Sharing Details About Our Past

After a discussion with my FFB in-laws about “Inspired” and some griping here, David suggested I write about that perennial BT question: Should we or shouldn’t we share details about our old lives?

For those who missed that post, my in-law objected to “Inspired” because in her words, “Al pi halacha, you are not supposed to mention your past aveiros.”

I checked that “halacha” out with my Rov and learned that although there is a prohibition against asking BTs about the past, BTs are permitted to share as much or as little they like. Just like anything else which involves information about a person which could possibly damage them, what you share depends on your purpose. A film like “Inspired” seems to be the highest purpose I can think of for mentioning the past; the further removed the people were from Yiddishkeit, the more remarkable their teshuva seemed.

Reb Shlomo Carlebach z”l used to speak about “the Torah of mistakes” which is based on the principle stated in Gemara (Shabbos 88a?) that if a person does teshuva, all his former sins become merits. This principle warms my heart, and I’m sure every BT feels that way. The end point of teshuva gives the person’s aveiros a higher context, and so, they’re not aveiros anymore.

To me, this seems like the simple pshat, but when I told it to my (FFB)husband, he behaved as though it was a chiddush. Does it take a BT to understand these things?

And still, having said all that, there’s plenty about my own past that I don’t share. Perhaps that’s because there’s no Kiddush Hashem involved. Perhaps it’s because I still think of them as aveiros and I am ashamed. Perhaps it’s because I’m ashamed that I can’t make a Kiddush Hashem of them. But I can say this much: the BTs in “Inspired” were wonderful and I think they’ve done a tremendous thing for klal Yisroel.

Originally published February 2006

49 comments on “Sharing Details About Our Past

  1. It’s nice to hear that others find it hard to put past “deeds’ and a religious life together. We have skeletons in the closet; some are things that no one wants others to find out about. The incidents/actions are so different than the person that I am today can be disturbing to others if they were to know about my past. One might not had been an inappropriate movie actor, but in your own mind it is just as bad. One keeps these secrets guarded from FFB’s.

    Personally I avoid and even change the topic if people try bringing them up. I’m not saying that I’m ashamed of it (far from it), I see were I came from and were I am and thank g-d for opening my eyes to torah and the rewards that one gets from it.

  2. If you mean that one should generally share their past with their children, I agree. My son knows I grew up with television, movies and that I did some naughty stuff as a child. I don’t think that children should be told of major transgressions, girl-freinds, smoking pot etc. Even with the less serious stuff, every child is different. I have a son who is a bit wild and gets into some trouble. I’ve told him about mischeif that I made that was just as bad, when I am concerned that he was seeing himself as a person that is b’etzem naughty. This allows him to realize that people make mistakes and we have to grow past them. My daughter, who is like a malach Hashem, is extemely sensitive to things. We listen to Jewish music almost exclusively. My wife does still have a bunch of CDs including Simon and Garfunkel and some other fairly parve music. She once put on a live CD of U2. It has some pretty grating electric guitar. Also in one of songs there are lyrics about stealing. It is talking about stealing from 3rd World countries, or some other political message. My daughter was mortified that my wife was listening to music that “said a bad word”. The word “stealing” for her, is nivel peh. So for her, I am much more selective about what is appropriate to tell.

  3. Re #31 above,
    Yes, I lost something between trying to do actual work and blog at the same time. Discussing and doing are two different areas.

  4. Gershon,
    I think it is possible to simply decline to discuss somethig without “repressing” it. Don’t you agree? “Letting it all hang out” as they say, is not a Jewish concept, not for BTs or anyone else.

  5. Sephardi Lady,
    I stand corrected. It is not the lack of temptation, but is the desisting doing the same act again that is a sign of teshuvah.

  6. The decision to talk about our “past” lives around the shabbos table or in a movie is a personal one. Our regretting our actions in the past before Tsheuva is between us and Hashem. We don’t need/should confess our “past” sins in public( if you feel there is a halachic reason to do so, speak to your Rav).
    With that said if somebody feels they can inspire others to do tsheuva with a discussion about their past then I see no problem with it. They should however be sensitive to their own family and make sure their spouse or kids won’t be embarrassed by it.
    Also, every person must weigh for himself the consequences. We live in a pretty open society where there are almost whole towns that are BT’s. Surely in those places people arent going to do much harm by a little shabbos table discussion about their past. However, if there is no need(no one to inspire) then I don’t see the point of someone reminding themselves, friends or own family of their past.
    Keep looking to the future. If you need to talk to someone, then find a Rav or good friend and discuss your issues with them.

