Sibling Rivalry-BT Vs. FFB: How Do We Stop It?

I’ve noticed along with others that there sometimes is an anti FFB sentiment running through some comments. I’d like to dispel people’s beliefs for a moment.

First of all let’s realize that if it wasn’t for the FFB world, we wouldn’t be here today on this website (obviously Hashem is the ultimate reason we are here). After all, the first BT’s of this past generation were merkaraved by Aish, Ohr Samayach, Neve, etc. All started by FFB’s. So we owe a tremendous hakaros hatov to the FFB world. Did we ever stop and think who kept the light of Torah burning the last 2000 years? That’s right, those FFB’s.

I know at least in my own experiences, I gained so much and grew so much due to FFB’s that were maspia (influencing) on me. That’s not to say that I didn’t have any BT role models. I did. However the FFB role models out number the BT ones (I am not talking qualitatively, just quantitatively now). Every day that I go daven and I see businessmen coming to shul (FFB’s), I think to myself how Hashem must be smiling. The world is a sewer, with a pull so strong that even the mightiest have fallen and yet still these FFB’s that are so involved in the outside world come early in the morning to thank Hashem. Let’s not judge them, whether it is habit that brings them there, etc. Only Hashem is the true judge. The fact is that they are there every morning, afternoon and evening.

I have met a number of FFBs that grew up “modern” and then moved to the right. I think they are incredible. They have the right perspective (excited about their Judaism) while yet for the most part still pure (most didn’t “treif” themselves up so bad). I envy them.

Most BT’s went through college, the secular world for some part of their life. We unfortunately have seen too much (in terms of the forbidden). No matter how much we remove ourselves from it now, it still lurks in the backs of our minds, rearing it ugly head at various points in our lives. I am speaking about those that have done sincere Teshuva, even then the mind’s memory system doesn’t forget too easily. We know that we always need to regret what we have done before. These things haunt us to this day. Whether we are talking about how we see the world-through the Torah’s eyes or that of the western world. You can’t erase 25 years of influence too easily. (I am not discussing now what we should throw out and what we should keep, however we know everything needs to be looked at through a Torah perspective as opposed to the western ideals, etc.). The “modern” kid turned “fanatic” usually doesn’t have as many skeletons in his/her closet.

Let’s also realize how many BT’s never real go the whole way in their Teshuva process. They get stuck in both worlds. We aren’t all Tzaddikim. I didn’t write this to knock any one group. I want us all to be aware of our pluses and minuses and realize that Hashem wants us each to help each other come closer to him.

Just remember, I hope that each and everyone of us look forward to the moment (if not already) when they can say that their children are true FFBs.

34 comments on “Sibling Rivalry-BT Vs. FFB: How Do We Stop It?


  2. Rivka,
    I have trouble hearing what you are writing. Belief in the divinity of Torah is extremely rational. If one can’t get their head around that, than I wouldn’t call them a BT. They are not yet frum. People are very influened by their peers. If someone has trouble with belief in the fundamentals, I would encourage them to change their environment and to find some new freinds.

  3. From my own experience, I think it is fair to say that observance of the mitzvos takes place before one arrives at belief in fundamental principles, which are as few as R Y Albo’s ikarim, slightly more eunerated by Rambam and even more elaborated upon by R Yonah. I am not sure that I would accept what you called “Aish proofs” as rational or answers. From my standpoint, they are only answers and proofs which don’t answer many questions and which depend on attacking the opposition.( For what it is worth and from I have read and seen, I think that one can only arrive at some beliefs, as opposed to others, after a long process, which for some people is an incomplete process because they have limited themselves in their search for the answers. On the one hand, some people abandon the process and walk away from Torah. Others decide that the process involves going thru the works of Rav Soloveitchik and Rav Kook, Zicronam Livracha. ) Moreover, the issues that they claim to address don’t bother me. In fact, when a BT once asked R Wolbe ZTL about his frustations in reaching all of the levels set forth by R Yonah, R Wolbe ZTL assured the BT that HaShem accepts all efforts and levels of tehuvah.

