Friday, January 12, 2007

Why The Baal Teshuva World Irritates Me

I am not FFB, but I have a number of friends who are. I am not BT and not real likely to go that route. I have watched many friends go down that path and haven't had the most pleasant reaction to what I have seen.

The internal struggle that many of them has gone through has created so many tumultuous situations. Time after time I have witnessed terrible fighting with their relatives and the complete severance of decade long friendships.

I understand and appreciate that they have found a spiritual calling. I can respect that. I don't have any problem with people choosing to find the derech. But I cannot condone the bridge burning that many of their supporters encourage them to do.

When the only way that you can find security in your new place is to rid yourself of all of your old world ties there is a problem. It comes off as being cultlike and I think that it is sad.

Not all of my friends growth resembled Sherman's march through Atlanta. Some of them found a path that allowed them to do what they had to do without badmouthing their friends and relatives. Some of them were secure enough to accept that not everyone was going to be like them.

And some understood that you attract more flies with honey. They recognized that patronizing comments were unwarranted and that building bridges made more sense.

I suppose that part of what bothers me about this stems from their refusal to accept that there are those of us who have chosen to maintain our level of observance. Just as they feel like they have come to a place of spiritual growth so have we.

I recall one friend who grew up in a completely secular home trying to teach me how I could be more observant and become a better Jew. The former three day a year Jew thinking that 18 months of learning meant that he knew more than 25 years of practicing Judaism.

Why? Because the people he was surrounded by taught him that any Judaism that was different from their own wasn't real. Quite shameful and quite sad. A real chillul Hashem.

I don't want to belabor the point. I don't have a problem with BTs in general and applaud their decision. All I expect is that they open their eyes and look around. In spite of what some say, it is a big world and there is no one singular path to Hashem.

Just as they say they'll daven for me, I daven for them.

(Originally posted here)