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The Talmud says that a man’s soulmate is chosen for him before birth. A poem dedicated by the poet to his wife.

Before I Took Up This Journey

Before I Took Up This Journey

Poetry of Yehoshua November


Before I Took Up This Journey: Poetry of Yehoshua November

The Talmud says that a man’s soulmate is chosen for him before birth. A poem dedicated by the poet to his wife.
Before I Took Up This Journey - Yehoshua November

Before I Took Up This Journey

Before G‑d opens his fist
to let a soul gently descend into this world,
He whispers a name, an occupation, a future bride:
“So-and-so, the architect
will marry so-and-so, the teacher’s daughter.”
If I lie asleep in my bed—
wherein the sages say a man’s soul goes back,
and he is partly dead—
if you must rouse me,
please, my wife,
do not even place your small hand
on my shoulders,
but whisper my name,
remind me that I am such-and-such a man
and you are the dark-haired daughter of so-and-so,
chosen for me
before I took up this journey.

From G‑d’s Optimism by Yehoshua November

Yehoshua November is the author of two books of poetry, G-d’s Optimism, a finalist for the LA Times Book Prize, and Two Worlds Exist, a finalist for the National Jewish Book Award. His poems have appeared in The New York Times, The Sun Magazine, and on National Public Radio. November teaches writing at Rutgers University and Touro College.
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Struck down in the valley of Salt Klesha, Sri Lanka October 28, 2012

Before i took up this journey: echo & dreams after my divorce, i got a job &, for a short time,
shopped at an unkosher marts where they had a large section of asian food.

dumplings are just like kreplach, i reasoned.

Catching my gaze, the salt & pepper haired man in front of me, peering over into my basket, said, : "O that is how you shop"
& then, "Just shaking it up a little, i see".

(Could he know i was hiding the emergence of more than a few chastisements in that foreign kleplach?)

And just when i turned my gaze to arrange those GMFs on the factory belt -
he abruptly ran from the mart to meet his friend who was coming in the Exit door -

I looked over to find his wallet, as it lay on the counter & thought: trust, compassion, kindness & wisdom ... from a stranger (?!)

Just as quickly he came flying back,
Not at all worried about his wallet.

Though i met his gaze he did not look back to see the next expression but i continued to look after him,
touched that he had trusted in my 'honest' face. Reply

Erin H. July 6, 2012

This is beautiful poetry. You have a great gift!! Reply

Anonymous October 25, 2011

r h going around - oct 24, 2011 + july 18 -poetry Good thing that you keep coming back to Your thoughts are so optimistic and idealistic and dreamy. It makes one stop and think how things might be. If not now, then not when, but rather the sooner the better.

Yasher koach ! Reply

ruth housman marshfield hills, ma October 24, 2011

Going Around the World: soul to soul There are people, around the world, making music and sharing in new and powerful ways.
One example of this is Playing for Change, in which musicians, pick up one song, and go around the globe, as others add to the song, and complete the circle and this is put on film. True soul music and there is one such video in which blind musicians are playing from all over.
This is a movement for change, and it does deeply affect people listening from all walks of life.

I am recently aware of an organization in tandem with this called Acting Together On the World Stage.

We are moving into a new state of consciousness, and the love expressed by Sam, here, is exactly where "it's at". Take heart. We are all of us, BELOVED, and yes, a moment in time is also, forever!

Cherish yourself, your moments of glad, and dance as Simchas Torah is all about getting to JOY.

Looking for a Messiah? Look at what's happening in the now and rejoice and be an instrument for love and change. We're in this together. Reply

Sam Castro Vallet, CA via July 20, 2011

Once I Took Up This Journey Once you have found your soul mate, your true love, given to you by G-d, it matters not if it's for a fleeting moment, an evening, a day or a finite time: the love you shared will remain in your heart and soul forever. Reply

Ruth Housman marshfield hills, ma July 18, 2011

the poetry of soul I come back to Chabad, again and again, because there are so many beautiful people on line, and some of these comments, so filled with love, and with yearning, make me glad to be here, though life is filled with such sadness, such as the loss described, and also the desire to fill out our own personal puzzles and find what is happy for each of us: another to share our deepest thoughts, our very selves.