    If you were to push me on which hashkafic issues raise my interest and for which the kiruv world has insisted on a “my way or the highway” approach, I would point to the following issues:

    (1) For starters, the practical application of Daas Torah and its results is an issue that always raises my interest , to say the least. Let me be up front- Of course, there is a mitzvah of Emunas Chachamim set forth in the Torah and elaborated upon by the Rishonim,. etc. On the other hand, one senses a distinct lack of comfort in discussing its application to the political and historical issues raised from the time of the Enlightennent to the present. Any rational and non -judgmental discussion of these issues has met the usual means of defense- precluded by Daas Torah, any contrary approaches were meant as temporary in nature and any evidence that tends to support these trends is denounced as forged, or also violative of Daas Torah.

    (2) The notion that it is better to offer a series of “answers” that may or may not answer the questions raised as opposed to offering an approach that gives one an overall handle and perspective is also an issue that tends to bother me from time to time. I also think that one can state that the notion that one must accept everything on a “my way or the highway” attitude based upon these rather categorical “answers” can result in people going off the derech. You mentioned early on that some posters might take umbrage at hearing about the Torah or POV of Rav Soloveitchik ZTL on these issues. Without passing judgment, I I find that a sad commentary on a generation of BTs tends to view the writings of the Rav ZTL to be avoided. . While I appreciate Chasidus and Mussar also, I would consider myself spirtually challenged without referring to Rav Soloveitchik ZTL”s published materials, especially on creation, teshuvah and HaShem’s covenant with His covenantal community -the Jewish people.

  4. Rivka – It has not been my experience that BTs do not accept the fundamentals of jewish belief more than any other group. In fact probably the only (probably unwarranted) criticism Beyond Teshuva has received is that as a group we lean towards the belief end of the spectrum. I think the community a person lives in is a much more determinate factor of the approach taken.

    However, people with secular educations might travel the rational path (eg Aish “proofs”) as far as possible more often, before they rely on pure belief and there are many Torah sources which validate this path. But eventually adherence to Hashem and His Torah must depend on belief in the fundamental principles.

  5. nearly all of my friends are BTs. interestingly, the friends who *really* believe in things like the coming of moshiach, divine providence, that money is not the be all and end all etc are either FFBs – or not that observant.

    many of my BT friends think you are a lunatic for actually believing the torah, and sticking to your guns about things like israel being eretz hakodesh and not something that should be given away for the sake of a peace that just won’t happen if it’s going to be man-made.

    i find it hard to square that circle: i can understand that we can’t keep everything – i don’t cover my hair, for example. but i know that i should. so why are things like believing in moshiach and genuinely believing that jews are a nation apart from all others – fundamental jewish beliefs – so hard to swallow for so many BTs?

    it’s also torah, but i guess it’s harder to rationalise or approach in a logical way. i think that many BTs have been taught that they have good brains and should use them. the trouble is, you can’t always explain everything via a good brain. and when there is a seeming dissonance between torah and jewish belief and ‘sense’ or intellectual / social norms, for many BTs, the latter win out.

  6. Reb Chaim:

    I read your thoughtful post with mixed emotions, wavering between whether you are correct that this is the way that things ~should be~ or whether it is simply the way things ~are~ or neither.

    I am not so naieve as to believe that every BT is accepted with open arms by every FFB. Often there is a gaping chasm between these two sub-communities. That, I believe, is a fact.

    I don’t think, however,that this is how things should be and that this is what yidden were taught to do for thousands of years. Otherwise, we never would have had a Rabbi Akiva or a Reish Lakish.

    Certainly, there are individual circumstances where the brick wall is needed. That does not mean that every BT needs to be distanced from every FFB community all of the time.

