Beyond BT

Spiritual Growth for Jews

Nothing is Perfect Until it’s Incomplete

Why did Avram seek advice before proceeding with milah-circumcision? Why did some of his closest friends and disciples oppose his undergoing milah? HaShem appeared to him [Avram] in the Plains of Mamre while he was sitting at the opening of the tent as the day[‘s heat] blazed. — Bereishis 18:1 Why did HaShem appear to […]

The Cry of the Decaying Kernel

Why does Mikra Bikurim-the declaration accompanying the bringing of the first fruits/produce begin with a review of the Egyptian exile and exodus? In particular, why is there an emphasis on the population explosion during the Egyptian exile? Why do these pesukim-verses; serve as the opening of the maggid section of Pesach evening Haggadah-telling? Is there […]

Strike the First Blow and the Fix is In

Why is the war mentioned at the beginning of Ki Seitzei offensive while the one mentioned in Behaaloscha defensive? Why is victory guaranteed in the war mentioned at the beginning of Ki Seitzei ?  And when war will come in your land against the tormenter that puts pressure on you, you shall sound a staccato […]

Turning the Tables on the Constant Test of Summertime Immodesty

By Rabbi Yonah Levant The entire zechus of this post should accrue to, and contribute to the immediate freeing of the Yeshiva bochrim kidnapped by terrorists: 1. Yaakov Naftali ben Rachel Devorah, 2. Gilad Michael ben Bat Galim 3. Eyal ben Iris Teshurah The 1st Mishna is Pirkei Avos, Chapter 2 says: Rabbi [Yehuda haNasi] […]

So Bad That it MUST be Good

A SPECIAL REQUEST: Please do not begin reading this devar Torah unless you intend to learn it thoroughly and reach the disclaimer at the very end. To do otherwise could prove hazardous to your spiritual development and health. How can it be that a small spreading of the white nega-tzara’as rash causes ritual impurity but […]

Denying G-d and Denying Humanity

Beshalach 5774-An installment in the series of adaptations From the Waters of the Shiloah: Plumbing the Depths of the Izhbitzer School For series introduction CLICK By Rabbi Dovid Schwartz-Mara D’Asra Cong Sfard of Midwood  This weeks From the Waters of the Shiloah is dedicated in memory of Gitel Leah A.H. bas Menachem Mendel HY”D; Mrs. […]

Righteous Indignation—the Root of Prayer and Salvation

Shemos 5774-An installment in the series From the Waters of the Shiloah: Plumbing the Depths of the Izhbitzer School For series introduction CLICK By Rabbi Dovid Schwartz-Mara D’Asra Cong Sfard of Midwood Blessed is Elokim, who has not removed my prayer, or His loving-kindness from me. -Tehillim 66:20 The Izhbitzer taught that before the Divine […]

Living in the future

When I had more time for posting and commenting on the Beyond BT, I was very busy with the topic of former BT’s, many of whom not only gave up Jewish observance but, for whatever reason you may want to posit, did it with a vengeance. Those days were a lot of fun, positively heady. […]

Maintaining Derech Eretz in the Face of a Loaf of Bread on Pesach

Blast from the Past. First posted on 11/13/2006. By Westbank Mama I’ve written before about what started me on my journey to observant Judaism, and I’ve been thinking lately of another incident (pothole?) on this long road of mine. My brother decided to become observant also, and we both attended Yeshiva University. At some point […]

Aren’t We Supposed to Question?

We had a bunch of guests over for Shabbos lunch. This was on a summer afternoon, just a couple of years ago. Since my husband hadn’t returned yet from shul, everyone was passing the time in the living room, waiting. There was a relatively new guest, David, seated on the couch, who had only just […]

BT Martyrdom: There’s Really A Name For It!

My personal life calendar operates around the great upheaval through my discovery of Yiddishkeit. If that is “year 1”, then 10BC (Before Change) was my Bar Mitzvah, and 5AD (After Discovery) was when I got married. This being the case, there were other notable events which had far reaching consequences as well. And, like they […]

Rabbi Mayer Schiller – The Biggest Challenges Facing Baalei Teshuva

This article was posted on Tuesday, December 9th, 2005, but many of our current readers might have missed it and it’s definitely worth reading again. Part 1 — Challenges I have been asked to write on the “biggest challenges facing baalei teshuva.” Of course, every Jew in his life’s pursuit of Hashem and His Torah […]

Adjusting to Alien Atmospheres

I spent my high school senior year at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. A first, all of my 20-year old roommates thought I was crazy, and for the first few weeks, I did too. Not only had I never traveled by myself before nor had I been on an Israel program, I still had yet […]

Dealing With The Pain of a Difficult Year

Last Rosh Hashana, 2008 – I can’t even remember where I was. I mean in the sense of where my wife, myself and three children were for the Jewish New Year. How can one forget something like that? Either we were in Passaic, or in Far Rockaway or Pittsburgh – as well, we lived in […]

Four Common BT Road Bumps

Partners in Torah recently listed four road bumps a BT might hit: • Daily life as an observant Jew is not always easy. Many demands are made of us, and life is infinitely more complicated for a person concerned with Shabbos, Kashrus, a large family and yeshivah tuitions than it is for one with 1.2 […]

There’s No Going Back

In the beginning of the BT journey, it’s easy to feel on fire, excited about what is ahead, determined to plow ahead no matter the obstacles. Then, as the years unfold and the children start coming, and growing, and requiring more money than we can fathom for their stellar yeshiva education, I would presume that […]

Ayelet Waldman and Me – or – Dear Lord….Do Not Bring me to Challenges and Ordeals.

My Toughest Jewish Moment. In my other life—when I’m not being Anxious Ima, I’m a freelance journalist and it isn’t an easy road. Good writing gigs are hard to come by so it was with great delight that I snagged one — interviewing Ayelet Waldman for a top national webzine. I didn’t know much about […]

Fear and Loathing in Jerusalem: the Olam Ha’Sheker Excuse

By William Kolbrenner Open Minded Torah Spring time in Jerusalem, so yet once more, my wife and I embark on the path of finding a place for our son Shmuel with Down syndrome, this time in a cheder, a pre-kindergarden class in our neighborhood. So earlier this week, we set up a meeting with the […]

Teshuva and Changing Politics

It’s been a long time since I posted here, but I was feeling kind of bad for Mark and David (who recently emailed out a request for posts) and I still remember the last question I was pondering for Beyond BT – a question that irked me so much, I found myself stymied. That question […]

Rabbi Ozer Bergman – Alarmists

For better or worse, I am not an alarmist. So when I got an e-mail or two that tzaddikim of various stripes were warning “The End is Near for American Jews! Get Out While You Can!” I was a little underwhelmed. After all, I’ve gotten e-mails in the past that “Mashiach is DEFINITELY coming by […]

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