Working Towards Achdus

Achdus exists on many planes. It is as simple as a group of Jews uniting for Tefilah. It is as complicated as asking why there are so many different variations of Torah observant Jews. I don’t pretend to have any answers but I will pose some observations on how to promote achdus .These comments are meant as my observations on the state of the current Orthodox scene. Others may disagree, but they reflect my observations over a long period of time.
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Dealing with Non Observant Parents

This issue is one in which I would be shocked if there were not a multitude of approaches and results. However, I think that the best advice that I could give be would be a set of caveats that may or not work for you:

1) Your parents will respect you when they see that you are dedicated and sincere and that Torah Judaism is your way of life, as opposed to a cult. If your parents become frum with you, that is fantastic. On the other hand, if they don’t reach that level, you have to work for their tolerance of the fact that you and your family will be living a different way of life than themselves and your siblings and still maintain a relationship with them, even if it appears that they barely tolerate your lifestyle and possibly overlook conduct by your siblings that a Torah Jew would not approve of in any manner. Read more Dealing with Non Observant Parents

Intellectual and Spiritual Dimensions of Non-Conformity

I would like to comment on the intellectual and spiritual dimensions of conformity and non-conformity.

I have always thought that Avraham Avinu was one of the greatest non-conformists. Avraham not only walked out on his parents way of life, he destroyed and renounced idol worship. There are numerous approaches in the Talmud and Midrash as to when he changed his life. I think that there are two major approaches which posit his age at either age 3 or in his 30s or 40s. I once heard R’ Aharon Lichtenstein summarize these differences as reflecting either an emotional or intellectual change, depending on the age. (The Ritva in his comments on the Haggadah discusses these views in detail). Other Midrashim and Rishonim ( possiby Rambam in Hilcos Yesodei HaTorah) indicate that Avraham Avinu basically tested and rejected all of the prevalent Avodah Zarah (AZ) and culture of his times. It may be fair to say that whatever impetus was that caused a BT to become frum, non-conformity was one of the greater causes. All of the Avos seemed to follow in this path in their own way. Read more Intellectual and Spiritual Dimensions of Non-Conformity

Family Ties

These are excellent ideas. Thanksgiving can be very nice if kashrus isn’t a problem. Channukah and Chol HaMoed Sukkos can also be nice days for reunions as well. I saw an interesting book that addressed these issues . The approximate title was “What Do You Mean You Can’t Eat At My House ?!” Some may like the solutions in this book, others may not.

Using Art Scroll

It’s interesting that Chafetz Chaim allows ArtScroll Gemaras inside the Beis Medrash. OTOH, I see that my comments re gaining textual fluency are not completely unfounded. I think that textual literacy means the basic ability to work at ease with the classical texts and understanding what is happening in a passuk with the classical Mfarshim and or a sugya based on the classical Rishonim and Acharonim. If you learn on the Daf Yomi level, you will discover that the same machlokes HaTanaim pops up many times and is the key to understanding many different questions raised in a particular masecta.


I’m glad that my comment generated some responses. Here are some comments:

1) It helps if you are a voracious reader. I have been since my childhood days. That being said, it pays to read the best of the Charedi and MO world’s publications. I like Jewish Action, Mishpacha and the Jewish Press. The Jewish Observer is better than it was but the JO/ & Yated are way too ideologically driven for my taste.
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On Joining the Beyond Teshuvah Blog

Here’s an email that I sent to Mark yesterday when he asked me about joining this blog.

This is an execellent start on a very important and very difficult issue facing Torah Judaism today. First of all, I think that many Rishonim beginning with the Sefer Hachinuch and such Gdolei Acharonim such the Chafetz Chaim state that it is assur to remind a BT of his prior background and behavior. That being a given, I think that there are many BTs today who are integrated into the frum community on all of these issues. Many, if not all of my contemporaries in NCSY in the 1960s and 1970s are very much a part of the frum community and are rabbinic and lay leaders. The OU Board of Directors is loaded with many BTs. Their POV is accepted on a wide variety of issues.
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