Sam's words above from such a feeling level too made it so worthwhile to come back and read these comments.

You are all so wonderful and perhaps we, all souls, in finding each other here on line, and in reading between the lines are learning we're not alone, even when sometimes we feel so desperately alone and that G_d is bringing us together. Maybe just being here, provides solace and it is important to address and readdress these very human yearnings.

If any of us had that magic wand we would wish for each other a soul mate, someone to hear and know us in a tangible way. Reply

Graham-Michoel Wellington July 18, 2011

Soulmate The words written by Sam of Castro Valley have so gripped me, as being some of the most beautiful I have ever read. You are right Sam - there is no greater gift - and it is in that receiving, and in that giving, that a soul mate will appear. Thank you that you did add something.
There are those of us for whom it is not in G-d's plan to be married, but there is always a soul mate to share creation and the wonderful love of the Creator. Reply

Anonymous July 18, 2011

Soulmate Sam July 16, 2011 and Going July 17 There are some cute messages in the ' soulmate ' post.

1. Whenever i see ' loyalty ' as part of love/marriage, it reminds me that loyalty is best applied to dogs.

2.So many people marry to escape loneliness, and settle for whoever. Isn't it easier to buy a dog ?

3. The most honest phrase and it rings true is : " if it is possible ". It's one of the biggest ' ifs ' in the search for love.

To going once, going twice ... hang in there, they say three times a charm. Also, the number 3 is the strongest numbers in all of kabbalah... 1+2 =3 , no other number is the sum of the two integers preceding it ... the triangle is the strongest structure ... triads such as 3 Patriarchs, CHaBaD - Chochma- Binah, Daat ... Chesed- Gevurah - Tiferet ... 3 spiritual pillars - study of Torah, prayer, mitzvot lots of positives for man #3 to be your soulmate. But you still need to be vigilant. Reply

Anonymous July 18, 2011

depressing July 15, 2011 - funny July 17 What a contrast in perspectives between these two posts.

The depressed person is like the Rebbetzin, so sad, doesn't know that a bad marriage is like Hell on Earth.

What jumps out at me is the philosophy of the Bal Tshuva. The Bal Tshuva having experienced a non- observant life, commences the life of a Tzaddik. The perfect Tzaddik is one who has been totally pious, perfectly observant his entire life. Yet, the Bal Tshuva having fallen so low is able to rise even higher than the perfect Tzaddik, for the perfect Tzaddik has overcome no challenges as faced by the Bal Tshuva. I wonder whether the ' 'Happily Divorced " have a higher quality of life than the ' perfectly married '. It is sad to see so many ' happy marriages ' that are kept intact by any number of reasons, but none of them love.

The Rebbetzin at the far end of the table couldn't be any further away from her husband. The age difference was just as wide apart. No children from the marriage. You call that ' Heaven ' ? Reply

Anonymous via July 17, 2011

Going Once...Going Twice In my first marriage there were both good and
bad times. He met someone else. We divorced.
Years later I married another Jewish man, who
I thought for sure was my soulmate. There were good times (mainly at the beginning) but
soon following were bad times. Many bad times. I wonder--was one of these men my soulmate or did I just never find him? Reply

Sam Castro Valley, CA via July 16, 2011

Soulmate I find so many beautiful comments regarding love and one's soulmate in comments posted here that I would prefer to read them all rather than adding my thoughts on the matter. One idea does come to mind though and that idea is of a loyal and total love of one's object of love, and love being returned in kind. I belive, if this is possible, there is no greater gift G-d gives a human being. Reply

Anonymous July 16, 2011

it was funny i was sitting at a erev Shabbos dinner table with about a dozen people. At one end the rabbi was conversing in Yiddish. At the other end the rebbetzin was talking to a stranger in English She asked his marital status. He said " Happily divorced ". The rebbetzin replied " How sad ". The fellow smiled and said : rebbetzin, you know things about heaven: i know things about hell. " The rabbi overheard and cried " This is Shabbos. We must speak about good things ". The rebbetzin changed the topic to art on their walls. That was some segue ! The dinner didn't skip a beat. The rebbetzin was so polished. I was impressed by the whole scene.

