When you talk about romance, love, marriage and Judaism, one other word inevitably comes up - “bashert.” Translated as “fated,” "inevitable" or "preordained", bashert is often used to mean a predestined soulmate. But the literal translation from Yiddish is “destiny.” The concept of bashert, for those who believe in it, is much more than finding love by being at the right place at the right time. It is, in essence, fulfilling your personal destiny, thereby playing your part in the destiny of the world.
What does Bashert mean?
Though the term beshert can refer to any fortuitous event, it is most often used in terms of romantic love. The etymology of the Yiddish word, spelled either bashert or beshert, is something of a mystery. Some argue that the word comes from the German beschert, meaning bestowed or given. (Bescherung, a version of the word, is used to describe the exchange of gifts on Christmas.) Others say that it’s from the Yiddish word sher, meaning scissors or shears, the idea being that bashert is something that has been shaped in a specific way, as if cut out by a pair of unseen scissors.
According to the Talmud, 40 days before a child is conceived, God has already decided one’s bashert, “literally, a match made in heaven.” While in the Kabbalah, God divides a soul into two halves. When they finally meet in this world their bond returns. But just because a match is made in heaven doesn’t mean that your marriage will be trouble-free. In the end, finding your soul mate may feel joyous, wonderful and otherworldly, but marriage and long-term relationships are still work and a constant dose of reality.
How do I find my Bashert?
How do we find our soul mate? During the 12th century in Europe and Asia, it was customary to hire an intermediary (a shadchan in Hebrew) to find a suitable marriage partner (think of Yentel in “Fiddler on the Roof !”). A custom that is still followed in Orthodox Jewish communities today. The internet has given us another vehicle to find true love. And while it may not be as romantic as a picnic in the park or as practical as a shadchan arranging marriages, there are countless stories of couples today finding their partners online at JDate.com or SawYouatSinai.com.
Most of us yearn for love in our lives. But not finding our soul mate does not mean that we are destined to live a love-
less life. Love takes many forms and there are many types of loving relationships that nourish the heart and elevate the
soul. Although different from a soul mate, a soulful, loving relationship is born from a deep sense of caring, respect and love for another human being that imbues life with meaning and purpose. Soulful relationships can occur throughout our lives with friends, coworkers, respected teachers and family members.
“From every human being there rises a light that reaches straight to heaven. And when two souls that are destined to be together find each other, their streams of light flow together and a single brighter light goes forth from their united being.” That light is the one that guides us in our search for love and intimacy. It is the light that keeps us on track as we journey through life together.