Going off the Derech

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    EzratHashem-point taken


    Well, I thought we were taking a few steps forward. But now I see that we’re taking a few steps backward. He’s back to staying out all night.

    Kind of hard to take these ups and downs…

    Especially the downs…



    Yes, I hear you loud and clear. But that is part and parcel of the parsha. There are going to be highs and lows. And just as you can be sure there are lows, remember that there will be highs and there is always hope. So please hold on to that. Also to the fact that he is not as dumb as he seems when he gives in to his Yetzer Horah. You have seen him make some better choices even within the sad scheme of things. So just please hang in there.


    aries2756-he still hasn’t done anything to try to get into a dorm yeshiva. He’s still sleeping ALL day ’til evening, and then goes out at night. Last night he went out, and came home this am. If I try saying anything about school, even in the nice, helpful tones you recommended, he only says that he’s going to look into it. But he has no motivation, and if I try to push, he will get angry.



    I don’t want to alarm you, but maybe your son has a drug addiction and needs intervention ASAP? Maybe this is something you can discuss with your physician.


    Imaof3-I thought about that, bc he sleeps so much. But he hasn’t had any spending money for a while, so how would he support such a habit?



    Maybe his friends share with him or they steal money to support their habit? Again, I am sorry to worry you but keep your eyes and ears open.



    It’s not difficult at all for a kid to get free drugs, he doesn’t need to steal to get them. You should learn what the smell of weed and chashish smell like.



    I’m sorry I didn’t respond last week but Aries said it better than I could have anyway. A teenager in such a situation believes that for a parent to care about him, it means they don’t dictate to him how he should live. He’ll chase you away when you try to talk to him but the only thing that really bothers him is when he feels you aren’t willing to accept who he is. Every child needs to feel that he is making his parents proud and that his parents love him. He’s not thinking about the fact that he is making it so difficult for you so if you stop reaching out he won’t realize that it’s because he made it so difficult. Instead he will think you stopped caring about him.


    Imaof3-will do.

    interjection-I hope his ‘friends’ wouldn’t do that, but I guess I can’t be sure. I so much appreciate your perspective on this, and never really thought about what you said…that for a teenager to believe that his parents care about him, they can’t tell him how to live. So if we say anything, even as minor as “I can’t see your eyes, maybe you want to cut your bangs?” it would be proof that we don’t love him? When you say we need to accept him the way he is, the truth is we really have no choice. I’ll love him no matter what, but I really do wish he were learning (something!), and coming home at a reasonable hour. Does that mean we don’t accept him??



    WOW, in coaching we have a term called POV, point of view or perspective. Of course you love him, but you have to realize that from his “point of view” or POV things are skewered. He doesn’t think as a mature adult, as you do. He sees things from a bit of a “twisted” perspective.

    If you tell him “i can’t see your eyes, could you cut your bangs” you just want to see his beautiful eyes. He doesn’t her or understand that. He might hear “oh she is ashamed of my long hair, that’s all she cares about”. When you tell him you want him to come home at a reasonable hour he might hear “I want to control your every move”. Even though your words and meaning is very clear to you, he is neither hearing what you say the way you say them nor interpreting them the way you mean them.

    So the mantra remains “I love you no matter what”. The best you can do is offer good advice. “you really are a smart young man, and it makes me sad that you would not choose to chase every opportunity to get a good education. I realize that you are not thinking about the future as I am and that you are making your own choices. I also realize that you will have to live later on with the outcome of the choices you make today, and that might make your life more difficult in the future. I am the parent that’s what we do, we worry about the future. My heart breaks that you are struggling now, and my heart breaks because you might struggle in the future as well. But I love you no matter what.”


    aries2756-thanks for your words. I think I’m going to write them down and carry them with me.



    Any updates about your son?


    smc-funny you should ask. Just today, my son went to look at a school, and decided to go. He starts next week. Not exactly sure how I feel about it, my husband has yet to go see it. It is not Haredi, not exactly sure what it is. I will know more after my husband sees it.

    Things have been pretty much status quo, although my son was better about coming home at night, and at more reasonable hours. His anger has lessened, Baruch Hashem. I think the fact that we’ve been giving him little to no resistance gave him less of a need to fight us all the time (Avi Fishoff’s approach).

