It’s Not Too Late Yet

Rav Yair Dreifuss • 2019

About the need to succeed in marrying ourselves before we find our spouse, and never give up. because it’s not too late.

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Watching the documentary series “Already Too Late,” I felt a flood of love and longing come over me for the group on display - both for all of them together and for each individual alone.  It is rare to encounter this level of exposure: of helplessness, hard loneliness, the moan from the depths of tortured souls, a direct cry in a still, small voice.

At its core, what are they searching for? And what are we all seeking?

A bit of love, the warmth of family, fun with the kids. A well-ordered life that finds favor in God’s eyes and in those of others. Legitimacy in a society that does not know how to be inclusive of singles.

The words of a midrash came to me: that on Motzaei Yom Kippur, a bat kol (heavenly voice) emerges and says: “Go and eat your bread in joy, drink your wine with a good heart, for the Lord has been pleased with your doings.” (Ecc. 9:7)

I want to whisper to all those who yearn for mercy from the heavens: We are all favored by God.

Unrelated to our actions, whether as sons or slaves, singles or marrieds - Our eyes are turned to you, until you take pity on us and emerge with our verdict (clear and bright as light).

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The Ramcha”l distinguished between leadership of law (hierarchy, the roots of tradition) and the leadership of individuality (the thing itself, the hidden root of the soul).

There is a need for a movement of return towards the uniqueness of every individual with the root of his soul. This should be done without looking to the ‘outside,’ full of rules and judgmental glances.

Rav Nachman taught that man is forbidden to judge - for judgment is the domain of God. Only God judges, because only God sees from within. It is forbidden also to judge ourselves in an overly strict manner. Each and every one of us must accept himself in his particular character, soul and identity as he is, with goodness and compassion.

Because every person is favored by God.

And it is good to develop the kind of intelligence that will allow me to be favored and at peace in my own eyes, with full confidence in the legitimacy of who I am.

I am as God made me.

I am the bearer of a pure, desired soul carved under the Throne of Glory.

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Perhaps the many young men and women who float around us - some of them with a feeling of being lost- have been chosen to be the bearers of new winds whose initial gusts are already reaching us. Yet they are predicting salvation from a place of broken-heartedness.

“[He] who doctors the brokenhearted, dresses their wounds,” (Psalms 147:3) – with a soft, compassion, loving touch.

The key words of a redeemed speech are: Ma shlomcha, “How are you?” (literally: How is your peace?)

Everyone seeks consolation, space and harmony, and humble interactions in a still, small voice, without pretense.

Honesty and mutual enlightenment that foretell the true love of another human. And the sweetening of justice.

We see that the spirit of a human - full of hard klipot (casings) of separation and estrangement - cries out for whispers of grace and supplication. For the deep wisdom that allows one to explore and be contained. Without this, it would be difficult to describe the frequent suffering in our lives in general and in interpersonal relationships.

A good, benevolent, less judgmental eye is needed, even in a non-ideal lifestyle. This comes in the context of knowing that many people need a safe space, and their hearts are inclined towards good acts.

The soft, non-pretentious place is crafted to receive the yoke of the Heavens, brightly-shining skies that awaken strong desires to give, to pray, to move with a goodly heart and sense of humor.

From this place, the substance between law and mercy can be rebuilt.

A rule of openness will allow for a holy strength, the renewed adoption of ‘old’ lifestyles, with a closeness of traditions of past living. A renewal of relations between man and woman, without raw reactions or worn-out spirits of brokenness. Instead, new-old contours are drawn, ones that speak of a real response to the human spirit at this moment and in the days to come.

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In the depths of pain, dear friends, we will attempt to strengthen together the trust in ourselves and in who we are, in our capacities and limits.

The twist in the personal biographical plot begins with the meditative intention, with saying, ‘The soul You have given me is pure. You created, You formed and blew it into me, and You preserve it in me…’ To cling to my individuality with my soul. To love myself as I am. From a good, full place, steeped in great pain - to gather myself together and say, “Yes.” To know and internalize that even in the most hidden of hiddenness, God is still to be found.

And there is no despair in the world. That was the cry, from the depths of suffering, of the most despairing person: Rav Nachman.

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On a more practical and real level, I have learned from experience that oftentimes, dates don’t go well.

It is clear that dating requires an intelligence that must be acquired and developed, a deeply human wisdom, the ability to trust, respect and contain. It is especially important to be open to a kind of wonder and awe, with the assumption that a meeting of true substance between woman and man is a miracle.

Rav Shagar taught that the secret to a successful encounter is that you will succeed in marrying only if you succeed in ‘marrying yourself’ first. Almost always, failures and obstacles come not from partnership with the opposite gender, but from within yourself.  Each of us bears unresolved traps, dark and dim areas of one’s personality that seek to be exposed, included, legitimated. The middle Admu”r of Chabad interpreted the liturgical request of “Gather our exiles from the four corners of the earth” as referring to a gathering of the sparks that have been scattered and dispersed in the soul.

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In recent years, I have become increasingly confident that even the age of late 30s is not ‘too late.’

The heavens sent me five couples that were ‘stuck’ in their dates, despairing and lost, from their mid-30s to 40s. I looked into their eyes, into the wells of loneliness in each individual - the futility, the deep despair.

I love each and every one of them, and all of them together. My stubbornness to trust the ability to get to the chuppah created a space for playful, light dialogue that could make despair absurd, call forth smiles. Journeys of few highs and many lows found their ultimate destination was the chuppah.

At the five chuppahs, I felt ‘the quaking of man,’ a miracle from another world. I felt great closeness to these marvelous couples, with the simple, organic intimacy woven between them.

The calm after the storm.

Today I allow myself to say: Be brave. Be simple. Have trust. Cast away despair and “no good.” It is truly, really never too late.

The gates have not yet closed.

ישיבת שיח יצחק גבעת הדגן - אפרת, מיקוד: 90435