    I agree with your point that we have to be careful in the area of shmiras halashon when discussing this matter and avoid bad mouthing or broad brushing the FFB world. At the same time, we need to do our best to awaken the FFB community in general to the fact that just as we have so much to learn and grow from them, there is so much that we BTs have to offer them. Whether it be a renewed enthusiasm, fine tuned talents redirected for the benefit of the klal (general community) or torah teachers that are reaching out to thousands of jews, young and old, frum and not, FFB and BT such as Rabbi Akiva Tatz or Rebetzin Tzipora Heller.

    You really made the point when you said “know that you have something to teach them too”. The trick is awakening a broader understanding and acceptance of this point.

    Clearly, there are times to build brick walls. But everyday is a time to build the third bais hamikdash (holy temple) and each of us, FFB and BT alike, when fully atuned are a brick in that holy edifice.

  7. A message to beloved BT’s everywhere: Please don’t delude yourselves into thinking that the FFB world is going to accept you with open arms on all fronts, and in all the ways you are needing to be accepted. In my humble opinion, I believe we are witnessing the very reason why our people has remained strong in Torah and Mitzvos throughout the ages, I like to call it the BRICK WALL. That’s right. Whomever you are, wherever you are as a BT, you carry with you seemingly harmless mannerisms, hashpa (influences/energy if you will accept that loose term) and even subtle ways of speech from which the FFB world has always kept a serious distance. That is the coldness that you feel. And you are somewhat alone, but that can be very exciting, actually.

    No Blog or organization can incorporate you into this world, it’s a challenge unique to the BT individual. You are here to grow in Torah and Mitzvos with the best FFB Yeshiva you can find, and your job is harder than doing any kind of kiruv you can imagine. You must forgive your Rabbis and FFB communities who are only doing what they were taught to do for thousands of years – distance themselves from even people who may talk or act like the nations of the world, even in the slightest bit. It’s a turnoff to them. So you walk into FFB environments and your afraid to talk, or dress the way you want, etc. Get what you can, drink thirstily from your Rabbis and your community, and you will have plenty of spirituality in your life.

    Try to stay friendly with a group of BT’s who keep to a standard of Jewish Torah Life that can help you grow in your level and remind yourself when you are sitting at that FFB table or in that FFB environment that no one intends to reject, invalidate or hurt you. Reach out to them by absorbing or channeling what you feel is hurtful and know that you have something to teach them, too. He who learns from everyone is wise. Don’t, G-d forbid, knock anyone or speak loshon hora. None of us are going to become what these FFB’s are because we’ve broken from the Mesora that has been handed down. All Jews are one. At the same time, be realistic and let happen what the Creator allows to happen. I am in a very strict Yeshiva where I can gain amazing Torah knowledge and quality in Torah life, but I’m no fool. I need my friends around me who can relate to me. I have a Rebbe who shows me how to learn and what’s expected of a Jew and I have a counselor who helps me deal with issues that he can relate to because he’s been where I have been. Look out for yourself. Stay in Torah and Mitzvos. And know that I love you.

  8. You wrote:
    “Did we ever stop and think who kept the light of Torah burning the last 2000 years? That’s right, those FFB’s.”
    But does an FFB of ‘today’ have any right to receive my hakores hatov because of the mesirus nefesh of the frum Jews 1000 years ago?

  9. Reb Alter makes house calls. This post is of great depth, we should all read it and then re-read it. Really think about it.

    As far as “past” experiences, whether teshuva has been done, or whether they have been erased, we still should give a certain amount of reflection to the fact that we did go through certain things, and there is a reason for that. Memories are hard to erase. Like those holiday jingles someone mentioned last month.

    It is a simple reality difference between some BTs and some FFBs and for that matter, between me and my FFB children.

  10. Steg-
    Chazal tell us that the Jews were not sent into exile except so that Geirim/converts could be added to them (their ranks).

