A story attributed to Rabbi Meir Shapiro Zt”l puts the common dating system into perspective.
A sofer (scribe) who lived in Warsaw was trying to earn a living by selling Mezuzot and Tefillin. Somebody advised him, “People here have no money. Take your merchandise to Berlin, where wealthy people will pay you top German marks, and you will be able to make ends meet.”
So he packed up one hundred and fifty Mezuzot, traveled to Berlin and set up shop in the community selling his Mezuzot at 50 German marks a piece. People viewed it as a good luck charm, napping up the merchandise. In two or three hours he made a fortune…and had no Mezuzot. What a lost opportunity! Then he remembered that he had brought along a Megillah (Scroll of Esther read in synagogues on Purim and also written on parchment).
So he took his scissors, cut the Megillah into strips, rolled them up and began selling them as Mezuzot with great success. One of the purchasers decided to examine the inside of his Mezuzah. He opened it up and saw “VAYEZATA.” (The tenth of Haman’s sons) It struck him as strange so he decided to ask his Rabbiner.
“Rabbi, I bought a Mezuzah and it says “VAYEZATA.” “Is this what is meant to be written in a Mezuzah?”
The Rabbi responded, “That’s a very deep question. I will have to ponder over it.” He went into his study, removed the Mezuzah that he had just bought and unwrapped it. His Mezuzah said “PARSHANDATA” (the first of Haman’s sons) He returned and told his congregant: “Yes, if Parshandata is a Mezuzah, so is Vayezata a Mezuzah.”
The moral of the story is very relevant to our times and Jewish singles’ reality. Purim is not the Jewish Halloween. Hannukkah is not Chrismukah. A Mezuzah is not a lucky charm. Madonna did not invent Kabbalah. The Megillah cannot be cut into pieces. (It ain’t kosher!) The Shma (which is one paragraph of what is placed inside a Mezuzah) is the essence of Judaism.
Our life is like the Megillah; we are cut into pieces and are constantly pulled in different directions. In this process, we loose sight of our Jewish identity and its meaning and application to our everyday life. We forfeit connecting to other Jews and learning about our Jewish heritage which is full of Kedushah (holiness) and Bracha (blessings). It is based on loving-kindness, the love for Jewish people and the sanctity of marriage in Judaism.
Dating is a time of preparation towards marriage. Dating is a sacred process. When we see it as anything else, as the Mezuzah in the story was mistaken for a lucky charm, it looses its integrity and holiness. Real love is not falling in love. Dating is not marriage or commitment. Love is unconditional and real: it is seen through actions. It is not infatuation. It is not dependent upon looks, career, wealth and “clicking” with someone.
In a period where we see dating and relationship experts spring up at every corner, let us examine first where their advice comes from. What is the source of their relationship knowledge and love advice? Do their lives reflect what they teach others? Be true to your convictions and live a life of integrity; learn about your Jewish traditions, culture, religion and the roots of your beliefs.
Vive la difference! I wish you a happy Purim.