    Oh, and I forgot to mention, he’s been wearing tsitsis the past few days! Wasn’t exactly sure what to make of it, so I didn’t post it. Wanted to make sure it would last. I think he’s still struggling with religion (no kipa), but at least whatever he’s doing, it’s coming from him. We’re still praying and hoping…



    Im very happy to hear!! Tell me any other updates (Hopefully good ones)!!



    Did your husband check out the Yeshiva yet?


    smc-We are going through a tiny power struggle. My son plans to try out the school next week, and if he likes it/they are happy with him, then my husband will go there to register him. So far, we only saw a brochure. It doesn’t look like something I would have wanted for him and I’m not so happy about this, but what choice do we have? I guess if my husband goes there and really hates it, then he can refuse to register him. But the alternative is to have him doing nothing…



    Isn’t it better than hanging out on the streets?


    smc-yes, but our concern is that it might be too open, and they could, chasv’shalom, end up hanging out in the streets anyway. The good news is that my husband spoke to someone who has their son there, and he’s happy, so I guess it can’t be that bad. I just really wish he wasn’t going with this chevra.


    a mamin

    Write or wrong: We haven’t heard from you lately. How are you doing?


    a mamin-thanks for asking. I wanted to respond sooner, but things were a bit busy. My son started a new school last week. He sleeps there, and comes home once (or twice a month?) So he was home this Shabbos, and I am still recovering from the emotional setback I seem to be in. He is still minimally communicative, so we know very little about the school, except from what other people tell us. He keeps us at arm’s length in everything he does, and I can’t ask too many questions, or he will get angry. I basically take my lead from him. He seemed happy when he came home, but at night, he still hangs out with the same chevra, and usually comes home moody and short tempered. We didn’t really get to spend too much time with him bc after being out really late at night, he then sleeps the whole day. I was really sad taking him back to the bus station, and couldn’t help but reminisce about the boy he used to be, he’s so different now, and although I love him no matter what, he lost his sweet, gentle nature. And he almost never smiles anymore. Instead, he’s now a tough kid, with a tough exterior, trying so hard to fit in with the street crowd. I’m so afraid for him, and wish there was a way to build up his self esteem so that he could leave this chevra.

    Meanwhile, my husband found out from someone, that the main kid who used to really bully/tease my son in school, the ‘leader of the pack’ went on to a really good yeshiva, and is doing great… while his victim, my son, is a broken soul.



    WOW, I haven’t been following your saga for some time. I wish I had the right words to say.

    The last paragraph, however, caught me. I cannot fathom the bitter pain you feel, the anguish at which you wrote those words. So let me try to talk my heart.

    Firstly. Every discomfort, pain, grief, however minute, is going toward a specific purpose. Nothing is going to waste, nothing is being overlooked in Shamayim, no tears go lost. NOT A ONE. Everything is being measured by HaShem’s direct attention. And though it may seem to you now that the bully is doing great… Remember “..they grind exceeding small”. Sometimes in life we’re not able to wittiness a “hot” nekamah.. sometimes HaShem, for His reasons, sees fit to dish it out cold. But THERE IS JUSTICE in this world.

    Secondly. I once heard from Rav Mattisyahu Solomon shlit”a, that one who causes another to stray, that person won’t be allowed into Gan Eden, whereas the one who was led astray, may actually earn it…

    May we hear from you Besoros Tovos. Bekarov!



    ZK: Yet the bully was a kid himself. (I also haven’t followed this thread, so I am assuming it was another child.) Will Hashem really harshly punish a person for his misguided actions — that admittedly cause significant damage — that he did as a child??


    a mamin

    write or wrong: I was praying to hear some good news, and hoping the new school would be a shinui letova! I pray that you should begin to see the light at the end of the tunnel……


    ZeesKite-even though finding out about this other kid killed pulled at my heart, I actually don’t wish for him to fall or get punished. I would, however be happy if he would, at some point, apologize to my son for the trauma he caused him. Who knows, maybe that’s the exact medicine my son needs to begin healing. I do hope that the one ‘who was lead astray’, however, will earn his share in Gan Eden….

    shmoel-even though the other kid was a ‘kid’ at the time, he was warned by the Menahel to stop making fun of my son. It not only didn’t really stop, but it continued past Bar Mitzvah when he should have had more sense. But like I said to ZeesKite, I’m not looking for retribution…only perhaps teshuva on his part.

    a mamin-thanks for the good wishes.



