Is a Soulmate Forever?

Sunday, 9 August, 2020 - 10:31 pm


Question of the Week:

If a widow remarries, what happens when Moshiach comes and the dead come back to life? Will she reunite with her first husband, or the new guy? What if she was happy with one more than the other?  


This fascinating question has been asked by many. But the best answer is found in an unusual source: the diary of an 18th century American priest.

Ezra Stiles, a Congregationalist minister in Rhode Island, became close friends with Rabbi Raphael Chaim Yitzchak Carregal, believed to be the first rabbi to set foot on American soil. A question Stiles asked Rabbi Carregal at one of their meetings was this very issue: if a widow remarries, who will she be married to when the resurrection happens?

Stiles records Rabbi Carregal’s response in his diary:

“The Rabbi was at a loss and could not determine. He said there were various opinions about it - G-d almighty only could determine - he was contented to know that the resurrection state would be happy and glorious, though he did not pretend to be able to answer and solve all questions and Mysteries concerning the Circumstances of the Resurrection.”

If we investigate the earlier sources on this fascinating question, we’ll see just how wise this response was.

However, there is a source, a clear source, on the topic of spouses in the resurrection. The Zohar clearly states: “A woman who married twice, will return to her first husband in the next world.”

So it’s settled. Or maybe not.

Rabbi Yosef Chaim of Baghdad (1835-1909) points out that the Zohar is not talking about the resurrection, but rather about Heaven. After she passes away, her soul and the soul of her first husband will be together in the Garden of Eden. But who’s to say that the same applies to the resurrection? Perhaps she returns to the husband she was married to at the time of her passing.

Indeed, other sources state that if a widow remarries, she will return to be with her second husband upon resurrection.

So where does that leave us? Some say the first husband, others say the second. They can’t all be right.

Or maybe they can.  

The great 16th century Kabbalist, the Arizal, taught that most souls these days are reincarnated, and for each lifetime we may have a different soulmate. It could therefore even happen that someone marries twice in one lifetime, and both are soulmates – one from a previous lifetime, and another for this lifetime. This is why a second marriage can be as happy as the first, and in no way diminishes the connection that was there before. Each soul has its place.

At the resurrection, a part of our soul will be with one soulmate in our previous body, and another part with the other soulmate in another body. How exactly does that work? We’ll know when it happens. And we will all be happy.

Perhaps that’s what Rabbi Carregal meant when he said, “the resurrection state would be happy and glorious.” He was assuring the questioner that whatever happens, it will be the best and happiest solution.

This was a wise response. Especially considering another important detail to the story as recorded in Ezra Stiles’ diary. He asked the rabbi this question in the presence of Mrs Rivera, a widow, and Mr Rivera, her new husband. The rabbi had the tact and wisdom to know that in such delicate matters, we need to trust that G-d knows what He is doing. All we need to know is that “the resurrection state would be happy and glorious” and we will all be reunited with all of our loved ones.

May it happen soon.

Good Shabbos,

Rabbi Moss


Zohar Bereishis 21b

Ben Ish Chai Rav Pealim, Sod Yesharim 2

Other sources: Anaf Yosef beginning of Perek Chelek, and Sefer Nitzachon quoted in Hagahos Yad Shaul, Yoreh Deah 366:3

Arizal Shaar Hagilgulim 8

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