My friend Adam loves to drop the term bashert as often as possible. I knew it translated to the concept of soulmate, but I honestly did not bother to dwell on it until last night. My bashert was curious about the term so I looked it up on Wiki (the term as a Jewish concept has it’s own subsection under the term ‘Soulmate‘). I was so fascinated by the idea I have spent some time researching.
According to the Talmud 40 days before a child is born G-d announces whose daughter he will marry (don’t hold me to that I read the passage and kind of understood it, it’s buried in a section that seems to deal with adultery, I think): “Forty days before the creation of a child, a Bath Kol issues forth and proclaims, The daughter of A is for B…” Sotah 2a. Initially this seemed a little strange, but it’s an interesting explanation for the very popular idea of a soulmate. It’s even a little mythological in it’s explanatory nature of something people have clearly been feeling and questioning since the beginning of time. It would also make sense in my specific case since when my bashert was born I was already crawling (awkward). Obviously G-d saw a wide-eyed cubanita leading a completely different warm-weathered life and saw a shiddach. In furtherance of the soulmate idea according to Kabbalah God divides a soul in half, half male and half female (a little Jungian perhaps?). Although I don’t like the heterosexual exclusivity of the concept and I don’t really know much about Kabbalah (aside from Madonna’s brief (I am not sure, she may still be a Kabbalist) stint) I began to wonder if the division of a soul can result in a Jewish and a Gentile half? Can the bashert of a Jew be a non-Jew?
Obviously this question depends on who you ask. The Orthodox would answer ‘no’ unequivocally. But I don’t live in a black and white world. Today I read that “the Kabbalah teaches that a true convert actually always had a latent Jewish soul, which for some cosmic reason had to go through a long spiritual journey in order to find its way back.” Similarly, Rabbi Allen S. Maller noted that “there are many Gentiles who are attracted to Jews because they are seeking a spiritual connection. These Gentiles become Jewish because their souls are already Jewish. Love for a Jew provides a pathway into Judaism and the Jewish people.” Both of these articles were exceedingly thought provoking for me because of my complex relationship with Judaism.
I have always felt an inexplicable attraction towards Judaism. I say inexplicable because I grew up in an island that albeit once upon a time very heavily influenced and populated by Jews all traces of that history were purposefully destroyed. I didn’t grow up around Jews and when I moved to the US in 1995 I didn’t find myself around any Jews. I learned about the Jewish people through books, Woody Allen, and documentaries and always felt very connected. I also discovered I had what some jokingly call a “Jewdar” because I was always very attracted to Jewish men, without knowing they were Jewish men. The moment I discovered the existence of Judaism it never left my heart or mind and I was always trying to learn more. It made no sense to feel so connected to something so foreign, to understand it and share its values without ever being taught anything about it. Still today it generally is the case that I will learn something new about Judaism and I will either already unknowingly practice it in my daily life or I will find a connection to and value in bringing it into my own life. This leads me to believe in the inevitable: I have Jewish soul; it was part of me from the beginning, not concerned with my atheist, communist, Caribbean heritage. That light inside me with boundless faith that my parents could never understand where it came from was a very Jewish soul trying to find its way.
At this point in my life I feel like it has found its way and then some. Almost at the same time my soul found its way back to Judaism it found its other half, like some sort of serendipitous event. As an adult I had no faith in soul mates, I had no romantic delusions or expectations, but after almost three years (probably after three minutes) with my bashert I am left no choice but to believe. He and I just click in that same inexplicable but inevitable way Judaism and I click. It’s not because we are perfect beings, or because we are still in that phase where everything feels perfectly surreal, it is actually because we make the daily choice to love each other, to communicate, to grow, to improve ourselves.
Rabbi David Aaron says that love is a choice: “You can get to know only so much about the other person before you have to take the leap and make the commitment. Sooner or later, you have to say, I know enough to go forward and choose to love.” I have learned that this is largely true. There are endless unknowns and the vulnerability required of being in a relationship can be paralyzing, even when you know deep down that it is right. The path my bashert and I took to find each other makes me believe we were destined for one another, furthermore the daily choices we make in our relationship support my conclusion.
At every turn I seem to get divine support for my choice to love this great man. I’ve seen him grow from a sweet, brilliant, hopeful boy to a strong, kind, patient man. This week, after I’d begun to write this post, my grandfather was hospitalized. I considered not finishing until next week so I could focus on just him (and work), but the support I’ve received is in direct relation to this specific blog post. This week has made me realize something pivotal, he has integrated into my family with ease, he has lively conversations with my father and incessant banter with my mother. My bashert has been by my side when I visit my grandfather in the hospital, has been checking in and making sure I am okay, and my mishpucha has been incredible. His mother and father (both doctors) have watched over my grandfather like he is their own family, because now he is. His mother has comforted me and harassed every medical professional possible to get information and updates, she kindly offered “we will help if we can, you are family,” and I teared up. His father called my grandfather last night to see how he was doing, to hear his voice. That’s the thing about my soulmate, our families are just as important, they’re undoubtedly part of the package. I wouldn’t be happy any other way. I love to look forward to Rosh with his family, to Nochebuena with mine. I love that I can shop alongside his mother while we chat and get to know each other more every time. I love that he can have cafecito with my mom and share so much of himself as she excitedly asks a million questions. My bashert and I and our whole mishpucha are very lucky to have finally found each other.