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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

The Mishpacha article interviewed many people who are involved in outreach. To almost a man they pretty much said the same thing. The FFB community must be more accepting and be willing to fully integrate the newly religious them into their lives. That many don’t is one of the reasons some get turned off and start to question why they have chosen this path.

However there was one fellow that took the opportunity to completely disparage those who are not clones of his Hashakafos. I guess he felt that whenever there is an opportunity to disparage Modern Orthodox Jews, he’s going to do it. I can’t let this pass without comment.

When asked about what needs to be done to prevent the Baal Teshuva from regretting his decision, he took umbrage at the very question and asked, “What about FFBs?” Many of them have problems that are even worse.

At first I nodded my head and said, yes! There are many FFBs that have issues that are similar to BTs. We shouldn’’t be singling them out. But then he went right into bashing Modern Orthodoxy Although he didn’t label them outright it was clear from the context that the Modern Orthodox Jew is the one with the real problem.

What’s wrong with us…. according to him? Well we are “unconcerned” about compromising our own Yiddishkeit. And our compromises ‘dwarf’ (his word) anything he ever had to deal with from a BT.

What else do we do wrong? Why might criticize a Rav for being too stringent! Or a Rosh Yeshiva for being too rigid! Or we may even question the decisions of his Gedolei Yisroel! (Of course this also applies to many Charedim who have questioned some of the things said and done by Charedi rabbinic leadership. So I’m sure he includes them in his criticism).

According to this fellow the problem we Modern Orthodox (and wayward Charedim) have is that we just don’t have a Derech. We are too secular and therefore none of us are Bnei Torah!

And then he has the audacity to say that despite our greater involvement in the secular world, we are nowhere near as accepting of the Baal Teshuva into our lives as are those he calls ‘more intensely religious’ (translation – hard core right wing Charedim)!

Why? Well it’s because his ‘more intensely religious’ people do not accept mediocrity – implying of course that we modern orthodox are all about mediocrity! His people have Mesiras Nefesh which they share with the BT – implying that the MO Jew does not! So when we ask why some BTs lose their initial vitality, well we MO never had any to begin with! Like I said, he does not identify us with the term Modern Orthodox. But it is oh so obvious who he is talking about.

I have no patience for people like this. His ‘Holier than thou approach’ is not only a turn off to me, I can’t believe that any Baal Teshuva would pay him any heed. And yet according to the article, he has a huge following of Baalei Teshuva in his Shul. The article calls him a Baal Teshuva magnet! Go figure.

I don’t know what they see in a guy like this. I feel sorry for those BTs who are his devotees. If he preaches these negative attitudes about Modern Orthodoxy to them – then they are being taught to hate their fellow Orthodox Jew. And that is disgusting.

Visit the Emes Ve-Emunah blog.

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.


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Binyamin and Chaya Maryles, uncle and aunt of Emes Ve-Emunah author Harry Maryles.
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