Here are some important questions to ask yourself when you are dating:
How do you feel when you’re with him? Are you comfortable with yourself in his presence? Are you self conscious? Are you worried about how you look? Are you concerned about saying something smart or funny?
Good chemistry means that you make each other feel comfortable being yourselves. This won’t usually happen on the first date, it can happen on the second or third etc. He might make other people feel good when they are around him, but you need to think about how he makes you feel about yourself when you are around him. If you come home thinking that the date was really nice, and you don’t feel tension – that’s good chemistry. If you come home talking about him and the things you admire about him, then good for him for having all those good qualities – but how does he make you feel? Coming home feeling good, relaxed, comfortable with yourself and confident is a sign that there was good chemistry.
Stop trying to do everything you can to be labeled a “religious” person. Imagine we woke up every day and thought, “What can I do to make G-d happy with his world?” It doesn’t matter how “religious” you are. The Torah doesn’t tell you that you need to be religious – it tells you that when you do things, you should do them in a certain way. What matters is that you are trying to do what G-d wants. Does that make us anything? No, the point is that we hope it makes G-d happy.
Guilt means the loss of innocence. What is innocence and can we “lose” it? Innocence means unblemished. We are all born innocent and we all have a part of ourselves inside that is still innocent. When a person does something wrong, it’s not his whole being that’s doing it. He still has a certain part of him that’s innocent and wasn’t a part of deciding to do the action or actually doing it. So even if we have sinned and feel guilty, we can still reconnect with the “innocence” inside us. Our innocence is always there and will never leave us. It’s up to us to reconnect with what we were born with.
Traditionally, Messiah is thought of as our “savior.” But G-d didn’t create us with problems so that someone else could come and fix them. That wouldn’t make sense as a worthy goal for creation. When this world becomes the way G-d wants it to be, the world will be even holier than heaven. There won’t be any suffering, death or pain and this will last forever. Today, we get excited about fixing things and helping worthy causes. We strive off helping others. Our mindset now is – if you’re already good, why bother getting better? But if you aren’t good yet, that’s a reason to get better. What do we do once our purpose is already fulfilled and everything is good? When everything around us is good, things get boring. Humans like the action and excitement of trying to change bad into good. We all wish we could do something that will change the world. We are going to have to learn how to appreciate a world that’s already good and doesn’t need fixing. Messiah is going to teach us how to appreciate this world in it’s G-dly, holy state of goodness, and go from good to even better.
While we are alive, it’s not our body that lives the experiences. It’s our soul that lives the experiences through our body. When the soul detaches from the body, it’s no longer limited by the body and can see and hear even better. It remembers everything that happened on earth and still feels connected to it’s family, children, grandchildren, etc. Our ancestors look down on us and they watch us, worry about us, and daven for us. They still feel connected to us and it means so much when we say kaddish and yiskar for them. Their souls come down to shul during those times because they are so excited. They even drag us to shul! The soul is very real and still very much alive after death. So what does death mean? It means that your life moves away from your body. What dies? Nothing really dies because the body was never alive. It was only “alive” because of the soul. It’s like a horse and chariot – without a horse, the chariot can’t go anywhere. As soon as you take out the battery, the phone can no longer do anything. The body is nothing on it’s own without the soul. Before and after the soul is in it, it has no life/ability to do anything. It is our soul that has life and lives through all that we go through in the physical body in this world.
What does it mean that marriage makes you “one”? Adam and Eve were created as one back to back. Then G-d separated them so that they could come together and become one face to face. As humans, we can become one because we were originally created as one, so we are just going back to our nature. Marriage is a union of becoming one. A man can say, “I love everything about my wife,” but does he love her? He is married to different things about her; to her looks, her funny personality, her money, her mother, etc. Who is she if you take away all these things? No mother needs love from her children but every mother needs her children’s love. She can’t get their love from anyone else. The same is true with a husband and wife. Of course he loves her and everything about her, but he only loves all of that because it’s from her. Consequently, because he loves her, he’ll even love the things he doesn’t necessarily like. To be married you have to be joined to each other by removing all things. You are not married because of any thing at all. Do we need each other for anything? No, it was never about any thing. Focus on loving your spouse as themselves, and not because of any specific thing about them. Because as soon as you love the thing more than you love them, they don’t matter to you anymore.
It’s very important to talk through a shadchan. When you talk straight to the person you are dating, things can become uncomfortable and confusing. If you talk straight to him, once you’ve made up your mind and tell him you’re ready, if he isn’t ready yet, he’ll feel bad that he hasn’t made a decision yet. He’ll feel pressured from your decision and may feel like he is taking too much time to decide. He’ll also feel weird proposing because you’ve already told him that you want to marry him. Don’t tell him you’re ready unless he asks – and he shouldn’t ask until the Shadchan tells him to. The shadchan will only tell him to ask once she has spoken to you and you’ve agreed. (If you aren’t sure how your shadchan handles these situations, ask her.) This way, you don’t have to go through the awkwardness and hurtfulness of saying no to a man’s proposal, and he has it slightly easier in dealing with the rejection. That’s the beauty of the system – it’s designed so that nobody will get hurt.
