Reply To: Kid Off The Derech

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gitty —

Thanks for all the responses. I am not going to argue religion here, but I’d like to address everything else.

Shkoyach – Individuality may be stressed by rabbis today, but the nation or community was the focus before the 20th century. No, I have not listened to Rabbi Mechanic. I am sure he is very persuasive and intelligent. But if you don’t believe in the foundation, no fancy rhetoric can change that.

I didn’t say I don’t believe in reward and punishment. I said I don’t believe in heaven or hell. If I slack off at work, I will likely get fired. If I do a good job, I can expect a nice bonus at the end of the year. Human behavior is certainly affected by reward and punishment. Therefore, it makes sense that people would imagine a system whereby in some afterlife people would get their just deserts. It appeals to our sense of fairness. It is also appealing to the poor who don’t have much to live for in this world.

I smiled when I read your argument about Moshiach. Don’t you realize that this argument could be used by Christians? “Don’t you realize that Jesus is God and that if you don’t believe in him you won’t go to heaven when you die? / you’ll be left behind during the Rapture?” No, I don’t believe in any of that nonsense. And Pascal’s Wager really isn’t any reason any all to be religious.

I do believe in kindness. However I will not change my lifestyle just to make my parents happy. That won’t serve anyone in the end. However, I am thankful to them.

Charlie Brown – My proclivity to do my own thing was not the only factor that led me “off”. I grew up frum and I would have stayed that way if I hadn’t seen the things I saw. Frum people can be hypocritical and cruel. It’s one thing when people don’t profess to be perfect, but the “elites” of the frum community do.

For example, a well known rabbi who lives nearby was accused by several women of sexual abuse. I have to say that it was certainly a nail in the coffin.

As for frum people helping their own, yes that is one advantage of living in a close knit community. However that kind of attitude can have its disadvantages. There is little respect for privacy in the frum world. In the secular world, no one would wonder out loud, in front of you why your daughter isn’t married off yet. People tend to be in each other’s business all the time. I would rather call AAA and maintain my privacy.

You are correct that frum people have varying degrees of materialism. However the Hamptons and Hollywood are hardly examples of what intelligent secular people value. Why is it that frum schools have pathetic art and music programs if they have them at all? They don’t encourage creativity or self development beyond “daven harder”. Perhaps they have a school production (the practice time for which is cut yearly). I understand that they are underfunded, but if frum schools really valued self development, maybe they’d teach one less course in dikduk or safah and introduce an elective art/music/creative writing/dance course.

More later.