    WOW, I commend you for your righteous approach. Yes, that should be the ideal way a G-d fearing person should approach an undesirable situation. Me, as a outsider, bystander, cannot tell you that. But yes, an earnest apology, truly making up, would certainly do. It certainly can heal.

    One more word, if I may. I think you’re dealing here with a bochur. They’re also known to have mood swings. Big ones. So at any point in (seemingly random) time, he can, and we all pray should, make a sudden u-turn, full force, all engines burning, and head straight for a Bais Medrash, a refreshing dive into Torah, Torah life and Avodas HaShem. IT DOES HAPPEN!

    May you see it b’karov!



    WOW, since your husband now knows where the bully is learning, it would not be an unusual situation for him to wonder off to that yeshiva and have a one on one with him. It could be a beneficial conversation for both parties. Your husband as the father of the one who was damaged and the boy himself who had decided to move up and take life a little more seriously. This boy has an obligation to do a bit of “tikun” and has an obligation to ask mechilah. Your husband can offer him the opportunity. He can suggest to this boy who is a bit more mature than he was at the time, that if he so chooses he can a write a letter to your son at “your address” asking mechila from him and explaining to him how wrong he was for doing what he did. Your husband does NOT have to tell him everything that is happening to your son other than his rishus hurt him very badly and no one knows how deeply ones actions can hurt another nor how long lasting or far reaching those hurts can manifest. On the other hand, no one knows the true healing powers of real teshuva and how long lasting and far reaching that can manifest either.

    On the other hand, no one knows how far reaching and long lasting the effects of NOT asking mechila and not doing teshuva for ones actions can manifest either. This my friend is a well known fact and a true dilemma. Your husband would be doing this young man a favor, helping him to clear this up early in his life.



    aries2756-so good to hear your ‘voice’!

    I talked to my husband about this, but he’s afraid my son would find out we were behind the mechila, and then we’d also need mechila from my son! My son would be very upset that we approached this kid and ‘discussed’ him, and we couldn’t trust that this kid wouldn’t tell him. But we are looking into the possibility of other shlichim speaking to the boy.

    Any advice on how to deal with the visits when he comes home for Shabbos? I don’t want to complain to my son that we don’t get to see him after him being away all week…..but we don’t get to see him on Shabbos, after him being away all week! I don’t want to give him pressure, but it is possible he saw my eyes tear up when I took him to the bus station…



    WOW, you can just tell him that you respect his need for privacy and space but you are not used to having him away from home and because you all love him so much and miss him while he is away and are so happy to see him when he comes home, you would love to spend a little time with him. Let him know that you don’t want to pressure him, but you would like him to think about giving you some quality time on the weekends. It is not the amount of time he gives you that counts, just the quality of the time you spend together. You might even ask him if he is surprised that you all miss him when he is gone?


    aries2756-thanks. Today he actually called me from school, which was a nice surprise.



    WOW, Panim el Panim. Give a little get a little. There are two sayings that apply. Last week might have been “out of sight out of mind”. This week might be “absence makes the heart grow founder”. Either way, mommy is mommy and don’t you forget it!



    You will be pleasantly surprised at the positive changes and growth (maturity-wise) you will see in your son as he learns to navigate not living at home. Believe me I know that it is hard to send someone away – I still cry when my son leaves for his dorm yeshiva and he has been there a year and a half already!! But my husband and I are extremely pleased with how good this experience has been for him in every way. Even though your son comes home and chills in his own way (staying out, sleeping a lot) it is a very positive step that he found a school, set up an interview and carried through with going to it. These are good things!! Halevy you should continue to see positive growth and maturity and (even better) religious growth as well. Much Hatzlacha as always!!


    aries2756-I just hope he doesn’t forget it!

