Today we are posting the audio file for Part 2 of Rabbi Shlomo Goldberg’s lecture at the Life After Teshuva conference, titled “You Used to be So Much Fun – Relating to Non-Religious Family and Friends”.
Click on the link to listen to Part 2. Here is the link if you missed hearing Part 1. (To download either audio file to your computer, click with the right mouse button on the link and select Save Target As)
Here is a summary of Part 2, but please take the time to listen to the audio file.
Rabbi Goldberg points out that we can’t hold non observant family members responsible for their sometimes adverse reaction to our Yiddishkeit because we are the ones who went “crazy”. Our parents raised us in a”normal” way and we did the “abnormal” thing. In addition, they raised us to be independent and it is difficult for them when we choose a path so different from theirs. A lot of what we do is a denial of the values that they tried to impart. And that is a hard thing to have thrown in your face on a daily basis. We are sending a constant subtle message that we are rejecting what they have done. From our parents’ point of view, we are kids at risk. We have to do all that we can to improve the situation.
People want to hear about things that will benefit them. If we want to build an understanding relationship the first thing is to show that they benefit because we are now religious. Show them what’s in it for them. Parents and friends see all the things that we can’t do – No more Saturday’s, no more restaurants,etc.. We have to show them that their life is better as a result of our Yiddishkeit. That means a focus on mitzvos between man and his fellow man. Leave religion out of most conversations. Rabbi Goldberg feels it is not our responsibility to Mekariv our parents. What we have to do is avoid creating a Chillul Hashem. Don’t drive them away.
There are a lot of things we can’t do, so we have to create a situation where we say yes as much as possible. A relationship is like a bank account and you have to make a lot of deposits, so when you make the withdrawals you are not overdrawn. Look for opportunities to make deposits. We often need a Rav to know when we can say yes. Rabbi Goldberg states there are surprising heterim, but you need a Rav. If your parents and relatives see that you do say yes whenever you can, then they will know that when you say no, it is because you have no other choice.
Family members sometimes feel that we get some holier than thou pleasure out of saying no. They need to know that we don’t enjoy having to say no to them, we wish we could say yes. Look to take every legimitate leniency, but consult a Rav to determine details. We have to know when to make an issue out of things and when we should let them go.
Part 3 will be made available in the upcoming weeks. Please comment on Part 2 on this thread.