Beyond BT

Spiritual Growth for Jews

Teshuva, Kiruv and BTs

Posted on | September 9, 2013 | By Guest Contributor | 52 Comments

By Rabbi Shaya Karlinsky

This wonderful group is devoted to discussing issues that are important to ba’alei tshuva. And we are now in the season when everyone should be attempting, each in his or her own way, to grow to higher levels through teshuva. There are two Halachoth that the Rambam includes in the laws of teshuva that are addressed to everyone involved teshuva, and which I think should be highlighted for ba’alei tshuva who are struggling in their growth and commitment to Judaism.

The Rambam (Hilchoth Teshuva, Ch. 3, Halacha 3) writes: Anyone who reconsiders the Mitzvoth that he has done, and in place of the meritorious deeds he has done he says to himself “What have I accomplished by doing them? Better that I had not done them.” This person has lost (the merit of) all of them. No merit is remembered for these [deeds], as it is written (Yechezkel 18:24) “And the righteousness of the righteous person will not save him on the day of his evil.” This refers to none other than one who questions his original actions.

This Rambam is based on a Gemara (T. B. Kiddushin 40b) which teaches as follows: Rebbe Shimon ben Yochai said: Even a person who was fully righteous his entire life, and rebelled at the end, loses the original [righteous deeds], as it is written “And the righteousness of the righteous person will not save him on the day of his sin”(Yehezkel 33:12). And even a person who was evil his entire life, and repented at the end, we never remind him again of his evil, as it is written “And the evil of the wicked person – he will not stumble over it on the day of his repentance” (ibid). (The Gemara asks) Let this person (the righteous person who rebelled at the end) be considered as one who has part sins and part meritorious deeds (since he did both good and bad deeds during his life)? Reish Lakish answers [that we are speaking about] one who questions (regrets) his original (good) actions.

I believe the implications of this Gemara, and its incorporation in the Rambam as a Halacha, have significant lessons for individual teshuva, as well as kiruv methods and goals.

A person who simply goes “off the derech” would be judged by taking into account both the Mitzvos he did while “on the derech” as well as the sins done subsequently. But if abandoning Torah observance is coupled with regret over the past observance, then he has lost all merit for those good deeds.

There are those that think that since a person is starting out non-observant, what could be worse than his or her continued violations of Shabbat, eating non-Kosher, failure to put on tefillin, etc. We could reason that there is very little down side in our push to get them as observant as possible as quickly as possible. We may succeed in both the short term as well as the long term. And even if the changes don’t last, at least we tried, and they are still better off than when they started, since part of their life, whether a few months or a few years, was spent being observant.

Pushing too fast, whether ourselves or others, has a serious potential down side. If a person changes in a way that lasts for a certain amount of time, then he drops the changes with regret (which, unfortunately seems to be evidenced in “angry” ex-BT’s) then not only is he unlikely to return at a later stage, but the time he spent doing Mitzvoth is negated.

The fact that a person can have all his sins erased, even later in life, should teach us to have patience in our own growth, and certainly with the people we are influencing to get more connected to Torah. A quick change that gets dropped may close off the option of the long-lasting teshuva later on. Slow change may mean a delay in fully observing Shabbath, Kashruth or other Mitzvoth. But when it is finally reached, the repentance that accompanies it wipes out the earlier sins, and ensures that the changes will stay with the person.

The person in the Gemara who is called THE Rebbe of Teshuva is Rebbe Elizer ben Dordai. (See the famous story in Avodah Zarah, 17a.) Here was a person who spent his entire life sinning in the most hedonistic way. But his honest repentance in the last moments of his life led Rebbe Yehuda HaNasi to cry, saying “There is one who spends many years acquiring his world (eternity), and there is one who can acquire his world in one moment… It isn’t enough that ba’alei tshuva are accepted, but they are even called ‘Rebbe’ (teacher)”.

Patience in our growth, patience with the growth of others, will ensure that the changes that happen will be stable, creating a foundation that can be used for future growth. Decisions about change must be made with a realistic and penetrating assessment of their likely long-term consequences.

The second Halacha that I would like to share is Ch. 7 of Hilchoth Teshuva. In Halacha 3, the Rambam writes: Don’t say there is only repentance from sins which entail actions, such as sexual transgressions, stealing and thievery. Rather, just as one is required to repent from these, so, too, he must examine his evil character traits, and repent from anger, hatred, jealousy, from levity, from pursuit of money and glory, from gluttony, et al. From all these a person must repent. In fact, these sins are more serious than those which entail action, for when a person sinks into these [personality traits] it is difficult to change. So, too, [the prophet] says: “A wicked person [will abandon his path…]” (rather than abandoning his actions).

Today’s society is a self-centered and hedonistic one. Pleasure is at the center of most people’s worlds, and “what’s in it for me” is the governing mantra. Altruism is in short supply, if one is even willing to admit that it exists in normal human beings. The Rambam teaches us that teshuva is required from such behaviors and character traits.

Going further, I believe that such an environment and such an attitude is incompatible with the Torah’s mandate for man, or in his ability to properly be one who accepts Torah.

Rav Chaim Vital, the preeminent student of the Ari z”l writes an amazing lesson in Shaarei Kedusha, The Gates of Holiness, Part 1, Gate 2. “…Good character traits are not mandated among the 613 commandments, but they are the fundamental preparation for the fulfillment or annulment of the 613 commandments. For the transcendent life-force has no ability to fulfill the 613 commandments through the 613 organs and limbs of the body, except through the fundamental life-force that is connected to the body (which is reflected in the character traits)… Therefore bad character traits are much more serious than the commandment violations themselves.”

Transforming a self-centered, immediate-gratification seeking human being into an altruistic, giving and patient one is a necessary step in the road towards proper acceptance and observance of the Torah. While we like to think that good character traits are a nice addition, with the primary goal being for a person to be Mitzvah observant, Rav Chaim Vital teaches us differently.

In fact, the Talmud in Yoma (86a) does, too.

