Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai and Your Unique Path
By M’nucha Bialik, Shidduch Coach
Just a reminder, Lag BaOmer is today!
This date is the yahrtzeit of Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai, who brought many of the secrets of the Torah to this world.
Rabbi Shimon, bar Yochai, had to hide in a cave for 12 years. When he was finally able to go out of the cave with his son, he noticed people working instead of learning. Wherever he looked, fields burned up in flames. He couldn’t bear to live in a world of imperfect people. Hashem commanded him to go back to the cave. After another 12 years, he saw the greatness of Bnei Yisroel and left the cave.
And now, “ma hakesher”? What’s the connection between this story and shidduchim?
We, trying to emulate Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai, are like a tight-rope walker. We must constantly balance living in the ideal world and the world as it is now.
When single, you have to live in two levels of existence simultaneously. (This is not unique to singles as we all have to do this, but it is one of the visions, rightly or wrongly, that is felt more particularly by singles).
“Yeshuas Hashem K’heref Ayin” – Hashem’s help comes in the blink of an eye. On the one hand… You live knowing that you can meet your bashert any day. Any day you might be “redt” to, date, and marry your bashert, so you don’t immerse yourself too much in your job and life in a way that would be difficult to come out of.
On the other hand… you have to live in this world as it is now. You can’t be working, living your life, talking to people, etc., with yourself not present, in this world. You will have to develop your skills, educate yourself, get a job, live somewhere, and be present in that actual life. You may have to entrench yourself a bit into your life.
You are like a tight-rope walker who has to walk very, very carefully on the rope making sure he doesn’t fall off. A tightrope walker keeps his balance because he leans a bit toward the other when he feels pulled to one side. You, too, have to master the art of tightrope walking.
You have to balance yourself constantly and aspire to be like Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai – to see the ideal and try to live up to it while visiting the reality and the goodness in that reality.
This means that although being single may not be your current choice for yourself 😉 (okay, okay…is definitely not your current choice), you may find opportunities you can gain from your situation right now.
I would like to share some things that I know other singles have done during their time before they got married.
1. Developed within themselves the middah of the seder (order). Seder is a very important and necessary middah for a mother – balancing your needs and your responsibilities takes time (okay, much time :)) to master. Now is a great time to learn (or at least start) about time management, recognizing your physical, emotional, spiritual, and intellectual needs, and balancing your job/schooling, chessed, and responsibilities to others.
2. Developed a kesher (closeness, connection) to a mentor, Rebbetzin, Rav. It is beneficial for everyone to have someone to whom you can ask halacha, hashkafa, chinuch, and shalom bayis questions. Now is a fabulous time to develop a kesher with someone or a family you would like to learn from.
3. Acquired for themselves really good friends. Now is an excellent time to renew old friendships and establish new friendships; surround yourself with people you admire, enjoy spending time with, and can support you (they should be positive people who believe in you and respect you).
4. Become more considerate and sensitive to others. Suppose this is an area that you have difficulty with. I know a few people who have told me that, due to several different factors, they were not naturally attuned to other people’s feelings. In that case, it is imperative that you start paying attention to other people’s feelings and differences, learn to be more sensitive to others, and learn how to live with people different than you.
5. Chessed/Kiruv. Now is a great time to do things you may not have time to do later when you have a family. (Of course, sometimes people feel you must help them because you are single and have “no” responsibilities. If that is happening to you, please work on seder and recognize your needs. I’m not advocating being selfish, but a balance between your menuchas hanefesh and others’ needs is necessary.) Please be aware of your own needs and don’t just help out every person because they need you, and you can’t say “no”.
There may be things that interest you that do not deplete your energy nor take away from what you need to do. Some examples are volunteering in a hospital, visiting the elderly, helping a family with a special-needs child, babysitting or cooking for someone who just had a baby, and learning with someone newly frum or not-yet frum.
6. Learning and Davening. Now is an excellent time to learn sefarim that you have always wanted to learn but never had a chance. This is also the time to spend more time on your davening and connection with Hashem.
7. Developed their skills. Take classes, learn from people who are experts in what you’re interested in, and work at places that develop your skills in the areas you are interested in. This may mean developing your job skills or other interests or things you would like to learn (basket weaving, sewing, juggling, painting, playing a musical instrument, etc.).
This is just a partial list of things that many singles have done and found to be helpful later in their life. Of course, there are many, many other things that you can do during this interim time. Read this list – take the time to think and discover what you want to learn and feel that you still need to develop within yourself.
Just FYI, many people who get married very young often find that they have yet to develop themselves so much in some of these areas. At some point (usually after having 5 or 6 children), they feel this lack, and if they are wise, they begin to try to develop themselves in some of these ways at that point. How fortunate is the person who had a chance to develop themselves (at least to some extent) in these manners before getting married?
Is it wrong to get married at 19? Of course not. But each path comes with its own set of challenges. And since you have been placed on the single-at-this-moment way, you have your challenges and set of gifts/benefits.
And I’ll tell you a secret. This is the better path for YOU! How do I know? Because this is the path you’re on. Remember, remember – Hashem loves you and ALWAYS does what’s best for you!
Happy Lag B’Omer
Mnucha Bialik, Dating Coach
If you want to get in touch with M’nucha, email support@partnersinshidduchim.