Dear Rachel,

I am at a point in my life where I only want to date for the sake of marriage. I recently began seeing a man who really appears to have the qualities that I want in a husband. We have only met a few times but the problem is that I am really not very attracted to him. He is also just about my height and I always envisioned myself with a tall man. Should my lack of attraction be enough of a reason to stop seeing him?

Los Angeles

Dear S.C.,

The dating process can be a very confusing experience, and at the same time it can also be very self-defining. The very act of dating suggests a willingness to acquaint yourself with your essential “bottom line” and he, respectively, with his. Dating – finding your soul mate – is an experience full of sorting and sifting, prioritizing, standing firm and ultimately joyfully accepting.

When one dates with the intention of marriage, then the dating process demands that we closely examine ourselves and get right down to the essentials. Who am I? What kind of lifestyle do I need? What character traits are essential for my husband? What am I willing to sacrifice or compromise?

In terms of your doubt about his physical appearance, I can’t help but be reminded of a saying from the Ethics of our Fathers, “Don’t look at the vessel, but rather what is in it.” When we are looking for the other half of our soul, we are looking for their essence… the things that matter. Is he a good man?, Does he work to his potential? Is he kind? Is he passionate?

And yes, physical attraction is important to a certain degree. However, we often forget that the most precious gifts are often of a humble nature. Our Holy Temple was built not from gold and copper, but from simple stones. The Ten Commandments were given on Mount Sinai, the smallest and lowliest and most “humble” mountain. Our Torah is written on simple parchment paper. Things that are good and true are good and true regardless of their packaging. The inner makings of a man will spill to his outsides, and if he is “confident,” and “tall,” inside, you will surely see it on the outside.

Often times, as a relationship grows and matures, the things that we once perceived as imperfections actually become beautiful, meaningful and precious. The more time you spend with him, the more you will see how much of an issue the lack of attraction is, if it fades or if it remains. There may be other things about him that don’t appeal to you, or, you might find that with time you adore everything about him and because of that he may even become attractive in your eyes.

And one practical tip, when you do go out, I would suggest making an effort to wear low-heeled shoes, to help him feel comfortable, and to be sensitive in general about your height difference.

I want to leave you with a story I heard many years ago. There was a young woman, who was supposed to marry a young man. They had never met, as it was an arranged marriage. So, the day approached, and the young man came to the home of the young woman to meet with her before the wedding. To the bride’s astonishment she saw that her fiancé had a profoundly hunched back. She told her father to cancel the wedding; she could not marry this man. The father broke the news gently to the young man. And he accepted the news graciously, but he asked if he could meet with her just one more time. She agreed.

They met again, and he told her the story of his hunched back. “When our soul was separated into two halves in Heaven, G‑d decreed that you would have this hunched back, so I begged and pleaded that He would give it to me instead, that I would carry this burden, and not you.” The young woman heard the truth in his words and with a whole and grateful heart, agreed to marry him.

Perhaps, through dating this young man, you will find a kind lesson, custom made for you. And you will be, at the very least, one step closer to the other half of your soul. Blessings of much success and clarity to you.