“And you should love G-d” – that the name of G-d should become beloved (to others) through you. That a person should read and study Torah, serve Torah scholars, his business dealings should be affable. What do people say about him? Praiseworthy is his father that taught him Torah, praiseworthy is his Rabbi who taught him Torah. Woe to those who didn’t study Torah. This person, who studied Torah – see how pleasant are his ways, who perfected are his actions…But one who has read and reviewed and served Torah scholars, and is business dealings are not honest, and his interactions with his fellow man are not affable – what do (those same) people say about him? Woe to that person who studied Torah. Woe to his father…to his Rabbi who taught him Torah. See how corrupted his actions are, and how ugly are his ways…

The correct understanding of the Gemara implies that the Torah studied by the latter person has amplified his corruption, just as the Torah studied by the first person amplified his good character. The balance between proper behavior as a prerequisite for Torah study and Torah study and observance as a vehicle to grow in proper behavior is a complicated one, and I know the many sources for encouraging study and practice of Torah, even if their are ulterior motives. The commentators, Mussar and Chasidic masters all deal with the seeming inconsistencies. My point is that much more attention needs to be paid to character development as a primary element in kiruv as well as in our own teshuva.

Much of Jewish education focuses on educating our children (and grown-ups) towards observance of ritual matters, and adopting proper ideological beliefs. Most efforts are devoted to increasing knowledge and commitment to Shabbath, Kashruth, Family Purity and Prayer; and to believe in the Truth and Divinity of Torah. What seems to be ignored is a fundamental lesson taught to us by our Rabbis, and developed by the Mussar and Chassidic masters: “Derech Eretz Kadmah LaTorah,” proper behavior precedes Torah, and “Im ein derech eretz, ein Torah,” if there is a lack of proper behavior and respect towards other, there can be no Torah. Character development is the foundation upon which Torah is built. It is the reason why there was a seven week delay between the time the Jewish nation left Egpypt and the time they received the Torah. Those forty-nine days of Sefirath Haomer were spent perfecting their character deficiencies from the depths of hedonistic Egypt to the heights of altruistic unity when they stood at Sinai. We are taught that character perfection is a necessary prerequisite for the proper acceptance of Torah.

Let’s not ignore this important dimension of teshuva as we take stock of our deeds, confess our sins, and seek to become closer to G-d on this wonderful day of Yom Kippur.

Originally Published on Sept 21, 2007

Comments

52 Responses to “Teshuva, Kiruv and BTs”

  1. yy
    October 8th, 2007 @ 2:38 am

    R’ Shaya,

    I have been appreciatively noting your contributions to a few blogs for a few months already. But only now do I see the shoresh of it all. As you have so cogently put it in this posting, you seem driven to reintroduce “character development as a primary element in kiruv as well as in our own teshuva.” What can I say? This is definately an issue burning within my Neshama as well. I’m a BT, as they say, for over 25 years now, who has become a Slonimer Chossid –officially for about 10 years. I’m sure you know that Slonim, and particularly the sforim of the N. Sholom, see Av’ HaMiddos as a crucial factor in achieving true chossidus. I have always known this intuitively, then meritted to have the sparks of that intuition fanned by Harav Bulman, ztz”l, and eventually placed into the oil of my Shabbos candles, as it were, by Slonim.

    YET… I have found it extreeeeemely difficult to tranlsate that beyond my Shabbos. To such an extent that it seems to have created deep, festering wounds of disappointment that increasingly open as I move deeper into the “real world” of chareidikeit. If you’d be so kind to email me, I can share with you more. I do need some assistance in containing those wounds and, idieally,for brainstorming about how to channel my understanding, talents and sensitivities in relation to these issues in a constructive fashion.

    Thanks again for this article.

    yy
    Nbelieve@zahav.net.il

  2. Avi Marcus
    October 3rd, 2008 @ 9:38 am

    “Today’s society is a self-centered and hedonistic one. Pleasure is at the center of most people’s worlds, and “what’s in it for me” is the governing mantra.”

    Indeed. The deeper ways we view the world are of great importance.

    Chinuch – from parents and schools – should be addressing these core issues.
    However, I have recently noticed that many people don’t even recognize the affects of their deeper beliefs. If they don’t recognize it, they can’t possibly understand how to change it.
    For example, the mitzvah of ahavta lireacha kimocha is not just an act, but a deep feeling to internalize. When internalized, it wipes out lashon harah, onaas devarim. It causes people to run to do chesed. R’ Pam said his mother never spoke lashon harah – not because she studied the halachos – but because she loved.

    That’s why Hillel said it is the main commandment of the Torah – it is the root of all of Ahavta Lireacha Kimocha. And if you can’t love someone next to you who will thank you, how can you really love Hashem?

  3. Ron Coleman
    October 3rd, 2008 @ 2:22 pm

    Pushing too fast, whether ourselves or others, has a serious potential down side. If a person changes in a way that lasts for a certain amount of time, then he drops the changes with regret (which, unfortunately seems to be evidenced in “angry” ex-BT’s) then not only is he unlikely to return at a later stage, but the time he spent doing Mitzvoth is negated.

    But of course we have no idea at all whether a person who drops the changes with regret and becomes a bitter ex-BT has done so because he was pushed. He could have done so for many other reasons.

    The reason such a person’s earlier mitzvos are negated is because he has desired that they be negated. This is entirely just. How could it be otherwise? Why is this a negative consequence? Why is the choice made by a person who now “knows better” to spit in God’s face the fault of people who “pushed him” too fast? Maybe he pushed himself too fast. Maybe he disregarded the advice of kiruv professionals who told him to take it easy. Maybe he is a wicked person.

    If in fact the person we are talking about is an adult capable of making adult choices, then these choices are his. If he is not, then none of this matters.

  4. Bob Miller
    October 3rd, 2008 @ 4:15 pm

    1. What is “too fast” is hard for the person affected or outsiders to know in advance. Ideally, we take stock often to make sound mid-course corrections in life, including when we are in teshuva mode. If we have doubts about all or part of one mentor’s advice, we can seek appropriate second opinions from others qualified to help.

    2. If someone did mitzvot for other people, which he now regrets, those people were still helped, so some positive effects remain.

    3. If we have done types of sinful behavior which are currently too tough to fix 100%, we should at least try our best and keep those corrections on our life agenda. We don’t leave out saying those “Al Chaits” we’re not yet ready to conquer in practice. Recognizing them verbally is an important step in itself.

  5. Mordechai Y. Scher
    October 5th, 2008 @ 1:13 pm

    This was very well worth reposting. Thank you for this instructive and essential presentation.

    Shanah Tovah!

  6. DK
    October 6th, 2008 @ 12:55 am

    The reason such a person’s earlier mitzvos are negated is because he has desired that they be negated.

    You are operating in a Manichean world that is simply not the Jewish one. Observance of Judaism is itself a continuum. Many people have a concept of mitzvot even if they aren’t observant by your standards. This is stronger in ben adom l”chavero, to be sure, but it is still the reality. For specifically Jewish contexts, this can be seen in terms of who actually funds even the traditional Jewish institutions, and it is quite significant.

