A group of about fifty students was asked how many believed in love forever after. And only one responded positively. When asked why nobody else agreed, one of the students volunteered: “Everything in this world is constantly changing. We live in a transient world. Everything erodes and ages and disappears. So why should love be any different?” And others commented that, once upon a time, when they were idealistic and naïve, before they were hurt and disappointed, they did believe in love forever after, but now they know better.
It is true that people change and their interests change. And after being married for a while, they find that they have less in common with their spouse, and that there are others out there who are more attuned to their current state of being and for that reason more stimulating to be with. Simultaneously, the passion of the relationship disappears, because pleasure, by definition, has to have a certain novelty to it.
The divorce rate in America is 50% but how many more couples have emotionally divorced but have never legally formalized it? How many couples lead a life of quiet desperation convinced that the person they share their home with is not their soul-mate?
For those who fear making that fatal mistake, for those who are looking for their soul-mate and coming up empty, and for those who have yet to discover their soul-mate in their spouse, the Torah has some startling advice:
Love is forever after!
The key to finding that love and discovering your soul-mate is the fourth compatibility factor, which is not physical, emotional, or intellectual, but spiritual.
How do we find it? By following the example of the first search for a soul-mate recorded in the Torah (in this week’s reading) – that of Isaac and Rebecca, as explained in this two-part sermon:
Part I: The Fourth Factor
Part II: The Example of Isaac and Rebecca
Yiddishe Mamme: Lessons From The First Jewish Mother
Stereotypes abound about the “Jewish Mother.” She is a nag, a yenta, overprotective and overbearing … a woman who is always sticking her nose in her children’s lives long after they have grown up … intensely loving but controlling to the point of smothering … engendering enormous guilt in her children through the endless suffering she professes to undertake for their sakes. The cause of all our problems.
This stereotype is based on myth and is as far as it gets from the truth. If you want an accurate description of a true Jewish mother – emese Yiddishe Mamme – read the story of Sarah, the first matriarch.
Many indispensable lessons can be gleaned from her life. Among those lessons perhaps the most important one is how to live.
Why this above others? Because it is the lesson that the Torah itself emphasizes. The very story of Sarah’s death is provocatively called Chayei Sarah, the “life of Sarah” – challenging us to revisit the very definition and meaning of life.
What really makes us alive – is it the immediate and visible impact that we have on those around us, or is there something more?
The Torah tells us that life – true life – can really be recognized after the person passes on. When do we know that someone is truly alive – an eternal life that never dies – when we see the effects and influence that have remained after they are physically gone. Paradoxically, we learn more about true life after death than before it.
The fact that we are discussing Sarah’s life some 3700 years after she has physically died – and are gleaning lessons from her life as to the meaning of true, eternal life today – is the greatest tribute to her own eternity!