Featured Purim Guest – Rabbi Avram Chaim Bogopulsky – Beth Jacob Congregation – San Diego, CA – T’Tzaveh – A Contemporary Look at the Significance of Purim

The Jewish calendar is filled with sad days and holidays of which are commemorated with symbols and Mitzvos that represent a particular holiday and remembrance. I remember as a child growing up with distinct memories of each holiday and something unique whether it was celebrating with certain family members, eating certain foods and watching how the holidays developed over the years.

I can’t imagine there is a child out there today (or an adult recalling his/her Purim of yore) who doesn’t have a fond memory of Purim and who doesn’t look forward to the next year. What are our memories from Purim? We obviously remember getting dressed up in home-made costumes that were more authentic than today’s bought ones.  The preparing and delivering of Shaloch Manos was equaled by seeing what we received for Shaloch Manos. Listening to the Megilla in Shul was tolerable due to the excitement of how we drowned out Haman’s name upon being mentioned. The entire day was summed up by enjoying a feast and fest of music fun and games.

As I look back over the years from my childhood and on I wonder if those Mitzvos that are performed on Purim are the primary or secondary reasons of the celebration? There is no question there are four explicit Mitzvos to be fulfilled on Purim, the question truly is why do we have all these Mitzvos for? Perhaps an insight can be found in the following explanation.

In Shmos 15:16 the Torah states: “Tipol Aleihem Eimasa VaFachad Bigdol Zro’acha Yidmu KaAven, Ad YaAvor Amcha Hashem, Ad YaAvor Am Zu Kanisa “. “Fear and dread fell upon them. At the greatness of Your Arm They are still as stone. Until Your people crossed, O God, until the people You gained crossed over”. This passage taken from Moshe’s song ‘Az Yashir’ interprets ‘Kanisa’ that Hashem has cherished the Jews above the other nations, just as an article which is acquired at a high price which is cherished by that man.

In his sefer Ben Yehoyada *Yosef Chaim from Bahgdad weaves a Gemara from Brachos 4a to merge the words of Moshe Rabbeinu as an allusion to Purim. The words ‘Am Zu Kanisa is referring to the second acceptance of the Torah. During the days of the story of Purim ‘this nation’ were the ones that God performed a miracle that the decree of Haman the wicked would fall out on the thirteenth of Adar. The gematria (numerical value of the word ZU comprised of a zayin equal to seven and a vav equal to six adds up to and corresponds to thirteen the day of the month Haman wanted to annihilate the Jews. It was the miracle at Krias Yam Suf that Hashem used to re-acquire the Jews anew. This was the reason Moshe called them ‘Am ZU, as if to say they were saved with THIS miracle on THIS day being the thirteenth of Adar. The thirteenth of Adar is the date of Taanis Esther, not to be confused with the three day fast Esther asked all the people to do but rather a fast day in anticipation of a war. Having learned from Moshe Rabbbeinu the notion of fasting as a sign of repentance at a time of battle.

A second interpretation given by Reb Yosef Chaim why the Jews were distinctively called ‘Am ZU’ because it was at this time the receiving or more so the acceptance of the Torah She’B’Al Peh the Oral Law was completed. The generation at the time of Achashveirosh went back and reaccepted the Oral tradition as it states in the Megilla ‘KeeY’mu V’Kiblu, the Gemara darshans we accepted that which we accepted already meaning the Torah She’B’Al Peh. The word ZU comprised of two letters zayin and vav the value of seven and six as I mentioned earlier. The Seven represents the Torah She’Bichsav the written law is seven books because in Bamidbar 10:35,36 is viewed as a separate book dividing Bamidbar into three giving a total of seven. The Oral Torah know as SHAS stands for Shisa Sidrei the six orders of the Oral law. Coming full circle to this nation AM ZU who are now complete with the entire Torah. It was this merit they were able to turn things around against Haman on the thirteenth of Adar and have HaKadosh Baruch Hu save the people and hence the story and celebration of Purim.

The Rabbis teach us ‘Mitzvah Goreres Mitzvah’ the performance and doing of one Mitzvah leads us to an opportunity to do another. The Jewish people resounded re-accepted the words of the Torah. What better way to be rewarded of accepting the Torah but to do more of that which it stands for, that being more Mitzvos. The underlying simcha and joy of Purim is the fact we wanted to get back to a place where the Jewish people were at the time of Har Sinai and receiving of the Torah. Year in and year out we seem to focus on the fulfilling of the Mitzvos which is incredible but somehow forget the primary and key reason we are doing all of this for.

