What often happens in the frum world is everybody is forced to pick sides, or so it appears. Can you imagine you just gave up eating shellfish, pork, and watching cartoons on shabbos and you now feel like you are on a holy journey to serve the creator of the universe and boom, you are pressured to define yourself: black hat, knitted kipa, jean skirts, stockings or bandanas. Sounds frustrating but we all felt the pressure somewhere along the way.
Does it really mean who you are because of your hat or lack of it? Because your skirt goes to your ankle but it is a jean shirt? I think Hashem laughs at anyone who believes that is Yiddishkeit. Now, with that said, what should we be thinking? How do we define what a good Jew is?
Let’s open up the torah, the Gemorah and the Shulchan Aruch and see the definition. We know what it says. Keep Hashem always before you. Meditate on these words day and night. It is clear that keeping the mitzvahs is our job here and the only way for a Jew to serve Hashem is through the observance of Mitzvos. Now lets not forget that includes Mitzvos between Hashem and us and mankind and mankind.
Now we know that there are 70 faces to the Torah. As long as they fit within the framework of Halacha, they are kosher. You might ask, whose halacha? We use the Shulchan Aruch as our guide. There are the technical aspects of halacha as well as the spirit of the halacha. Our 70 faces need to pass both those tests in order to be valid.
That leads me to my next point. Hashem doesn’t care what color your hat is, rather have you been putting in your best effort to fulfill your potential as a Yid. We need to keep focused on that is why most of us were attracted to Yiddishkeit in the 1st place. The spirituality, beauty and holiness of the Torah and the Jewish people.
Where does that leave us? Pick your friends well, learn, and focus. Your friends will lead you to the best places or the worst ( don’t be a big shot and say I’ll lead them. That is the sign of the end for most people). Associate with a community that is growing. Shabbos should be holy not profane. If the past weeks TV shows are the topic of discussion at the Shabbos table then I think you missed the point. Learn-You need to know what you are doing and most importantly the inherent metaphysical koach of connecting to Hashem through learning his Torah. Focus-know everything you do is being watched( forget by the community) by Hashem. Also concentrate everyday on what your mission is here as a Jew-to serve Hashem. Remember we are Jewish 24/7, 365 days a year.
Most importantly, work on your simcha. We need to do the Mitzvos with simcha. That is a must for our long term commitment and for our kid’s love of Torah.