    Someone once asked the Kozhnitzer Magid that “it is patently obvious from all over Tanach and Chazal that exile is the wages of a variety of sin, greatest of all being baseless hatred. So, Rebbe, had we not sinned where would all the righteous converts destined to join our people have come from? They would never even have heard of us much less had anyone to learn from?” The Magid answered, “Had we never sinned the fire of our holiness would have been so intense that the destined geirim would have come flocking to join us as iron filings are drawn to a powerful magnet”.

    No doubt that now that we are in our long and bitter golus we’d better make the best of it while working towards its dissolution and men of good conscience can agree to disagree about how to go about doing that. Yet IMHuO the Magid’s vision is unquestionably the “Plan A” of serving as a “light unto the nations.” The paradigm is not for Jews to engage the world but for the world to engage us. How many Rebbeim do you know make house calls to their talmidim?

  11. I meant to say in my last paragraph Many religious Jews other than Hareidi seem to have…

  12. Dear Steg,
    I am sorry that you take my article personally. I in no way meant it as an insult to anyone. I think anyone who carrys the flag of Torah and upholds it standards in the world, they are a living kiddush hashem.
    My only mentioning people coming to daven and habitualness is because I felt people feel that some people are just doing everything from rote(FFB’s). I meant to defend them, not insult them. Also my including modern in quotes was meant to show people that it is a sterotype used by people.
    The Hareidi world is not running away from the world. They have recognized that the world is a sewer unforntunately and we need to protect ourselves. You are not allowed to put yourself in danger-Spiritually or physically. Your own life and that of your families comes first. By the way, that comes from someone who has worked in kiruv for over 10 years.
    I know plenty of “hareidi” men that work and they are a kiddush Hashem.
    Many people seem to have a chip on their shoulders about the “hareidi” world. I want you to know that I also meet many secular Jews who have a chip on their shoulders about religious Jews in general. Something to think about. We shouldn’t judge anybody.

  13. Let’s also realize how many BT’s never real go the whole way in their Teshuva process. They get stuck in both worlds. We aren’t all Tzaddikim. I didn’t write this to knock any one group.

    This whole post is a knock against Non-Hhareidi Orthodoxy. Yekke Torah-‘im-Derekh-Eretz. American Torah-uMada‘. Israeli Torah-va‘Avoda. Anyone else who understands that God gave us Torah in order to live Torah *in the world*. All of us, FFBs and BTs who *are* “modern”, and proud to be so. You can’t be an or lagoyim by hiding in a closet. You can’t live Torah and express God’s will in the world without engaging with the world.

    Let’s not judge them, whether it is habit that brings them there, etc.

    Saying that *is* judging them. Saying that *is* implying that it’s “habit that brings them there”. I find this post personally insulting, to me, my communities, and to all those “FFB communities throughout history” who preserved, glorified, and passed on Torah by LIVING it, and not by running away from such holy acts as having jobs and examining God’s great creation.

  14. Reb Alter…….
    You are the man! Spend a Shabbos with Reb Alter and you will understand….his love of Klal Yisroel has no boundaries. He has an incredible neshoma, and we are blessed to hear his words of wisdom.

  15. I just wanted to summarize my previous comment because I realize it was intense. Our rules of morality come from the Torah. If secular “rules” agree with us, great. If secular rule’s disagree with us, it doesn’t affect us because we follow Torah. And going beyond that, since Torah is from Hashem, we know it is perfect. We can’t be apologetic to the world if what they deem to be moral is immoral according to Torah and vice versa.
    Kol tuv.

  16. Alan,
    It should only be true that the un/geneva convention make laws that really protect the people of the world. Ask the Rwandain’s(hope I spelled it right) if the UN protected them. Everybody realizes how anti israeli the un is.

