Mark and David asked in their suggested topics: Am I more judgemental of the non-observant since becoming a BT?
Often times when we are becoming frum, we are at just about the most judgmental times in our lives. When it comes to non-frum friends and family one thinks, “If I could see the truth, why can’t they? They have no excuse!” On the other hand, we think about the frum people, “How can they talk during davening? How come he goes so fast through davening that when I’m starting “Ata Chonein,” he’s taking his three steps back?! How can people sleep through their Friday night seuda without any Zmiros?”
Of course, when Yiddishkeit is new and exciting, it is easy to get overconfident and judgmental about others. However, I would make two comments. One is that we all know that after a few years go by and things are not so new anymore, we start to understand our frum friends a little better, as we become, or are inclined to become, more like them. Once the davening becomes fluent and we aren’t excited by it anymore, there’s a desire to speed through it to things we want to do more. It becomes, then, easier not to judge frum people because we are more like them now.
When it comes to judging non-frum people, I think it’s good to step back from yourself and ask the question, “Why did I become frum to begin with? Was it because I was the only one who was intellectually honest and searching, examing all the evidence with disinterested objectivity?” No! I, at least, became frum because I was inexorably drawn to it, once I began learning about it. There was an inexplicable pull that caused me to incredibly fascinated with Torah and Yiddishkeit. I reflect on the fact that I know dozens and dozens of people who were exposed to the same people and teachings that I was exposed to. Yet they remained unmoved, while I was blown away and drawn after it.
I cannot explain this difference in reaction by any natural means. I can’t say that I’m the only deep thinker that I knew. That would be ga’avah and it would be false. The only explanation I have come up with to explain this phenomenon is Siyata Dishmaya. It may sound strange but I don’t put my teshuva in the context of a truly free-will decision for me. I was drawn. Others are unmoved. It seems to me that the hand of G-d plucks out certain Neshamos, for his own inscrutible reasons, and brings them into the fold. (For more on limitations on free will, see Mei Hashiloach Parshas Vayeira, D”H “Vatitzchak Sara,” and Parshas Pinchas. See also, Tzidkus Hatzadik 44.)
I think that we can avoid the feeling of ga’avah and judgmentalism by meditating upon the fact that you and I are only zocheh to be here because of the kindness of Hashem in bringing us close, and not due to any personal intellectual or spiritual greatness.
May Hashem bring all Jews closer to Him soon in our days!