    In terms of regret, this is something quite different. While it may be true that many of us regret having gone the path we did, we may also still feel we got something out of it, but that it wasn’t the best use of time and energy overall and that it could have worked better if a more moderate and integrated path had been pursued even within the tent of Orthodoxy.

    This is not to say that some aspects of our relationship with traditional Judaism don’t become “a twisted thing that can’t be fixed,” or at least, feel that way.

    One thing that isn’t considered in the Manichean framing of “frum or not frum,” BT vs returnee to secularism, is that those angry ex-BTs who continue the conversation are not driven solely by animus or rage only. Rather, they often come from a population of traditional secular Jews that never completely rejected its ties to Orthodoxy. Sometimes there was a slow fade, sometimes there was indeed a rejection, but the traditional secularists still looked back over their shoulders, at times uneasy about their trajectory. Many of us grew up with an affinity for Orthodoxy. The problems occurred when we were taught this ultimately means ultra-Orthodoxy. Why does this not work for so many? Not only because of consumerism, ego, or talking to girls. But because it simply isn’t the traditional Judaism that we have been wrestling with since the Haskalah. Not for so many of us. The Orthodoxy we were wrestling with was much closer to Modern Orthodoxy. The paradigm of ultra-Orthodoxy is therefore doomed to fail for many BTs. It continues to generate serious interest for the vast majority of Jews. And they are the ones who dominate kiruv. This is a critical flaw in the kiruv movement. And since it isn’t addressed, since the sociology and the history of the traditional Jewish paradigm of each non-Orthodox Jew is not considered in a serious way, this movement will not reach the masses, and will continue to have retention problems even with the small minority of the secular/liberal Jewish population that becomes interested.

    But the conversation continues, and ex-bitter BTs, who were often from the more traditional population to start with — harbor, among other less comforting ambitions, of trying to convey issues and problems that are constructive. Often, these criticisms are derided as nitpicking, or dismissed as the terminal complaints of those dead set against traditional Judaism period. But the vast majority of Jews are leaving Judaism. Certain questions need to be asked, because it is very difficult to solve something when you don’t fully understand the problem. And the outside world cannot be changed by you. But the market of secular and liberal Jews is your target market. There are certain things a kiruv professional should always understand about his prospective customer and market.

    If I were a kiruv professional, I would not just pick people up at a lecture or the kotel and send them to the ultra-Orthodox places. I would ask the following questions of an American Ashkenazi Jew:

    !) When did your ancestors come to the U.S.? If it was before 1925 (when the gates to the U.S. closed), and if it was with their family’s (parents) consent, that alone signals they were probably never ultra-Orthodox.

    2) Why did they leave? And when? Many might not know, but the following question might help answer it.

    3) Where did they go religiously? Conservative may mean the conflict continues, while Reform often means the family sided with Liberal Judaism more completely. Did it happen in one generation or over two or three generations?

    4) What Jewish practices does your family still keep?

    In terms of the “individual needs” of the new BT, one can’t claim to be grappling with those unless we find out where they were on their way to, in order to provide synthesis, and not just attempt to replace the trajectory with one that may cause intense dissatisfaction later.

    Liberal Jewish institutions talk a lot about engagement. This is something that Chabad initiated, and Aish began to do as well.

    But neither of these movements have the mesorah of the vast majority of secular-Jewry’s ancestors.

    Today I went to the Eldridge Street Synagogue for their open house. Most of the readers here have never been. It is a Modern Orthodox cathedral, and not a specifically right-wing one at all. It pulls pre-war Jewry, the vast majority of whom are not Orthodox. They come to see their past, to wrestle with a lost paradigm they still have fondness for. It seems this is not most BTs history. That may be because the people being pulled in by the ultra-Orthodox kiruv movements are disproportionately not from pre-war Jewry.

    Pre-war Jewry will not respond to ultra-Orthodox kiruv so well because they do not descend from ultra-Orthodoxy. They will only respond to a somewhat left-wing Modern Orthodox paradigm. Because that is the heritage trajectory they didn’t take. Not the ones most are selling as Traditional Judaism.

    The morality of our world and its culture cannot be solved by you. But you can do a lot better. But you have to focus on their true past and present, and not obscure resistance with excuses: the insanity of the world, yeridos hadoros, or any of the other facile explanations for why more people aren’t listening or sticking.

    I grew up with a maverick and amazing left-wing ultra-Orthodox rabbi. And still it didn’t stick. It didn’t stick because it wasn’t mine. My brother chose a Modern Orthodox path early on, and it worked. It worked because that paradigm was a part of his heritage.

    Your way will work better with descendants of Holocaust survivors, particularly those with a ultra-Orthodox past.

    It won’t work for the vast majority of American Jewry. You can blame all sorts of static and desires. But it won’t work because it isn’t their paradigm, and some things are handed down that aren’t easily explicated. But they are handed down from one generation even among those who seem completely removed from traditional Judaism. And even when it seems that the few whom have tried they have successfully transplanted an ultra-Orthodox paradigm over the remnant of a Modern Orthodox paradigm, over time, the old paradigm AND all the reasons it faded/was broken will eventually resurface.

    The reasons why a BT left need to be reconciled, and the trajectory restored.

    The complaints of the bitter-ex BTs are not just about what kiruv is doing. It is also about what kiruv isn’t doing. Kiruv, too often, isn’t repairing. It is replacing. It is replacing with something that doesn’t fit.

  7. M
    October 6th, 2008 @ 7:47 am

    “They will only respond to a somewhat left-wing Modern Orthodox paradigm.”

    DK, have you encouraged left wing MO individuals and institutions to engage in Kiruv?

    Wouldn’t your target audience be left wing MO, in order to facilitate this objective?

    Of course, the BeyondBT family encompasses the entire continuum, but you seem to be addressing those who are not left wing MO.

    Your comment expresses both a contention and an objective.

    Wouldn’t you find it more practical to address the objective component specifically to left wing MO people/orgs who can effectively achieve this objective?

  8. DK
    October 6th, 2008 @ 11:08 am

    Wouldn’t you find it more practical to address the objective component specifically to left wing MO people/orgs who can effectively achieve this objective?