  7. I remember learning the sign teshuva is complete is when a person is faced with the same situation and does the right thing halachically. I don’t think lack of temptation is the sign that teshuvah for a particular area is complete, but the actual action.

  8. I remember learning that a sing that teshuvah is complete is when the BT is faced with the same situation that used to tempt him but that he no longer feels the urge. For instance, you’ve made teshuva when you are no longer tempted by that pork chow mein you used to love!

  9. Shoshana,

    Beautiful post regarding kiruv! Rav Amnon Yitzchak says something similar. The Torah tells us that every day, a still, small voice comes out of Har Sinai, like an eternal echo of Matan Torah. Rabbi Amnon Yitzchak says that still, small voice also echoes in the heart of every single Jew, and if you catch him in the right moment, he can accomplish tremendous things. And even if that one moment of putting on tzitzis or thinking of Hashem is only a moment, it still brings that person and all of klal Yisroel closer to Hashem.

  10. OK so we’ve moved passed the Rambam and just talking as we feel.

    You may be right that repressing one’s past will allow for “growth”, but I feel strongly it will likely come back to haunt you at some later stage. You might become very yeshivish, go through a huge portion of Talmud, be integrated and all, and still your kids will have many unsolved riddles about you. And they won’t even fully understand you. Too many unconnected dots. Kids are smart.

    I’m not suggesting to have your personal history as part of their daily fare, but I think covering up seems like it will create more problems than it will solve.

  11. Gershon,
    I think it is hard to say a general rule as to how to apply the Rambam. Maybe that is a good question for a Rav. However, practically speaking, I think sharing too much can hurt ones’ growth as it created an external sign-post for ones’ identity.

  12. So back to the original point… In light of all this, would a modern day baal teshuvah, talking about past sins, be a bad thing? Would it brazen as the Rambam puts it? Maybe not. If it is only regret we’re talking about, and nothing to feel guilty about, does talking freely about it, indicate that the regret isn’t real?

  13. Yeah, I think Zelig Pliskin has nice hesbir of the difference between quilt and regret. Regret motivates change where as guilt makes a person depressed. That is actually the siman to for a person to know what he is really feeling. Regret, good. Guilt, bad.

  14. That’s how I understod him. There has to be some explanation. It’s an explicit Rambam he’s quoting. I understood that the Rambam was saying one must acknowledge that there was dmage done, even if it wasn’t his fault. Feel very bad about it yes, feel guilty, no!

  15. Gershon,
    I was responded to Alter’s post a little above mine. I strongly feel that people should NOT feel guilty about being taken to treif resturants when they were 7 years old. People should not allow their absence of guilt feelings to dampen their developing appropriate sensitivities as frum Jews. That can be a tricky balance. Sometimes people that do things that they knew (or should have known) were wrong at the time. On those things, one must feel regret. Even for the things that one had no way of knowing that they were aveiros, one still has to do some sort of t’shuvah, I believe. Maybe that is what Alter meant.

  16. Michoel wrote: Yeah, the grey area is the real difficulty. There may be nothing wrong fundamentally with listening to certain music or other interests, but it can transform you to another place where you don’t want to be right now.

    —————

    I just reread your words a few times. It sounds like you’re talking about actually still engaging in those activities or interests. We were talking about about *talking* about them.

    If my kid sees a picture of me with long hair when I was twelve, hanging on the wall in my parent’s home, talking about that will take me to another place? He sees from all the pictures of the past 30 years of my life, what I think a haircut should be. Do you think I should feel embarrassed to the point that I ask my father to take down a picture that for him means a lot. I don’t. I just laugh about how silly my fro was! We all have a good laugh and we move on.

    R’ Michoel, too much covering up and it’s going to get real weird the first time your kids find something you forgot existed.

  17. Sephardi Lady:

    My characterization of a teen with dyed green hair was meant to be a bit tongue in cheek as I was taking literary license and satirizing the stereotype to make a point. Having said that, plenty of those types of Jewish teens are defintely in our midst.

    The regret or guilt a Jew feels is only healthy if it serves a constructive purpose by motivating a Jew to strengthen their avodah. The moment it turns into uneccessary browbeating or depression, it is no longer healthy, and is the machination of the yetzer hora trying to slow down their progress in Yiddishkeit.

