Let My People Know

"Is a couple supposed to be together forever?"

Eight years ago, when she was 18, my daughter Miriam had a discussion with Rabbi Steinsaltz described in my book, On the Road with Rabbi Steinsaltz. Here's an excerpt:
Miriam began, “My first question is this. You know that my parents are not together…”

“Yes, I know.,” said Rabbi Steinsaltz.

“Well, I have a hard time with it,” Miriam said. “If everyone is supposed to have one bashert ("soulmate")…”

Rabbi Steinsaltz interrupted. 

“All of these things about everyone having a bashert–it’s not good for the girls and it’s not good for the boys. Is a couple supposed to be together forever? It may be that the person for whom someone is destined will meet that person when he or she is sixty-five years old. And before that they were married to other people. The Rebono Shel Olam (Master of the World) can make a shidach (match), but it doesn’t mean that a shidach that He made is a shidach where both parties will be happy.”

“How does that make sense?” Miriam challenged.

Rabbi Steinsaltz responded, “Sometimes you have a shidach where a certain combination of genes will make something worthwhile. They will be unhappy with each other, they won’t have a minute of happiness. But they will produce something worthwhile. The shidach is the right shidach. It is made from the hand of God. But God possibly didn’t consider the happiness of the couple at all.”

Miriam asked, “So, my parents may have been put together but not for them…?”

“Yes, that’s what I’m saying,” Rabbi Steinsaltz insisted. 

“It may not be for them. You are the product of this marriage. It may be that you are what is worthwhile from it. Your parents had three children. This may be enough.”
From On the Road with Rabbi Steinsaltz by Arthur Kurzweil