While I was in the process of becoming frum I found that many of my friends and family suddenly became big Talmidei Chachomim (Torah Scholars). They started noticing and commenting on discrepancies in my religious behavior. They never said it explicitly, but the implication was that I was being hypocritical. I fielded such questions as, â€œWhy donâ€™t you wear your yarmulka at school like you do at home?â€, â€œHow can you eat in the restaurant if they serve x, y, and z also?â€, â€œHow come you walk to shul and then come home and watch TV?â€, etc.
As we know, for most of us becoming observant is a process. Itâ€™s not like upgrading a computer to a new operating system where suddenly you have all of this new information and features. (Actually, that can be a tough process too, but you get the idea.) There is a lot of information to assimilate and major behavioral changes to implement. In retrospect it can be amusing to look back on some of the inconsistencies we exhibited as our growth unfolded.
Hereâ€™s a couple of oldies but goodies. Early in high school I started going to an orthodox shul Shabbos mornings. In the beginning my parents would drive me there. I still remember hiding on the floor of the car as we would pass my frum friends walking to shul. (Like they didnâ€™t know I drove!) Then I started walking to shul; four miles each way. After that eight mile round trip walk I would hop in the car with my parents and go on any number of Saturday afternoon outings. Sounds funny now, but it must have seemed strange to those around me back then.
The truth is, I believe, that everyone who experiences religious growth, whether an FFB, BT, or non-orthodox Jew, has to deal with inconsistencies. In fact I think the need to resolve these inconsistencies is actually the engine for religious growth, and if this need is the engine then learning is the fuel. By learning, especially learning normative Halacha, we create a gap between what we know and what we do. If weâ€™re sincere and honest with ourselves then we will try to close this gap by modifying our behavior. So, once we learn that thereâ€™s more to kosher meat than it being from a cow it becomes evident that we have to stop eating â€œall beefâ€ Big Macs.
As we become more knowledgeable and more observant the gaps become subtler, but they never disappear. All of us have that â€œbechira pointâ€ at which weâ€™re struggling between what we know we should be doing and what we actually are doing. As long as those points keep moving, weâ€™re doing ok.