    The LWMO will never be as aggressive. It is something the main kiruv orgs must come to realize on their own. They will have to be absolutely mevatul their yaish in terms of hashkafa. For it to work, they might still draw people in, but need to LEGITIMIZE, not DELEGITIMIZE, Modern Orthodoxy. At the ultra-Orthodox BT institutions I was in, an inordinate amount of time was spend trashing MO as a legitimate option. Instead of spending so much time talking about how bad it is, they should direct people back to their true drachim, even though it is not their hashkafa.

    It requires one of the hardest tests of all, and may be the real warning of sinas chinum. Not just to respect that there are other drachim, but rather, to recognize that the derech and hashkafa a person and his family and friends practices is wrong for the vast majority of liberal and secular Jews. It means passing them over to others with a very different POV. Seeking such teachers out — cultivating them and empowering them.

    Liberal Jewry makes the same mistake. They — just like the ultra-Orthodox, want to retain all the power.

    There are a few examples of success, however. Where both secular-traditional Jewish leaders and the RWMO compromised with each other, and chose a LWMO person to lead. These isolated successes appear to indicate something much more successful.

    Alternatively, everyone can continue the usual approaches, achieve very little statistically, and blame it on hostile outside forces.

  9. YM
    October 6th, 2008 @ 11:33 am

    I think that most Orthodox Jews, both FFB and BTs, don’t have a Rav or Rebbi. A Jew needs a Rav, he needs to discuss all of his/her problems, concerns and reservations with his/her Rav. His Rav needs to teach him/her how to serve Hashem, both formally and by example.

    When a Jew has a Rav who knows where the Jew stands, what he/she is struggling with, etc, then the Jew stands a chance.

    Needless to say, the Rav needs to be qualified.

    When Kiruv fails, it is likely because either the Jew didn’t have a Rav and/or the Rav wasn’t qualified.

  10. Michoel
    October 6th, 2008 @ 12:05 pm

    YM,
    I agree with you. It is important to remember that “qualified” means not only in terms of his insights, personality, experience etc. But also that he must have the time and desire to serve as a Rav for the BT.

  11. DK
    October 6th, 2008 @ 12:07 pm

    When Kiruv fails, it is likely because either the Jew didn’t have a Rav and/or the Rav wasn’t qualified.

    You guys aren’t even hearing me.

  12. Steve Brizel
    October 6th, 2008 @ 2:34 pm

    I think that DK’s questions on this issue are quite incisive. No less than Chazal disputed which method of teshuvah was the most effective. The end of Slichos lists every figure in Jewish history from Avraham Avinu through the Chashmonaim who lead teshuvah movements simply because each was an appropriate means of teshuvah for that generation. I would argue that it is far better to live a Torah observant life with all of the doubts that we have all encountered and discussed ( and which do exist in many peoples’ hearts and minds) than to accept without thinking any approach as having all the answers to any and all doubts. Such an approach is highly suspect to any challenge that raises issues that cannot or will not be addressed by those who propagate the approach.

  13. Bob Miller
    October 6th, 2008 @ 4:53 pm

    DK, could you name any Modern Orthodox kiruv leader or worker whose path you would seriously consider following?

  14. M
    October 6th, 2008 @ 5:31 pm

    DK,

    You answered my question with one sentence, “The LWMO will never be as aggressive”. The remainder of your reply was unrelated to my question, and I assume was addressing someone else.

    I still sincerely ask if you (or if you know of others who) have encouraged LWMO individuals/orgs to facilitate the Kiruv objectives you have articulated above.

    If your answer is yes, what has been the outcome to date, and what ideas have been put forth for these individuals/orgs to increase their effectiveness in this regard?

  15. Steve Brizel
    October 6th, 2008 @ 5:35 pm

    One more point-I heard a fasicnating Dvar Torah this past Shabbos about Avraham Avinu’s greatest test. The Medrash tells us that Avraham and Sarah were actively involved in Kiruv. Yet, we are told of none of their “success” stories simply because there were none.Even his nephew Lot walked out on Avraham. Yishmael may have done teshuvah, but we are not told the extent of the same.

    Avraham’s biggest test on the Akedah was his willingness to perform the Akedah on the one person who would follow his path, his son, despite the fact that Yitzchak was his only real successful disciple.

    WADR, the notion that a BT either lacked a rav or that a rav wasn’t qualified requires far more evidence than has been submitted in support of such a position here.

  16. DK
    October 6th, 2008 @ 5:42 pm

    Following? No, not following, Bob Miller. I am not advocating following, at least, not as you mean it. I am advocating engagement. This is quite different. It’s a different paradigm utterly.

    What I would say is that there are Modern Orthodox rabbis I think American Jewry should hear of more.

    These include Rabbi Weinreb, Rabbi Marc Angel, and of course, there are many pulpit rabbis who do a great job. But is are also a void of leadership in the MO world outside of the centrist and RWMO world. Many of the old LWMO synagogues have had trouble finding the right candidate, even in Manhattan and Brooklyn.

    I know of one such synagogue that had an applicant who offered to lead a poor congregation in an up and coming neighborhood for free, or rather, perhaps, just perhaps — in order to annex this shul into the unyielding hands of the ever-expanding movement he represents. He proceeded to tell the congregation the famous story of a Godol who was on his plane, and the implications of the difference between an outlook of yeridos HaDoros and one that accepts macro-evolutionary theory. The congregation understood that they would be led by a rabbi with a very different understanding of the world and Judaism than the congregation, and felt obligated to reject the rabbi’s offer, and continues to struggle without a rabbi. I know of three historic congregations like this, who survive solely because of the generosity of lay people, and the determination not to be swallowed by this particular movement. They struggle on a weekly basis. Because the LWMO rabbis are of short supply, and the most generous applicants are so often inappropriate.

    These congregations do a lot of good, but they could do much more. They are not being supported religiously. And they are not being supported in terms of clergy.

    There was actually resistance to including the last synagogue of Harlem in the west side eruv because it is considered small and poor, and unimportant.

    But the congregation is comprise primarily of Jews from non-Orthodox backgrounds — more per capita in this little shul than there are in most.

    Where is the Orthodox backing to help these places on their level? To trust that they can reach people who aren’t interested in ultra-Orthodoxy, or MO “kiruv” which is really by and for already Modern Orthodox Jews?

    Nowhere. It’s nowhere. These places are dismissed as unimportant. Because they don’t serve the type of Orthodox Jews that they themselves are, and don’t demand their congregants become like they want.

  17. DK
    October 6th, 2008 @ 5:56 pm

    I still sincerely ask if you (or if you know of others who) have encouraged LWMO individuals/orgs to facilitate the Kiruv objectives you have articulated above.

