Mekareving Family and Friends

Family and friends have their own agendas which may or not coincide with the values that a Torah based life demands of us. In some ways, kiruv may be easier with a complete stranger than with family or friends from one’s past. Sometimes, the past intellectual and cultural baggage is just too difficult to overcome with those who one knows the longest.

On the other hand, even strangers can react negatively over the way that certain issues are handled within our communities and the concomitant coverage in the secular media.

6 comments on “Mekareving Family and Friends

  1. gershon – beautiful sentiment – perhaps kiruv can be caompared to a shadow – sometimes if you pursue someone to become frum they run the other way but when you turn around to leave, they follow you (I stole that from the “Horse Whisperer” it’s an old Indian training trick -pursue the wild horses for sevral days, then turn around and go home – they’ll follow you right back!)

    I might add – don’t cool down too much – complacency is much worse than misdirected energy – I work with draft horses – as long as I have impulsion (forward movement) I can adjust the steering and direction. Once they are standing still, they just get all knotted up in the harness – Indeed that was the problem with Amalek “asher karcha baderech” from the word “kar” they caused us to cool down, to lose our fire, our passion, our chayus (life vitality) – that is the true threat of Amalek – keep on burnin’

  2. Rav Simcha Wasserman zt”l once asked me “who told you it’s your job to be mekarev your parents?” From the moment I took his advice to heart, my parents return to observance began. No kidding!

  3. Trying to be mekadesh H”, and avoid being defensive as Steve Brizel points out, goes a real long way, longer than attempts at convincing, etc. People are watching to see that we practice what we preach. To do that successfully, we need a constant awareness.

    I was recently at a family funeral where I was the only frum person there. Even the Rabbi was not. Large family, only me. Don’t know what I did or didn’t, but I certainly was welcomed, received warmly and lovingly, and people bent over backwards to accomodate my needs though I did not ask for it. I just tried my best to be aware of the fact that how I carried myself was representing Orthodoxy, heavy burden, but had to try to rise to the occasion nonetheless.

    My father later told me that they were all so glad I had flown in, and that it really meant alot to everyone. They had all expressed that we had really connected and they were so grateful. My presence made a difference? We never know how much influence we have. I was just happy to be there for them and for the mitzvah of escorting the deceased, and comforting the mourners. I was focused on giving. They felt it. My father even sent me a whole beautiful letter about how supported he felt during the funeral of his mother, my grandmother, by my coming to share. We should only know from Simchos, and hope to share these with family as well. In my humble opinion, awareness and giving are key.

  4. Sometimes, the best that you can expect is that either a lack or understanding , indifference or even hostility will dissipate over time and which will be replaced by a recognition that different people express their religious values in different fashions. That obviously doesn’t mean that you automatically recognize R or C or attend family simchas in such houses of worship or even certain ceremonies in MO shuls which have been condemned by world class Gdolim (such as women’s prayer groups) but rather ask your rav a shelas chacham and inform the baalei simcha of his ruling. If they recognize where you are coming from, they will welcome your appearance, assuming you can eat there. Certainly, if a shul where the simcha is O, go and ask for a psak on the issue. If the ceremony is in a R and C house of worship, then the question assumes more importance with respect to balancing family relations and halacha. Such a psak requires a Posek with “broad shoulders.” OTOH, in all of these cases, the best that you can do is act in a way that you are Mkadesh HaShem and avoid being defensive.

  5. A friend of mine once said “You can laugh at anything a ba’al teshuva says for the first 5 years” (surely we don’t have any of *those* people on *this* site ;-) ) because of their tendancy to turn into flaming fireballs of inspiration immediately when they become BT.

    So slow down, calm down, and try not to mekarev anybody until you’ve cooled down to the point where you don’t cause everything you touch to burn up.

  6. I tend to be wary of trying to actively mekarev people, especially family. I would only try to encourage someone else to be more actively Jewish if they themselves expressed an interest in it. If they’re not open to it, any attempts to be mekarev could be taken as trying to change them.

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