  18. Michoel, You asked – Did someone on this blog say that past sins “didn’t count” or that one shouldn’t regret them? You say you are waiting but if no-one said that, you will be waiting a long time.

    ———-

    If you’re referring something I wrote, let me try one more time to clarify the distinction between regret and guilt.

    The purpose of the regret component in Teshuvah is to create a “new person”. One can have a new set of values, move beyond them, understand how they cannot be a part of him, and regret that he has become ingrained with those values. One need not feel guilty about them if they weren’t his fault.

    If you feel that he *should* feel guilty, please explain how and why he should. What was his crime? Mom and Dad brought him to a treif restaurant. He was 7 years old. Years later her learns that treif food blocks up the spiritual path of the heart. He feels really bad that he’s got some serious blockage, he won’t do it any more, but guilt??? I just don’t understand.

  19. Here’s the location of the Rambam I cited.

    Hilchos Teshuvah, Chapter 2, Halacha 5

    After talking about how praiseworthy it is to do Vidui (confession) in public, [he cites a verse from Proverbs Chapter 28 that says “he who covers up his sins won’t succeed”] the Rambam writes, “When do these words apply? Regarding Mitvos between man and man, but regarding Mitzvos between man and God one does not need to publicize himself, and it is brazen if he reveals – Instead, he should repent privatly before God, and just repent in a general way before the public. [He cites a verse in Psalms 32:1 that says Fortunate is the one who covers up his sins]

    (there is an interesting Raavad there, but I think this is going to become a whole discourse if we keep this up!)

  20. Michoel, I agree that this website should provide support for all BT’s no matter what their past. I was only commenting on the fact that it is a disservice to the FFB world and the BT world (especially in regards to shidduchim) that the past of your average BT is considered a terrible thing. I’m sure if you did a comprehensive survey of BT’s you would find some who were immodest movie stars, but you would find many more don’t have such a colorful past.

    It is a disservice to everyone that BT’s are automatically assumed to have been involved with sex, drugs, and more.

  21. In no way should a baal tsheuva completely erase their past. Keep the good, put away the bad and keep growing!

    The source for the Rambam regarding tinok shenishba and shogeg is second perek shogogat(in korbonos), halacha 6

  22. SephardiLady,
    If the purpose of the site is to provide support for baalei t’shuvah, then it should provide support for ALL baalei t’shuvah including that small minority that were punk rockers, mafiosos etc. I don’t see “equating” or “generalzing”. I see a discussion of issues. And there well could be someone reading this site that was some sort of immodest movie star or model previously. This should be a place were we can speak openly without worrying about making a shanda infornt of the FFB world.

  23. Alter,
    Did someone on this blog say that past sins “didn’t count” or that one shouldn’t regret them? You say you are waiting but if no-one said that, you will be waiting a long time.

  24. I find it sad when ba’alei teshuva try so hard to forget their past that they all of their accomplishments and character building experiences. Not everything before teshuva is negative. One’s past positive activities from being on the swim team to singing in a musical, might not be compatible with a frum lifestyle, but these activities should be recognized as a source of pride for making one who he is.

    I also think that BT’s can bring valuable life experience into the frum community that can help the community. As we have seen from prior posts, many BT’s are shocked by the behavior in frum schools and clearly see where improvement could be made based on rules present in public schools that worked. The same goes for controlling tuition and training staff. (I am planning a post entitled “Reinventing the Wheel” based on one particular area).

    Lastly, comments like that equate the past life of BT’s to punk rockers, mafia members, or pornography stars, serve no good purpose and just create biases again upstanding members of frum communities everywhere. Chances are, the BT sitting next to you in shul was an accomplished musician or athlete and a successful and bright student and not your “typical frie (non-religious) teen with dyed green hair, earings in his nose and lips, chains around his spiked ankle boots, and he is bopping down the street with earphones blasting in his ears..” Let’s not make such large generalizations, especially when they are most likely not true.

  25. Alter or Gershon-

    Please provide the Mareh Mokom for the Rambam. I’d like to have a look at the text and the commentaries.

    Thanks

  26. Gershon,
    Of course, I agree it is different. Also, I only mentioned mafiosos etc to bring an extreme example. I do think that most baalei t’shuvah have things in their pasts that are better left un-discussed. If there are “issues” about those past things, they can speak to a confidential professional.

    Yeah, the grey area is the real difficulty. There may be nothing wrong fundamentally with listening to certain music or other interests, but it can transform you to another place where you don’t want to be right now.

