Posted on | October 14, 2009 | By Guest Contributor | 8 Comments
This classic BT guide was written by Friedman the Tutor and was originally targeted at BTs learning in Yeshiva’s but the advice is appropriate for any BT, so we’ll be excerpting it from time to time here.
If you take on too much, too quickly, you can cause an inner backlash. You could wake up one day sick of Torah, sick of yourself, or just physically sick. Or all three.
Find a Mentor
One human connection is worth more than ten perfect institutions. Torah is inherited through personal relationships more than class curriculum. You’ll need your yeshiva classes to provide a balanced range of information, but the melody behind all those details comes through human bonding. Look for a teacher who has what you want, or whose teaching is inspiring or, in an intuitive sense, familiar. If you find more than one person, use them all, but find at least one mentor. Then be brave and ask for times to talk and invitations for Shabbos.
Don’t Abandon Your Old Identity
Don’t get so excited over your new script that you destroy all your old props and scenery. Don’t suddenly give away your old books or throw out your favorite music. (Please use earphones if you live with others.) Keep contact with your old friends. Continue to use your own name. Don’t hurry to declare that you are too religious now for your library, your family, your profession, your artistic life, or your old hobbies. Such radical changes will only become appropriate for you to consider several years down the line. Racing into those decisions now won’t help you purify your soul more quickly. Instead, such changes could unravel you by removing all your familiar coordinates. Amputating your past undermines your creativity and authenticity. It could leave you spiritually limp instead of spiritually more vigorous. It’s great that you want to explore who you might become, but don’t do it by losing touch with who you are.
The entire guide is available here.