What is a Bashert?

We’ve all heard the expression (or the cliche)asecond half.” In Jewish life, this expression is taken quite seriously, since no one is considered to be a complete entity, and every person has a potential spouse who will fulfill their identity. Even before a child is born, Hashem has already made his or her “match,” and, when the time is right, he or she will go in search of his “bashert” or intended spouse. A bashert may be on the other side of the world or live next door, and Divine Providence will lead every person to find his or her bashert.

“What if someone has already married my bashert!” I heard one of my frustrated single friends say. It is indeed difficult to find one’s bashert sometimes. Some people seem to marry the first person they date, while others search years until they find the person they were intended to marry. While it is possible that someone will marry your bashert (given the reality of divorce, a person who is married more than once has more than one “bashert”) you will eventually find and marry your bashert, since this has already been determined from Above. The problem is that we do not know where or when we will find our bashert.

A more useful term than “bashert” might be “zvug.” As mentioned before, given the unavoidable fact that there will be some divorces, a person can have more than one bashert in his or her lifetime. However, a “zvug” is a true life partner, the person who actually completes the other. Even if one marries several times, there is only one zvug for that person. A tragic circumstance might be that someone marries their zvug, doesn’t recognize this fact, divorces them, and marries the bashert. However, except for Kohanim (descendants of Aaron), and in the case of a woman who married someone else in the interim, if one feels that he ade a mistake divorcing someone, they can remarry and it is a mitzva to do so.

Someone told me about this guy in Tzfat, Israel when I was living in New York as a single student. I was polite when confronted with the suggestion, but I thought to myself “Why in the world are you telling me about someone in Tzfat when I’m in Brooklyn. I might go to Israel to visit, but I don’t plan on living there.” Through a series of circumstances, I ended up in Israel that summer (I did not plan the trip more than a week in advance), but I’d forgotten all about “this guy.” Just by chance (or Divine Plan) the person who mentioned this guy just happened to be living a block away from where I was staying and I ran into her on the street. She mentioned the guy again, and I had to stop and remember what she was talking about before I finally agreed. I met “the guy” two weeks later, and we have been married, Thank Gd, for 3 1/2 years.

The concept of finding your bashert can be expressed in a lyric by John Lennon “Life is what happens to you when you’re busy making other plans.”