Pitfalls that Aren’t

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14 Responses

  1. joel rich says:

    I’m told that in many “frum” circles it is exceedingly hard to get a “good” shidduch if one is the child of or a BT themselves. Is this true? If so, why?

    “I may have started too late to be anything but an ignoramus, but my grandchildren will not have that problem.” – 2 comments:

    1. Don’t many believe that if you want it enough any child can become the gadol hador? If so, why doesn’t that appply to this individual (e.g. R’ Akiva did it)

    2.kach mkublani mbeit avi abba – HKB”H doesn’t measure us by the objective results of our learning but on our efforts in that regard. The person I respected most in this area would not have scored objectively in the gadol hador range but his dedication to learning even when the results were not what he would have liked them to be are an eternal inspiration to me.


  2. GB says:

    What I found strange about Avakesh’s comments were that the very issues he found objectionable in BTs can also be found in FFBs, including FFBs that wear black hats yet rent videos, exhibit poor childrearing habits, are guilty of uninformed kashrus violations, and who have mental health and shalom bayis problems. The list goes on but why dwell on the negative? It’s called the human condition. We can only hope that a Torah lifestyle will help give us the tools to conquer our weaknesses and overcome our faults, but the birthright of being born frum is not a panacea or guarantee.

    To answer another comment, two of my children are married to BTs. For them it was about finding a mate who had a genuine enthusiasm for Torah, who treated Torah and mitzvos more as a joy than a yoke. For me it was about finding them mates that weren’t concerned about frum “shtick” – the obsession and demands and “rules” (sic)in the shidduch world of parents and their children that are mostly money-related and have very, very little (if anything at all) to do with Torah or a proper Torah lifestyle.

  3. dude says:

    Awfully small-minded of you, Joel. Here’s a man expressing the sublime pleasure a father has in seeing his kids surpass his own achievements, and all you can say is, “Why doesn’t this loser just do more learning?”

    You seem to be assuming that the man R’ Menken quotes spends no time learning Torah. By what sort of divination do you know this?

    I’m (almost) speechless with indignation. I’m hoping I just misunderstood you.

  4. Fern R says:

    If being frum is like having a skin of Torah observance that can’t be removed, then there wouldn’t be any need for kiruv and there would be no such thing as a baal teshuva. I can’t believe anyone actually said that. I think it must be some sort of urban myth.

  5. joel rich says:


    Perhaps you could reread my comment and consider why you deemed it necessary to give it a negative response and reading. I was taught that in situations like this it is best to ask the individual what they meant in a non-judgemental way.

    I did not say or imply (nor intend to do so) anything about this particular individual. I did want to point out that some might take the view that objective accomplishment is the most important measure and that this was not what I was taught was the proper gauge.

    My own assumption (which was based on my own reading of the post but which could not be substantiated and thus not subject in my opinion for posting) was that the individual in question was much like the one I praised – doing his best but not satisfied with the results.


  6. Eliezer says:

    GB begins by stating that “What I found strange about Avakesh’s comments were that the very issues he found objectionable in BTs can also be found in FFBs, including FFBs that wear black hats yet rent videos.” Is there an issur (prohibition) on renting videos altogether, regardless of their content? And why the (seemingly superficial) focus on the nature/color of the hat?

  7. hp says:

    dude, I saw Joel’s comment as a vote of confidence, and encouragement, to counter the “ignoramus” term. A “put-up” rather than a put down. How would you respond if someone used a self deprecating term as ignoramus? Wouldn’t you offer encouragement too?

  8. Ephraim says:

    I am the author of the post that Rav Menken quoted.

    I suppose that rather than being a BT I fall into the category of the tinoch shenishba. Also, I suppose “ignoramus” is a matter of perspective. By the standards of real frumkeit I suppose I know practically nothing; by the standards of the majority of Jews who wouldn’t be able tell the Rambam from the Ramban if they fell on top of them I might as well be the Gadaol ha Dor. I know people less than half my age who are far more learned than I can ever hope to be. Learning for 10 hours a day for 20 years will do that, and it’s just a little too much ground to make up, I’m afraid. However, once you step out of the even nominally Orthodox world the level of ignorance of Torah and mitzvot is absolutely shocking. Much of this is willful ignorance on the part of people who reject Orthodoxy as a matter of principle and who wear their ignorance as a badge of honor. In any case, I learn regularly twice a week, once with a chevrusa and once in a class. Not much, perhaps, but it keeps me off the streets. I make no claims about how properly I do miztvot either. I do my best.

    Regarding Dude’s comments: as far as my boys (there are two of them) are concerned, I couldn’t possibly shep any more naches than I am shepping right now. I mean, thank G-d they know more than I do. That’s the general idea, isn’t it? Any father who doesn’t want his sons to “stand on his shoulders” has no business raising kids.

  9. dude says:

    Got it, Joel. It was, in fact, very unclear to me what you were trying to say. So much so, that I called up a friend who also reads this blog and asked him how he understood your comment. After my friend read it, he told me, “I have no idea where KT is trying go with this.” After some deliberation, our best take on your comment was what I originally wrote to you.

    I guess my own assumption was that the soon-to-be grandfather was just being modest and self-deprecating, as opposed to actually lacking in self-esteem. So your oblique attempt to give him consolation, which in my understanding was totally unnenecessary, sounded more like a smug put-down. In addition, since I never figured this guy to actually be a total ignoramus (after all, he’s clearly been frum for quite a while already), your bringing down such well-known concepts that any baal teshuvah would have heard within the first month of learning, came across as sarcastic reminders, not encouragement.

    I should have asked you what you meant in a more neutral way, and not have jumped to conclusions. For that I apologize.

  10. Joel Rich says:

    Machul Lach, machul lach, machul lach
    KT(Kol Tuv)

  11. Steve Brizel says:

    I stand by the comment that I posted on Hirhurim in reaction to Avakesh’s observation. IMO, he is quite mistaken as to the degree of successful integration of many BTs in frum communities.

  12. Micha Berger says:

    The problem is that kiruv has turned into marketing rather than education. And reality isn’t simple, nor is the Torah that guide us through it simple, and frankly becoming frum and having bitachon won’t make your life problem free.

    The need for a “kiruv movement” is because the Orthodox world doesn’t live up to the Torah. If we had a product that was obviously good, we wouldn’t need to “sell” it so hard. As a friend of mine put it, “Rolls Royce doesn’t need to offer ‘cash back or no money down!'”


  13. Bob Miller says:

    Micha (November 21, 2006 @ 3:09 pm),

    It’s a long way to “obviously”. Many actual or potential Jewish seekers don’t live around the corner from a frum community, ideal or otherwise. Some form of intermediary can be helpful in bringing opportunities for growth/learning/integration/…to their attention, and in providing instruction and personal example.

    Rolls-Royce sells to people who already know what a good car is.

  14. Bob Miller says:

    More on marketing:

    Right now, I’m doing an engineering project at the other Rolls-Royce, the aircraft engine company. Be assured that they make extremely good engines, but they must use every legitimate sales technique at their disposal to outsell the aggressive competition (GE, Pratt & Whitney, etc.). Jewish Orthodoxy also has stiff competition from inside and outside the Jewish world. “Marketing” is not some kind of cuss word.

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