The Gift of Singlehood

May 9, 2009

7 min read


In preparation for meeting your soul mate, now is the time to develop the burning desire to give.

When I was five, I wanted cookies. When I was 10, I wanted to go everywhere my big sister went. At age 16 I wanted a later curfew, an invitation to the prom, a driver's license and the keys to the car. The endless list of things I've desired over the years has included: a college degree, a tan, a job, a better job, a raise, a boyfriend, a better boyfriend, a husband, a baby, health, a better relationship with my parents, a better relationship with God, and world peace.

Currently, I'm finding myself wanting more time, more sleep, more storage space, and well... cookies.

Such is life. We graduate from one desire to the next. We live in a constant state of wanting.

We are creatures of want.

We graduate from one desire to the next, living in a constant state of wanting.

Soon after we get the object of our desire, we move on to the next desire. This is neither good nor bad in and of itself. Our desires can become the focus of our existence, or they can be a goal that we are moving toward, but not limited by.

Wanting, focusing on goals, is a positive thing. It can help us grow. A baby's desire for a toy that is out of reach motivates him to learn to crawl.

But wanting can also have a negative effect. Focusing on a future goal can take your focus away from the here and now. Being distracted from your current situation can rob you of the potential that the moment holds. It doesn't matter if what you want is noble, worthy, and provides positive benefit. If it causes you to ignore the present, it has this negative aspect.


If the object of your desire is marriage, you might be spending a lot of time concerned about the future. You may feel like real life is still waiting for you, out there, after you meet your soul mate. The life you are living now is a stopgap until your number is called and you get to walk down the aisle to your brand new life, the life you are focused on, the life you want.

The danger in this situation is that you could miss seeing the potential that lies in the current moment. This danger, of focusing on what we want to the detriment of recognizing the potential of our current situation, exists more for singles than for other individuals who don't have what they want. No want is equal to the desire of a significant other when it comes to how society views us, and how we view ourselves.

Welcome to singlehood.

Your current situation has a potential for growth that will never exist at any other time in life.

The word "single" in and of itself categorizes an entire group by what they are lacking, what they are seeking. It means alone, apart from the object of your desire. When you look at any other group that is without their object of desire, they are not called "alone." Would you ever describe someone who wanted a cookie as lonely?

And that's why it's so crucial to realize: The current situation, looking for your soul mate, has a certain potential for growth that will never exist again at any other time in life. Right now is an opportunity. Right now is a gift.

But if you are too focused on getting married, you may miss taking advantage of this precious time in your life.


The first step in realizing the potential of the moment is to appreciate that there are no accidents. You are not single by accident. There has to be a reason, a purpose. God can work things out. God is all good. He has decided that right now, this is the best thing for you. So if he isn't working things out the way you'd like, there must be meaning and potential in your current situation.

In order to learn what being single is about, let's look at the first single who ever existed, Adam:

Classified Ad: Single man, very spiritual, down to earth, likes gardening, dislikes snakes. Seeks life partner who can be my equal, to challenge me, help me grow, and keep me on the straight and narrow.

Humanity was created in two stages. The first being (Adam) was androgynous. All that was female and all that was male existed as one. One body, one soul. Then God makes a very interesting statement: "It is not good for man to be alone" (Genesis 2:18).

Up until now in the creation story, God's running commentary is that everything is good, meaning that everything has all that it needs to do what it was created to do. Not so of man. Man's aloneness will keep him from fulfilling his potential.

There was a purpose for Adam's creation as a bachelor.

The second stage of human creation is the division of male and female. All that is female, physically and spiritually, is separated from this first being (Adam) and placed in its own vessel (Eve). Now man is not alone. He has a wife.

Why didn't God create Adam and Eve as separate beings in the first place? God doesn't make mistakes; therefore, there must have been a purpose for Adam's creation as a bachelor.

During singlehood, Adam went through an exercise, as per God's request, of naming all the animals. By naming each of the animals, he understood the essence of each creature and realized his ness among them. Adam was created B'tzelem Elokim -- in the image of God. Since God has no form, "image" cannot be taken literally. Rather it refers to our ability to relate to other human beings, our capacity to care and to give. This is the meaning of the image of God.


This ability to give could not be expressed when there was just Adam. As a bachelor, he had no one to give to. Man needed an equal in order to express this level of giving. The creation of Eve was the creation of society (not just the creation of women) and the creation of the ability to give meaningfully.

God did not just create the ability to give, He created the desire, the wanting to give, which preceded this ability. "It is not good for man to be alone." During this stage of singlehood we discover our need to give. And this is the time for developing our desire to give.

Singlehood is the time to develop the craving, the absolute burning desire to give.

This is the "now" of being single. Singlehood is the time to develop the craving, the absolute burning desire to give. This is where the pain of being single comes from. Developing an awareness of this need to give, and not having the fullest opportunity to express it.

Real giving means to look at what the other person needs. Learning to understand a person's real needs is the primary skill required for a successful marriage. Giving is only meaningful when it takes into consideration what the receiver needs, not what you want or are able to give. When you focus on the needs of others you are developing sensitivity toward them. You grow into the other person's world and begin to understand them on a very deep level.

Singlehood is the time to practice becoming a giver. Look around you for opportunities to develop as a giver. Are there poor people? Sick? An elderly neighbor? A lonely relative? Get out of your mindset and see how the other person thinks. This is the first step towards meaningful giving, to becoming the greatest "you" -- in preparation for your soul mate.

Now is the time.

based on a lecture by Rabbi Yitzchak Berkowitz

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