BTs and Childraising

Rabbi Yakov Horowitz has an interesting column on BTs raising children within haredi and MO communities. The money quote is actually a quote attributed to his friend Rabbi Bentzion Kokis:

Refrain from jettisoning your personality, hobbies, interests, education, career – and sense of humor – as you embrace Torah and mitzvos.

Of course, in many haredi communities, this is far easier said than done.

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4 Comments

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4 responses to “BTs and Childraising

  1. Yochanan Lavie

    Back in the old days, when I was a newly minted BT (before I became an observant apikorus) my FFB friend wanted me to attend the “Happy Light” yeshiva. I resisted, because I didn’t want to become an automaton. I am glad I didn’t go there (and I doubt that it would have “saved” me from my current state).

  2. Garnel Ironheart

    I recall friends of mine who became BT’s about 15 years ago. About 10 years ago they started fully embracing the “black hat” culture to the exclusion of all else. They have two beautiful children who are being strictly educated to avoid any learning of secular subjects so that they only absorb “pure Torah values”. When they grow up, they will not work for a living but learn. Now, it’s interesting to note that while the parents want the parasite lifestyle for their kids, they themselves both work and in modern setting (he’s an engineer, she’s an occupational therapist). Why are they pointing their children down a road that will end in brainwashing and poverty?
    Many BT’s are insecure about never being “frum enough”, an impression created by the FFB world where a guy born into the “right” family but is a complete ass is spiritually superior to a BT who has changed his whole life to embrace Torah values. But what’s more, the BT’s also know that their past lives can’t compete with their FFB friends. They don’t have a graduating class from yeshivah high school. They didn’t do the year in Israel in many cases. So they do their best to inflict on their kids the past they themselves never had so the children won’t have to feel that way. Along the way, they just perpetuate the problem that is ruining the chareidi world today. The best way to become a BT is to remember that God created this world for us to live in, not to just sit in a room somewhere and read about who’s responsible when two oxen gore each other. A real BT continues to live his or her previous life (unless, of course, it involved being a prostitute or socialist politician) but along the guidelines of accurate halachic values. That’s something that Happy Light, Fire o’ the Torah and the others never teach and it’s a shame. Shmarya might have turned out more well adjusted and less bitter had they.

  3. N

    “A real BT continues to live his or her previous life… but along the guidelines of accurate halachic values.”

    But, but, but… that would mean they would be following the examples set by the sages of the Talmud! Can’t have that – could lead to… a living, breathing, evolving Judaism.

  4. Garnel Ironheart

    Look, a leader either trusts his followers or he doesn’t. If he does, he sets down the rules, demonstrates intellectually and through personal example of how they are to be followed and what the benefits are, and then lets the people embrce them of their own free will. If he doesn’t, he sets down a dogmatic approach, isolating his followers in a psychological ghetto where they remain frozen in mind, slaves to a theology they don’t understand. Not all Torah observant people are part of the latter and although many BT’s get sucked into that group, lots of others definitely keep their own minds and adjust well to their new lifestyle without burning the bridges to the old.

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