What’s the real BT Impact to the Religious Jewish World?

by Reb Akiva from Mystical Paths

One often wonders, what’s the real BT impact to the religious Jewish world? After all, most of our vaunted institutions are run by rosh yeshvot with yichus (distinguished family heritage), and the institutions are often a generational family project. Similarly the big and famous rabbaim (rabbis), those giving the shiurim, heard on tape or DVD, often are big name “son-of” people. No difference if one enters the chassidic world, the Rebbe’s are all distinguished lineage back to the talmidim (students) of the Baal Shem Tov or the Maggid of Mezirich.

It’s enough to give a BT a complex. Kind of like (l’havdil) arriving at the court of a king, where all the advisers are dukes or barons or what not, and you’re just a guy (or gal). And we see this feeling in religious society as the older BT’s all go under cover. You never hear “oh that’s Rav Ploni (so-and-so), a BT”.

But I’m here to tell those not so far along the path, the impression is wrong. BT’s are spread throughout Jewish religious society, and not in small numbers. Religious schools are swelled with children of BT’s. Professionals throughout Jewish religious society are frequently BT’s. And even in Meah Shearim, perhaps the most closeted religious Jewish community, if one goes to the mens mikvah, one will be surprised at the number of older and old men with a tattoo (forbidden by Jewish law, and I’m not referring to a Holocaust number tattoo).

Some of our rosh yeshivot are BT’s from _their_ teens or twenties. Some of our rabbaim from before or after. Even a known tzaddik is a BT.

So while yes, religious Jewish society remains a bit wary of BT’s, the impact and influence of BT’s is there at all levels, as are the BT’s themselves. For there are no limits in Torah.