As we prepare to enter the week in which Purim occurs we need to remember this Holiday will remain even in the time of Moshiach because of the association of our commitment to Torah. Let this year’s Purim celebration be full of joy and happiness in doing the Mitzvos of the day. More importantly, to remember the reasons why even after Purim that it is a day we commit ourselves to learn more Torah and dedicate ourselves to the primary aspect of Purim. It’s a one day celebration that should push us in the direction of our own Keemu V’Kiblu to take on once again the Oral and written Torahs and bring Klal Yisrael back to the level we were on standing at Har Sinai.

Rabbi Avram Bogopulsky was born and raised in the  Boro Park section of Brooklyn, New York. He attended  the Etz Chaim Yeshiva, and was actually the last  graduating class. From there his family moved to  Flatbush where he attended high school at M.T.A.  After high school, Rabbi Bogopulsky went to study  abroad at Yeshiva Neveh Zion in Telshe- Stone, Israel.  After almost two years, the Rabbi along with six others came to Yeshiva Shaarei Torah in Monsey, N.Y. Under the influence and guidance of his Rosh Yeshiva, Rabbi Berel Wein and the tutelage of his personal Rebbi, Rabbi Laibel Reznick, Rabbi Bogopulsky pursued a career in the Rabbinate. It was the inspirational words and messages of Rabbi Wein that instilled within Rabbi Bogopulsky a desire to be of service to Klal Yisrael.

In July of 1996, Rabbi Bogopulsky assumed the mantle of leadership at Beth Jacob Congregation San Diego where he remains until today. He is a member of the local Vaad HaRabbonim, teaches classes at the local orthodox high schools, and also manages the College Area Eruv Corporation.

In 2017, Rabbi Bogopulsky’s first book, Developing a Torah Personality was published by Mosaica Press.

It can be purchased on Feldheim or Amazon.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Purim – Genack/Genechovsky Torah

Rabbi Menachem Genack

Megillat Esther is not Batul

The Rambam (Hilchos Megillah 5:18) says that all of the books of Nevi’im and Ketuvim will be batul when Mashiach comes except Megillat Esther and it will remain intact like the 5 books of the Torah and the Halachos of Torah She’bal Pe which are never batul. And even though all the remembrances of tragedies will be forgotten …Purim will not be batul..as it says..the days of Purim will pass from the Jews and its remembrance won’t. The Raavad, in his hasagot, comments that none of the Nevi’im and Ketuvim will be batul as they all have limud in them, and the only exception relating to the Megillah is that should the other sefarim be deemed not to be read from anymore amidst the tzibur the Megillah will still be read betzibur.

The source for the Rambam is a Yerushalmi (Megillah: Perek1 Halacha 5) relating to an argument between Rav Yochanan and Reish Lakish. Rav Yochahnan says the Nevi’im and Ketuvim will be batul in the future but not the 5 books of the Torah while Reish Lakish says even Megillat Esther and its halachos won’t be batul.

It needs explanation in the Rambam why he says Megillat Esther will remain like the 5 books of the Torah and like the Halachos of Torah She’bal Pe that are never batel. What’s the connection between the Halachos Torah She’bal Pe and Megilla?

The link has been alluded to in the Yerushalmi where it says the halachos of Megillah won’t be batul just like the Torah won’t. The essence of the Torah to which the Yerushalmi compares the Megillah and the Torah is regarding it’s halachos that will never be batul. This is unlike all other Nevi’im and Ketuvim that don’t stand to teach halachos. A Navi isn’t allowed to mechadesh (teach anything new) rather he offers words of mussar and reproof. In stark contrast, we see in the beginning of Gemara Megilla that all of the laws of Purim are extrapolated from the Megillah itself. The Megillah stands as a manifestation of Torah that stands to be darshened from.

This explains why the Megilla needs Sirtut. For the Griz proves from the Rambam that the reason the Torah needs Sirtut is not because it’s a book of Torah but because it’s a source of Divrei Torah, and Divrei Torah needs Sirtut. And we find this explicitly written in the Yerushalmi (Megillah: Perek 1 Halacha 1) where a gezera shava is made to say the Torah and the Megillah both need Sirtut.

The Raavad understood that the mussar and illustrations of how to walk with G-d are also considered Torah and therefore would never be batul, whereas the Rambam holds it’s all dependent on whether you can learn halachos and whether it is given to be doresh from.

