“Who Are the Enemies of Today’s Singles?”
Every Thursday morning we end our prayers with Psalm 81, which was chanted in the Temple by the Levites (Tamid, 7:4): “If Israel would walk in My ways, I would immediately subdue their Enemies, and turn my hand against their Tormentors.”
Today, 200,000 Jewish singles live in the U.S.A. and Israel. Why aren’t these Jewish young men and women finding their mates? Do these singles have “Enemies and Tormentors” who are preventing them from reaching the chuppah? Much advice has been given for external help, on how family, friends, work associates and matchmakers should take action to help find mates for these singles. However, all this advice could be futile, because the answer to this dilemma could be found internally.
This verse refers to Israel’s “national” Enemies and Tormentors. However, I take liberty and suggest that we may also apply these appellations to our own internal Enemies and Tormentors. Self-examination, by every young man and woman, followed by the correction of their faulty ways, has the potential to regain Hashem’s assistance, against even himself. Any person who does Teshuvah (repentance) earns a closer relationship with the Creator who desires that we live in line with Torah, and not sin. Maimonides teaches concerning one who repents, “Yesterday, this one was hated before God; vile distant and abominable. But today he is loved, precious, close and beloved”. (Laws of Repentance, 7:6) God is closer to he who repents. God may help to subdue these internal tormentors, paving their initiated road to teshuva with smoother ground.
Since the appetitive and sexual gratifications top the list of our most powerful urges, these are two areas of sin that singles might examine first to determine if they are at fault, and against and distant from God. Breaking the pattern of engaging in these sins is probably the most difficult hurdle a person will ever face. However, the urge can be mastered, right at the beginning, using great fortitude and intellectual strength. Sforno says this on the verse, “Man will, conquer you (the snake) at the head, and you will succeed man at the heel” (Gen. 3:15) that this means the following: man will conquer his instincts at the “head” (beginning) of the battle with his instinctual urge, but he will succumb to the snake (instincts) at the “heel” (end) of the battle; if man allows his or her urges to go un-assailed, they will loose to the instincts. But in all fairness, singles and married people share an equal tendency to violate these sins.
Of equal importance is the command to “Keep My Sabbaths.”
Unfortunately, thousands of singles were raised by parents who gave little
importance to observing the Sabbath. These parents didn’t “build bridges of
Torah” in their homes, across which the children could cross. These parents
observed nothing but materialism. Some smart singles wake up by themselves, and
ask the question, “Why is my life all topsy-turvy? Why aren’t I married? Maybe
it’s my way of life. Maybe I should find out about the Torah. If my parents
forfeited their soul, I am wise not to allow their faulty upbringing to cast a
shadow on my free will.”
If the singles make the first effort to rid themselves of their Enemies and Tormentors within, Hashem can pick up from their initiation, and assist. But if the singles are too weak to reform, to give up illegal pleasures, their entrenchment will only pull them down deeper and deeper. The bottom of the pit sometimes is their conclusion to look for a mate outside the Jewish religion.
How does one go about self-examination? A motivated individual will not spare any effort to look at his secret sins. It boils down to a question and answer session with one’s self. Above all else, singles must critique their constructed images of desired mate. This one error may be the greatest villain of all. One must also be willing to forfeit fantasies of the “perfect partner”. And here too, the Torah steps in, spotlighting those great personalities who portray the qualities of a truly good mate.
Also, recognition of one’s own lacking emotional makeup may unveil impulses keeping him or her away from intimacy, responsibility, or any other feeling one detects an aversion towards. Positive and/or negative motivation may also assist one to moves towards marriage: “I want to have someone to share my life, to have children with and fulfill the command of procreation.” Focusing on wanting to “walk in Hashem’s ways”, with the knowledge of the rewards from above. Or negative motivation, “When I cross over into the next world, will I be able to answer to God in the affirmative, that I tried to walk in His ways?”
It is a very sad spectacle, to see our present generation saturated with so many young, stiff-necked singles, who are unwilling to correct themselves, and not want to live a Torah way of life.