It is as Difficult to Match them as the Splitting of the Reed Sea
“Our Rabbis taught: Has built a new house… has planted a vineyard… has betrothed a woman (Deuteronomy 20:5). The Torah has taught worldly advice: that a man should build a house, plant a vineyard, and then marry a wife” (BT Sotah 44a).
“Rav Shemu’el son of Rav Yitsḥaq said, When Resh Laqish began to teach about the unfaithful wife, he would say as follows: ‘A man is paired with a woman only according to his deeds; as is said: For the rod of wickedness will not rest on the portion of the righteous (Psalms 125:3). Rabbah son of Son of Ḥana said in the name of Rabbi Yoḥanan: It is as difficult to match them as the splitting of the Reed Sea; as is said: אֱלֹהִים (Elohim) brings the lonely back to their homes, sets free captives in jubilation (Psalms 68:7) [the verse is interpreted as comparing matchmaking to the release of prisoners, thus, the two are declared identical as regards difficulty, cf. Exodus 20:2: I am YHWH your God who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slaves]. But is that really so? After all, Rav Yehudah said in the name of Rav, ‘Forty days before the formation of an embryo, a heavenly echo issues and proclaims, Daughter of so-and-so is for so-and-so! The house of so-and-so is for so-and-so! The field of so-and-so is for so-and-so!—there is no contradiction. The latter [their proclamation above] refers to the original couple [who are predestined for one another]; the former to a later couple [i.e., a second marriage, whose union depends on good deeds]” (BT Sotah 2a, cf. BT Sanhedrin 22a).
“Rabbi Yehudah [son of Simon] opened: אֱלֹהִים (Elohim) brings the lonely back to their homes, sets free captives in jubilation (Psalms 68:7). A matron asked Rabbi Yose [son of Ḥalafta]: ‘In how many days did the blessed Holy One create His world?’ He replied, ‘In six days.’ ‘Since then what has he been doing?’ He replied, ‘He sits and matches couples: this man for that woman, this woman for that man.’ She said, ‘If that seems difficult, I can do it!’ She went and matched [her slaves], giving this woman to that man, and this man to that woman. After a while, those who had been matched started beating one another. This woman said, ‘I don’t want that man!’ This man said, ‘I don’t want that woman!’ He [Rabbi Yose] said to her [the matron], ‘If it seems easy to you, it is as difficult before the blessed Holy One as splitting the Reed Sea!’” (Bereshit Rabbah 68:4, cf. Vayikra Rabbah 8:1; Pesiqta de-Rav Kahana 2:4).
“Come and see: All those images of souls destined for the world stand before Him in couples. Later, when they arrive in this world, the blessed Holy One matches couples.
Rabbi Yossi said, ‘The blessed Holy One matches couples, proclaiming: The daughter of so-and-so for so-so!’ Rabbi Yose said, ‘How can you make such an assertion? Look at what is written: There is nothing new under the sun (Ecclesiastes 1:9)!’
Rabbi Yehudah replied, ‘The verse reads: under the sun. It is different above!’ Rabbi Yose said, ‘Why a proclamation here? Didn’t Rabbi Ḥizkiyah say in the name of Rabbi Ḥiyya: ‘At the very moment a human being issues into the world, his mate is destined for him’?
Rabbi Abba said, ‘Happy are the righteous whose souls are hidden away with the Holy King before they come into the world! For so we have learned: At the moment the blessed Holy One brings forth souls into the world, all those spirits and souls comprise male and female joined as one. They are transmitted into the hands of the emissary appointed over human conception [this angel is named לַיְלָה (Lailah), Night, see BT Niddah 16b in the name of Rabbi Ḥanina son of Papa. Cf. Job 3:3; Zohar 2:11a–b]. As they descend and are entrusted to him, they separate—sometimes one preceding the other—and he deposits them in human beings. When the time of their coupling arrives, the blessed Holy One, who knows those spirits and souls, unites them as at first and issues a proclamation. When they unite they become a single body, a single soul, right and left, fittingly. So, There is nothing new under the sun.
Now, you might say ‘But we have learned: Coupling accords only with a person’s conduct. So it is! For if he is virtuous and his actions seemly, then he attains his—uniting as when issuing.
Rabbi Ḥiyya said, ‘Where should one whose acts are seemly search for his mate?’ He replied, ‘We have learned; A man should always sell everything he owns and marry the daughter of a scholar,’ for in the hands of a scholar are deposited treasures of his Lord [cf. BT Pesaḥim 49a].’
It has been taught in the mystery of the Mishnah: ‘All those arriving through cycling souls can anticipate their mates by supplication.’ Concerning this our Companions aroused: Lest another anticipate him by supplication [see BT Mo’ed Qatan 18b]’
Well spoken: ‘another,’ precisely! So coupling is difficult for the blessed Holy One [since the recycled soul replaces the originally intended husband. In order to reunite the latter with his soul mate, God has to eliminate the interloper. See Zohar 1:73b], but still, the ways of YHWH are right… (Hosea 14:10).
