Torah Musings: That ONE Thing


That ONE Thing

Sarah Pachter

My student, Rachel, was telling me about a wonderful guy she was dating. She described him as a quality person, with tremendous motivation and loyalty, who had depth beyond his years. She was happy with his physical appearance and said there was abundant chemistry between the two of them. Overall, things sounded like they were going well.

“There’s just one thing…” She went on to describe how he liked listening to rap music. My student was not religious, and certainly had no problem with non-Jewish music, so I was somewhat surprised at this being an issue. She insisted that the musical genre was childish, foul, and not refined enough for her taste. It really bothered her.

It was clear that I did not understand the full picture, and it was possible that there was something else creating this reaction in her. However, I told her that perhaps she was focusing too much on this one aspect about him. It seemed that he had other positive qualities that counteracted this one—somewhat minor—issue. Why was she letting this one thing get in the way?

Months later, when the guy ended the relationship with her, she turned that sharp lens on herself. As she was analyzing what she did wrong in the relationship (as all the ladies do), she was sure it was this one thing, or that one comment that turned him off from her. She kept trying to blame things going sour on one, singular mishap.

I replied to her with something that seemed out of left field. “Rachel, I know this seems unrelated, but bear with me. Did you know that Haman’s name is actually in the Torah?”

She replied with polite interest for me to continue although obviously uncertain as to why I was bringing this up.

I went on to explain that the Gemara in Masechet Megillah tells us that Haman is hinted to in Parshat Bereishit. Hashem told Adam which trees to eat from, then He says, “Hamin ha’eitz hazeh.”[1] From this one tree you shall not eat. Hamin in Hebrew is spelled with the same letters as Haman.

Why would Hashem choose to place Haman’s name in the middle of the story of Adam and Chava?

Professionally, Haman had everything. He was second in command to the most powerful king in the world. He even had the king’s signet ring, which meant the entire world served him. His family life seemed perfect, too—he was married with ten children. Given his circumstances, he had every reason to be content with his life. Everywhere he went, people bowed—just fell to the floor. Everyone, that is, except one—Mordechai. This Jew refused to bow, and that was all Haman could think about.

Haman said, “Vichol zeh enennu shove li.”[2] “All this is worthless to me, as long as the Jew, Mordechai, does not bow.” This attitude ultimately led him out of this world, for he was hung on the very gallows he had prepared for Mordechai.

Adam had a separate but similar experience. Hashem enumerated all of the trees from which he and Chava could eat—the caveat being, this one tree they may not eat from. Adam and Chava could have enjoyed an eternal life of bliss, living in paradise with their every need met. But their desire for that one thing that was lacking got the better of them, and ultimately, they were taken out of Gan Eden.

The message is clear as to why Hashem chose this passage to insert Haman’s name. We have to train ourselves to stop focusing on the one thing we don’t have. We must stop exclusively seeing the one thing our date does not have, or the one thing we did wrong in a given situation. This applies to dating, in our possessions, and in many other circumstances in life.

A friend of mine, Mrs. Elimor Ryzman is a hashkafah teacher at a local high school.  She gives the following lesson to her students each year. At the start of class, she hands each student a piece of paper with a black dot in the middle. She asked them to write what they see. Without fail, every girl writes, “black dot” or “black circle.”

It is so easy to focus on the black dot, but what about the rest of the white paper? It takes up much more space than the black dot, but it’s easier to focus on the one negative part.

For better or worse, our brains are programmed to think critically. This means we naturally zoom in on the negative of any given situation. Our ability to do so is a sign of intelligence, but it can do us harm when used in the wrong situation.

Back to dating, for example. Of course, we want to keep our eyes peeled and make sure the person we are dating is a man or woman with intelligence and good character. However, if we are looking for perfection in ourselves or the other person, then we aren’t really looking for marriage. Marriages, and people, are full of imperfections that we have no control over.

We must train ourselves to stop focusing on that one thing he said or did wrong; such thinking can end a perfectly good relationship. Instead, we should remember to see the person as a whole. Just because he made that one questionable comment on one of your 15 dates doesn’t mean it’s a bust. We should see the whole picture and make sure to offer that same kindness to ourselves before dismissing him so completely.

My student loved the dvar Torah and responded that she would try to stop analyzing the negatives in the guy and the relationship.

Then she told me, “It’s not difficult for me to stop seeing the negative in the other person, but when I’m rejected, it’s hard not to overanalyze myself and what I did wrong. How can I stop this?”

Rejection is hard, but when it happens, in some ways, it is easier than being the heartbreaker.

There is a famous story that discusses a man who went up to Shamayim after 120 years and said, “Hashem, why didn’t You send me my soulmate? I thought everyone had a soulmate! But You never sent me mine!”

Hashem answered, “I did; you just thought her forehead was too big.”

Rejecting another can always lead us to question if we made the correct decision. We second-guess ourselves and wonder if we should have stayed with that person, or if he or she was in fact our soulmate. But when we get rejected, it’s a brachah in disguise, for it’s out of our control. It comes from Hashem, and clearly wasn’t meant to be for us.

Sometimes, our dates seem to be going so well that the breakup comes from out of left field—just like my answer to Rachel. But I always say, “Sometimes, it’s so crazy, it must be from Hashem!”

Ultimately, this is the deeper message behind hamin ha’eitz and the message of Purim. The Jews were on the bottom, and then flipped to the top. Mordechai was supposed to be hung, and then ultimately Haman was instead. It’s so crazy, so topsy-turvy—as ve nahafoch hu suggests—that it must be from Hashem.

We must remember this when dating, and beyond that in life. Don’t be like Haman! Focus on all the brachot we do have, not the one thing we don’t.

May we all have a wonderful Purim, filled with brachah that is so crazy, so surprising, it must be from Hashem!


[1] Bereishit 3:11

[2] (Megillat Esther 5:13)