Purim was a time for acceptance of Torah as the Gemara in Shabbas (88a) enunciates. It was a time when, Kemu ma she keblu kvar (we upheld anew what we already received from before), an acceptance out of love. And this can be another reason why Megillat Esther is considered like the Torah itself and was given to be darshened halachos from.

The Zohar compares Purim to Yom Kippur and darshens on the words Yom Kippurim, that it is a day like Purim. They were both days of giving of the Torah, for the second luchos were given on Yom Kippur, and the Gemara Taanis (30b) says there were no better days for Bnei Yisrael than Yom Kippur and Tu B’Av. Thus on Yom Kippur the Torah was given to Bnei Yisrael and on Purim we received the Torah anew.

Rav Avrohom Zt”l

Can a Rabbinic Obligation Excempt a Torah-Based One

Rabbi Akiva Eiger (Shulchan Aruch Siman 186 Seif 2) writes that in a case when a katan (child before bringing simanim) washes and has bread and reaches a point of sevia (satiation, the trigger that necessitates birchat hamazon) and then blesses on a derabanan level he’s not yotze his deorita level when he turns a gadol, as long as he is still within the shiur ikul (digestion time that determines when still obligated to say birchat hamazon). Therefore he must bentch a second time as a gadol to fulfill his deorita obligation.

Similarly, the Kapot Temarim (in his Sefer Yom Teruah on Rosh Hashanah, Page 27) says a katan that hears the shofar and then that day shows simanim and becomes a gadol will have to hear shofar again as his derabanan obligation earlier in the day is not able to exempt his deorita obligation as a gadol.

The Teshuvat Meishev Davar (Chelek Aleph, Siman 18) argues on both Rabbi Akiva Eiger and the Kapot Temarim and says that a derabanan will help a deorita.

According to Rabbi Akiva Eiger and the Kapot Temarim, a katan who shows simanim and becomes a gadol on shabbas, if he made kiddush mebeod yom, he would have to make kiddush again.

It may be proffered that we see the words of Rabbi Akiva Eiger in the Biur Halacha (Siman 184 s.v. be’kzayit) that says if one ate a kzayit and bentched then continued eating to a point of satiation, even though the second eating itself wouldn’t bring on a deorita obligation, however he is still chayav from the Torah since the first eating was not exempted by the derabanan bentching.

The Chazon Ish (Siman 34 Seif Katan 4), however, differentiates the above case, saying since there was no casual connection between the 2 eating’s you wouldn’t be chayav to bentch again on a deorita level, however, if one did have in mind to continue eating after he says birchat hamazon, such as on Erev Pesach that falls on Shabbas, then he would have to bentch again.

We see again that a birchat hamazon mederabanan will not help for a deorita.

The Mordechai in Megilla (Siman 798) brings a differing opinion, that of Rav Tuvia who holds a that a kiddush made during Tosephet Shabbas (a Rabbinic time period) fulfills one’s deorita obligation, exhibiting that a derabanan does help for a deoriata.

There seems, however, to be an explicit Gemara in opposition to Rav Tuvia. The Magen Avraham (Siman 267 Seif Katan 1) asks from a Gemara in Brachot (20b) that says a katan can’t be yotze a gadol because he is only chayav mederabanan and the gadol is chayav medeorita. One must therefore answer for Rabbi Tuvia that it depends on whether we are discussing one’s own obligation versus 2 people’s obligations. So when a person for himself, on Tosephet Shabbas, makes kiddush it helps, but a derabanan won’t help for a deorita if two people are involved as in the case of Gemara Brachot, where one katan is trying to be yotze another gadol.

However, there’s still a difficulty because Rav Tuvia seems to apply his concept with 2 people as well. He says a blind man (who has a Rabbinic obligation) can be yotze his family (who are under a deorita obligation) for kiddush, indicating that even in the case of 2 separate obligations the derabanan helps for the deorita. Therefore, we must say either Rav Tuvia is not Gores the Gemara in Brachos, as many nussach’s don’t have it or he holds like the Ramban who understands the Gemara to be saying that even medarabanan the katan can’t be yotze the gadol because the mitzvah of chinuch is on the father and not the katan.

Based on the major holdings of the achronim that a derabanan can’t help a deorita even with one person, the Birkat Hatorah of a katan (Rabbinic) that he says in the morning should not help his deorita obligation at night.