    Yes. see here: http://www.beyondbt.com/?p=483

    I wrote into B’nai Akiva and told them they should be offering an alternative to NCSY to Jews from non-Orthodox teens. I called for B’nai Akiva to become more involved on Jewschool as well, and consistently asked liberal Jewry to consider that the LWMO have a lot to offer the community, and to fund, build, and oversee a LWMO youth organization themselves if B’nai Akiva declined to partner with them.

  18. DK
    October 6th, 2008 @ 6:16 pm

    To be clear, I didn’t mean to suggest that Rabbi Weinreb is LWMO.

  19. Bob Miller
    October 6th, 2008 @ 6:55 pm

    DK, is it “engagement” because you would not necessarily follow the advice of any of the rabbis you named?

  20. M
    October 6th, 2008 @ 7:19 pm

    “Yes.”

    I think that’s where the answer can be found, then. If there is a dearth of leadership ability or will in the LWMO community, this needs to be addressed. To achieve the objectives you outline, this would seem to be a critical need.

    I’m not sure why there is a need to ask UO Kiruv orgs to promote or direct to LMMO, particularly since there appears to be a lack of LWMO Kiruv institutions to which students can be directed. It makes sense that RWMO and UO institutions teach their students from the teachers’ perspectives, which is how a learning curriculum is typically implemented, both religious and secular. LWMO institutions need to teach from their perspective, and those who wish for an increase in learning which reflect a LWMO stance and ideology should do all in their power to ensure that there are LWMO people to do it. That is the correct address for LWMO Kiruv.

  21. DK
    October 6th, 2008 @ 8:17 pm

    It’s “engagement” because in the scenario I am describing, most will not necessarily turn to their rabbis for advice on many aspects of their lives as you have consistently advocated. It’s “engagement” because many will never become full-fledged Orthodox Jews. It’s “engagement” because many will not make traditional Judaism the only priority in their lives at all times.

    It is about finding a safe and welcoming traditional Jewish place that allows for community, education, worship, and growth, for diverse populations with different needs and goals, and working from there without losing people because they don’t fit in to one specific Hashkafa or give lip service of acceptance to all axioms.

    Or, you can do it your way. You can do it Big Kiruv’s way. Your way or the highway. But be honest. Don’t blame yeridos HaDoros, desire, or the materialistic world. Acknowledge that the traditional Jewish world by and large has a “my way or the highway” approach, that most avenues set the bar far too high for entry, never mind retention, and look to the midrash on the 80% being lost in Egypt as the ideal role model for the Jewish people.

    Keep playing God.

  22. Sam
    October 6th, 2008 @ 8:30 pm

    I don’t think the issue is LWMO people doing more Kiruv, because then the same problem would exist when they try to hew the same path for their students.

    I think DK’s point is that the Kiruv people need to see that every non observant person is different, with a given background, strengths and limitations. Everyone should not necessarily follow the Kiruv person’s particular path in terms of level of observance.

    Those of us who sent daughters to right wing seminaries in Eretz Yisroel can perhaps understand this a little better. In these schools it is not uncommon for the teachers to teach that the highest ideal to aspire to is to marry someone who will learn their entire life, to live in Eretz Yisroel, and to reject anything secular with the limited exception of certain vocational information for the working wives.

    Those of us who live in America might have a problem with the path described above and may take issue with it being taught so broadly. Taking into account each person’s individual background, capabilities and some aspects of American hashkafa seems more logical.

    The same with kiruv. If a non observant person would strengthen their connection to G-d, learn Torah and keep the mitzvos to some degree, then we should consider it an unqualified overwhelming success, irrespective of whether the person follows their teacher’s observance level.

  23. DK
    October 6th, 2008 @ 8:41 pm

    M wrote,

    I’m not sure why there is a need to ask UO Kiruv orgs to promote or direct to LMMO, particularly since there appears to be a lack of LWMO Kiruv institutions to which students can be directed.

    they need to stop trashing MO at their BT places in order to preempt an MO approach. It has to stop, and MO places have to stop working with those who do this.

    Sam and M, the ultra-Orthodox paradigms are not the historical heritage of the vast majority of pre-war American Jewry. Therefore, the vast majority of kiruv orgs should not be ultra-Orthodox. Instead, they pretend that their paradigms are the historical paradigms of pre-war American Jewry.

    They should really hand over their infrastructure and funding to the MO because they will do much better if they have the proper training and are high caliber educators and communicators.

  24. Steve Brizel
    October 6th, 2008 @ 9:07 pm

    DK-see my comment on your linked post. I stand ny position which I stated more than two years ago.

  25. Bob Miller
    October 6th, 2008 @ 9:51 pm

    The more liberal sector of Orthodoxy and Orthodox kiruv, which DK sort of praises, still does not get enough of his respect to make him consider any change of lifestyle.

  26. DK
    October 6th, 2008 @ 10:56 pm

    Done talking to you tonight, Bob Miller. I don’t find discussions with Lakewood types particularly constructive.

    Not my heritage. Pre-war, Bob. I’m pre-war.

  27. Ron Coleman
    October 6th, 2008 @ 11:30 pm

    Following? No, not following, Bob Miller. I am not advocating following, at least, not as you mean it. I am advocating engagement. This is quite different. It’s a different paradigm utterly.

    What I would say is that there are Modern Orthodox rabbis I think American Jewry should hear of more.

    Orthodox lite indeed frequently leaves us an impression of upstanding, well spoken gentlemen of the cloth who, unfortunately, cannot point to successful institutions, movements, initiatives or even truly significant scholarly works worthy of “following” even in the scholastic sense. Contrasted with Rav Soloveitchik, these zealous advocates for not too much zeal are a constant lodestar for our DK’s non-passions. He consistently invokes them and consistently ignores they shambles of Jewish life, even identity, that they — the flag-bearers of this mythical “pre-war American Jewry” — left behind. America’s colleges are filled with gentiles with Jewish last names who, unlike DK, testify by their existence that this pre-war American Jewry is not only no legacy to embrace, but rather it is and was the antithesis of legacy, the antithesis of embrace.

    DK, you are not the only one with a humanities education in the room. Invoking the word “Manichean” over and over again in the hope that someone will give you the opportunity to explain what it is, is not a replacement for genuine intellectual engagement with the actual issues. There is nothing Manichean about the idea that Judaism, like every faith, philosophy and social order that asks anything at all of its adherents be able to identify who indeed is an adherent and who is not.

