250x300_01 . Buy School Clothing Square New . VocalReferences jpg 250x250_1 .

Apr 12, 2007

why a BT would change?

What would you do if you found out you were not Jewish?

If you were suddenly told that you were adopted as a child, a non-Jewish child, and converted to Judaism, you are given a choice whether to accept that original conversion performed in your youth or to reject it and live on as a non-Jew. What would you do?

It happened to someone my wife knew a long time ago and she (17 years old at the time) decided to reject the conversion and live as a non-Jew.

I never really understood why people convert to Judaism. People can continue to live their lives as gentiles and still live meaningful lives. They can change their ways and habits if they are unhappy with the circumstances within which they find themselves. They can change all sorts of things, but to change and convert to Judaism is something I never really understood. Of course there are exceptions where someone is specifically drawn to Judaism and then it seems like an obvious change, but that is not usually the case, especially in today's world of assimilation and intermarriage. The Baleboostah wrote a nice write-up a while back about why she and her family are converting to Judaism and I wonder whether most converts have similar reasons.

I do not know what I would do in that case. A non-Jew could be a wonderful person and righteous and merit a portion in The World to Come, all without converting to Judaism. And he would do that without all the restrictions Judaism would place on him as a convert, let alone the societal (not necessarily halachic) restrictions.

The situation is different, I think, with Baalei T'shuva. Hirshel wrote about how he does not understand why people become frum and how many more are leaving the path than those joining (I am not familiar with the statistics so I do not know if that is accurate or not).

Hirshel is getting a lot of flak because people misunderstood his point. People think he is saying that living a frum lifestyle is not worthwhile or valid. That is not what he meant and while I do not agree with his conclusions, I understand his point.

I think I understand the Baal T'shuva better than I do the convert because the Baa' T'shuva is already Jewish. The Baal T'shuva sees religion as the correct path within Judaism and has decided that he wants to live according to the correct path. It will not be easy making the change, but he is willing to go through the hardships in order to be honest with himself and his beliefs.

I would wish that our society would be more open and accepting of Baalei T'shuva than it currently is. There are countless stories of schools that refuse entry to children of Baalei T'shuva and the like. We seem to want people to become Baalei T'shuva but then don't want to associate with them once they do.

7 comments:

  1. In chabad circles ba'alei teshuva are just like the FFB. my parents are both BT's.

    To be honest I could never live a "frum" lifestyle in the yeshivesh / litvak world.. its all so cold and fake to me.. I much rather drink a beer and smoke a square..

    I was hardly shomr torah v'mitzvot as a teen, I did drugs, alchohol, traif etc.. you name it..

    But life was empty, I said to myself "is this what I want in my life?" I knew I wanted to live as a good jew and raise my kids to be chasid, yirei shamayim and lamdan..

    So I started my journey back to judaism and renewd my conection to g-d.

    One of the biggest factors was eretz yisrael, I have and always will have this burning unstopoble conection to eretz yisrael..

    All of my BT friends and us returning FFRB's have one thing in common..

    We are all carlebach / mitnachal / breslov / chabad etc.. I dont see many BT's to the yeshiva world.

    I am not looking to criticize the yeshiva worlf, but the true fact is that their avodah and misnagdim in general is cold and personal and its not something a BT is interested in..

    Misnagdim are too much on a personal level, what about making a dira b'tachtonim?

    As wild as friday night carlebach minyan at machpela is.. the guys LOVE it!

    ReplyDelete
  2. that makes sense... though there are a lot of BT's to the litvish world.

    BTW, I did notice (as an outsider speaking) that those who become BT's to chabad or breslov integrate much easier and quicker than those to litvish (not personally but socially). They are indistinguishable much quicker than by the litvish.

    ReplyDelete
  3. If you count ohr sameach as litvish.. I guess.

    Also the problem in the yeshivish world is working profesional's, ties with non religious family and friends, social standards etc...

    C'mon admit it, if you hang with your chiloni friends they start gossiping like crazy its disgusting!

    My mothers side is not religious, we have lots of shabbat guests that drive to us on shabbat.

    My abba is a pharmacist, notice how the yeshivish world frowns on working profesional's its a disgrace! the rambam was a doctor!

    Only in chabad do you have a matisyahu who can inspire the world and make a kidush hashem and not be put in cherem!

    The same goes for standards of dress and such, I dress normally and see no reason I should wear a white shirt and black pants, I actually find that stupid...

    I think more effort needs to put in to focus on the neshama not the outside..

    ReplyDelete
  4. the questions why would a person become a ball tshuva and why would a person convert are, in my opinion, closely related.

    People are hard wired to have belief in an existence outside of our own self. This has been demonstarted in numerous scientific journals, everything from the delta waves created during medittion and prayer which creates the "spirit affect" to the brains lack of ability to focus on itself which creates a cleaving in our thought process between self and soul. (check out scientific american for many many easy to read articles on these subjects)

    The point is, when you take our own hard wiring, and then add the social need to be part of a group, to have like minded people and a set of rules to govern your life it is no wonder that most people believe in something.
    I think the easy way to answer the question though is to look at what you might consider "extreme" examples: such as, why would someone join a cult? People have needs.Religion and structure and belief and a close group of like minded people can fufill those needs.

    ReplyDelete
  5. rafi:

    nice post. i never understood the conversion phenomena either. but there are some people who have certain religious needs that are best met within a jewish framework. they are simply not spiritually satisfied by being noachides. sometimes they go through a few religions until they find what they are looking for in judaism (see for example abraham carmel's autobiography)

    "There are countless stories of schools that refuse entry to children of Baalei T'shuva and the like."

    and what about shidduchim? heaven forbid your great grandfather was a bt.

    ReplyDelete
  6. elchonon:

    "In chabad circles ba'alei teshuva are just like the FFB."

    maybe it is better among habad than some other groups, but not all is equal there too. who goes to the yeshivah in crown heights and who is shifted to the one on ocean parkway?

    if you are looking for true equality among ffbs and bts, then come over to the mo world. (not that we don't have out own problems of course.)

    "I dont see many BT's to the yeshiva world. I am not looking to criticize the yeshiva world . . ."

    1) your perspective is thru habbad, which is not at all representative of the larger hassidic world. how many bts do you think there are among satmar, munkacz, pupa, stolin, etc. i am going to assume not too many. doubtlessly way fewer that the yeshivish bts.

    2) you are way off about minimizing the numbers of yeshivish bts. there are many but they are silent. this is probably due in great part to discrimination, but also because the yeshivish world in general does not parade them as trophies.

    "misnagdim in general is cold and personal and its not something a BT is interested in"

    not true (see #2). and who says that the hassidic way is "better"? a wild friday night carlebach minyan is not necessarily what yiddishkeit is all about. nor is it what all bts are looking for. and kalete litvaks have a much longer tradition than do hassidim. (wow. i can't believe i am defending the yeshivah world here.)

    "notice how the yeshivish world frowns on working profesional's its a disgrace!"

    that's true. i like even more that the hassidishe velt does not look down on blue collar labor.

    "Only in chabad do you have a matisyahu who can inspire the world and make a kidush hashem and not be put in cherem!"

    the haredi world's manipulation of public and successful figures like matisyahu is hypocritical. but that is for a separate post.

    "see no reason I should wear a white shirt and black pants, I actually find that stupid..."

    take this up with the haredi world in general, not just misnagdim.

    "I think more effort needs to put in to focus on the neshama not the outside.."

    amen

    ReplyDelete

Related Posts

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...