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Sherrie B. Miller

Our love story begins approximately 3,800 years ago.

The Master of the Universe, King of Kings feels "incomplete"; He feels that He "needs" to find a Bride.  He wishes to find an extraordinary bride in order for His Presence to be known and to enable Him to make a decisive impact on the world. Although clearly the most awesome King, He is" incomplete" because of His total goodness which is not finding expression in a medium outside Himself. Therefore, even He "needs an other", someone to bestow His infinite kindness upon and someone who will facilitate His being the ultimate Giver.

Where might such a search begin?

The possibilities are endless!

Hashem approaches numerous potential brides who reject the proposal for fear of having too many restrictions and too many limitations placed upon them; in essence they wished to remain in their familiar "comfort zone" disinterested in a constant striving and growth toward self-perfection.

When Abraham came on the scene he diligently searched and revealed the uniqueness of the One and Only Almighty King then choosing to be His loyal servant! Together with Sara Imeinu, they embarked on the formidable mission of Parenthood, becoming the progenitors of "Knesset Yisrael", the unified and singular soul of the Jewish people, the ultimate Bride!

Having found the "perfect" bride, one would imagine that they would ride off into the sunset and "live happily ever after".

Yet surprisingly enough, the King forecasts that this nation (to be), would have to endure slavery in a foreign land being negatively influenced by the base and corrupt culture they were surrounded by.

 Why the need for such a seemingly unnecessary delay? Why not tie the knot in this most pristine moment together with this extraordinary couple?

The Jewish people were destined to be enslaved in Mitzraim, be overwhelmed by the surrounding culture of depravity and sink to the 49th level of Tumah-impurity. One more rung and there would be no turning back! Imagine such a nefarious bride for the Master of the Universe, the King of Kings?

In this astonishing act Hashem is teaching us a most profound lesson:

Undoubtedly, He could have chosen the perfect bride-the prettiest, the wealthiest, the most intelligent of all. He could certainly have arranged the wedding before they "went off the derech"!?!

So why didn't He? What practical lessons can we extract from this Divine act in order to guide us in our pursuit of a suitable bride/groom?

If G-d in all of His glory not only accepted and expected flaws and differences, perhaps we too, are expected to follow suit. Searching for our "CLONE" is an exercise in futility, for if we are identical, then one of us is superfluous! Outside of Hashem, perfection does not exist, although it is an ideal and a goal to be pursued for eternity in a relationship wherein two distinct people unite in creating a new and greater entity.

The basis of  G-d's choice of a bride, laid not in external characteristics, but rather in the seeds of Avraham Avinu's endless trust and incredible awe of Him. In addition, it was Avraham's desire to follow in the way of Hashem and become a master of Chessed, a genuine GIVER, always attempting to emulate His characteristics.

We must challenge ourselves by understanding our need to expand and get out of our own individual Mitzraim, out of our own limitations and short sightedness.

This challenge involves "loving another as I love myself": just as I love myself despite my shortcomings and flaws, so too must I love and appreciate others in spite of theirs.

Oftentimes in marriage the thing that most attracts us to a (potential) spouse, is the very thing that so annoys us later on.

The sloppy type may be very impressed with the organizational skills of a prospective mate, yet after marriage, disapproval for being so sloppy becomes irritating. It is only through this type of difference that we are confronted with our shortcomings and encouraged to work on change and ourselves.

As the Jews in Egypt, we too have been negatively affected by the consumerist culture we live in and are brain washed into believing that we must never be satisfied with today's product, since tomorrow, a "new and improved" version will be marketed. We are also indoctrinated by Hollywood and the empty world of movie stars and models to find "tall and thin is in".

Instead, we should be focusing as Hashem did, on the real predictors of a lasting and fulfilling marriage: Yirat Shamayim (awe of Heaven) and the desire to engage in continual kindness. The Hebrew word for love, ahava, is a verb. It means to give, not in order to receive and not as a 50-50 business deal! Marriage is about two people giving 100%.

And thus, the Chosen Bride was rescued and redeemed from the bondage for Mitzraim (limitations) on Pessach followed by a 49-day count down in anticipation of the marriage ceremony, which we commemorate as Shavuot. It was the result of 7 weeks in total effort and commitment to self-refinement and attention to life's real priorities.

The following story should alert us to the pitfalls of dating with the intention of finding the "perfect" mate for me and one who is "exactly" what I am looking for:

A frustrated young man lamented to the Rav that he'd been out with over 100 women and had not found his bashert. The Rav replied: "You found the right one, but you passed her by!"

By being focused on unrealistic expectations, we do not see clearly and our judgment becomes impaired.

Anyone who thinks that they have found the "perfect" mate, will discover and rediscover throughout their marriage that it is not possible. Hashem "mezaveg zivugim" doesn't mean that He makes a one time match, but rather that he presents us with constant challenges within the relationship so ensure our continual and steady growth and development.

May we commit this Pessach to reevaluate our approach to dating and marriage, with Jewish priorities in mind and be zoche with the help of Hashem to recognize our true bashert.

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