    Imma613-thanks. I’m looking forward to the ‘maturity’ part!



    Hi Write or Wrong, I just heard wonderful news. I have a friend in Israel who has a son who was in a very similar situation to your son. It was very hard but B”H after a couple of years he came back to yeshiva and I just heard that he is a engaged to a very fine girl. Be patient and keep davening!



    Ima, Mazal Tov, may all the lost sheep find their way home and find their zevugim to build their own homes for the future!


    Imaofthree-that is so wonderful to hear! Your friend must be happy beyond words. I will keep davening, thanks for giving me hope.


    Well, this Shabbos was pretty much a repeat of last Shabbos. We hardly saw my son. He didn’t come to any meals, and stayed out late at night with friends. He actuallly went to a club with mixed dancing, which is really breaking me. He is trying so hard to become secular, and keeps telling me and my husband how he hates the Haredim. How on earth did he get to this point? I told him that he shouldn’t forget that the 2 people who love him the most are Haredim, but it really makes no impact. I’ve done so much soul searching since this whole thing started, and basically, relived his entire childhood over and over again in my mind, trying to find my mistakes. I can only chozer b’teshuva for what I might have done….but what about all the Haredim who hurt my son? Do they even know who they are and what they’ve done? It’s such a terrible mark on the “Haredim” who are destroying neshamas under the veil of Torah, who walk around with arrogant pride at their achievements, while looking down on all the lost souls who have left the derech….perhaps bc of them. Hashem yirachem.



    I’m sorry to hear. It must be torture for you.

    We really do not know, nor can we fully understand the workings of Hashem’s plan for us and the rest of world.



    It makes me very sad to read this, but I do believe that that boy that was mean to your son does feel bad. And it also is very hard to ask for forgiveness. I feel like it might be important to actually figure out what was the ‘straw that broke the camels back’ and caused this whole train of events. (If you do not already know.) I bet your son does feel guilty when he does something that is not good. I know this is kind of weird but I’m thinking that it might help if you did cry in front of him and not hold back your emotions. (I think it would work for me.) I Hope things just get better from here.



    I am sorry that you are going through this. I too spent years thinking of the things I did that could have caused my kid to go Off the Derech and I spent years blaming the people who misunderstood my child.

    I know now that it was time WASTED. It does nothing to help your kid. And he will pick up that you hate and blame “Haraidim” (I hate that term) as well.

    Forgive me for being honest. Hang on, this is not over. Keep up your Tefillos. At least he is not home doing nothing, let’s hope he continues school. all the best!



    My sister in laws boyfriend is ” ex charedi”, not not religious at all. He is divorced with 2 kids ( satmar) whom he has no contact with because he said that satmar believes if you are no longer frum, you aren’t Jewish. Does anyone know if that is a real chasidish concept because I can’t believe it. Anyway my sil told me that basically all his life growing up he had tons if questions. Questions about halachos and about things he didn’t understand in the Torah and that no one ever took the time to help him understand. He was shut up or yelled at when he questioned anything. His ex wife had some minor mental issues that apparently his parents knew about but still had him marry her. He is so far off the derech now and it makes me so sad. Not the fact that he eats treif and has no regard for shabbos, but that this did not have to be the way. Now c’v am I ever saying its you or anyone here’s fault for their child going OTD but I just wanted to share because I’m so sad over it. Not to mention the fact that slowly my sil is slipping farther away from keeping shabbos etc.



    Morah, That is so sad. Maybe your sil can explain to her boyfriend that what the Satmar believes in is NOT necessarily the Jewish belief or what the Torah states. The Satmar has their interpretation but that does NOT make it the LAW! In addition, just because he is no longer frum that doesn’t mean he should find the answers to his questions. She can help him get those answers.


    hudi-‘torture’ sounds like the right word.

    superstar-I’m not so sure the boy feels badly, but there were a number of adults who probably inflicted just as much, if not worse, emotional damage. I have cried in front of my son periodically, but I try very hard not to bc it only makes him angry. It doesn’t elicit the sympathetic response you might expect.