The Teshuvat Eretz Tzvi (Siman 16) answers that the katan can be yotze with ahavat olam if he says it after tzeit hakochavim. Therefore if the katan davened Maariv while still day or he doesn’t daven at night then he can’t learn. The Eretz Tzvi brings the opinion of Rav Tuvia and says that his reasoning will not help for Birkat Hatorah. Only by Kiddush made on Tosephet Shabbas can it help, in concordance with the Rambam, as it’s Samuch Le’Shabbas and the reasoning can only be applied when its “memela ka ati la” unlike from katnut to gadlut where your missing the maase of simanim. (Regarding the blind person who made kiddush one can say it’s not mechusar maase because he can be healed).

We know women are chayav in Birkat Hatorah because they must learn about the mitzvos they are obligated in. And after they say Birkat Hatorah it helps when they then say yivarechech. There are numerous opinions whether women are obligated Min Ha Torah or not in Birkat Hatorah, however if they are obligated Min Ha Torah then according to the Eretz Tzvi, every girl should be taught when she becomes Bat Mitzvah to have kavana in ahavas olam and we don’t find as such. The Rav leaves this as a Tzarich Iyun.

Finally, a proof is brought against the Eretz Tzvi because the Rama (Siman 53 Seif 10) writes that a katan shouldn’t be the shliach tzibur for Maariv if the minyan takes place before shekiah. It can be inferred from the Rama that if the katan is not the shliach tzibur his davening helps, even though he’s saying ahavas olam while he’s still a katan. What will then be with his Birkat Hatorah at night for there an obligation to learn at night (even more so according to the opinions that kriyat shema needs Birkat Hatorah).

We find according to Rabbi Akiva Eiger, the Mishnah Berurah, the Magen Avraham and the Chazon Ish a deraban won’t help for a deorita.

Stories of Rav Avrohom Zt”l

A Shirt Exchange

Rav Avrohom encountered a young man on the bus in Yerushalayim and asked him where he was going. The young man replied he was going to see the Western Wall. Rav Avraham asked him how he planned to rip as he would be at the makom hamikdash and the young man was not sure. Rav Avraham told the young man to come back to yeshiva with him where they could exchange shirts, for the halacha is that you need not rip if the shirt does not belong to you. It was noticed in shiur that day that Rav Avraham took all safeguards to keep the shirt in its original condition.

Rabbi Menachem Genack

Vayikra

 

1:1 “And He called to Moses, and the Lord spoke to him from the Tent of Meeting, saying.”

Rabba said: Whence do we know that if a man had said something to his neighbor the latter must not spread the news without the informant’s telling him ‘Go and say it’? From the scriptural text: The Lord spoke to him out of the tent of meeting, lemor [saying] (Yoma 4:2).

We see these words were specifically spoken to Moshe and if not for the fact that Hashem gave him permission to share them with Bnei Yisrael they would be just for him. This was a personal dialogue of love as further evidenced by Rashi on the word “Vayikra” – “that G-d spoke in a language of love, using language that the malachai hasheret use.” This idea is further bolstered by the Gemara Nedarim (38a) where it says the Torah was given to Moshe as a present and he treated it with favor and gave it over to Bnei Yisrael. The original giving over was personal and just for Moshe but he chose to share it with Klal Yisrael. This relationship of love is further personified by the fact that Hashem speaks to Moshe in the voice of his father, Amram.

1:2 “Speak to the children of Israel, and say to them: When a man brings a sacrifice from [among] you to the Lord; from animals, from cattle or from the flock you shall bring your sacrifice.”

There is a famous diyuk on the pasuk that by its specific order of wording, the verse is telling man that when he brings a sacrifice he should in fact view himself as the one being sacrificed (as the verse says a man when he brings himself…whereas it could’ve said…when a man amidst yourself brings). This idea that a person should view himself as the karban is premised on Akeidut Yitzchak, where Yitzckak himself was bound to the altar. Yitzchak’s binding set the precedent for the understanding of all future sacrifices. This explains why we have the minhag in the morning davening to say the Parsha of Akeidah before the saying of the karbanos. The Rambam (Hilchos Beit Ha’bechirah 1:3) says the altar is specific in nature and its place can never change, as it says this is the altar to go up for Israel. And in the mikdash Yitzchak was sacrificed as it says go up to Har Hamoria and it says in Divrei Hayamim Shlomo began to build the House of G-d in Yerushalayim in Har Hamoria. It’s clear from the Rambam that the sacrifice of Yitzchak was the sino qua non for understanding all future offerings

Rabbi Yaakov Nagen (Genack)

“The Animal from Within”

Man tends to take offense when compared to animals. Even non-Darwinists that don’t believe in ape lineage cringe at the comparison. However, it is in the nature of things that we all have an animal side, a positive phenomenon.

