Are We Self-Defeating?

Here we stand, almost ½ a year later from the establishment of the Beyond BT blog. The question that we need to ask ourselves is “have we changed”? Have we incorporated those ideas presented here that made sense to us?

I don’t want to scare anyone, but I am afraid that just like people’s “new year’s resolutions” never get fulfilled, the good possibility that many of us didn’t take the good advice offered here, is a reality.

I think that one major piece of advice given by many of the writers and commentators here has been to find for yourself a spiritual guide. A Rav/ Rebbbetzin that you feel you want to learn from & grow with. In fact, many complaints by many BT’s that I have encountered over the last 16 years has been this: “I don’t have a Rav”. I would venture to say that most FFB’s also don’t have a Rav to guide them. Sure, most people have Rebbeim for Kashrut questions, but what about how to really “live” their lives, help with the school issues since BT’s don’t have that frum parental and grandparental wisdom to rely on, and shalom bayit issues.

There is no cure all for all of one’s BT problems, however I would suggest that finding this spiritual guide would be a major step in the right direction. So, I ask, how many of us who didn’t have someone already, found a Rav/Rebbetzin in the last year?

If you answered yes then Kol Hakovod. If you answered no then you must ask yourself “am I self-defeating”? Why such a harsh term? Because I believe that when we keep avoiding what is “good for us” then I see 1 of 4 possibilities.
1) We have sincerely looked but could not find one suitable
2) We don’t know what is good for us
3) We are too busy to look for one. Between Holidays, work and school we can’t breath
4) We don’t really want help/self-defeating/self-fulfilling prophecies of doom.

I think the latter goes for most people. Why? Maybe people don’t want to get their life really moving. Maybe they are afraid of more commitment or having to take on new mitzvas than before. Maybe people like the excuse “what more could you expect from me Hashem, I didn’t have a Rav”? For anyone who said #3 then I ask you: “If you had a major medical issue would you push it off or do what you have to do to take care of it”? I assume most people would be in the doctor’s office Monday morning. Having a spiritual guide is of such crucial importance for a Yid, then it deserves the same priority as other major issues.

I hope and pray that each and everyone of us continue on the path of growth and learning and we “find ourselves a Rav/Rebbetzin”.

9 comments on “Are We Self-Defeating?

  1. YM-
    I hear your feelings( 6th sense?) I mean “Holistic” Rav. One, whom you know/feel is sincere, concerned about you and has yiras shamayim(fear of heaven). He should be your guide when it comes to practical halacha as well as how to be a mentsch. Sometimes people end up with 2 Rav’s-1 for the more practical halachas and 1 for the mentsch questions. I know it isn’t easy to find but the we need to put the effort in. Be his diciple as much as possible. remember quality time doesn’t have to be in giant quantities.
    Davening at his shul and walking him home or driving him to a class that he gives give very valuable time with him.

  2. Rabbi Klein,
    All the time I hear about “finding a Rov” What does this mean, exactly? Does it mean that you find someone to ask halachic questions to? Does it mean that you become his diciple and you would do what he recommends no matter what? And how much time should one expect the Rav to be able to spend getting to know your spiritual direction?

    As for myself, it would be great to have one Rov who knew me in depth and I trusted so much that I would follow his recommendations even if my gut was telling me the opposite. In real life, I really feel that the Rabboim I come in daily contact with have their own agendas and none are really able to spend the time necessary to help me develop an authentic torah outlook.

  3. Ugh – sorry for the multiple comments. My point was: Rabbeim such as he are the ones people should be looking for, as stated above.

  4. Ironically, my rebbe from HS called me up today out of the blue; he listened to a couple of the choices we’re deciding between for our future, and basically simply supported both choices, saying “You can’t go wrong with either one.” They’re not typical for people of my HS, but they’re best for me, and he recognized that.

  5. Here are some of the previous comments that I thought may be instructive:

    Shoshanna Silcove:
    My message may be a cliche but, the person you have to feel comfortable with first is yourself. Then find yourself a person who is higher than you in Torah and mitzvot that you have a rappport with and can take advice from and make him (if you are male) or her (if you are female) your confidant. Then find a Rabbi, or a Rav, who you can ask questions to that is in tune with your personality and lifestyle.

    Something which was not touched upon, but I’ve found to be important…
    A friend recently told me something a Rebbe of ours told him which was very poignant: “Whatever you do, when looking for a Rav or Rebbe, make sure he’s a ba’al mussar. If he isn’t, he can’t properly answer your questions. In other words, unless the Rav or Rebbe is more concerned with what’s best for you, he can’t properly answer your question.

    Mark Frankel:
    I understand finding a Rov as establishing a personal relationship with someone who is well versed in Torah and who can be objective in helping you in various life decisions. The greater a person is in Torah, the more decisions he can make on his own. But there will always be situations where the objective advice of another person will be needed. Since many Baalei Teshuva come late to the game in terms of Torah knowledge and with a whole slew of questions due to their unique situation, a Rav with objectivity and Torah knowledge is even more critical.

    Here is a link to an inspiring recent true story that points to the importance of every Jew having a Rav.

  6. Alter,

    Typically your articles and posts are direct and to the point, however this one, while completely sincere seems somewhat less focused.

    As far as the question that punctuated the opening paragraph:

    “Have we incorporated those ideas presented here that made sense to us?”

    Not sure what “ideas” you’re referring to. It’s likely that reading some of the cathartic posts from lonely types spurred to me to have even more singles (BTs or otherwise) over as guests for Shabbos seudos.

    Or were you intending only the more profound topics?

    Regarding the title, “Are We Self-Defeating?”, that sounds like a loaded question and obviously a very negative one. Unfair too. L’havdil it smacks of a cross-examiner grilling a suspect with “Sir, how long have you been an embezzler?” Etc.

    But, if the real question here is about “Aseh L’cha Rav” I’m quite aware of the need to have a rav and B”H the one who I consider to be my spiritual mentor besides being a high-caliber talmid chacham possesses natural anivus (modesty) and true mesirus nefesh.

    On a person note, I recall during my first year learning in a Kiruv Beis Medrash, I had no clue about the idea of “Aseh L’cha Rav” and as a result, it was too easy to fall under the influence of know-it-all types (such as 2ND YEAR talmidim) who had no humility about broadcasting their unqualified t’shuvas and opionions.

    I hope the hanhala (bosses) at the kirvu B’tei Medrash inform their new charges about these know-it-all types, to keep their distance and most significantly, “Aseh L’cha Rav”

  7. :)

    halevai it should be that easy. I too got lucky and my rav and I found each other when I was in his shiur as a sophomore in HS – he’s still my rav but I have to work harder to be considered his talmid – well worth the effort though.

    seriously you need to get out there – look around – go to shabbatons, read, listen, speak with friends similarly situated – it’s like a shiddach but everyone’s “bashert” rav is out there

    Try to avoid the “superstar” rabbanim – they don’t usually have the time. My rebbe, on the other hand is a lamed-vavnik (one of the 36 hidden tzadikim upon whom the world exists) I’ve often wondered – if I revealed his identity, “outed” him as it were, would he lose his lamed vav status? Oh well, it’s not worth finding out! Good luck!

  8. I have been fortunate to have found a rav early in my journey. Through my involvement here on the blog I have discovered that the importance of finding a Rav is often matched by the difficulty of finding a Rav.

    Perhaps we need more practical advice about how to actually go about finding a Rav. I recall some practical points offered in earlier comment threads that I will try to dig up and repost. In the meantime, anyone else have any ideas?

Comments are closed.