    Did you really read Augustine’s Confessions and come away only with a buzzword suitable for impressing coeds in the cafeteria?

    It’s “engagement” because in the scenario I am describing, most will not necessarily turn to their rabbis for advice on many aspects of their lives as you have consistently advocated. It’s “engagement” because many will never become full-fledged Orthodox Jews. It’s “engagement” because many will not make traditional Judaism the only priority in their lives at all times.

    If you were truly engaged with these issues, as opposed to being a polemical vandal, DK, you would know that what you are describing — unbeknown to almost everyone in this discussion — is the Aish HaTorah of the 21st century, especially as realized in the contemporary incarnation of the Jerusalem Fellowships. Students are given, throughout their early twenties, every opportunity to drop in and out of an easygoing yeshiva environment in Passaic; they attend Shabbos and yomtov meals, davening if they want it, and courses and seminars to expose them to what their assimilated lifestyles deprived them of; then they go back to campus, party on the weekends, and maybe, just maybe, marry a Jewish girl or consider another two or three week go of it.

    I sometimes have these guys at my house. I don’t know what to make of them. In my days, why an Aish HaTorah guy was full of passion, questions, eagerness, conflict — he was deciding what to do with this life. These guys are, well, having a vacation in Jewishland. I am sure there is great wisdom to this, though it leaves the host with a lot of work at entertainment. This is no haredi brainwashing factory though, I can promise you that.

    But keep recycling your cliches, DK, and reinventing the epitomes of rabbinic tepidness as heroes of Jewish leadership. It uses up lots of pixels each time we roll it out. Just realize it has nothing to do with this website, which is for the people who have chosen genuine passion and commitment, and who take the Torah at its word for what it wants from its holy people.

  28. M
    October 7th, 2008 @ 12:03 am

    Sam,

    I think you misunderstood DK. You point, though unrelated, is valid and well taken.

    DK,

    “Therefore, the vast majority of kiruv orgs should not be ultra-Orthodox.”

    Kiruv orgs are opened by people. LWMO people should open up “non-UO” Kiruv orgs. It’s not a matter of “should”, it’s a matter of “who did”. And if LWMO is lacking in this department, shouldn’t they be hurrying to fill in the gaps and simply open up these Kiruv orgs? If the vast majority should not be UO, then LWMO “should” open up enough to be the vast majority. Doesn’t that make sense?

    “They should really hand over their infrastructure and funding to the MO because they will do much better if they have the proper training and are high caliber educators and communicators”.

    I think many graduate schools are of much higher caliber than others. Should these also hand over the infrastructure and funding to those who meet my criteria for higher learning? How about businesses which I believe are not appropriately servicing their target customer. For children in pretend play, players may “open” and “close” whichever entities they desire. I mean this with no sarcasm, but simply to bring out the point. This is adult, Western society and individuals who work to gain funding and build infrastructure are free to use these as they desire, within the constraints of law.

    What is holding back LWMO from gaining funding and building infrastructure? Do these quarters have less money than the UO and UO contacts? I know that many UO donate generously to places like Aish. Shouldn’t LWMO be able to raise at least similar amounts from the LWMO? And make contacts with secular people who will be glad to contribute to an org that promotes Jewish identity?

    In Western society, people don’t “give over” funding and buildings. People who want something go out and make it. Raise funds for it, build buildings, hire staff, determine curriculum, facilitate events.

  29. David Linn
    October 7th, 2008 @ 12:18 am

    What Ron said.

  30. DK
    October 7th, 2008 @ 12:50 am

    Ron, if your way was working, you would have better statistics to show for it. The early years of Eastern European Jewry were rough, Ron. And you know what was a contributing factor? European rabbinical Jewry was to blame for not building religious infrastructure here. Because they banned the treife medinah.

    This is no haredi brainwashing factory though, I can promise you that.

    Well, that’s refreshing, Ron. So no “proofs”? No “codes”?

    Just realize it has nothing to do with this website, which is for the people who have chosen genuine passion and commitment, and who take the Torah at its word for what it wants from its holy people.

    Great. How about we make a deal: Big Kiruv gets out of our pre-war world, and we get out of yours?

    Actually, it won’t really matter for the vast majority of Jews. Because they won’t be coming en masse to your 21st century ultra-Orthodox enclave anymore than they were coming to your 19th or 20th century one.

    Primarily, you get the descendants of ultra-Orthodox Holocaust survivors. That’s it. That’s who this will work for. Everyone else will be an exception. And you will keep only a fraction of those in your ultra-Orthodox camp.

    No one whose family came to this country then came here for any of that. And this knowledge is passed down form generation to generation. Given a choice between ultra-Orthodoxy and out, they will choose out.

    The more the ultra-Orthodox dominate kiruv, the more that choice is essentially being forced. If they are not offered a traditional Jewish paradigm in-line with their own past, they will decline the new-improved 21st century ultra-Orthodox one just as they walked out on the Gedolim of the 19th and early 20th.

    It looks like they remember that much, now, doesn’t it?

    It doesn’t matter how much you dress it up cutesy and soft sell it, Ron. They will detect something foreign and wrong, and they will walk.

  31. tffb
    October 7th, 2008 @ 6:35 am

    “But if abandoning Torah observance is coupled with regret over the past observance, then he has lost all merit for those good deeds.”

    What if he then does teshuva for the regret? I.e. he is shomer mitzvos, then rebels and regrets the past (and loses the merit of the mitzvos he did), but then does teshuva and regrets the regrets? Does the merit for the mitzvos return?

    gmar chasima tova to all

  32. David Linn
    October 7th, 2008 @ 8:45 am

    DK,

    For the life of me, I can’t understand your pre-war, post-war distinctions. And, trust me, I have tried. I’ve seen you often decry what you see as an unhealthy obsession with the Holocaust. Why, then do you continue to employ your “pre-war” talking points? If their IS an issue there, it is your issue not anybody else’s. Moreover, your “issue” paints everyone as pre-war or post-war as if the American Jewish community were so simply categorized. This is far from true. For example, my father was born here as was his father but his mother was born in Europe. My mother was born in Belgium and came here with her parents during the war while her grandparents were killed in the camps. My wife was born in Brazil and her parents were born in Egypt. So,in your nice neat, dare I say Manichean, distinction, where do my kids stand?

  33. DK
    October 7th, 2008 @ 11:26 am

    f their IS an issue there, it is your issue not anybody else’s.