    Imaof3-I know you are right. I wrote my previous post at a moment where I was feeling pretty badly, I don’t blame the Haredim as a group. It was a few select people that probably inflicted the most damage, and it had nothing to do with being religious. I’m hoping one day my son will see that as well. And you are right, Baruch Hashem he is learning.

    Thanks to all for your comments!


    MorahRach-That is very sad. I agree with aries2756. Maybe you could also mekarev your SIL before she strays further.

    One thing I’ve learned from this whole saga with my son going OTD, is that I don’t think it was one particular thing that caused my son to go off, but a culmination of various different events/people…to the extent that if even one of the things didn’t happen, he might not have gone off. This shows me that despite all my soul searching, I can’t help but see the hand of Hashem in this painful picture. Everything was so perfectly orchestrated so as to give my son the full disappointment with the religious world. Perhaps it is his nisayon, and maybe your SIL’s boyfriend’s as well, to separate the ‘actors’ , whose performance was poor, from the Script….


    a mamin

    Aries: I am VERY disappointed in your bashing of Satmer in that particular situation. You are only hearing one persons point of view. I thought you were smarter than that and had the understanding to look at the total picture. By you stating Satmer is not the Torah point of view, You really went off the edge.Many people have questions and the fact that his went unanswered had nothing to do with Satmer per say, only his individual family.



    I am not here to debate anyone and I won’t. Morah, I will tell you again. Chasidim have their own way of looking at things and interpreting the Torah. If they tell anyone that if they are no longer frum they are no longer Jewish they are lying!! The only thing you need to be Jewish is a Jewish mother. Anyone that tells you otherwise is an idiot! No one can take away your yiddishkeit or your being a Jew. You either are a Jew or NOT. You can’t be 1/2, 1/4, or 1/8. You can either be a Jew or NOT and it has nothing to do with being frum, it has only to do with whether your MOTHER was Jewish when you were conceived and born or not!

    Just because some Chasidim look down on you if you don’t follow their ways whether you are frum or not, even if you are Yeshivish, Modern Orthodox or Heimish, it doesn’t mean that what they say is true or has any basis in the Torah. It is only their opinion on the subject. We don’t need to hear a Satmar’s on any other’s opinion on whether a person is Jewish or not, or even if they are Frum or not! It is NOT up to them to judge or decide!

    As far as A Mamin’s comment is concerned. Right now I am still ashamed of the Satmar community how they are supporting the convicted molester Weberman. So don’t expect me to say anything encouraging about them. What was currently exposed about that community absolutely proves what Morah has said about what her sil’s boyfriend has experienced.



    Send him to a better school. Have him talk to a Rav!


    a mamin

    Aries: I don’t want to go off topic here, but I will say I think it’s sad that you are condoning an entire community because of what you believe happened with Weberman.That person that Morah Rach is talking about must have had many more issues than just with the satmer community or school. It’s very easy to look where to shift the blame when someone goes off the derech but there is a lot more of the picture to look at.It has a lot to do with the person itself, their strengths and weaknesses thereof.


    The main isssue brought up by MorahRach shows that the man’s questions were never answered. This is something that could have happened within any community. That should be the focus, and perhaps every community should self examine how they deal with this issue. As far as whether or not someone is really a Jew, it is a halachic decision based on whether or not you were born of a Jewish mother, like aries says. Period. Unfortunately for that man, he may really know that. But the rejection from his community just compounds the underlying problem, that he couldn’t find reasons to stay a practicing Jew. That’s the real issue. Calling him a non-Jew is just a terrible, misinformed, hurtful response to his going OTD. And I’ll tell you the truth, I think there may be other groups of people or individuals who could be just as hurtful…


    a mamin

    WOW : I still don’t appreciate bashing an entire community. It happens to be I am not Satmer , but my cousins that are, are more accepting of “off the derech” fellow Yiden then a lot of my other family members,. They have no issue with inviting them for Shabbos to their” closed” community of Monroe. They are not embarrassed to take them with them to shule or to have them at their simchas, which I can’t say for others. They are definitely mekariv other Yiden and for that alone I take offense from the comments made on this site, which are to much of generalizations. Finalizing, my cousins are NOT exceptions, they are the norm. The rest aren’t!

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