web analytics
March 1, 2015 / 10 Adar , 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
Jeffrey Goldberg
V’nahafoch Hu! Jeffrey Goldberg Reverses Himself on Bibi, Obama and the Iran Deal
Latest Blogs Stories
Doug Goldstein

What are the ramifications of giving up your US citizenship? Would it effect your visiting the US?

brit mila at French jewish community

Chasidim believe that Metzitza B’Peh (MbP) is an essential part of the circumcision ritual.

Herzog & Livni

AMERICAN INTERFERENCE in ISRAELI ELECTIONS is IMMORAL and 1000% CHUTZPADIK!

Baruch Marzel (left) and Hanin Zoabi

Extremism from Jews is considered a “danger;” Arab extremism and anti-Jewish terror is “legitimate”

It was in fact Israel, not Palestinians or journalists, who began spreading the older photos, in order to generate credibility for the “slander” angle.

Next week we celebrate Purim, more relevant and illuminating in light of current events than ever

“They all attack each other” is how David described campaign tactics. “Welcome to politics, my son,”

Most Israelis think kowtowing to US demands to get on Obama’s “good side” won’t work and isn’t right

Big questions this week: Does materialism make people happy? Can one be happy with what they have?

A Rosh Yeshiva guessed 60% of bochurim in Israel’s yeshiva system belong there only 3-4 yrs post HS

Wednesday evening 25th of February there’s just the event for Anglos to attend, The Anglo Vote!

3 men pin the terrorist. In the white shirt is Jerusalem’s Mayor Barkat, taking a hands-on approach

The necessity for setting financial goals and how to realize your life’s dreams.

Not long ago Israelis waited nightly during campaigns for TV broadcasts of election campaign movies

I heard men singing…I saw men dancing. Can you imagine? It’s literally FREEZING out there! WOW!

Lapid is not anti-Haredi; He’s pro-Haredi in his way, wanting them to flourish. and join society

More Articles from Harry Maryles
brit mila at French jewish community

Chasidim believe that Metzitza B’Peh (MbP) is an essential part of the circumcision ritual.

Rabbi Pappenheim

Lapid is not anti-Haredi; He’s pro-Haredi in his way, wanting them to flourish. and join society

If Bibi is in the US already Pres. Obama MUST meet with the leader of America’s closest ally!

Sherut Leumi is the national service many women choose in lieu of military service-

My understanding of Footsteps is that they have no religious – or anti-religious agenda.

A violent confrontation between 2 groups erupted at the Ponevezh Yeshiva; dozens injured

There should be more information about intimacy disseminated to young people before they get married

Scenario: When you and your spouse got married you were on the same page religiously; now…

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: