The Insights Born Out of a BT’s Past

By Michael Salzbank

There is an evolutionary process to the BT. As we learn more we become more aware of what is appropriate in different situations. This is true for everyone in society (you don’t wear jeans to a black tie affair). Frum women will dress even more modestly when going to the Kotel or when going for a bracha from a Rebbe.

So in part, it is not an issue of conforming but becoming more sensitive to the standards and norms of the situation, the community.

I am intrigued by the global aspects to the BT. As individuals we bring to Klal Yisroel an obvious enthusiasm, vibrancy and “newness” that is beneficial to all. The stories of mesiras nefesh are compelling and inspirational. I think, though, the BT adds more than their individual story.

The question I have is what does the phenomena, called the BT movement mean to Klal Yisroel? It sees to me that there must be a common thread in the background of the pre-BT that provided the fertile ground for the change and development. It is that experience that can provide much value to the frum community.

So before the BT “rejects” his/her past please share all the benefits of your past that directed you to this growth.

3 comments on “The Insights Born Out of a BT’s Past

  1. I think the pre-BT experience is one of searching for more out of life. Unfortunately there are so many distractions in the world today, that it is too easy for people never to ask the “Is that all there is?” question.

    I think the post-BT experience might be more instructive. I see this as becoming more understanding of where the wide spectrum of observant and non-observant Jews are coming from. This outlook sames to be more prevalent in the 15+ years BT, but if we can really internalize and live it, perhaps we can teach it effectively.

  2. I appreciate the comments and agree that one can not assume there is ONE common thread that links all BTs. However, my point (and it may be so subtle as to be irrelevant) is that enormous Teshuva movement that we see is instructive to the ENTIRE Jewsih community. The lessons to be learned go beyond (couldn’t resist the reference) than the individual story of mesiras nefesh. My belief is Hashem is showing ALL of Klal Yisroel a path of growth through the BT “movement”. The universal message of what it takes to make changes perhaps is the most significant of all.

  3. For such a concise post I thought it was filled with depth. I think the authors observation that sensitivity provokes more nuanced conformity is truly insightful.

    I am reluctant to say that there is a common thread linking all BTs lives in some way pre-BTness, but if I had to come up with something al regel achas, I would say that a) society today is empty of all things authentic on a ruchniusdick level, and the Jewish neshama is sick when not given daily and potent doses of emes. And b) I believe that yiddishkeit imbues our lives with context that did not exist before becoming frum.

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