    I don’t think that’s true. For instance, I find there is often a divide–as you are aware, on the focus preferred for Holocaust education between pre-war and post war Jews. This has been an ongoing battle since the 90s in the non-Orthodox world. While some post-war Jews also disagree with the Holocaust focus, the Jews pushing this stuff and the ones who simply won’t hear dissent of any sort are usually themselves descendants of Holocaust survivors. I have seen this from extended family members who are descendants of Holocaust survivors as well. As you noted, the lines are not simple. But there are lines none the less. You may as well argue that there is no such thing as Modern Orthodoxy and no such thing as ultra-Orthodoxy because you know of people who defy such categorizations.

    There is often a very different attitude about the U.S. Many of the post-war Jews never originally intended to come here. All of pre-war chose to come here. While we mostly all have anger towards Roosevelt’s Jewish policy in terms of the war, those Jews who were already here–and there was a minimum of more than a twenty year gap between these communities–also worked and struggled through the depression and towards victory in WWII. This is a very different P.O.V. about the U.S. than one experienced by European Jewry.

    I was not including Mizrachim or Sephardim in this equation, as they are generally anyway historically outside the parameters of ultra-Orthodoxy.

    Again, it’s the same thing. Just because you have kids who have both Ashkenazi and Mizrahi heritages doesn’t mean there aren’t also separate identities.

    It seems to me — and the majority of writers and visitors on this blog hardly indicate differently — that ultra-Orthodoxy finds more fertile turf when their is either Holocaust or ultra-Orthodoxy in the background. the first is solely a post-war experience, the latter overwhelmingly as well.

    But this makes sense even non-withstanding historical paradigms. You will see much more willingness to hold western civilization in utter contempt from people who were brutalized by one of the most esteemed segments of it than you will among those of us who found refuge from the pogroms of Russian despots in this liberal democracy. I hear more frequent rage and contempt at the west coming from ultra-Orthodox BTs who are descendants of Holocaust survivors than I do from MO BTs whose families have been here for generations. Remember the woman who told me on this blog to “go hang out with your goyishe buddies?” Well, were you surprised to note that she used the Holocaust as an excuse for this type of contempt? If I hadn’t known that, I still would have been willing to bet money on it, and I doubt you would have been willing to bet against me. And this happens a lot. My point is not to note the misuse of the Holocaust, that’s easy, we can mostly agree on that. My point is to note that the negative view of western civilization as seen and justified by an ultra-Orthodox lens does not fit well for members of pre-war Jewry.

    I think pre-war Jewry should be led by other pre-war Jews, and that means kiruv as well. We accept that Chassidic Jews who were once from Hungary should be led by a Rebbe who was also from that region. Well, how is this any different? Differentiating between an ultra-Orthodox reaction to the Holocaust P.O.V. vs. American non-Holocaust experience makes much more sense.

  34. Ron Coleman
    October 7th, 2008 @ 11:37 am

    David, DK is an intellectually curious, and very intellectually able, guy. Unfortunately, for all his outrage over third-tier academic standards at yeshiva-friendly Touro College, he is confused at the difference between utilizing terms of art in particular academic disciplines and sub-disciplines as tools for more powerful analytical argument, and merely utilizing such terminology as a substitute for argument itself. He is hardly to be blamed, seeing as how this is the sum and substance of so much of what goes on in the social sciences and humanities today even in the upper tiers.

    So this distinction, David, was someone’s Ph.D. thesis once, and since then that person has made himself a nice little shtella, and all the hasidim repeat that phrase and it works its way over to DK… and that’s one of a handful of NA.. NACH… NACHMANs that works for him in his subculture.

  35. DK
    October 7th, 2008 @ 11:57 am

    Ron, I have never disputed that your secular education is far superior to mine. But instead of explaining why my education is far inferior to yours, which no one is denying, least of all me, wouldn’t it be better to show specifics of where I am wrong? Otherwise, it comes off a bit as elitist Ivy League snobbery.

    And whose phd was this?

  36. David Linn
    October 7th, 2008 @ 12:16 pm

    DK, your dichotomy seems to be one of modern orthodoxy vs. ulra-orthodoxy with the question of where and when someone was born playing little of any role.

    Also, I think you are conflating POVs about western cultural with POVs about America in general.

  37. DK
    October 7th, 2008 @ 12:38 pm

    the question of where and when someone was born playing little of any role.

    No. Family and community histories are important. It is a melting pot myth that they don’t matter and can easily be erased.

    I think you are conflating POVs about western cultural with POVs about America in general.

    The two have a lot of overlap. America is descended in large part from England. Even when I was in Amsterdam, I saw how the original template brought to New Amsterdam retained some important common features, beyond borough and street names. It’s an amazing thing.

  38. David Linn
    October 7th, 2008 @ 12:59 pm

    I wasn’t saying that “where and when someone was born” isn’t important just that not in the way that you are (mis)using it.

    As to my proposed distinction between “western culture” and “America in general”, I think you missed the point. I’m not saying that American culture doesn’t find some basis in broader western culture. I’m saying that just because someone believes that watching Burns’ documentaries jives with their religious outlook doesn’t mean that they hate America.

  39. Bob Miller
    October 7th, 2008 @ 1:02 pm

    Pre-war, DK’s secular ideology was not Judaism, and post-war it still isn’t.

  40. DK
    October 7th, 2008 @ 1:33 pm

    David, I wasn’t saying that American ultra-Orthodox Jews “hate” America. But there is an enclave approach that is not interested in engagement in most aspects of American life, or more problematically, advocate to those engaged in American life that they disengage. And when pressed as to why, suddenly a free flowing stream of contempt and the most negative aspects of American life will often be given as justification for an enclave existence.

    In terms of the Burns’ documentaries, that’s a great example. Bring it up, and many ultra-Orthodox Jews will begin deriding most of the nonsensical shmutz that dominates TV, ignoring the fact that the people watching these docs on PBS–or renting those dvds for that matter, in part because they may not even have cable reception of any sort–are simply not the same people watching the most base and ignorant sitcoms.

    The problem is not that they don’t watch Burns’ documentaries. The problem is when they don’t initially and instinctively differentiate between those who watch Burns’ documentaries, and those who watch House Party II. It isn’t hard to figure that one out. they don’t want. Often, blanket contempt is considered preferable. Why? because western civ itself is viewed with a jaundiced eye.

  41. Bob Miller
    October 7th, 2008 @ 3:03 pm

    In this PC world, classic Western Civ is thought to favor dead white men unfairly, so there’s less and less of it being taught.

