yet sprouted by the sixth day of creation for, “Hashem had not sent rain upon the earth and there was no man to work the soil (Bereishis 2:5). Only after creating Adam and placing him in Gan Eden did the rain fall for the first time.

The difficulty with this fact, notes Rashi, is why it was necessary. Why would Hashem withhold the trees and grass from receiving rain and growing until three days after their creation. Only after Adam was formed, on the sixth day of Creation, did it rain and the grass sprout. For what reason, though, did Hashem postpone allowing the rain to fall and trees to grow?

Rashi in addressing this question is essentially focusing upon what man’s purpose in this world is. The answer to this question is therefore not only the resolution to what Adam HaRishon’s purpose was, but what our purpose is as well. It is the reason why we woke up this morning and why, G-d willing, we are going to wake up tomorrow. People spend thousands of dollars and hike mountains in search of the answer to this question, but Rashi provides it for us in a few words for free:

“Why was Adam’s creation a necessary component in allowing it to rain? Because without Adam, no one would be around to recognize the goodness of the rain.”

That was the intent in creating Adam. He was simply to recognize the fact that it rained and that such an incident was good.

In other words, Rashi is telling us that our primary purpose in this world is to be a seeker of good, a recognizer of good and reveler in good. Very loosely translated, man’s purpose of existence is to “dance in the rain.”

This good which forms our focal point of life encompasses all aspects – physical good, emotional good and spiritual good. Obviously, physical good is only beneficial providing it does not in any way compromise our emotional or spiritual good. But the physical good which is healthy and wholesome, revel in them. This is our job: to be a seeker of good, recognizer of good and reveler in good and dance all along the way.

But at times we confront a slight problem. Sometimes we have our dancing shoes on and are ready to dance, but there is not a cloud in the sky. And it is difficult to dance in the rain when there is no rain. There will certainly be days when a torrential
downpour drenches us and it is very easy to revel in the physical, emotional and spiritual goodness of life. With rain everywhere, we can easily begin dancing.

However, that is not always the case. Rain does not fall every day of our own life and everywhere we personally go. What are we meant to do then?

My friend Ahuva is an incredible, loving individual. Whenever I go hiking with her, it takes twice as long as everybody else. This is because, whenever you hike, you inevitably meet people. And Ahuva, being her wonderful self, will extend a warm greeting to everyone we meet and strike up a conversation. It is not uncommon that within minutes people will be telling her how much they love their mother’s apple pie.

As I myself stand there taking in the breathtaking scene of the mountains and smell the pine trees, Ahuva is there cordially greeting others. I can honestly say that the enjoyment I have when looking at the beautiful sights of G-d’s nature is what Ahuva experiences when she meets a person. That is a very rare skill. She gets just as much out of meeting a new person as seeing a magnificent mountain.

This is why I like hiking with Ahuva. I teach her how to enjoy the trees and she teaches me how to enjoy the people we meet in between the trees. Our job is not merely to recognize the good within ourselves, but as well recognize the good and beauty within others, and appreciate Hashem’s greatness as a result. G-d does not create junk; He creates masterpieces. And each and every one of us is a masterful work of art.

When the going gets tough, the first thing to do is take off your dancing shoes temporarily and put on your walking shoes. When you do this, you may have to walk a bit to find a rain cloud. Sometimes, after a while, you will find yourself in a monsoon; other times, however, all that may be there are some tiny drops of rain. And when the latter is the case, you must locate that drop of rain, run underneath it and stick out your tongue. And then you dance in that drop. Look for the blessings in your life and in other’s lives and count every one of them.

Year ago, dear friend of mine, unfortunately, lost one of her closest friends. Passing away at a young age, it was a tremendous loss not only for my friend, but for so many others. She was literally a walking piece of sunshine who had the amazing ability of making everyone around her a better person.

Some time after she passed away, her sister planned on getting married. My friend was now stuck in a difficult dilemma. How could she dance at the wedding of her best friend’s sister without her best friend? While it was a very joyous occasion, everywhere she looked, she saw her friend. When she saw her friend’s father, she saw her friend. And when she saw her friend’s mother, she saw her friend. Trying to keep herself together, she was having a very hard time. There was not even one cloud in the sky.

As I talked to her as she headed home from the wedding, she told me, “There were moments during the wedding when I felt I was coming apart. I was totally going to lose it. Although I didn’t want to dampen the joy of the wedding and my tears would certainly not have comforted the family, I struggled to maintain my composure.

“But let me tell you something. At every one of those moments, someone came over to me and said the perfect words. Nothing made me feel completely better, but it helped me keep myself together for at least another half-hour. That was how I made it through the wedding. The wedding was excruciatingly difficult, but I know Hashem was holding my hand.”

This is the art of appreciating life. During moments of difficulty, all we have to do is find that one droplet of rain.

Life is about living with Hashem. Even when we do not know what He is doing behind the scenes, we can rest assured that He is always holding our hand. And when He is holding our hand, even if we will have to walk far to find that single cloud, we can look forward to one day becoming soaking wet as we jubilantly dance in the rain.

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