    Number 2-we have rules of warfare dictated to us by the Chumash and Talmud. There are plenty of times when those rules aren’t politically correct with the UN. That is what I mean. We as Jews don’t do what is politically correct. We do what is correct according to Hashem. The Chumash and all of Jewish law sets the standards of cruelty and mercy , of right and wrong. There are to many Israeli soldiers dying because the army is afraid to offend the sensitivities of the UN. I am sorry, when we fight a war, we need to ask the Rabbi’s what permitted and not the UN. Jewish blood isn’t cheap.

    #3) Of course we care about the world. Non-Jews are a creation of Hashem. Judaism is very universal. Non-Jews who keep the 7 laws of Noach get a share in the world to come. I think it is just and a must that we are a light unto the nations so that they will learn from us what is right and wrong and how to respect each other. However I also see the Sheker(lies) of the various human right organizations that claim to support everyones right to life except Jews. I don’t think any examples are needed to prove this point. Remember, The mighty nations of the world sat by and let the Holocaust happen. I am betting my money that Hashem saves us and not the UN!
    I apologize if my words are strong but we are dealing with life and death, spiritually and physically.
    Kol tuv.

  17. I think the perception that there is an “antiFFB sentiment” stems from the fact that many institutions and cultural norms, which have been established and enforced by the FFB majority, leave something to be desired in one aspect or another. This does not in any way diminish individual FFBs, nor does it say that we would be better off without the given institution or cultural norm altogether.

    We BTs were raised to question, and we were able to become frum because we could stand up for our identity. From what I know about the yeshiva educational system of the last generations, questioning was not allowed and not a way to instigate change. Perhaps part of the BT role is to air these questions and bring some ingenuity and sunshine into certain corners of the FFB world, albeit in a way that always respects and seeks daas torah.

    However, I do agree that cultural criticisms that are popping up here tend to get away from the stated purpose of the website, which is support, rather than venting.

  18. By Neilah, we are all Baaley Teshuvah, so what difference does it make if one Jew has changed his life more than another?

    Every Jew was at Har Sinai.

    We are one. Let us move away from the nicknames.

  19. For all their faults [no one is perfect] there isn’t a single bt anywhere who made their journey without the help of myriad ffb’s and their families all of whom extended themselves without any thought of renumeration etc. It was all an act of Ahavas Yisroel.

    In my case, this is not true. I did not become frum due to Kiruv, and everyone in the frum community I lived in (Bangor Maine) were themselves BT.

  20. I just want to point out that NCSY, Chabad and YU’s Torah Leadership Seminars were all involved in Kiruv much earlier than either Aish, Ohr Sameach or Neve. Neither of the three latter institutions were extant until the mid 70s, a long time after Chabad, NCSY and TLS were on the scene . YU’s JSS also was a yeshivah for BTs which operated as far back as the late 50s.

    And although you might not have meant it, you are using “modern” as a pejorative which is objectionable to some who might identify themselves with Modern Orthodoxy, yet are extremely careful in observance of the Mitzvos and learn Torah regularly with great depth and breadth.

  21. “Also, our training to think has been tainted that we should think like the un/geneva conventions rules as opposed to thinking through the lenses of the Torah. That one is very hard to break after so many years.”

    Alter –

    Are you trying to say that the many religious frum Jews, BT and FFB, who believe in respecting the rule of law and the dignity of other human beings (i.e. tsalmei elokim) and who think that it’s wondrous that the non-Jewish world has finally absorbed enough Jewish values over the past few thousands years that they make the attempt to create laws like Geneva and organizations like the UN whose purpose (though they get distracted by politics unfortunately) is to foster shalom shalem and kevod habriyot — are you saying that those Jews are not really thinking about things through the Torah’s lenses?

    Jews who care about the violations of life and respect for other people across the world, far away from where they may be comfortable, are fulfilling not only numerous mitsvot lifnim-mishurat-hadin, but also respecting the words of the nevi’im like Amos, Yeshayahu, etc. etc. who said that no matter how religious you are it doesn’t matter if you don’t care about the people who are more vulnerable than you. And that’s when Hashem says “va’ashiva shoftayich kevarishona veyoatsenu kevatchila: acharei ken yikare lach *ir hatsedek* kiryah ne’emanah. tsiyon *bemishpat* tipadeh veshaveha bitsdaka”.