The Zohar in his work, Safra de Tzniuta, believes man has divine basics and fundamentals bestial. This idea is known to many of us through the teachings of Tanya. However, the Tanya and Zohar disagree on how to understand this phenomenon.

The Tanya is of the belief that man is an a continual struggle between these two forces, of human versus bestial, as opposed to the Zohar who believes it’s as a bridal relationship, accentuating the necessity of both the human and bestial elements to exist in harmony.

The Zohar brings the verse that equates beast to man. “And God said, “Let the earth bring forth living creatures according to their kind, cattle and creeping things and the beasts of the earth according to their kind, and it was so” (Genesis 1:24). The verse specifically identified the beasts as “living creatures” (nefesh chaya – a living soul), just as man himself was a living creature (nefesh chaya). This explains, says the Zohar, the verse in Tehillim (36:7), “Save O’ G-d, man and beast.” With clarity the verse is saying that within man exists animal.

As has been discussed (See the Divrei Torah of Rabbi Menachem Genack above), Vayikra is the Parsha of karbonos. A man who sacrifices an animal should feel as if he, himself, is being sacrificed. It’s no coincidence that the word “karban” (sacrifice) and “kerevah” (close) have the same root. By sacrificing to G-d one becomes closer to Him.

However, says the Zohar, the aforementioned idea contradicts the next verse. “Speak to the children of Israel, and say to them: When a man from [among] you brings a sacrifice to G-d; from animals, from cattle or from flock you shall bring your sacrifice” (Leviticus 1:2). The first part of the pasuk says it must come from “among” you (from you) yet when the pasuk continues it says the karban is from the animal. The Zohar answers this contradiction in saying the “animal is in you.” In other words the animal that man is sacrificing is the animal within him. Man must dedicate his brute and animalistic tendencies towards G-d as well, for these tendencies have inherent Kedusha if utilized properly. The sacrificing in the mikdash was not a wholly spiritual manifestation, but also a physical one, as one had to physically rise up and travel to the mikdash, purify his body and eat the karbanos.

These 2 sides that exist within us were placed inside of us by G-d at the time of creation. According to the Safra de Tzniuta, when man comes down to this world he has two sides to him, the right and left. On the right side is the neshama and on the left side is the soul of the animal. Man was created in the image of G-d and as such we have two sides. Not only were we imbued with the neshama that has its roots with G-d but also with the animalistic side.

If the animal soul is part of the natural essence of man, how does sin arise? Safra de Tzniuta further explains that “the sin of Adam spread left.” Sin is the violation of the balance, when the animal side spreads across borders. Rav Kook echoes this sentiment for he doesn’t see material desires as such a calamity. Desire to sample the material world and attain mental tendency is originated in holiness. But when this desire becomes all the rage, with all powers pledged to achieve material desires, the balance is disturbed and the person loses the power of self control and falls into the depths of darkness.

But according to Safra de Tzniuta when they work in harmony, they can give birth to and breathe life into new creations. To bring a new neshama into the world we need our physical body. This concept holds true in the arts; in dance, sculpture and painting; in the Torah and literary works. In all of them there is a combination, a partnership, between the two forces of man, the spiritual and bestial.

When analyzing a pivotal pasuk in Lech Lecha we see the above mentioned interpretations come to light. The famous verse says about Avraham, “Lech Lecha Me’artzhecha” (Go from your land) (Genesis 12:1). The Maggid of Mazrich darshens the pasuk to mean, in order to reach yourself (licha), you must go (lech) and leave the land to free yourself. This interpretation would follow the understanding of the Tanya that within man there always exists an existential battle between man’s soul and animalistic tendencies. Rabbi Naftali of Ropshitz says just the opposite. He darshens it to mean – go out with your earthliness (Artzecha) and use your human and bestial side to conquer the world in balance and harmony. This is in tune with the Zohar who views our earthliness as an asset and a phenomenon that exists within all of us.

Moshe Stempel – Purim And Nature

Tonight R’ Bamberger continued to discuss the topic of Purim. Tonight’s vaad was based on the sefer Michtav Me’eliyahu by R’ Eliyahu Dessler.