When you travel, you learn a lot. Reply

Anonymous Roswell, Ga via July 15, 2011

Depressing So very sad that most people have not found happiness from one partner ,their basheirt, and yes I think I did get the meaning of the poem,, Reply

Ariela Mansfield, TX via July 15, 2011

life Even a soulmate must leave eventually. Death takes us all int he end. We may be granted only a short time with them or a lifetime, but they are there.

I wonder sometimes if they continue to be your soulmate beyond this world, and then it occurs to me; we all are of one soul beyond, and a mere spark of the whole in this world.

So perhaps, just perhaps, each spark is given a pair so they exist as complementary to one another, to help them through this existence, and make the experience just a little more bearable and less of a shock to our own spark. A pair to produce another spark, and continue the stream of life.

I do not know if I have met my soulmate yet, though I am quite sure I have not. I have beautiful children, was widowed and divorced, and yet my soul still shines, and my heart remains strong, because it must. I know that when the time is right, and I cannot determine that time, he will show :)
Emunah and Bitachon guide my path in this mysterious and amazing journey Reply

F.Stern, New York Woodmere, NY via July 15, 2011

soulmate just because a marriage does not work out does not mean it was not meant to be (Bashert) there may have been a child born out of that marriage or something else that occurred as a result of the marriage which result may not seem clear at this time. As with many things, what we perceive as "bad" are actually essential and good in the "big picture" of the world. If we realize that the marriage is not about the husband and the wife, but rather what the husband and wife create and accomplish as a result of their union , in conjunction with G-d and the Torah (an excellent marriage manual) the marriage will always have a better chance. And if , G-d forbid, it dissolves, the accomplishment of that marriage will always last. Seeing it in this light, perhaps divorces would not be so acrimonious as well. Reply

Sora Armus Memphis, Tn July 14, 2011

This poem about G-d's plan for us is so beautiful and touches my heart. So lovely that Yehoshua wrote this for his wife. Reply

ruth housman marshfield hills, ma July 14, 2011

Footprints in the Sand The word "soul" has many aural cognates and SOL for sun and SOLE for solitary are two, and there are others. It's easy for me to see how these words are related to each other and how we each, feeling alone, at some part of our lives, are looking for partners to share this journey. I like to feel that somewhere we have a complementary star, someone who can share, grow old with us, learn with us, and teach us. Sometimes we meet people who seem right, and it turns out they are not right because we have problems or grow apart.

That too, as others have written above, can be a deep part of our journey and that brightness that was, brought something to us, and to the other person, even if it left a wake of what was upsetting and hard.

It seems there is a learning curve to life and that we need to bury ourselves in another's warm and loving curves, the curve of a smile, arms welcoming at the end of a day, and that we're all sharing basic human and humane needs in finding our suns. Reply

Graham-Michoel Wellington July 13, 2011

Soul mate. I am deeply moved by Yehoshua's beautiful poem. But also by the above comment - saddened that having a soul mate should not make sense. I am convinced every one of us, single or married, has a soul mate - sometimes we pass them by without daring to acknowledge them. Listen to the horizons of sound and the Voice from above - you will hear that person calling you. Reply

Jack Midland Park July 13, 2011

Before I took up this Journey article I met my wife because of the Korean War.
Did so many people die in order that I could meet my wife ? This question relates to the comment that the Talmud says that a man's soulmate is chosen for him before birth. Reply

Mariana Garcia July 13, 2011

He controls the seasons,life...he gives and takes. I do believe G-d selects our soulmate, and no ,he would not let our soulmate be far from our view... It could happen we ,choose the wrong person for not wait and not seeing beyond our primary needs,our soulmate is more then just outside beauty,is that person that makes us feel inspired,spiritually,...we just need to choose , with our heart and soul.
I always believe G-d knows what we need ...
Do sometimes is not easy ,and will have to struggle a little. Reply

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