    I find it disturbing that you would write off Jews who are frum and going out of their way to live the Torah life not for themselves but for everyone.

    Apparently you think there is some kind of political argument between yourself and groups that attempt to defend human rights (something that may only appear universally with the coming of mashiach, when knowledge of Hashem covers the earth, and everyone truly understands the ramifications of what happens when they harm another tselem-elokim). If that’s true, I beg you not to come to the erroneous conclusion that your particular politic (whatever it may be) is sanctioned by the Torah to the exclusion of everyone else’s. This is simply not true.

  22. “Why does expressing our insecurities, short-comings, wishes, and triumphs impact negatively on FFBs?”

    I don’t think it does *at all.* I’m very glad for the opportunity to hear more about the BT experience, and i think it can only help sensitize FFBs.

  23. In Chabad circles, the youth, I have found, do not see any difference between BT”s and FFB’s. It has taken a couple of generations but, the lines between the two groups is blurring.

    I disagree with the author’s characterization of BT’s as being ‘haunted’ by the past and that BT’s have ‘seen too much of the world’. The BT who makes a complete enough teshuvah not only erases the aveiras of the past, but transforms all fo them into light. The BT process is about transforming the darkness into light. To be truly integrated, we must make peace with our pasts, and not see the past as a dark cloud hanging over our heads.

    The Lubavticher Rebbe said that in today’s world there are no amer hatzim because most Jews are simply ‘captives of the goyim’, or tinok b’nishpah, who were by Hashgacha Protis (Divine Providence) born into families and circumstances that did not avail them the opportunity to know Torah. When a Jew becomes a BT he/she is simply revelaing their true essence that was hidden underneath some covering.

  24. Shayna,
    We need to do tsheuva for things we did even if we weren’t aware that it was wrong. Ignorance is no excuse. In fact, the Rambam says that a tiknok snishshba(captured by the non-jews) needs to bring a korban for all their sins(shogeg) when they weren’t aware.
    I had a close friend/Rabbi whose says that when an bt talks about his present and future as “now I am frum, but I remember the days of….”with a big smile on his face, then he says that he didn’t do complete tscheuva. There is nothing wrong with treasuring the good in our pasts. There is a major problem with treasuring the “bad”(forbidden). Also, our training to think has been tainted that we should think like the un/geneva conventions rules as opposed to thinking through the lenses of the Torah. That one is very hard to break after so many years. Best of luck and regards to you know who.

  25. YD – The question isn’t how many FFB’s are reading these posts, but whether there are any Jews who are reading now who can improve the situation. And to that question I can definitely answer yes. Although we know that the channels of change in the Jewish Community are usually slow and subtle.

    As far as cross posting, we continue to welcome guest contributions from all Jews. The reciprocal arrangement sounds good, but right now we are going to focus our energies on continuing to create a place for ideas, connection and support for Baalei Teshuva.

  26. Also…I don’tfeel guilty for “treifing” myself up before I became frum. In fact, I’ve never encountered that attitude before. While none of us hope our children hear the details (or chas v’sholom have similar experiences), I think we all accept and even treasure our “typical American Jewish” experiences before we became frum. That’s who we all are!

  27. This blog has been supportive, informative, cathartic—but certainly not FFB biased! Why does expressing our insecurities, short-comings, wishes, and triumphs impact negatively on FFBs? Why would we have chosen this lifestyle if we don’t want to become what we’re striving for? If anything, I think we feel grateful for the many versions of role models we’ve encountered along our journey, who have helped keep it real. I love the truths we’re all expressing here: let’s not make this a forum where we feel censored or judged!

