Tuesday, July 15, 2008

A Precedent For Soulmate Poaching?

I am not personally convinced that Madonna did anything more than kiruv with Alex Rodriguez, there is the fact that she apparently thought that they were soulmates.

PaleoJudaica points out something in the New Yorker about finding precedent for soulmate snatching.
He explained that he’d been exchanging e-mails with a colleague in Jerusalem about possible textual antecedents—say, in the Zohar or the Sefer Yetzirah—for soul-mate poaching, and they had been unable to come up with any.
Before looking to Zohar or Sefer Yetzirah, one could look to Bereishit Rabbah as cited by Rashi for such a textual antecedent. On Bereishit 39:

א וְיוֹסֵף, הוּרַד מִצְרָיְמָה; וַיִּקְנֵהוּ פּוֹטִיפַר סְרִיס פַּרְעֹה שַׂר הַטַּבָּחִים, אִישׁ מִצְרִי, מִיַּד הַיִּשְׁמְעֵאלִים, אֲשֶׁר הוֹרִדֻהוּ שָׁמָּה. 1 And Joseph was brought down to Egypt; and Potiphar, an officer of Pharaoh's, the captain of the guard, an Egyptian, bought him of the hand of the Ishmaelites, that had brought him down thither.
Rashi writes, citing Bereishit Rabbah:
Now Joseph had been brought down to Egypt [Scripture] returns to the previous topic, which it had interrupted in order to juxtapose the demotion of Judah with the selling of Joseph, to imply that because of him (Joseph), they (his brothers) demoted him (Judah) from his high position; and also to juxtapose the incident of Potiphar’s wife with the incident of Tamar, to tell you that just as that one [the incident of Tamar] was meant for the sake of heaven, so too this one [the incident of Potiphar’s wife] was meant for the sake of heaven. For she saw through her astrology that she was destined to raise children from him (Joseph), but she did not know whether [they would be] from her or from her daughter. [From Gen. Rabbah 85:2]
Or in Hebrew:
(א) ויוסף הורד -
חוזר לענין ראשון, אלא שהפסיק בו כדי לסמוך ירידתו של יהודה למכירתו של יוסף לומר לך שבשבילו הורידוהו מגדולתו.
ועוד, כדי לסמוך מעשה אשתו של פוטיפר למעשה תמר, לומר לך מה זו לשם שמים אף זו לשם שמים, שראתה באצטרולוגין שלה שעתידה להעמיד בנים ממנו ואינה יודעת אם ממנה אם מבתה:
That quote from Bereishit Rabbah may be found here:
ב [סמיכות פרשת מכירת יוסף לירידת יהודה]

ויהי בעת ההיא
ולא היה צריך קרייה למימר, אלא ויוסף הורד מצרימה.
ומפני מה הסמיך פרשה זו לזו?
רבי אלעזר ור' יוחנן
רבי אלעזר אמר:
כדי לסמוך ירידה לירידה.

רבי יוחנן אמר:
כדי לסמוך הכר להכר.

ר' שמואל בר נחמן אמר:
כדי לסמוך מעשה תמר למעשה אשתו של פוטיפר.
מה זו לשם שמים, אף זו לשם שמים.

דאמר רבי יהושע בן לוי:
רואה היתה באסטרולוגין שלה שהיא עתידה להעמיד ממנו בן, ולא היתה יודעת אם ממנה אם מבתה, הה"ד: (שם מז)
מודיעים לחדשים מאשר יבואו עליך.
Thus, the adulterous actions of the wife of Potifar is cast by Rabbi Shmuel bar Nachman, and perhaps by Rabbi Yehoshua ben Levi as well, as leshem shamayim, for the sake of Heaven, because they were destined to have children together.

I am not aware of how this is developed in kabbalistic sources, but I would imagine that this could provide plenty of fodder.

Update: Another one occurred to me, this time from a Talmudic source. In Sanhedrin 107a, we read that Batsheva was King David's soul-mate, but that he took her before the right time.

דרש רבא מאי דכתיב (תהילים לח) כי אני לצלע נכון ומכאובי נגדי תמיד ראויה היתה בת שבע בת אליעם לדוד מששת ימי בראשית אלא שבאה אליו במכאוב וכן תנא דבי רבי ישמעאל ראויה היתה לדוד בת שבע בת אליעם אלא שאכלה פגה

Raba expounded: What is meant by the verse, "For I am ready to halt {tzela, also a rib}, and my sorrow is continually before me?" Bath Sheba, the daughter of Eliam, was predestined for David from the six days of Creation, but that she came to him with sorrow. And the school of R. Ishmael taught likewise: She was worthy [i.e., predestined] for David from the six days of Creation, but that he enjoyed her before she was ripe.
and King David snatched her from Uriah haChitti. This does not mean that it was the right thing to do. Indeed, the idea in the gemara is that he should not have done it, and that because he did was he did, his sorrow was continuously before him. Furthermore, what the gemara says is different from stating that he knew that he and she were predestined.

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