Bashert Doesn’t Mean That It Has to Be

Imagine it is Rosh Hashanah. I am standing in shul when suddenly a loud voice booms: “RABBI!”

“Yes…” I meekly respond.


“Yes, yes. Tell me. Please tell me. What is it?”


“Oh my goodness! A million dollars! Wow! Wow! Thank you.”

Now that I know my fate for the year, I say to myself, “This is great. I am guaranteed to make a fortune. All I have to do is sit back and wait for it to unfold. What could be better?”

So I take the year off. Why work? Why exert myself? I quit my day job. I don’t even look at the newspapers. I know what’s going to be. I lay back and wait for the money to come rolling in.

What do you think is going to happen?

Most likely, what’s going to happen is that I am going to go hungry that year. Because when a decree is set on Rosh Hashanah, it doesn’t mean that it has to happen. It means it is available, and I have to do my part to bring it about.

Many life situations are decided on Rosh Hashanah. Will I live or die? Will I enjoy health and well-being or not? Will I have success or not? Will I find my bashert this year? Will I have children? Each issue is weighed and measured, and then the decree is set. Hashem, in His infinite wisdom, has determined what is best for me and He has made it accessible to me. Now I have to do my part and act in the way of nature and go and take it.

To earn a living, I have to get a job. To remain healthy, I need to eat properly and exercise. To get married, I must go out and find my bashert. If I put in the effort, then Hashem will arrange that the right thing will happen—in the right way and at the right time. But if I don’t put in that effort, then all bets are off. Possibly Hashem may arrange for it to happen anyway, but more likely, it won’t come about. Then, what would have been best for me and what has been set for me is lost—because I didn’t do my part.

The point is that Hashem doesn’t handcuff a person to a given decree. I still have free will. And just because something was decreed, it doesn’t mean that it has to come about. Bashert means it has been made available. And it’s my job to go out and take what Hashem has arranged for me.

Passing Up Your Bashert

A young man once asked the Steipler Gaon, zt”l, “When will I find my bashert?” The Steipler looked at the young man and replied, “You already passed her up when you were looking for the perfect girl.”

You can pass up your bashert. Hashem prepares the right person and arranges that the two of you should meet, but you still have free will. If you wake up one day and say, “Forget this whole dating thing. I’m just not getting married,” most likely you won’t. The fact that Hashem prepared someone for you doesn’t force you to accept her. And you can pass her by for any number of reasons.

And now we come to what may well be one of the tragedies of modern times.

I Can’t Find My Bashert

It seems that we are seeing more and more older singles than ever before. Good people. Frum people. Smart. Talented. Put together. And they look and look, yet they can’t find the right one. They’ve gone out with this one and with that one. They went to this shadchan and to that one. This singles event and that weekend. All to no avail. They’re not getting any younger—yet they just can’t find the one.

And they raise their voice in an honest plea, “What does Hashem want from me? All I want to do is settle down and raise a Jewish family. Hashem, why won’t You help me?”


The question is: why? Why is it that we are seeing more and more of this today? While there may not be a one-size-fits-all answer to this question, there is a perspective that is worth contemplating.

There are times when a person does everything he should, and for various reasons, Hashem sees that this isn’t the right time. But often, that’s not the case. If you speak to older singles about their dating experiences, often the reason they can’t find their bashert is obvious: they dumped him. For this reason or for that. Too much this or too much that. Not enough this or not enough that. The one thing they all have in common is, “He’s just not for me. He’s a good guy. He has a lot of positive qualities. But he’s not what I’m looking for.” And they go back to the trail, searching, ever searching, for their Mr. Potato Head. And they find themselves ten years older and not much wiser, still looking for him.

While this isn’t always the case, unfortunately it isn’t that rare either. So at the risk of raising the ire of some innocent people, I would like to address “the big complaint.”

So You Want Me to Settle?

“So what you’re saying is that I shouldn’t be picky. I should just accept any old thing that walks in the door. As long as he can chew his food, and tie his own laces, I should marry him. You want me to settle!”

The answer to this is—yes! One hundred percent. You should settle. You should settle for that which Hashem has destined for you. You should stop playing God. You should stop pretending to know what you need to be happy. You should accept the fact that Hashem has chosen the right person for you. You should trust Him. And there is a tremendous amount of suffering that needn’t be—if people would just do what they should.

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