Stumbling Blocks

By David Bogner

One of the most significant stumbling blocks standing in the path of a Jew who is toying with the idea of becoming more religiously observant is embarrassment. Or more correctly, the fear of embarrassment.

You see, when viewed from the outside (i.e. from a Ba’al T’shuvah-eye view), religious communities and their intricate customs and institutions look suspiciously like a huge minefield filled with endless opportunities to stumble and humiliate oneself.

On one of my first trips to a synagogue after my decision to explore becoming more observant, I was offered an ‘honor’ during the serviceā€¦ which I quickly declined. Someone sitting nearby who correctly guessed the reason I’d refused the honor, tried to put me at ease by sharing the following joke that perfectly sums up a Ba’al’ Tshuvah’s deepest fears:
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