  27. Michoel, most baalei teshuva weren’t mafiosos or porn stars in their past. Most did have the occasional cheesburger though. Kind of different, no?

    I think sins that one knew better about even then, can certainly (and should) be brought to the point of feeling bad about.

    But there’s a whole long list of other stuff that isn’t so simple to me such as the music, the friendships, the involvement in a whole culture.

  28. Shoshanna Silcove,
    I was not speaking of “suppressing and negating”. I was speaking of no longer identifying oneself as a mafioso or pornagraphic film star. The process of t’shuvah involves looking at those parts of once past that were cosistent with yiddishkeit (in some way) and identifying with them more and more.

  29. Thanks Shoshanna, that was beautiful. G-d willing we can all internalize this a little more each day.

    Chaim – Definitions are often limiting. However, the term BT nowadays is often used to refer to people who were not born into an observant home, but are taking steps to get closer to G-d.

    The key is to be taking the steps, as you are.

  30. Wow, that last comment really resonated postively with me. As one beginning to take those steps, I often wonder if I’m going too fast or too slow or if I’m “doing it right.” One general question I have is at one point does one define oneself as a BT? Is it when one has taken that first step from thought to action? Is it – as the Steinsaltz book “Teshuva” states – when you get into the water, lift your feet off the bottom, and start swimming?

  31. Who can judge if someone else has done teshuvah or not? None of us can.

    I was attracted to the teachings and the hashkafas of Chabad Chassidus because they are so positive.

    Imagine a typical frie (non-religious) teen with dyed green hair, earings in his nose and lips, chains around his spiked ankle boots, and he is bopping down the street with earphones blasting in his ears. A chosid approaches him and asks, “Are you Jewish?”

    The teen gives the chosid a bland look, takes the earphones out of his ears, and asks the chosid to repeat the question. The chosid warmly asks him again, ” I asked you if you are Jewish?”

    “Yeah, why do you want to know?” the teen asks and the chosid proceeds to hand the teen a pamphlet about the mitzvah of tefillin, and says a few words about it. But the chosid soon sees the teen is not too interested, and he doesn’t want to turn him off by being too pushy, so he politely ends the conversation and they part ways.

    Afterwards, the teen keeps walking, with the brochure in hand, and suddenly stops, looks up at the expansive blue sky and scratches his head and wonders if there really is a G-d after all. He lets out a good long Jewish kretz and, for a brief moment he feels good about being a Jew. Then , just as quickly, he forgets about the entire encounter and goes about his business as usual dropping the tefillin brochure into the rubbish bin without giving it a second thought.

    One could say that this teen achieved a level of teshuvah. How can we say that he did teshuvah when he didn’t actually accept the yoke of Heaven, when he didn’t actually change his life? Because the definition of teshuvah is to come closer to Hashem, and at that very brief moment, that teen did come closer to Hashem. For a very brief moment his pintela yid, his Jewish spark, his neshoma was ignited. And when that happened, a spark of holiness was elevated. And that elevated spark remains elevated forever, adding just a bit more holiness to the world, thus bringing the world all that much closer to Moshiach.

    And who can judge if this teen’s teshuvah is greater or lesser than the BT who goes the whole nine yards and becomes totally shomer Torah and mitzvot? None of us can judge. Only Hashem can make these sorts of judgments.

    Making teshvuah is not like a race to an objective predefined destination, rather it is a process. And the Tanya explains that we are not judged or rewarded for reaching some arbitrary finish line, for becoming a finished product, for we are all works in progress. We are rewarded and judged for the effort we put into our teshuvah. For this particular teen the effort it took to ponder the fact of G-d’s existence for that very brief moment might have taken more effort and struggle than it took for the BT who put himself into Kollel.

    Tanya explains that there are different types of yetzer horas and each person struggles with different things. For a passionate person certain mitzvot are more challenging than for someone with a less passionate nature. The person who refrains from speaking loshon hora only once a year may get a bigger zchar mitzvah (reward for doing a mitzvah) than the person who only speaks loshon hora once a year simply because for the former individual the struggle may have taken much more of an effort.

    And when we remember these teachings it is far easier for us to be tolerant of our fellow Jews and to love them no matter what level they appear to be on to our limited mortal eyes.

  32. Just to make my self clear, I don’t believe people need or should walk around all day regretting their previous sins done as a non frum yid, just that they should recognize that what they did was wrong. If I speak to a baal tsheuva about his past and he tells me with a smile about all his previous aveiras but “now he is frum”, then he didn’t do complete Tsheuva. If he did, why was he smiling.
    Kol tuv

  33. Kressel, being able to intuitively discern God in the world is one thing. Being able to intuitively know that cheeseburgers are a bad thing for your soul is another.

    Alter, you’re right. That law of bringing a korbon does show that our sins “count” even when they weren’t our fault. But I’m just wondering if we’re truly on the level to feel *ashamed* of them if they were an outcome of the situation Hashem put us in. Feeling bad that every moment wasn’t as holy as we now wish for, I could see that, but embarrassment? I just don’t get that.

    If I understood the Rambam right in Hilchos Teshuva that I cited above, it would be wrong to speak about past sins between Man& God if it would show insensitivity. I was wondering out loud whether that would apply to someone who committed sins through no fault of his own. Actually, Hashem put that person in that situation. If so, how could it be insensitive to speak about that situation? My reasoning is, only if we were at fault, would talking about it openly show that we don’t even care.

    Perhaps I ought to open up the Rambam and have a look at just how he words things and report back.

  34. The Rambam holds that a tinok shneishba (literally a baby that has been kidnapped refers to one born into a non-religious lifestyle) must bring a korban hatass (sacrifice offered in atonement for sins) for all the aveiras they did when they were “kidknapped”. A hatass is for sins done as a shogeg(by accident). Why would that be required if our past sins didn’t count? Also, I would love for someone to show me written answers by Gedolei Yisrael where they explicitly state a Baal Tsheuva doesn’t have to regret their past sins. I am waiting…. Also, if we really understand(I don’t claim to) what it means to do an aveira-get farther away from hashem, and doing a mitzvah which brings us closer to hashem, then we would feel sad for all the opportunity that we missed when we didn’t know about Him. It wasn’t our fault but we still missed out. Also the fact that we saw and heard and thought things that were treif and now that we did tsheuva(hopefully), those thoughts, etc. are still in our minds hiding. The brain doesn’t forget. They can and do sometimes bother us. That is enough of a reason to want to regret that we didn’t know about Hashem earlier in our lives. Ultimately, rememeber and learn from the past and use that to make the present and the future meaningful in our service of Hashem. We should remember that we aren’t the judge, only Hashem is and that he is full of mercy.

  35. I once spoke to a group of frum adolescent girls about tznies. They asked me if I had gone out clubbing and dancing in my former life. I told them I had done so. They wanted to know if it was fun. I told them it was lots of fun but, that it wasn’t fulfilling. In other words, as a girl I would dress to the nines and go out and party, dance, and laugh for hours with my friends, but that I still felt empty, even lonely inside. It wasn’t until I became frum that the empty feeling subsided.

    I will use the following analogy: a person may like pop music, but as she learns more about music, her tastes will change. And the pop music she enjoyed before is not as attractive to her any longer. She now has more knoweldge of rhythyms, harmonies, and musical patterns etc., and now she finds pop music too crass and she appreciates the more refined music such as classical.

    Similarly, the things I was attracted to before becoming a BT seem too crass or even silly to me now. I have learned a more refined way, the Torah way, and therefore my tastes changed, and the pleasures I now indulge in are much more spiritually refined ones.

    I have been frie (non-religious)and I have been frum, and frum is better!

  36. Shoshana Silcove’s point is well taken. Look at it from a chinuch perspective for your children who are being raised as FFBs. You might have enjoyed summers at the beach, heavy rock amd roll and even good treife seafood. If you can convey that you loved all of the above but that they are at the least incompatible with a Torah way of life, that could be far more effective than drashos and musar shmusen on the evils of the above .In fact, the Rambam in the Perush HaMishnah posits that one should say that one wants to eat prohobited foods but that the Torah prohibits them,as opposed to expressing disgust and revulsion over these foods.

  37. The Lubavitcher Rebbe taught that in this generation we have very few, if any, am haratzim. The vast majority of non-observant Yidden are simply ‘captives of the goyim’ or tinok b’nishbah–they are not bad Jews, rather they are just completely ignorant of Torah and mitzvot, through no fault of their own. They were born into a society that did not offer them any opportunity for Torah observance and therefore cannot be held responsible for making averios.

    My son once asked me if McDonald’s burgers tasted good. I told him that they were surely delicious but that I didn’t miss them one bit. I think being honest with our kids helps them to understand that BT’s have nothing to be ashamed of. After all, if we truly believe everything is by Hashgacha Protis, then we know that Hashem put us into our life situation for a reason. Hashem put me into a non-observant family and He knew I would eat McDonald’s burgers. He also gave me the opportunity to excercise my free choice by accepting the yoke of Torah when the choice became aparent to me.

    Within reason, it is healthy, in my view, to let our children know that we had a different life before, and that we enjoyed many things in that life, but that we gave those pleasures up for something higher, for holiness. This teaches them that Torah life is worth sacrificing certain pleasures for, and it also teaches them to tolerate Yidden who may not be as yet be observant as they are.

  38. Gershon,

    I am no expert in the Rambam, but I earn my living summarizing Rabbi Wein’s audio tapes, so I’ve heard a fair amount about him. He seems to have believed that everyone should be like Avraham Avinu, able to deduce the existence of Hashem despite a pagan upbringing. I don’t think he’d be all that lenient on us BTs.

    Shoshana,

    You remind me of another point about remembering the past. Since our past is part of who we are, aveiros and all, then who we were as innocent little kids is just as much a part of us. For me, that’s a comforting thought. Thanks.

  39. When I came to understand this issue, I went through my photo albums and journals. After pulling out a few appropriate pictures, the rest of my documented history went into the garbage. It was cathartic in a way, as I was physically disposing of the treif in my past. I am in the camp that doesn’t feel embarrassment or regret or guilt about my “transgressions”–what could I be expected to know about the “right” way to grow up?

    I just didn’t want my kids discovering pictures of me in all the stages of my startlingly unfrum upbringing. I really felt sad that I felt I had to do it because kosher or not, it was my life and along its wavering roads, I eventually found the right path.

  40. No one can leave their past completely behind. We are, all of us, the sum total of our life’s experiences. And we all relive our childhood experiences which affect our behaviour patterns for our entire adult lives.

    Repressing and negating one’s past is psychologically unhealthy. Those repressed memories and feelings will still be a bother and may cause festering negative emotions and poor self esteem. I have known too many BT’s who try to be someone they are not by trying to fool themselves into believing that they have been completely reinvented into something new and different from what they were before. Most of us must face the fact that even after all the changes of becoming a BT, one cannot ever escape from oneself. That can be a confronting realization that can either make us or break us as frum Jews and as human beings.

    Take your past and put it safely tucked away in a box in the attic of your mind and heart so it can be taken out and opened from time to time. And remember that being frum is not a panacea for all of your problems.

  41. Gershon
    Yes, but with caution. Allowing anyone to know personal things about onself can create a permenant “freeze-frame” of that view of ourselves. It can make growth beyond that point more difficult. If only I know what I did, then once I make peace with it, I can go forward leaving the past in the past.

  42. If I recall correctly, the Rambam in the Laws of Teshuva makes a distinction between laws transgressed between Man & Man vs. laws transgressed between Man & God. In the latter, talking freely about those sins shows an insensitivity in one’s relationship with God (to be so comfortable to still talk about it). Whereas between Man & Man, it seems the Rambam maintains that since the sins were against man, talking openly about those sins, is a continued act of teshuva, continuously apologizing to Mankind.

    I’ve often wondered about that Rambam. What would he say in our times? Perhaps when people left the fold back in his time, knowing what they were leaving, talking openly about those sins would be insensitive. But nowadays, when almost all those that “sinned”, weren’t really doing anything more than growing up as they were raised. It would seem odd, to train one’s self to be embarassed about having done nothing wrong (from a moral perpective – even though it was technically wrong).

    Also, I’ve found that there are many times when sharing one’s past, can be very helpful in outreach. When talking to someone who;s veryguarded, they become more open when they discover that you really do understand them, you’ve been there too. Do you think the Rambam would say that alone is good enough reason to speak about past sins?

  43. “The end point of teshuva gives the person’s aveiros a higher context, and so, they’re not aveiros anymore.”
    Rav Aharon Kotler once said (this is a paraphrase) that one can be m’taken his bitul torah if feeling regret over it motivates him to learn with greater hasmada. The bitul torah is then serving the purpose of bringing about more learning. I think the same can be said about past transgressions generally.

    This is NOT to say that BTs should get overly intense in their efforts to fix the past for things that they really shouldn’t feel guilty about in the first place.

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