Selling Yourself the Truth About Judaism

Have you ever had this conversation?

“Did you hear about Sam and Susan?”


“They’re separating”.

“Really? How many kids?”

“I think three. And he’s far off the derech. Doesn’t believe in G-d,”

“So sad.”

And it’s not surprising. Sam was a BT and was told by many FFBs that:
– A Torah observant life is the definitive Jewish Experience
– The values and community of Observant Jews is superior to anything in the secular world
– Learning Torah is intellectually challenging and leads to meaning and truth

All the above are true, but many Observant Jews experience the following instead:
– They don’t keep working on their practice of mitzvos, so their Jewish experience degrades
– The financial pressures take their toll and they feel they are marginal members of the community
– Torah learning is difficult, and without significant time and effort, they don’t reap its rewards

In reality the Torah itself does not make “good life” promises, except for the Jews collectively. The individual promise that are made is that if you continually work on davening, developing your middos, learning Torah, and observing the mitzvos properly, you will develop a deepening relationship with Hashem.

That’s the truth about Judaism and if we can slowly cast aside our occupation with the latest distractions, and focus on bread and butter observance, we can all get a large piece of the unlimited spiritual pie.

9 comments on “Selling Yourself the Truth About Judaism

  1. Let’s compare the following two ideas posted by Mark:

    ” Learning Torah is intellectually challenging and leads to meaning and truth

    Torah learning is difficult, and without significant time and effort, they don’t reap its rewards”

    IMO, the second comment is a rationalization for a lack of willpower and desire to learn-which today is faciliated so well by great editions of seforim in Lashon HaKodesh and no shortage of good quality English Judiaca which are a great way to get into learning. Like it or not, a house where seforim and books like they haven’t been touched in years betrays whether the owner has any interest in learning.

  2. Mark Frankel noted the following in relevant part:

    “Torah learning is difficult, and without significant time and effort, they don’t reap its rewards”

    Of course , learning is difficult-but that is the nature of Torah She Baal Peh- today there is so much in the way of high end sefarim and good English works that can open and keep open the door to learning that the fact that learning is difficult really sounds like a rationalization for one’s lack of interest in learning. Show me a house where sefarim and English Judaica look used as opposed to merely collecting dust-that IMO is far more illustrative of why people who can and will spend money on expensive gadgets and clothes don’t learn or disparage what they view as too much learning.

  3. RYBS once mentioned that Lot , who Avraham Avinu viewed more than a mere nephew until they parted ways, was the first example of someone going OTD. Even if you are a BT or for that matter, a FFB who subscribes to the above stated positives, I would add one vitally important caveat-Torah Judaism offers an approach that is the only authentic approach for Jews as individuals and members of the Jewish community BUT it is equally true that Torah Judaism is not a “free lunch”, that “no pain means no gain”, and that there are many ways to be a valued member of the Torah observant that do not entail being financially well off.

  4. Reciting the same prayers every day can become a boring burden.

    I make my prayers more interesting by using the Halachah which permits us to add our own personal prayer requests at the end of the Shemoneh Esrei, in the middle of the paragraph that begins with: Elokai Netzor Leshoni MeRa.

    An example of that:

    MITZVAH: How to Pray for Tzahal / IDF / צְבָא הַהֲגָנָה לְיִשְׂרָאֵל

    This FREE one-page document explains a simple new way to pray for Tzahal (also known as the IDF or the Israeli Army) up to 7 days each week (if you want to) and up to three times
    each day (if you want to).

    The intended audience for this FREE document is Orthodox Jews who speak English and also know enough Hebrew to understand 95% of the traditional Orthodox prayers [siddur].

    FILE NAME: prayer_for_Tzahal_IDF
    FILE SIZE: 46 KB
    PRICE: FREE (zero dollars or $0)

    You may request this document FREE by email,
    and it will be emailed to you as an attached file.

    Just send email to: with: “Pray for Tzahal IDF” in the header line.

  5. DF, I agree that there are countless FFB in this situation. The example was a BT and BTs are “sold” Judaism more often than FFBs.

  6. Marriage, with or without Torah observance, is very challenging. And the social difficulties, and financial challenges make it a lot harder. Definitely the stress should be on being real, on pnimiusdig growth and a relationship with the Ribbono Shel Olam.

  7. Why do you connect this phenomenon with Ballei Teshuvah? There are countless FFB couples [or ex-couples] to whom this would apply too.

    [And, though you may have been using the generic masculine just as an example, it also happens frequently the other way around too. That is, where the woman in the relationship sours on observant life first.]

  8. Isn’t there some confusion here between “good” and “easy”?

    Years ago as an engineer, I was whining to a boss (a good one) that a certain task was hard. He told me that if these things were so easy they wouldn’t have had to hire me! In the same way, we human beings are “needed” to fix things or situations that were intentionally made as handyman specials.

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