In the Introduction to Chapter Nine, we discussed whether or not women reincarnate as men do. Regarding this topic in the first chapter of Sotah (2a) in reference to the verse, "G‑d settles the individuals into a house [i.e. family], He releases those bound in fetters" (Psalms 68:7), the Sages of speak of a first and second soul-mate.

Pairing people is as difficult as the splitting of the Red Sea.

Hence, when it says, "pairing people is as difficult as the splitting of the Red Sea," it refers to the second soul-mate. However, the understanding of a first and second soul-mate cannot be according to the simple definition since in many instances we see that the second marriage is better than the first.

Rather, we learn the explanation from The Saba of Mishpatim1 on the verse, "If he was married then his wife will go out with him" (Ex. 21:3). That is, when a person is new and in the world for the first time, then his soul-mate is born with him, and when it comes time to marry, they [Heaven] arrange the moment, making it simple for them to meet.

As the Talmud says, before a man is born it is declared in Heaven who he will marry. However,, the Ari explains that this refers to when he comes into the world the first time, and it is only during this lifetime that Heaven arranges events to make the finding and marrying of one’s soul-mate as simple as possible.

However, if a man sins and needs to reincarnate as a result, then the verse "his wife will go out with him" applies to him, as it says in Saba of Mishpatim, that is, she will reincarnate as well for his good. Nevertheless, when the time comes to get married, they will not assist them and he will only succeed after great effort. Since he was forced to reincarnate as a result of his sin there will be those who will accuse him and want to prevent her from being available to him, and they will cause fighting.

It is a test of faith to plow forward nonetheless and seek G‑d from amidst the concealment.

Providence will not openly work in his favor since he has returned as a result of previous sins which create accusers who work against him. Truthfully, in such case G‑d is also working to help the person, but in a hidden manner. It is a test of faith to plow forward nonetheless and seek G‑d from amidst the concealment.

This is what it means when it says, "pairing people is as difficult as the splitting of the Red Sea" - it is a reference to the second zivug.

Hence, in actuality she is his real soul-mate who he has already married in his previous gilgul and thus now, in this new gilgul, it is their second zivug. In other words, she herself is the first wife but it is the second time she is marrying him. This is why it does not say the "second soul-mate" (zivug sheinis) but rather the "second-time pairing" (zivug sheini). The former would refer to a different wife and not the same woman herself.

Thus, it can happen that a man can marry a woman quickly and without any difficulty or argument. Yet, another man may fight the entire time with his future wife until marriage, after which time there is finally peace, proving that she is indeed his soul-mate, but that it was the second zivug. Only had there been no peace after marriage could we assume that she is not his zivug.

[Translation and commentary by Perets Auerbach.]