web analytics
April 27, 2015 / 8 Iyar, 5775
At a Glance
Blogs
Sponsored Post


Outreach, Regrets and the Wrong Man for the Job

The idea of coming to observant Judaism on one’s own initiative is something those of us who were born into it, cannot possibly achieve.
Aish Hatorah Center opposite the Kotel, Jerusalem.

Aish Hatorah Center opposite the Kotel, Jerusalem.
Photo Credit: Tzviya

In a recent issue of Mishpacha Magazine the important issue of Baal Teshuva (BT) regret was tackled. The Baal Teshuva phenomenon is a subject that is dear to my heart. Organizations like Aish HaTorah (pictured) have been successfully reaching out to young unaffiliated Jews for decades now.

Although I haven’t discussed it in quite some time, those who know my views – know that that my feelings toward the Baal Teshuva (and equally to the sincere convert) is one of immeasurable respect.

To put my views in a nutshell, the idea of coming to observant Judaism on one’s own initiative is something those of us who were born into it (FFBs), cannot possibly achieve. We did not search for the truth to then find it in Judaism. Judaism was handed to us on a platter. Most of us have known nothing else.

Even though we can all achieve great depths of understanding – it is an order of magnitude greater when one does this from scratch. So I stand in awe of such people and echo what the Talmud says in Brachos (34b):

B’Makom She’Baalei Teshuvah Omdim, Ein tzaddik Gamur Yachol Laamod – In the place where the Baal Teshuva stands, even the most righteous among us cannot stand.

I realize that not every Baal Teshuva starts out from the vantage point of simply seeking truth. Some simply find comfort in observant communities. Or appreciate the structure an observant lifestyle gives them. Or the like the values Judaism represents. Sometimes it is about rebelling against a secular past or a dysfunctional family.

In these cases there may be no real dwelling on the great truths of the Torah. But ultimately belief in these truths does play a significant part.

The problem discussed in the Mishpacha article sometimes Baalei Teshuva get “buyer’s remorse.” There could be several reasons for this. For example if the motivation to become observant is too shallow then becoming observant may be only temporary. Sometimes it is because of disillusionment with the negative behavior they see among some of our FFB Orthodox brethren. There are probably a lot of reasons.

However, there does seem to a consensus among those involved in outreach people that the blame in many of these cases may lie in the fact that Baalei Teshuva are often not accepted into the larger Orthodox communities. Rejection can be a big turn off!

I don’t believe this is a Charedi versus Modern Orthodox dichotomy. I think the problem exists in both worlds. No matter how hard they try, some communities just don’t do a good job of welcoming the BT into their lives. That leaves them out in the cold and on their own.

Why is that the case? I’m not entirely sure but I have heard it said for example that a Baal Teshuva or a convert brings a lot of secular baggage with them. Baggage that an FFB community does not want to deal with. For me that is a nonsense and a non issue. Most BTs are sincere and are willing to give up the Issurim they were involved with. Like going to McDonald’s for a cheeseburger. What they may not be willing to give up is everything from their past lives. Nor should they.

For example for those who reject secular culture in their lives in any form – it might be a problem for them if the Baal Teshuva likes listening to popular music. But for me, that is a plus. It shows a normal and healthy approach to life.

A Baal Teshuva need not reject everything from their past. As long as there are no Halachic objections popular culture should not be any more of a problem for the Baal Teshuva than it is for me. I recall a Limudei Kodesh principal of a Chasidic day school – with a long beard and who wore a Kapote daily mentioning that when he took long trips by car he listened to Beatles tapes!

Many of the families whose children were in his school would have been shocked by that had they known. The point is that this Mechanech knew there was no problem with secular culture per se. Only that part of which is not permissible by Halacha. But he never communicated that to his students.

About the Author: Harry Maryles runs the blog "Emes Ve-Emunah" which focuses on current events and issues that effect the Jewish world in general and Orthodoxy in particular. It discuses Hashkafa and news events of the day - from a Centrist perspctive and a philosphy of Torah U'Mada. He can be reached at hmaryles@yahoo.com.


If you don't see your comment after publishing it, refresh the page.

Our comments section is intended for meaningful responses and debates in a civilized manner. We ask that you respect the fact that we are a religious Jewish website and avoid inappropriate language at all cost.

If you promote any foreign religions, gods or messiahs, lies about Israel, anti-Semitism, or advocate violence (except against terrorists), your permission to comment may be revoked.

No Responses to “Outreach, Regrets and the Wrong Man for the Job”

Comments are closed.

Binyamin and Chaya Maryles, uncle and aunt of Emes Ve-Emunah author Harry Maryles.
Current Top Story
Princeton University students voted down an Israel Divestment referendum in April, 2015.
Inside Look at Princeton’s Israel Divestment Failure
Latest Blogs Stories
empirestatebuildinginnewyorkgeneralview4361.jpeg

Truly, in the modern world, we live in the time of ‘What’s in it for me?’ The time of the ‘selfie’!

A Soldier's Mother

My final reaction remains – who builds a mountain of ashes, who turns it into a “tourist” site?

to bibi or not to bibi

Is the recent increase in Arab terror attacks related to the fact that there’s no new government?

HaAchim Gat playing Beit Shemesh

They called it “religious coercion” but it was really “secular coercion” and secular intolerance.

One exciting element of traveling is that it was my first time ever doing so as a dual-citizen!

Attackers of this innocent religious solider had been brainwashed that Israel is evil & illegitimate

How can you take care of the one you love and look after your finances at the same time?

Celebrating 67 years of democratic independence, surviving wars&threats; so much to be thankful for!

He was a Torah giant, uniquely exemplifying the Hashkafa of Torah U’Mada (Torah & worldly knowledge)

All Israel walks beside them, holding them in our hearts, listening, our hearts breaking with theirs

I’ve felt that if only we had established these communities sooner, then the victims would not have been killed

Is inflation always bad for the economy, and why is deflation not always an ideal situation?

It is the character of the individual that counts, not his sexual preferences.

Bibi gives a great speech, especially when talking to foreigners, but on policy, he’s very weak.

One of us had the chutzpah to ask him to join the ball game. He said okay and he played aggressively.

Watch this Doug Goldstein video to learn how easy it’s to open a US brokerage account from overseas.

More Articles from Harry Maryles
empirestatebuildinginnewyorkgeneralview4361.jpeg

Truly, in the modern world, we live in the time of ‘What’s in it for me?’ The time of the ‘selfie’!

Remains of the back window of the car driven in Mea Shearim by an officer of a Hareidi IDF unit.

Attackers of this innocent religious solider had been brainwashed that Israel is evil & illegitimate

He was a Torah giant, uniquely exemplifying the Hashkafa of Torah U’Mada (Torah & worldly knowledge)

It is the character of the individual that counts, not his sexual preferences.

“I am 100% convinced that she is not in any way anti-Semitic. She is in fact a philo-Semite”

Chumros-YES! But when it comes to the Chilul HaShem described in the article they couldn’t care less

Why are employers reluctant to hire Charedim? Legitimate concerns or plain old fashioned prejudice?

Just like the shoppers on Black Friday those attending Rav Wosner’s funeral were oblivious to others

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/blogs/haemtza/outreach-regrets-and-the-wrong-man-for-the-job/2012/09/28/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: