Beyond BT

Spiritual Growth for Jews

Renewing the Four Dimensions of Appreciating Torah

The four reasons people are attracted to Torah Observant Judaism mirror the four dimensions of the human experience: Physical – the lifestyle is enjoyable Emotional – the relationships are meaningful Mental – learning Torah is deep and challenging Spiritual – connecting to G-d is sublime Unfortunately for many BTs, after the initial attraction the following […]

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] […]

Wake Up and Smell the Bacon

It was my first visit back to my parents’ house since I became frum. Over a year had passed, a year without the king-size bed in their guest room, without central heating, without 24/7 access to a fully stocked fridge and cupboard. My mother had, most graciously, stocked up on every kind of O-U foodstuff […]

Is Torah Everything … OR is Everything Torah II

Why is the Zodiac sign of the month of Sivan the twins? Why are we often frustrated by failure despite having put forth our very best efforts? Conversely, why does unanticipated success sometimes come our way, relatively effortlessly? … Similarly the Holy One, blessed be He, say to [the Children of] Israel: ‘My children! I […]

Prolonging Your Tan

Rabbi Label Lam often explains that when someone comes back from vacationing in a warm climate, everyone knows that they have been away because they can see their tan. Rabbi Lam continues that when you come back from Eretz Yisrael you have the “inner tan”. When I was a kid, my mother used to have […]

The Never Ending Road of the BT

“I’m a BT.” This statement has an air of finality to it, doesn’t it? Like, “I’m a graduate of Harvard Med School”, or “I’m a doctor”, or “I’m a mother”. “I’m a BT” could be right up there with the other descriptors that apply to me: Jewish, female, wife to Stephen, age 47, professional author, […]

The Irregular Growth Curves of the Baal Teshuva

My, how I have grown. I don’t mean “how much.” I mean, “how,” as in the manner or progress of a thing. One of the cliches we hear, and learn to repeat, as baalei teshuva is the idea that you have to always be moving forward, growing, or else you’re doing something other than staying […]

Connection is the Goal, Mitzvos are the Path

In the beginning of Mesillas Yesharim the Ramchal writes: When you look further into the matter, you will see that only connection with God constitutes true perfection, as King David said (Psalms 73:28), “But as for me, the nearness of God is my good,” and (Psalms 27:4), “I asked one thing from God; that will […]

Stressed Out

Right now (although by the time you read this it would have been Sunday afternoon), I should be mired in preparation for a multi- defendant enterprise corruption trial which is scheduled to begin tomorrow morning. Yet the more I try to delve into transcripts of the hundreds of recorded telephone conversations and thousand of documents, […]

Rabbi Label Lam on Personal Growth Lessons from Tu B’Shevat

On Wednesday night, Tu B’Shevat begins. Rabbi Label Lam gave a wonderful Drasha a few years back where he looked at the Mishna in Pirkei Avos which states “Rabbi Yaakov said, one who is walking along the road and is studying [Torah], and then interrupts his studies and says, ‘How beautiful is this tree! How […]

Growth and Change are Hard – So What are We Waiting For?

R’ Micha Berger has written a fine essay pointing out that mitzvah observance is a means, and we need to do more if we want to achieve the goal of Torah and mitzvos. I’m assuming he doesn’t disagree with the Ramchal in the chapter on Human Responsibility in Derech Hashem where he says: We therefore […]

Spiritual Black Ice

I don my trusty backpack for my early morning walk to the supermarket, stocking up for Shabbos cooking and tonight’s dinner before the sun even rises. This is how I start my day, while my husband is davening in morning minyan, while my teenage children catch the last moments of slumber. The calendar says that […]

Charlie Harary and Brevedy Help You Move from Inspiration to Change

I recently had the good fortune to find Charlie Harary’s 10 part Audio Course on Change. I listened to it twice because it is packed with so many powerful ideas to help you realize change. I mentioned the series to David, and suggested that perhaps we could make a 3 minute Brevedy video to highlight […]

Hip Health and Spiritual Growth

A few months ago in a post called From Healing The Hip To Strengthening The Soul, I discussed a secular friend’s desire to develop his spiritual side. I mentioned that I can’t identify a tried and true path for Jewish people who want to grow spiritually, but are not necessarily on a path to full […]

The Chanukah Growth Project

Chanukah is a great opportunity for spiritual growth. So it’s a great time to unveil the Spiritual Growth project which can transform our service to Hashem. It involves things we already do and it won’t take more that 1-2 minutes extra a day. Premises: The goal of mitzvos is to develop a deeper connection to […]

7 Habits of Highly Successful BT’s

Originally Posted on Dec 11, 2006 (OK, I’m not a know-it-all, these are just some things I THINK are extremely helpful, certainly not the last word.) 1. Don’t become irreligious. Not even for a short while. Not even to get back with your old boyfriend/girlfriend for one last fling. 2. Cut yourself some slack. You […]

Working Smarter — After Working Hardest

VaYetzai 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 She (Leah) was pregnant once again, and bore a son. She said: “This time let me express gratitude to HaShem.” She named the […]

If Only I Could Keep All Of These In Mind Every Day..

After Modeh Ani: Realize that I need to be concerned only with this day before me and not what I will do tomorrow. After kissing the mezuza when leaving home: Remember that it is Hashem who decides what happens to me during the day. Before Davening: Remember that I will be talking directly to the […]

The Real Response to the Pew Report – Spiritual Proactivity

A FFB friend emailed me recently because he was very disheartened by the Pew Report and the potential loss of so many thousands of Jews. He wanted to know how I thought Kiruv played into the picture. I told him I thought that Kiruv has been very successful with the 60,000 – 100,000 families that […]

Youthful Indiscretions and Deferment of Gratification

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 In general children and adolescents have a hard time deferring gratification.  They want what they want, all of it, now… not later and if […]

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