40 Days - Divinely Intended Mates
Moshe Ben-Chaim
Reader: I connection with your opinion on free will, the Talmud teaches (Talmud, Sota 2a) "...forty days before the creation of a child, a heavenly voice calls forth and proclaims; 'So and so's daughter for so and so's son bride and groom'....", in this mystic tradition, are predestined for each other. There is a yiddish word to describe a future mate, "bashert" Your bashert is your intended, the one already announced as your bride or groom forty days before you were born. I ask, where is the free will here?
Mesora: What the Talmud teaches here is a "Medrash", a lesson constructed by the Rabbis which teaches a deeper idea. But the Medrash is not to be taken literally. Maimonides' son Abraham, as well as many other Torah scholars, have taught that Medrash is non-literal. It is also essential to know that true Judaism does not partake of what people commonly refer to today as mysticism. The exact converse is true. Judaism is bereft of all mystical forces and supernatural phenomena imagined and pursued by today's insecure world.
God gave man intelligence. Why? So man may determine what is truth, and what is false. Just as we determine science and math through this intellect, so too are we bidden by God's grant of this gift, to use intelligence in the most important of all areas - the study of philosophy and God. Assuming mystical forces is contrary to the Torah truth of only One Creator responsible for all that we see on Earth, and in the heavens. Assuming other forces is idolatry.
There is no heavenly voice making statements of no use, 40 days before man's creation. What purpose is there for a voice to call forth with such a message? There are no recipients of such a message, so the voice is useless. What do we understand this "voice calling out" to mean? It teaches that the genetic and psychological forces within man's makeup contribute to his selection of a mate, and are being formed 40 days before the embryo. Through this Medrash, the Rabbis teach us this insight.
But this section in the Talmud doesn't end here. We are further taught that this "voice" (metaphorically alluding to genetic and psychological causes) applies to the first marriage only. Why? Because this first experience of marriage is where the emotions emerge uncensored. Here, man is yet naive. One's initial excitement at finding a partner is not sobered by previous romantic letdowns affording greater knowledge, and a more tempered optimism. But in connection with a second marriage, we are taught that man's selection is based not on this "voice", but on his character traits. Meaning, the second time around, men and women are wiser, and do not select based on inner emotional workings alone. By this latter section in the Talmud, we see clearly that a finer point is to be learned, not in line with a cursory reading of the Rabbi's words.

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