You Used to Be So Much Fun – Part 2 – Audio Post

Today we are posting the audio file for Part 2 of Rabbi Shlomo Goldberg’s lecture at the Life After Teshuva conference, titled “You Used to be So Much Fun – Relating to Non-Religious Family and Friends”.

Click on the link to listen to Part 2. Here is the link if you missed hearing Part 1. (To download either audio file to your computer, click with the right mouse button on the link and select Save Target As)

Here is a summary of Part 2, but please take the time to listen to the audio file.

Rabbi Goldberg points out that we can’t hold non observant family members responsible for their sometimes adverse reaction to our Yiddishkeit because we are the ones who went “crazy”. Our parents raised us in a”normal” way and we did the “abnormal” thing. In addition, they raised us to be independent and it is difficult for them when we choose a path so different from theirs. A lot of what we do is a denial of the values that they tried to impart. And that is a hard thing to have thrown in your face on a daily basis. We are sending a constant subtle message that we are rejecting what they have done. From our parents’ point of view, we are kids at risk. We have to do all that we can to improve the situation.

People want to hear about things that will benefit them. If we want to build an understanding relationship the first thing is to show that they benefit because we are now religious. Show them what’s in it for them. Parents and friends see all the things that we can’t do – No more Saturday’s, no more restaurants,etc.. We have to show them that their life is better as a result of our Yiddishkeit. That means a focus on mitzvos between man and his fellow man. Leave religion out of most conversations. Rabbi Goldberg feels it is not our responsibility to Mekariv our parents. What we have to do is avoid creating a Chillul Hashem. Don’t drive them away.

There are a lot of things we can’t do, so we have to create a situation where we say yes as much as possible. A relationship is like a bank account and you have to make a lot of deposits, so when you make the withdrawals you are not overdrawn. Look for opportunities to make deposits. We often need a Rav to know when we can say yes. Rabbi Goldberg states there are surprising heterim, but you need a Rav. If your parents and relatives see that you do say yes whenever you can, then they will know that when you say no, it is because you have no other choice.

Family members sometimes feel that we get some holier than thou pleasure out of saying no. They need to know that we don’t enjoy having to say no to them, we wish we could say yes. Look to take every legimitate leniency, but consult a Rav to determine details. We have to know when to make an issue out of things and when we should let them go.

Part 3 will be made available in the upcoming weeks. Please comment on Part 2 on this thread.

3 comments on “You Used to Be So Much Fun – Part 2 – Audio Post

  1. AL,
    You’re right that becoming BT does bring the issues to the surface. And since you’re the one who changed, not them, can you blame them? So in order to make things better, who do you think has to take the initiative? Its tough, there’s no question, and it may take years. But by being understanding, by constantly reminding yourself that you can’t expect them to change, since you did, you can get somewhere. But YOU have to do the majority of the work. I did try to learn a bit about kibud av v’eim. I admit not enough. But when my mother would really lace into me, I started my own mantra, you can come up with what works for you, but I honestly would say to my mother, “Mom, no matter what you tell me, let me reinforce that I love you very much, I respect you very much for all you’ve done for me, and that will never change.” I really said this mid-argument. More than once in the same argument. With feeling. And she finally broke down and yelled, “stop saying that, you make it very hard to yell at you when you do that!” Of course it broke the tensions. Always remind them this ‘cult’ you joined requires you to honor and respect them. You could write a letter to them stating how you recognize that as parents they did the best they knew how. Make sure, if its in writing, that there’s no bitterness in it or that they could misinterpret anything the wrong way. But the work has to be from you, on yourself, how you view the situation. They are who they have always been, and you took a different path than they wanted for you, than they think is good for you. You have to show them through example that you’re happy with the choices you’ve made, and you can’t expect them to change their life over it. Good luck!

  2. AL,

    Where’ve you been (working or something?!)?

    I hear your points. I don’t think there’s any one set path for everyone.

    At the same time, if there were family “issues” before teshuvah, I would think the BT should strive to keep the fact that they have become a BT from getting worse. Some relationships, I guess are irreperable, whether the person is a BT or not. In the circumstances, I would think the BT should educate his/herself to the halachas of kibud av v’eim and how they apply to his/her particular situation.

  3. I listened to both parts 1 and 2. Rabbi Goldberg states that to get along with our non-frum families we have to be the ones to change, the ones to be mevateir, so-to-speak.

    Well, even if this is the correct path for some I do not think that it is possible in all cases. Some BTs always had problems with their families, but it took Yiddishkeit to bring all of the issues to the surface.

    I guess there are families who survive after one of the family members does tshuva, but the relationship was probably a good one in the first place, before tshuva.

    Other families aren’t so fortunate, because they never truly respected each other in the first place. Some families are just too cruel to their BT children post-tshuva. Sometimes, it’s just not worth it.

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