  28. Mark-

    What you say (#4)is very true. Problem is how many FFB’s are reading these posts and comments? Is there an FFB blog comparable to Beyond Teshuva? (Sadly my admittedly unscientific survey of the Jewish blogosphere reveals a dominance of facetious and scathing blogmeisters more focused on attacking both BTs and FFBs than in fostering any rapprochement between the two.)

    Maybe you could work out a reciprocal arrangement where some of their contributors post here and some of Beyond Teshuva’s post there? Better yet maybe a digest of these posts and comments could be printed as lead stories in the FFB print media (JO, Jewish Action, JP, Yated, Mishpacha et al).

  29. I’m FFB (obviously) and have been reading this blog avidly since I’ve discovered it.

    At some point, many FFBs know that they are BT themselves — albeit without the excuse of upbringing for things they’ve slid in and mistakes they’ve made. Background and where one started out is not so important as where one lands up. The only real difference between a FFB-BT and a “BT” is that the latter are self-aware and generally (Judging from what I see here!) do a better job of it, incorporating tshuva into their identity. For me, reading this blog is an inspiration.

  30. I think if we measured it objectively, we would see that a very small percentage of the posts and comments here vent against FFBs.

    The reason that people do vent is that there are very real problems in the areas of integration, acceptance, shidduchim, schools, etc… The FFB community must shoulder the majority of the responsibility to make the situation better, being that they are primarily in control. People must be made aware of the problems so that they can take steps to correct them.

    In terms of which is better BT or FFB, the question is really irrelevant and the comparison itself is potentially damaging. Hashem put each of us here with a different mission, a different neshama and a different environment. Nobody had any choice whether they would be born FFB or BT. The success of our life’s mission will be measured by how much we grow, given our particular circumstances.

  31. Your post is interesting, but holds an apologetic tone (I sense). Why? Hashem didn’t make you BT for a reason. Perhaps what your neshama needed to thrive was the experience of growing up secular, leaving it behind for something better, and living as a testament that this can be done.

    It seems, (and I don’t have hard and fast numbers for this), that the number of BTs has grown by leaps and bounds in the last 25 years. Let’s face it, 100 years before, if you were Jewish and went off the derech, there were no “beginner’s yeshivot” or audio classes where you could learn. Only a Rabbi here and there who would hold your hand if you were motivated. Even then, you were seen as a nut for going back to the “backwards ways” of the old country (culturally). Today, if you are a secular Jew, and you are willing to learn, there is an organization for just about every learning pace and background. But this was paved only because of new BT flowing in to fuel these resources.

    They say that the messianic age will turn all Jews into BTs; until then, people like to see that others have done it first and how they have coped. Every BT has the awesome privledge to influence another BT-to-be who perhaps wouldn’t know authentic Torah observant Judaism without them.

  32. Alter,

    If only your attitude would be more dominant. Often I feel as if this forum is used by too many to vent againt ffb’s rather than for the reason it was created – to serve as a support for bt’s by engaging in positive and supportive discussions.

    For all their faults [no one is perfect] there isn’t a single bt anywhere who made their journey without the help of myriad ffb’s and their families all of whom extended themselves without any thought of renumeration etc. It was all an act of Ahavas Yisroel.

    It’s important that we don’t forget. IF we choose to focus on the negative aspects of the ffb world, we’ll deprive ourselves of our most precious assets.

  33. My rebbe told me that when he was a bochur in Gateshead yeshiva, occasionally a boy would come into the yeshiva with no background and, after a couple of years of zealous learning, he would seem to have caught up with the boys who had been in cheder since age 5 and appeared to be zooming past them.

    The bochurim asked themselves: What have we gained by being FFBs?

    Their answer, he told me, was the unbroken connection to Sinai. That connection, however intangible, is unique to someone who has grown up in a Torah home and never strayed from the derech, and it provides a dimension to Torah observance that a ba’al tshuva will never know.

    He then concluded: Nevertheless, ba’alei tshuva have gained something even more valuable.

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