TRUE INDEPENDENCE: CHOOSING TOGETHERNESS!
By Sherrie B. Miller
Free choice is the primary characteristic that makes Man a unique species and is
the foundation of our humanity. When we err and view it as having been our only
option, then we demean ourselves and reduce our status as creations in the image
Man’s desires and yearnings are the expression of his true self, although they are
not always compatible with his actions.
The story of Adam and Chava is the Torah paradigm for healthy and lasting relationships,
manifested by an unconscious desire to re-unite with other half.
We are told in the first chapter of Bereishit that Adam and Chava were created as
a single androgynous being, seemingly in an ideal and unified state. Why was the
separation necessary and why didn’t G-d create them that way in the first place?
There was tremendous potential in them that was unable to be actualized as long
as they were one and back to back. There was a natural unity in which they were
created, but they were not involved in that choice: it was a given! In Chapter 2
of Bereishis, G-d decides to separate the two in order to give us the option and
choice to be in that state of complete unity and oneness. While in the previous
state of union, neither had the ability to identify their deficiencies nor their
inner desire to go beyond the self in order to become a giver. The separation led
to an ability to give without limitation, which results in a deep and genuine love.
After their division, they were left with the imprint of unity in their minds and
they now had the capacity to yearn for connection through the midah of chessed and
desire to be giving beings, rather than just takers (from Hashem) as in the Parent
–child relationship. The parent-child relationship creates a state of dependence,
and by its nature immature.
Man is told to leave his parents home, become a responsible and giving adult by
cleaving to his wife.
After the Nesirah (separation), Adam awoke from his slumber and immediately identified
Chava as his missing half, saying: “Etzem mei Atzamai,” (flesh of my flesh). Adam
felt his lack and realized her pivotal role in helping him achieve wholeness. (And
vice versa) He now freely chooses Chava as his wife!
Interestingly, the root of “etzem” denotes “atzmi” (self) and “atzmaut” (independence).
Choosing Marriage is a vital step in becoming all I can be, yet one must balance
togetherness and separateness.
As Khalil Gibran says in his poem on Marriage:
“You were born together, and together you shall be for evermore…Sing and dance together
and be joyous, but let each one of you be alone, even as the strings of a lute are
alone though they quiver with the same music… And stand together yet not too near
together: For the pillars of the temple stand apart, and the oak tree and the cypress
grow not in each other’s shadow.”
The Western world places a high value on independence and total self-reliance. Yet,
the Talmud teaches that Man without Woman, is not Man. (and vice-versa): “He created
them male and female-and called them adam.”) Bereishit 5:2
Balancing the two, is a life long endeavor that most enriching and joyful.
Harville Hendrix, founder of the Imago theory, describes the three stages in most
relationships: the romantic, the power struggle and the conscious marriage.
In the romantic stage, when all seems rosy, we overlook one another’s shortcomings
and there are few if any disagreements. Biologically, a chemical process in the
brain makes us feel this way and activates neurotransmitters that produce natural
Within a couple of years, in stage two, the couple realizes that they are indeed
two separate entities. There are power struggles as each attempts to define himself
as a unique individual and simultaneously become a part of a greater whole.They
each become annoyed with the repetition of negative traits in their spouse and become
critical of one another. They are in pain.
In pain is the seed of healing which leads to the third stage of conscious marriage:
hopefully, each spouse chooses their partner anew and accepts each other and love
each other for who they are. Each of the partners must continue to build their own
whole, healthy and independent selves, while being involved in complementing and
completing each other in couplehood.
Rav Kook discussed these stages in our nationhood as well. Israel was founded amid
great joy and optimism while its citizens were willing to do anything to create
and sustain the Land. (Romantic stage) The time came, when there was a great deal
of self-doubt, (“did I choose the right partner?”) and devastating actions are taken
like giving up huge parts of the Land. (Power struggle stage) The third stage will
manifest itself when we accept and declare our love for our Partner and we remember
why we chose Him in the first place.
Our spouse awaits our choice to rejoin with Him and choose His dwelling place as
our dwelling place! “Kol Dodi Dofek!”
May we be zoche to choose the right partner at the right time and May we be zoche
to welcome Moshiach speedily in our time!
Sherrie Miller M.A.
Sherrie is the SawYouAtSinai ‘Article of the Week’ writer as well as a dedicated
SYAS matchmaker. Trained as an educational guidance counselor, group leader, pre-marital
coach, matchmaker and Judaic Studies teacher, Sherrie is dedicated to promoting
and enhancing emotional intelligence and communication skills in conjunction with
Sherrie received her educational counseling degree from the Michlalah in Bayit Vegan
and an M.A. in Education and Counseling from Touro College, Jerusalem, Israel. Sherrie
also holds a B.A. in Speech Pathology and Audiology from Brooklyn College and a
B.Sc. from Yeshiva University in Jewish Education. 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.
Choices of the Heart, a preparation and enrichment program for nearly-wed and newly
wed couples, run by Sherrie Miller, focuses on teaching communication skills between
couples, using Jewish wisdom and Torah sources. The workshops offer tools to build
skills and realistic goals that empower young couples with on their way to establish
a Jewish home.
Having counseled singles and made a number of successful matches resulting in marriage,
Sherrie volunteers as a matchmaker for SawYouAtSinai.
Sherrie has a private practice in Jerusalem and can be contacted via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or via phone at
both 718-874-0677 (USA) and 054-475-5153 (Israel)
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