How does Bashert fit in with the Shidduch Crisis?
A Halachic Response
(The following is a response a reader wrote to the Yated on 7-3-15)
WHAT HAPPENS TO BASHERT?
This is in response to last week’s letter in which a reader questioned how there could be a shidduch crisis if the Gemara clearly states that everyone is born with a bashert.
Firstly, I don’t understand why the writer is questioning the shidduch crisis in particular, when there are many other basic questions to be asked on this Gemara, such as how it could be that anyone remains single. What happens to their bashert? What happens to the bashert of a child who dies? How does remarriage work? Clearly, this Gemara isn’t as simple as it seems.
The Rambam, in Pirush HaMishnayos (Avos, hakdamah, perek 8), says that this Gemara contradicts the rule of “hakol biydei Shomayim chutz miyiras Shomayim,” because marriage is a mitzvah or can potentially be an aveirah. To reconcile the Gemara, Rav Elchonon Wasserman in Kovetz He’aros (Biurei Aggados 7:8) explains that the Gemara is of a minority opinion that disagrees with this rule. Thus, the Gemara is “delo kehilchisah.” (See Hagahos HaYaavetz on the Rambam there.)
Another explanation can be found in the Iggros HaRambam (LeReb Ovadia HaGer #2), who contradicts the simple understanding of this Gemara for other reasons. He explains that this Gemara only applies in certain circumstances, such as to be a reward or as a punishment.
It often frustrates me to read comments from shadchanim who reassure singles that everyone has their “bashert.” The Rambam clearly says that this is not true, and to believe so is contrary to the basic principle of bechirah. Don’t make any assumptions based just on a Gemara, without the explanations of the commentaries. Nothing is simple.