Rabbi Yehudah sent a question to Rabbi El’azar: ‘I know the mystery of the matter, but those who arrive through cycling souls—where do they find their mates? He sent back to him: ‘It is written: How can we provide wives for those who remain? (Judges 21:7). And then: Seize for yourselves… (ibid., 21). The episode of the Benjaminites demonstrates this. Therefore we have learned: lest another anticipate him by supplication.’
Rabbi Yehudah said, ‘Now truly, coupling is difficult for the blessed Holy One! Happy is the share of Israel, whom Torah teaches the ways of the blessed Holy One and all the treasures hidden away with Him! Truly it is written: The Torah of YHWH is perfect, reviving the soul; the decrees of YHWH are sure, making wise the simple… (Psalms 19:8). Happy is the share of one who engages in Torah, not parting from her, for whoever parts from Torah for a moment is like one who parts from eternal life, as is written: She is your life and the length of your days (Deuteronomy 30:20), and similarly: They will bestow on you length of days, years of life and peace (Proverbs 3:2)” (Zohar 1:91b).
“When men become worthy, they are given a wife according to their deeds. All is revealed before the blessed Holy One, and according to virtuous deeds He matches couples. Sometimes they are balanced on scales, but if that man perverts his way, his mate is transferred to another until he rectifies his deeds. When he rectifies his deeds, or when his time arrives, one man is thrust out in favor of another, and this one comes to obtain what is his. This is the most difficult of all for the blessed Holy One: to thrust out a person in favor of another.
Therefore, it is the blessed Holy One who gives a man his wife, and from him couplings come. So, [House and wealth are inherited from fathers, but] an insightful wife is from YHWH (Proverbs 19:14). The blessed Holy One provides a person with everything.
Now, you might say ‘An insightful wife, but not any other.’ Come and see: Even though the blessed Holy One prepares goodness to give to a person, if he deviates from the blessed Holy One toward the Other Side, then from that Other Side to which he clings comes one who brings all sorts of accusations and ills. These do not come to him from the blessed Holy One, but rather from that evil side to which he clung through those bad deeds he committed. Therefore, of a wife who is not insightful, Solomon exclaimed I find the woman more bitter than death (Ecclesiastes 7:26)—for through his sins a man draws this upon himself, through those deeds he has committed. Consequently, when the blessed Holy One delights in a man because of his worthy deeds, He designates for him a woman who is insightful and redeems him from the Other Side“ (Zohar 1:229a).
”Couplings are as difficult before the blessed Holy One as splitting the Reed Sea. Just as splitting the Reed Sea killed those on that side and saved these on this side, so too of couplings is written He lead out captives בַּכּוֹשָׁרוֹת (ba-kosharot), in jubilation (Psalms 68:7), and we have learned: בְּכִי וְשִׁירוֹת (bekhi ve-shirot), weeping and singing—one dies and He gives his wife to another, who is wicked and yet ends up with a fine wife. This is not just! But it is entirely concealed mysteries and all is just, and what the Companions have educed is certainly so” (Zohar 2:170b).
“If he was husband to a wife (Exodus 21:3), having married and endeavored with his wife but unsuccessfully, such a man is not banished like the other [who did not even marry a wife]: he does not enter alone and does not leave alone. Rather, if he was husband to a wife, the blessed Holy One does not withhold the reward of any creature, even if they failed. What is written? His wife shall go out with him (ibid.)—both of them transmigrate, succeeding in joining as one, as before [in general, a woman soul does not undergo transmigration, see Zohar 3:216a (RM) on Job 33:29]. This man does not marry a divorcée, but rather the one with whom he endeavored at first and failed. Now they will succeed together, if they refine their deeds. Thus, his wife shall go out with him…
Gives him a wife (Exodus 21:4)—from here we learn that it is not in one’s power to take a wife; rather, all is to be weighed on scales (Psalms 62:10). Gives him a wife—for it does not lie in his power. And who is she? One who is not his and was not intended for him. Who is she? One who was designated for another, yet this man anticipates him by supplication and marries her [cf. BT Mo’ed Qatan 18b]. This one, whom he did not deserve, is given to him. The blessed Holy One sees from afar and foresees that this woman is ready to generate offspring in the world. This man anticipates by supplication, and she is given to him; and he generates fruit and sows seed in a garden not his. Therefore, the wife and her children shall be her master’s, and he shall go out by himself (Exodus 21:4). O poor unfortunate one! How he exerted himself in vain, toiling and striving to bring forth fruit in a garden not his and emerging empty-handed!” (Zohar 2:106a–109a, Sava de-Mishpatim).