Halacha for Friday 26 Cheshvan 5784 November 10 2023

Parashat Chayye Sarah

A Ma’amar from Rebbi Yaakov Sasson Shlit”a, Maran’s zt”l grandson

A Person’s Original Soulmate (“Bashert”) Or Not…

Towards the end of the Parashah, after relating the event of the Akeidah, it states, “After this, Avraham received a message, ‘Milcah has also had children from your brother Nachor…Yidlaf and Betuel. Betuel has had a daughter Rivkah” (Bereishit 22:20-23). Meaning that when Avraham Avinu returned from Akeidat Yitzchak, he was informed that his brother Nachor bore a son called Betuel, and Betuel bore a daughter called Rivkah.

Our chachamim explain in the Midrash (quoted by Rashi) that when Avraham Avinu returned from the Akeidah which had happened on Mt Moriah, he was thinking in his heart, if indeed my son Yitzchak had died, he would have departed from the world without children, because he still hadn’t married. If so, perhaps I should have married him to one of the daughters of Aner, Eshkol and Mamre. Therefore Hashem gave him the news that Rivkah, his soulmate, was born. This is what the passuk means, “after these things”, after these thoughts that he had, which were prompted by the Akeidah.

We learn in the Gemara (Sotah 2a), “a person’s soulmate is allocated according to a person’s deeds”. Meaning that each person’s soulmate, is determined based on their actions. If they are a tzaddik, they will merit a tzadeket. Our chacham continue and ask that “Rav Yehudah said in the name of Rav, forty days before the foetus is created, a Heavenly voice proclaims the daughter of so and so to so and so”, if so, how can it be that the soulmate is determined by their deeds? It is a Heavenly decree before the person is even born and entered the world!

The Gemara explains, “one refers to a person’s first spouse and the other to the second spouse”. The straightforward meaning is that a person’s first marriage is determined purely on the decree for each individual, but a second marriage, then it is determined based on a person’s deeds.

However, many of our chachamim the commentators explain in a different vein. They explain that marriage between a man and a woman, isn’t just a bind between two people, two separate people, but it is something much more profound. From a person’s inception in their mother’s womb a person is created together with their soulmate, for they are both essentially two halves of a whole. In truth this is how it is explained in the Zohar HaKadosh. Therefore, we find that prior to a person’s formation in their mother’s womb, the Heavenly voice announces who is suitable to whom, who forms the complement to their second half.

Anyway, it is only possible to pair two people through this Divine proclamation, when both of them behave in the way that is expected of them. The man a tzaddik and the woman a tzaddeket, not having spoiled their deeds, therefore they are suitable to be united together and to establish a bayit ne’eman b’yisrael. However, when one of the sides spoils their actions, they are certain to lose their fitting spouse, since it is implausible for a tzadeket to fall into the lot of a wicked person. As the passuk states, “For the rod of wickedness shall not rest upon the lot of the righteous” (Tehillim 125:3) . Therefore Hashem orchestrates everything so that the woman will fall to someone else who is more fitting to her.

This is what is meant by the phrase “first spouse and second spouse”. The first spouse is the primary one which is the most fitting for the person according to the root of their soul, whereas the second spouse is the suitable spouse when their deeds are not good and therefore an appropriate spouse is found based on their current level.

Now we may understand the following:

If Avraham had learned of Rivkah’s birth and had been informed from Heaven that Rivkah was the suitable spouse for Yitzchak, if so what would be the reason to send his servant Eliezer and to tell him to be interested and to seek out a spouse for his son? He could have simply immediately sent Eliezer, telling him categorically, know that Rivkah bat Betuel is my son Yitzchak’s destined soulmate, go and receive her for my son!

But Avraham knew that indeed Rivkah was Yitzchak’s suitable spouse based on the root of his soul, and that they are literally like one soul. Yitzchak however, merited to receive a great education from his parents and rose to his exalted rank, Rivkah however, was raised by wicked people, Betuel and Lavan, and it would be difficult to expect from her to remain righteous under such conditions. There was a genuine concern that she may not be righteous and as such unsuitable for Yitzchak. Therefore Avraham asked Eliezer to go and check things out. If Rivkah is righteous despite her surroundings then she is suitable to be Yitzchak’s destined soulmate.

When Maran zt”l was a 24 year-old bachur, he sought a shidduch. But at that time  there were almost no Sefaradi girls who were interested to build a home for an avrech (young man) who studies Torah. It happened that a suggestion was made of a young lady, a daughter of one of the great chachamim of the generation (who had already passed away), and when the suggestion was presented to her brothers, they replied, “We already have one brother-in-law who is an avrech, one talmid chacham in the family is enough!” With this they rejected the shidduch, unbeknown to them what they were losing.

At that time, the Rabbanit Margalit Yosef a”h was seeking a shidduch. He father was one of the rabbanim of the Syrian community in Yerushalayim, she too was an exceptional young lady, worthy of all forms of praise and compliments. Many wanted to marry her including wealthy and respectful bachurim but she rejected them all stating, “I want a bachur who will sit and study Torah, who will become a talmid chacham!”

Until it evolved that [her father] Rav Avraham Fattel z”l (d. 1981) went to the Gaon Rebbi Ezra Attiya z”l (1885-1970) and to the Gaon Rebbi Yaakov Ades z”l (1898-1963) (who were also chachamim for Syria) and asked them about Maran zt”l. Rebbi Ezra said to him, “If the Yeshiva Porat Yosef had only been established to produce Rebbi Ovadia Yosef, it would have been enough!” Rebbi Yaakov Ades responded to him, “Go and grab him, there is no one like him! And he is already greater than me! And if you make the shidduch, I will personally attend to sing at the simchah of the shidduch (engagement)”.

And so it was, the two met, and merited to establish their home on the foundations of the Torah during difficult times. They observed the Torah out of poverty and merited to observe it out of wealth, and to raise a new generation of thousands of boys and girls whose entire yearning, desire and lot, was purely for Torah study and to fulfil the mitzvot.

May it be Hashem’s Will that we merit to fulfil Hashem Yitbarach’s Will as His Will should be fulfilled and that we merit to be saved quickly with a permanent salvation.

Shabbat Shalom and Chodesh Tov!

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