Chazal tell us that G-d always creates the remedy before He creates the problem when He punishes the Jewish people. In his sefer Ohr Chadash, the Maharal explains this phenomenon as follows: When G-d punishes non-Jews, His intent is that they should suffer. The suffering isn’t there to stimulate them to repent. However, when G-d punishes Jews, His intent is not merely to inflict pain. Rather, the suffering is there to stimulate us to repent for something.

When we examine the Purim story, we discover that all of Haman’s plans backfired on himself. After he advised Achashveirosh to kill Queen Vashti, Esther became the new queen. Haman’s attempts to persuade Achashveirosh to kill the Jewish people led to the execution of his own family. When Haman explained to the king how he wanted to be honored, he was forced to honor Mordechai in that same fashion. Finally, when Haman removed the supporting beam from his mansion to hang Mordechai, he and his sons were ultimately hanged on the same gallows. The perfection of G-d’s Justice is best portrayed when evil people are punished for their sins measure for measure.

The Ramban emphasizes that the miracles that took place in Egypt during the Exodus were supernatural in nature. However, all the miracles that took place during the Purim story were hidden in nature. Indeed, the Hebrew name “Esther” is cognate to another Hebrew word that means “hidden.” Thus, our job in exile is to see the Hand of G-d even within nature.

Many people make the mistake of believing that our problems are the results of corrupt politicians, white-collar criminals, or terrorists. Nothing can be further from the truth. Rather, G-d Himself controls every aspect of nature.

R’ Mendel Kaplan was known to speak with a very broken English. He came to America at a late stage in his life and was unable to master the English language. He used to bring a newspaper to class and ask his students to read it for him. He then told them that he would teach them how to interpret the articles that they read. His message was that a person needs Da’as Torah in order to properly interpret events that happen in the world.

The story of Purim teaches us that G-d controls every aspect of nature. Indeed, the very name “Purim” means “lots.” The reference is to the lots that Haman drew to determine the date on which it was most favorable to exterminate the Jewish people. Thus, even the date that he ultimately selected was not mere “chance.”     ​

 

Aleeza Ben Shalom – 7 Ways To Relax On A Date

Tips for coming across relaxed and approachable so your date can get to know the real you.

Are you coming across as too intense on dates? Is your first impression scaring people off? Here are some tips for coming across as more relaxed and approachable so your date can get to know the real you.

1. Smile more often.

Try not to have your game face on. Yes, you’re dating for marriage and not casually, but it’s still important not to come across like a police officer interrogating a potential suspect. Relax, smile, and enjoy the conversation. Don’t feel that you need to know everything right away – let the conversation flow naturally and see where it goes without trying to force it to lead somewhere.

2. Laugh.

Everyone likes to laugh. Remember to have fun, tell a joke, laugh when the waiter gets your order wrong for the third time. Laughter decreases tension and tends to make people more comfortable, so make sure to laugh at your date’s jokes – or make some of your own.

3. Tell a story.

Maybe something you’re discussing will remind you about an interesting event that happened to you or someone that you know. This gives your date a chance to see the real you and get a glimpse into your life.

4. Don’t debate, find common ground

Maybe he likes the same author that you do. Maybe she’s also the middle child. Maybe you enjoy the same type of music. Maybe you both like to cook and try out new recipes. Whatever common interests or similarities you can find, discuss them further and start to develop a bond with your date. Creating a connection over your shared interest in politics is good. However, if your politics are different don’t entertain that subject to keep your intense side at bay.

5. Ask open ended questions.

If the answer to every question is “yes” or “no,” the conversation never gets started. Ask your date to tell you about what they’re studying and why, or what they enjoyed about their trip last summer, or why they chose their particular career. Anything that makes them think and consider their response creates an opening for further conversation and connection.

6. Remember what works.

Try remembering a time when you were with a friend and felt very comfortable speaking with them. Bring that memory into your present moment so you can relax. It’s not always easy to feel relaxed on a date. This is a complete stranger that you’re considering as a future life partner – not a very relaxing setting! However, it’s important to push those thoughts out of your mind and focus on learning more about the person in front of you. Keep it light and casual for the first date – like you are just hanging out with an old friend.

7. End it well.

People remember the beginnings and ends of things more than the middles. Don’t worry if there were a few times in the middle of the date when the conversation stalled or you asked a question that was too personal. Focus on ending the date on a positive note. That is what will stay with your date after the end of the evening.

Dates can be stressful. Start by keeping things light; you’ll not only show off a more approachable side of your personality – you’ll enjoy the dates more yourself.

May you find the right one soon and stay calm and relaxed throughout the process.

Originally published on aish.com