Primacy--Make Your Date Know That He or She Comes First
To do something, say something, see something, before anybody else--these are things that confer a pleasure compared with which other pleasures are tame and commonplace, other ecstacies cheap and trivial.
--Mark Twain (1835-1910), U.S. author, The Innocents Abroad
THE FIRST COMMANDMENT: I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, from the house of slavery . . . (Exodus 20:2)
That's one hell of an introduction, isn't it? No goofy pickup line, just straightforward, personal information--the tachless,
as we say in Jew talk. We hear the confidence in this introduction and think, "Wow, this God is one cool customer . . ."
I was fifteen years old when I decided that God was cool and that I was going to be a Rabbi, and so I went to a seminary in California. (Almost the only issue that united my divorced parents was mutual hostility to the path I had chosen in life. Becoming a Rabbi is no job for a nice Jewish boy. If you are really bright, you become an investment banker. If you have some gentile genes mixed into you, a doctor. If your mother smoked heavily while she was pregnant with you, you become an accountant. And if you were kicked in the head by a mule when you were two, you become a Rabbi. Hence, every Jewish parent who has a child who has become a Rabbi lies about it and says that he is a truck driver or a sheep shearer instead.)
At Yeshiva, the seminary, there were approximately fifty young men, and, being far away from our families, we soon bonded and made friends. My closest friend of all was a boy named David. On his fifteenth birthday we gave him a little party. Well, we went around the room and we each toasted him. After seventy-odd toasts he became very drunk. Then we took him back to his room and tried to put him to bed.
In the midst of this process, he suddenly became incredibly lucid. He got out of his bed, placed his hands on both my shoulders, and said, "Shmuley, I have something of the greatest importance to tell you." He spoke with the authority of a prophet. "You are the Messiah, Shmuley. I have been sent as a messenger of God down to this earth to reveal to you that you are the chosen, long-promised redeemer of Israel. I've waited fifteen years to reveal this to you, because the time was not yet ripe. Now, the age of redemption has come." We all laughed out loud and told him he was crazy. Then we took off his shoes and tried to stick him back in bed. But he resisted all our efforts. Light shone from his face. "I'm telling you, Shmuley," and here he started to cry, "you are the Messiah and your task is to redeem the Jewish people and remove iniquity from the earth--like trying to get Barry Manilow to stop singing. It's you. You can't shirk your responsibility. God has authorized me to provide a sign that what I'm saying is true." And with that he began to string together complex mystical names of God from the Hebrew alphabet. None of us were laughing anymore. The other boys were transcribing his words, letter by letter. It all made sense. He had revealed a holy new name for God according to the ancient cabbalistic formula.
Having accomplished his mission, David's soul was called on high, at least for the night, and he promptly fell asleep. The other boys looked at me with awe. I was the most special boy on the planet, born to bring deliverance to all the inhabitants of the earth. Everything my mother had always been telling me was true. My head swelled to the size of a watermelon and I couldn't fit through the door. The Messiah. Me. Right on!
I swore the other boys to secrecy. They were frightened and quietly withdrew. I paced the floor, wondering how to handle things. First I would probably have to retreat to some cave and fast for forty days and forty nights. No doubt Elijah the prophet would soon appear to me and provide further instruction. With this in mind I stayed up the whole night preparing a plan for what would have to be achieved for the perfection of the earth. I made a list. As far as I can remember, it was something like this:
1. End all conflict and usher in a period of world peace.
2. Rid the earth of disease.
3. Resurrect the dead (tough one).
4. Bring back John and reunite the Beatles.
5. Eradicate country music from the earth's airwaves.
Boy, was I going to be busy. I decided that the first thing that I would do in the morning was to call Ronald Reagan--who was our President at the time--and tell him I was the Messiah, but make sure he kept it a secret. Better to have him as an ally. I was a bit worried about all the innocent lives I might have to destroy in Las Vegas. It's hell being the Messiah.
By the morning David had sobered up and remembered nothing of the night before. The other boys rechecked the supposed new mystical name of God that he had revealed in the night, and discovered the letters actually came out as something like IMFULLACRAP. All awe and reverence for me instantly vanished. I was the laughingstock of the school. My Messianic mission was over, having lasted a measly eight hours.
But the point of the story is that I had stayed up all night, at the age of fifteen, and was prepared to take upon myself an immense amount of work and global responsibility, just because someone had made me feel special.
It's something we all need and search for. The greatest human need is to feel unique, distinguished and special. But the secret of life is that you can never feel special on your own. It takes a stranger with free choice to choose us in order to feel special. We want someone who confirms our sense of uniqueness. This desire to be accorded primacy, to be treated as Number One, at least by one other human being, is one of the deepest human desires. So strong is it that when we find someone who makes us feel this way, we are sometimes prepared to give up everything else.
The First Commandment is the only one that commands . . . nothing. But there is an important message hidden here. By simply declaring His identity--"I am the Lord your God"--God is teaching us that primacy is the first rule of a new relationship. He does not have to embellish this with any specific demands for devotion or worship. Once primacy is given, love and respect follow naturally. It was through acknowledging God's essential, irrefutable primacy in their lives that the Jews at Sinai began to build indissoluble ties in their relationship with Him--ties that bind us to this day.Primacy--the first rule of dating
So that's where you start. Make the person you are dating know that you think that there is no one like them. Give your boyfriend or girlfriend precedence, make them feel that they are more important than everything else. Coming even five minutes late to a date is basically a statement that something more important than them came up. Don't do it.From the Hardcover edition.
Excerpted from Dating Secrets of the Ten Commandments by Shmuley Boteach. . Excerpted by permission of Harmony, a division of Random House LLC. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.