What Issues Did You Find in the Three Phases of Becoming a BT?

The Baalei Teshuva path can be roughly divided into 3 stages

1) Discovery – learning and growth

2) Integration – navigating to your place in the community

3) Beyond BT – Torah living and slower growth

Did you go too fast in phase 1?

Did you have the right community support and teachers in phase 2?

Have you found a way to target continual improvement in phase 3?

9 comments on “What Issues Did You Find in the Three Phases of Becoming a BT?

  1. Stage 3 is where you get to take advantage of the receptiveness that you have to improving your midot. The whole time you were questioning things and moving slowly. Now you have emuna, you believe in what you believe, but your anger levels are too high, your eyes, speech, and thoughts aren’t where you want them to be. You get frustrated when Hashem’s plans are different from yours. Fortunately you know truth when you see it so it’s easier to make changes quickly.

    At the same time, hiddur mitzva is nice. Learn a story to tell at a Shabbat meal every week. When a guest at someone’s house find ways to help parents with their children.

    Plot your life now! How are you going to make Aliyah? Nobody said that making Aliyah to Eretz Yisrael is easier done with the Mashiach than with Nefesh b’Nefesh. If t’chiyat hameitim is painful for those in Chutz La’Aretz and we already have plenty of examples of painful aliyah trips (see almost everyone except American Olim) it makes no sense not to make Aliyah right now except for the fact that you have children older than nine or you are lacking initiative.

    In other parts of planning your life: What will be your work/study balance? What kind of spouse will you be? Do you speak Modern/Mishnaic Hebrew? Rav Eli Sadan wrote a book about how to remain a Torah centered life while in the army. It applies equally well to other non-Yeshiva situations. It’s in Hebrew and it’s called “Sichot LiKrat Gius L’Tzahal.”

  2. “you have to be yourself and become “you” as a Shomer Torah umitzvot, rather than getting rid of “you” and turning into a Shomer Torah Umitzvot.”

    It would be nice if their were more rabbis in the BT yeshivas who would either recognize this, or take a proactive approach in giving guidance in this area. Most are just too busy. But this is just another larger-than-life topic with no solutions.

  3. I generally agree with the go slow approach, but will just point out that different things work for different people. I have a friend whom I went to yeshiva with years ago who decided to be committed to Torah living almost overnight –he was inspired by a shabbos experience. This worked for him and now he’s been religious for about twenty years and has been blessed with a wonderful family and is a pillar of his community. However, this is the exception rather than the rule –what he did worked for him but wouldn’t have worked for me or probably 99% of people. My takeaway from knowing this person doesn’t diminish the importance of the general approach of going slow at first, but it underscores the important principle that you have to be yourself and become “you” as a Shomer Torah umitzvot, rather than getting rid of “you” and turning into a Shomer Torah Umitzvot.

    It is a larger topic, but i happen to think many difficulties BTs have result from sociology and not from the Torah itself –the Torah demands that we follow it, and the sociology sometimes demands something more or something different (I am not suggesting this is always bad but it has to be recognized).

  4. Mark:

    I think that going slow is very important. Making such a drastic stage in lifestyle in a sudden fashion is a recipe for a crash. In other words, if you go too fast you never make it to step 2.

  5. If you try to conform to much, you won’t find your place, because it’s not really YOU, so it’s never YOUR place. Healthy conforming is a recognition that this is truly the direction you want–it speaks to you and you are ready for it.

  6. Cosmic, do you think taking it slow helped make stage 2 easier?

    Scott, I was grouping conforming and integrating together in phase 2 since integration involves some conformity. How do you see those 2 components?

  7. Mine was six stages:
    1) Discovery of an interesting world
    2) Trying to conform to that world so I wouldn’t stand out
    3)Trying to conform even more by ‘rushing’ the process (eg too much halacha before haskafa)
    4) Still trying to conform, but with a nagging feeling that the process can’t be rushed
    6)Torah living, slower growth, and regret I tried to conform so much in the beginning.

  8. If stage 1 includes the metamorphosis from secular life to Torah life, then for me it was the most difficult part. I did not “go fast” in stage 1, and I was blessed with good teachers and role models all along the way. As far as stage 3 is concerned, you just have to keep on learning!

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