  42. David Linn
    October 7th, 2008 @ 4:40 pm

    What the heck is House PArty II? Wait, wait, I don’t want to know.

  43. DK
    October 7th, 2008 @ 6:02 pm

    I’m not really sure — I never saw it. It was some sort of “urban” movie from the 90s…look fellahs, I’m not really up on pop culture, okay? I don’t have cable for crying out loud…I had to bring something for a dramatic comparison, and the title worked, right?

  44. Steve Brizel
    October 7th, 2008 @ 6:20 pm

    DK-Let me break to you very gently. Jews will survive as Jews in the US if they view it as a high maintenance 24-7, cradle to grave committment involving a family , a community and the necessary educational and other elemets necesary to function as a community. Simply stated, there is no substitute for the elements of Torah, Avodah and Gmilus Chasadim. All other substitutes for committment to Torah, whether one calls it MO or Charedi, have never succeeded in transmitting a passion for remaining Jewish, no matter what the price.

  45. Steve Brizel
    October 7th, 2008 @ 6:31 pm

    DK-PBS, aside from the documentaries you cited, is well known for a LW liberal bias on many, if not all issues. I thought that a series about Jews and America left a lot to be desired, especially with its view of Orthodoxy.

    I would agree that the Holocaust is improperly invoked at times,but one cannot ignore the fact that American Jewry, who were FDR’s most loyal supporters, basically ignored the plight of European Jewry, albeit for what were legitimate reasons such as the fact that anti Semitism waa still very prevalent in American life up to the bombing of Pearl Harbor. However, as RYBS pointed out, American Jewry realized that this was a collosal mistake and has never shied away from supporting Israel in a very vocal manner.

  46. DK
    October 7th, 2008 @ 7:49 pm

    “I thought that a series about Jews and America left a lot to be desired, especially with its view of Orthodoxy.”

    I don’t really rely on PBS for increasing my Jewish information. I’m guessing you probably don’t either. I think we kinda got that one covered without PBS.

    one cannot ignore the fact that American Jewry, who were FDR’s most loyal supporters, basically ignored the plight of European Jewry

    Part of this was the Jews were fooled by a man they thought was their friend. Most really had no clue. I once asked this to some old timers I met who were involved with the Yiddish labor movement. They were STILL in denial. They still refused to believe it. It was quite shocking. They still thought of FDR as a friend of the Jews. The only hint that they now knew better was how quickly they sought to change the subject.

  47. YM
    October 17th, 2008 @ 3:44 pm

    It is interesting that this whole thread of comments started with a great post from the Rosh Yeshiva of Darche Noam/Shapells, talking about the relative importance of Derech Eretz and character development on one hand, versus shteiging on the other hand, and which should be emphasized more. At least this is my reading of what he said. Most Rabbis do have an opinion about this, and it can be most helpful for the BT to have a Rabbi in his/her life whose viewpoint about how to serve Hashem jibes with his/her own feeling about this.

  48. Yisrael
    September 10th, 2013 @ 7:10 am

    I appreciate the reminder to go slow. My yeshivot all pushed me way too fast. So on that point, I always shudder when I hear about the need to have a rebbe because my rebbes messed me up.

    My yeshivot didn’t work on Torah and mitzvot but not middot. They only worked on Torah. I barely learned about mitzvot, no less middot. That’s the avodah zara of today. Torah only has come to mean Torah but no mitzvot.

  49. Yisrael
    September 10th, 2013 @ 7:12 am

    As for working on middot for BT, you have to be careful with that. Middot are hard to change and the change is difficult to guage. Coming into the Torah world is such a whirlwind. A person learns about hell for the first time and it’s very scary and hard to deal with. One needs to see it in perspective of attainable goals. I can see if I’m keeping Shabbat or not and I can do it. Can I eradicate my ego?

    So I’d say some attention should be paid to middot, at least giving over some concepts. But don’t go too crazy with it. A person might just give up if they don’t become completely fear based and neurotic.

  50. Yisrael
    September 10th, 2013 @ 7:24 am

    So true. That bashing is so destructive. It’s lashon hara and I have heard it from people who should know better. MO is a broad world and there are many find yidden in that world. Today, the MO encompasses paths that arent’ modern at all since the Haredi world has become so narrow. If you believe teaching your son a trade you pretty much have to go into the modern world. Same if you believe in people thinking for themselves. These were Litvish traits, not modern.

  51. Steve Brizel
    September 25th, 2013 @ 2:51 pm

    Let me suggest a challenge that I think threatens us no matter where we are on the hashkafic spectrum-and which was discussed by R Y Feigenbaum in a Klal symposium-what are the challenges that our children face now that everything that we had to struggle for is now an assumed reality-Shemiras HaMitzvos, Talmud Torah,etc? I would suggest that the key is maintaining a sense of Gaavah or Chuztpah BKedusha so that we are proud of being Shomrei Torah UMitzvos, as opposed to being residents of the 21st Century whose distinguishing criteria from anyone else is that in a superficial and rote like manner “we do Shabbos and Kashrus.”

  52. Steve Brizel
    September 25th, 2013 @ 3:11 pm

    Let me add one more point-As R E Goldberg of the Boca Raton Synagogue pointed out in his RH drasha, we must develope and maintain a sense of shame in a world that seemingly is devoid of shame and praises the absence of shame.

    The Rambam in Hilcos Deos suggests that if one lives in an environment or locale that is morally decadent, one must move to a cave or desert. We all have to think of ways so that the decadence of the contemporary secular world and its values do not infiltrate our hearts and minds and corrupt our souls, minds and bodies in the way that we think, talk, read and spare our spare time.

    To paraphrase one of RHS’s favorite expressions, that which was Asur decades ago may be Mutar today, but that which was Mutar for decades ago may be Asur Min HaTorah today-the secular culture and ethos of today are not to be confused with that of the 1950s and 1960s or by whatever ratings are imposed by that world. Like it or not, the overwhelming majority of TV programs (cable and network) popular music and movies, as well as most best sellers ( especially fiction) and magazines today do not belong either in Ben or Bas Torah’s home or on an IPod.

    Social media has great positive potential, but has even vaster negative potential, especially on the Bein Adam LChavero spectrum. Teshuvah requires rethinking and abandoning Deos Raos as well as specific transgressions. Merely choosing to be ritually observant without thingong about to fulfil Kedoshim Tihiyu is a recipe that cannnot succeed for ourselves or the next generation.

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