THE “DATING GAME”: PAVING THE ROAD TO MARRIAGE
By Sherrie B. Miller
“Vayakhel Moshe,”(Shmot 35:1) And Moshe assembled the entire assembly of the children of Israel.”
Rashi comments that this assembly occurred on the day after Yom Kippur, when he descended from the mountain.
In a most insightful fashion, the Admor M’kubrin asserts that Moshe’s timing was to hint to the Jewish People that not only on Yom Kippur must they be engaged in such compassion and forgiveness, friendship and mutual love, but the day after as well, must they continue to exemplify these essential midot and character traits.
How does one sustain the momentum of such a spiritual high?
Similarly, how does one know that the emotional high of dating will not dissipate?
It is important to be clear why we are dating and how to determine the amount of time spent getting to know someone before making the decision of making it permanent.
Often times we find ourselves in a dilemma of how long to continue the dating process before being sure that this person is the right one. We suppose that if we go out just a bit longer we will be certain, by getting to know the person better. But is this really so? It is not uncommon today for dating to last a year, two and more.
There is a joke which tells of a man who was divorced shortly after dating his wife for 5 years. When asked what happened, he replied: “I didn’t know her well enough.”
The problem with prolonged periods of dating (each one of us must find a reasonable “comfort zone”) is that in the “dating game” we are all putting our best foot forward. We understandably wish to impress the other person, especially when we are interested in them. Those who are aware of this reality are concerned and rightly so with the question: “what will be the day after? After the wedding day, which is compared to Yom Kippur, will the same desire to impress and to please remain?”
A Rav who announced to his Rebbe that he was engaged to be married after 6 dates, expected to hear the traditional joyous Mazal Tov, but instead, was asked: ‘are you sure that you are ready to sacrifice for your wife?” Admittedly, not really understanding the question as he does now after 30 years of marriage, he responded yes and was immediately wished the usual mazal tov! What the Rebbe was implying is that the capacity to give and make sacrifices is the essence of a lasting marriage, not necessarily the amount of time spent dating.
It is no coincidence that prior to the description of the immense enthusiasm and passion shown for the building of the Mishkan, Hashem warns: do not kindle a fire on Shabbat. Fire can be likened to passion, a feeling that burns within. Just as the People’s passion drove them to create the egel, so too the passion for building a Mishkan could have overwhelmed them and could have created a merely temporary ecstasy. Hashem commands us to take a step back, keep Shabbat first, which is a time of reflection and connection to our core before jumping “head over heels” into any endeavor, especially such a spiritually uplifting one. We must take an honest look at ourselves and our ability to make an unwavering and lasting commitment to a divine goal.
After checking out reliable references to assess your date’s character relating to self-sacrifice and altruism, followed by a reasonable number of dates to substantiate this, you have a good basis to contemplate marriage.
Not only were the Jewish People commended for the abundant enthusiasm displayed in building the Mishkan, but the word “vayaasu ken” is repeated frequently to show the importance of actions in a relationship. “Actions speak louder than words.”
The hishtadlut of doing “homework” prior to the date, combined with knowing my own capacity and readiness for profound giving and sacrifice, along with shared spiritual goals, will go a long way in ensuring that the “days after” (marriage) will continue to inspire and excite us!
Sherrie B. Miller is a Jewish matchmaker on SawYouAtSinai and a dating coach in Jerusalem. She received her counseling degree from the Michlala in Jerusalem and an M.A. in Jewish Education from Touro College. Sherrie is certified by Midreshet Emunah and is accredited by the Rabbanut of Israel, to be a pre-marital couple’s counselor and Kallah teacher.
This Jewish Dating Column is brought to you by SawYouAtSinai, the Jewish Matchmaking service. Articles are often written by Jewish matchmakers, to help Jewish singles connect.
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