Posted on | January 16, 2007 | By Rabbi Max Weiman | 15 Comments
Should a BT just try to fit in with the rest of the frum velt? Which branch of the frum velt? What does it take to fit in?
When I was dating, a student in the yeshiva I was in decided that he wanted me to date his sister. I spoke to the boy’s mother about it and she said that she didn’t think a baal teshuva (myself) should date an FFB.
“Well, they’re just different.”
“What makes a baal teshuva different?”
“They’re more sincere.”
I still don’t understand.
In a different yeshiva I was in, an FFB student mentioned that he wouldn’t date a baalas teshuva. “Did you know the shadchan doesn’t have to tell you she’s a baalas teshuva?” I asked him.
Agitated, he asked the Rav walking by, “Would you set me up with a baalas teshuva without telling me?”
To which the Rav quipped, “Only if I thought you were worthy.” And kept walking.
Well, I’m not going to get started on the whole dating scene. But the question still remains, what is the baal teshuva’s goal in life.
One guy I knew was young enough and smart enough to enter an FFB yeshiva without a problem. On a visit back to the baal teshuva yeshiva he said, “Yes, you can make it there, but you can’t compete.” I’m not sure why he wanted to “compete” or why that was important to him.
After attaining the level of learning gemara on my own I spent some time in a top notch FFB yeshiva and sat and learned with a few guys. For me, every word and line of tosafos was a struggle. They could whip through a tosafos like water off a duck’s back. I was envious… Until I realized they hadn’t the foggiest idea what tosafos was really after.
I’m not knocking Klal Yisrael.
Klal Yisrael has kedusha. Klal Yisrael has collective ruach hakodesh, and maybe even nevuah. It’s important to feel and be apart of Klal Yisrael. The inner recognition of being part of the 3300 years of tradition is vital to
the identity of a Jew. And we must feel one with the group of Jews hanging on to Torah observance and values for dear life.
A BT should want to feel comfortable with, and have appreciation for, the good things in any branch of frum Jews he/she meets. A BT should have ahavas yisrael for a Satmar chassid, a Mir yeshiva student, a pajama-yalmulke-guitar playing- funky frum vegetarian, and a frum Manhattan woman lawyer with a $4000 sheitel. With a Sefardi, a Litvach, and a Hungarian. Whoever they are and wherever they’re from.
A BT should also think long and hard about the circumstances of his/her upbringing and ponder why HaShem caused him/her to have those experiences and live that lifestyle for those years.
Nothing is an accident.
We are in 5767, in this important time in history before the coming of moshiach for a reason and a purpose. Is it just to fit in? Are we merely reincarnated neshamas whose only task is to make it back to the fold?
Or are we uniquely designed to play an important role, precisely as a BT at this stage of Jewish history?
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