When I first saw the word Baal Teshuva in a book it had a comforting feeling about it. I felt like someone understood me, that I wasn’t alone, and that something special was possibly happening all over the world with people like me turning back to Judaism. I had begun studying on my own without the aid of a kiruv professional, outreach center or even a local sensitive rabbi to guide me. I read through a copy of the Bible in English, found some English translations of tractates of the Talmud, and started to adopt observances and attitudes that I found compelling. When I finally saw that I was not alone, it lifted my sights a bit.
Later, I found out that the term Baal Teshuva is somewhat of a misnomer. I was more technically in the category of a “tinok shenishbah” a child captured by non-Jews. I wasn’t really captured, just merely brought up in a non-observant household. But the Hebrew term applies nonetheless, and it has halachic ramifications. Now the truth is I don’t really want to go around being called a captured baby, even if that’s my halachic status, but Baal Teshuva (master of return) is a term designated for someone who was observant and went away from observance and then came back. So that doesn’t really apply to me.
Read more I Can’t Be An FFB – But Will I Always Be A BT