Posted on | February 15, 2006 | By Shoshanna Silcove | 22 Comments
From a Torah viewpoint, contemporary secular society often adheres to immoral values and mores. Some common scenarios for today’s BT’s are the following:
A BT’s sibling gets engaged to a non-Jew. The entire family expects the BT to be happy for their sibling. The BT can either go along while their family members are rejoicing while keeping their disapproval silent, or run the risk of creating alienation and conflict with family members by stating their real feelings about intermarriage. Some of the non-observant relatives may accuse the BT of being intolerant or racist for being against intermarriage. They may even argue that the BT is standing in the way of their sibling’s happiness.
Another common scenario in today’s immoral world is the widespread acceptance of homosexuality. A BT’s cousin, for instance, comes out as a gay. The entire family is bending over backwards to be open minded and happily welcomes the gay couple into the family as if they are as ‘normal’ as the straights are. If the BT expresses their Torah viewpoint, they could automatically be branded as ‘homophobic’ by family members who will say it is the BT, and not the gay couple, who has the problem.
Social gatherings can become extremely problematic, especially after the BT has their own frum children. Not only do the genders mix, but there can be much kissing and hugging among relatives and old friends. The BT has to distance themselves from the people who have known them since they were babies without hurting their feelings or making them angry. This can often take more tact and diplomacy than the average BT can muster up.
Secular society, is unfortunately, without boundaries when it comes to tznius. Off colour stories or jokes, subtle sexual innuendos and flirting, and the ubiquitous flashing of flesh are commonplace, both in the workplace and at social functions. The BT must learn to put up a protective shield against all this to keep them from being negatively influenced, and also must often accept becoming socially isolated from people they care for.
A BT might be called a hypocrite by those who knew them the longest, from those who remember the BT from way back then, before he or she became a ‘religious fanatic’. Snide remarks, sympathetic nods, and condescending platitudes about the quaint but narrow frum lifestyle can catch a BT off guard and leave them feeling rejected.
FFB’s do not usually face these kinds of challenges and could find it difficult to relate to what it is like to undergo a dramatic change without the support or understanding of those closest to them.