Love is a feeling. Love doesn’t actually do anything. If you treat someone with disrespect and then tell them that you love them, do you think that’s okay? Do you think they’ll actually feel loved and be content and happy? Love doesn’t cover up your mistakes because it doesn’t actually do anything. Treat your spouse with respect and your actions will show that you care for them and respect them. When you do things for someone else, it might bring out a feeling of love for each other. But it’s not about love. It’s about treating each other with respect and care. If your spouse is sensitive to something, be on their side and show support in any way you can. We all have so many good qualities inside of us but how often do we get to actualize them? When you are married, every good quality that you possess is going to need to be used. You are going to have to give so much of yourself to your spouse. When we resent that, we have the wrong idea of what marriage is. Marriage is literally a G-dly idea. It’s not “two people fell in love and decided to get married.” We get married because marriage is holy, right, and divine. Not because we “fell in love.” You get married because of marriage. It doesn’t need the excuse of love.
Marriage is sacred and we should be careful not to denigrate it. But there is something funny about marriage.
What is funny about marriage is that being married is such a divine and godly way of life that we, the average human beings, have no business even dreaming about getting married! How do we pull off the divine??
The match may be made in heaven, but we are earthy people. How are we supposed to pull off a heavenly relationship? It’s truly astonishing!
Yet it is possible, it’s doable, and it’s necessary.
The only reason it works, is that God is there with us.
When a man and woman are together in a room, and the door closes, that is a sexual event. Not because of what is going to happen, but what has already happened. It may not be something to make novels of, but it is a sexual occurrence, because male and female is what sexuality used to be all about.
It is true that in our world today, in the “free world” certainly, people have, on the whole, stopped thinking in these terms. What happened was that we started putting up all these defenses, getting steeled, inured, against the constant exposure and stimulation of men and women sharing all sorts of activities — co-educational school, camps, gyms — is that we started blocking out groups of people. We can’t be as naturally sexual as G-d created us to be. When a man says, “I have a woman friend, but we’re just friends, nothing more, I’m not attracted to her in any sexual way, she’s not my type,” you’ve got to ask yourself what is really going on here. Is this a disciplined person? Or is this a person who has died a little bit?
What does he mean “she’s not my type?” When did all this typing come into existence? It’s all artificial. It’s not true to human sexuality. And it really isn’t even true in this particular context because given a slight change of circumstance, you could very easily be attracted. After all, you are a male, she’s a female. How many times does a relationship begin that is casual, neighborly, and then suddenly becomes intimate? The great awakening of this boy and girl who are running around, doing all sorts of things, sharing all sorts of activities, and lo and behold, they realize — what drama, what drama — that they are attracted to each other. These are grown-ups, intelligent human beings, and it caught them by surprise. It’s kind of silly.
So closing a door should be recognized as a sexual event. And you need to ask yourself: Are you prepared for this? Is it permissible? Is it proper? If not, leave the door open. Should men and women shake hands? Should it be seen as an intimate gesture? Should any physical contact that is friendly be considered intimate? Hopefully, it should.
These laws are not guarantees against sin. They have never completely prevented it. There are people who dress very modestly. They cover everything. They sin. It’s a little more cumbersome but they manage. All these laws are not just there to lessen the possibility of someone doing something wrong. They also preserve sexuality — because human sexuality is what G-d wants. He gave us these laws to preserve it, to enhance it — and makes sure it’s focused to the right places and circumstances — not to stifle it.
We have become callous about our sexuality. Even in marriage, a kiss on the run cheapens it, makes it callous — then we run to the therapist for advice. And do you know what the therapist who charges $200 an hour for his advice says? He tells the couple not to touch each other for two weeks. Judaism tells you that free of charge. Yes, there are two weeks each month during which a husband and wife don’t touch. This therapy has been around for 3000 years. And it still works. It’s a wonderful idea.
When you don’t close the door on yourself and that other person, you are recognizing your own sexuality. You are acknowledging the sexuality of the other person. Being modest, recognizing our borders, knowing where intimacy begins and not waiting until it is so intimate that we’re too far gone, is a very healthy way of living. It doesn’t change your lifestyle dramatically, but enhances it dramatically, and you come away more capable of relaxing, better able to be spontaneous, because you know that you can trust yourself. You’ve defined your borders. Now you can be free. It takes a load off your mind and it makes you a much more lovable person.