Advice for a struggling MO teen

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    My goal in this post is to seek your advice as to where to turn in this crucial time in my life.Here’s my story:

    I hope I have conveyed a little spark of the fire raging inside of me to you, and I hope that you realize how lucky you are to have been born into the more religious neighborhoods that you were.


    Hi! It was amazing to read your story! I feel your pain and proud that you see things so clearly! I wish I did!! The one piece of advice I can give you, if you can’t go to the BM as much as you like to, maybe find a TorahMate/Partner/Chavrusha by phone or online until (and even after!) you find whats best for you.

    I’m proud to be your brother! Keep striving for the top, you will make it!


    ☕ DaasYochid ☕

    If Chofetz Chaim is an option for you, I don’t see why the fact that it’s not an easy walk to the beis medrash should stop you; surely the situation would be better for you than it is now. I also wonder if using the dormitory, at least part time, would be an option for you.

    Don’t be angry at your parents. Surely every decision they’ve made for you

    has been with your best interest at heart. Hopefully, they will be open-minded enough to support you in the decisions you have made and the path which you’ve chosen to follow. Certainly any antagonism shown on your part would be unwarranted, and likely to cause resistance.



    You’re on the right path in a MO environment. Be the best you can be and a shining example to others. Have a good hashpa’ah on your classmates through your shmirath enayim, negiah, etc. Excel in your studies, go to YU, join a good shiur, and work with NCSY. Wear a black hat, if that floats your boat.

    ☕ DaasYochid ☕

    Rd, his experience has shown him that the MO environment he’s in is not consistent with the Halacha it claims to be loyal to. He needs to find a new environment.


    I commend you for your maturity and astuteness in considering all this and making these determinations.

    Similar to DaasYochid’s point, I would say that if your parents, like so many others, have been misled by the mistaken ideology of MO, and it does seem that way from your post, then it also seems understandable that they would give you the type of education that they did, rather than a traditionally Orthodox chinuch because, unfortunately, MO was, presumably, the best conclusion in their minds.

    The good news is that a good secular education (like being taught how to properly write and speak in English) can still be very helpful even within kodesh professions, so it’s great that you’ve gotten that education. Lihavdil, any good non-MO Yeshiva high school can do wonders for your religious education as well regardless of the MO issues you’ve had to deal with until this point.

    Hatzlacha rabba.


    I feel like I am reading the male parallel to my own story. I too went to a modern orthodox co-ed elementary school. There were kids in my grade who weren’t remotely Shomer Shabbos. I then went to a way frummer, but still MO, all-girls highschool, and realized that I did not like the MO way of life. So I found a teacher to be my “mentor”, who I had discussions with, would go to for shabbos, etc. even in a MO school you probably have a few “yeshivish” teachers, find them and a make a Kesher.

    and regarding the learning at the yeshiva: maybe see if theres someone there that has a car and is willing to meet with you closer to your house or pick you up? and remember that problem is only until you get your licence, at that point you can drive yourself to night seder (I have a brother who did that his last 2 years of highschool in exchange for agreeing to stay in the MO highschool through graduation and not leaving for yeshiva)

    also, I would suggest slowly hinting this to your parents, not in an obnoxious or demanding way, just enough so they’re not shocked when you want to go to a more serious yeshiva after highschool.

    regarding being mad about where they sent you/how they raised you. I was also mad for a number of years, but then I realized two huge benifits I got

    1- because I saw so much of that side, i was able to say I didn’t want it and become who I am today

    2- the fact that I did get such strong acadamics at a younger age means that school is easier for me, and when I was in college (under parental pressure) it did not take so much time to do the work, letting me spend more time how I wanted

    so in short, my answer is, if you think the MO way of life is not for you, then don’t do that, no shame in going one step to the right 🙂



    Reb Doniel how could you advise this young man to live a lifestyle that he feels is not his? there is nothing wrong with being MO if thats who you want to be.


    RYochanan: I can sympathize with what you’re going through. I don’t know your schooling situation or what else was available, but I want to point something out to you. Being around people who aren’t as Shomer Mitzvos as you isn’t always a bad thing. Many of the people you were in school with as a kid probably would have no Shaychus to Yahadus if they hadn’t gone to schools like yours. Schools like yours serve a major purpose in that they give kids an opportunity to know something about Judaism and feel a connection to their religion. If your school didn’t exist, these parents would probably be sending their kids to public schools and the children would never have any chance of being Frum for their whole lives.

    These schools need Frum people like you in them because without the Frum people, these schools are basically glorified elitist public schools for Jews. The kids need to see Frum role models and Frum people to make connections with. People might not ever stay in touch with early childhood friends, but they do have a major influence in the course of their entire life.

    Don’t be mad at your parents for sending you to a school with people who weren’t Frum. Who knows? Maybe because your parents sent you to this school you have positively influenced people for the rest of their lives–an opportunity you never would have had in a standard Yeshivish place.

    And I think that if you would tell your father you’d rather learn with him more than have him help with your homework, he’d be very, very happy with you.

    About the not having somewhere to learn part: Is there anyone who lives nearby that you could set up a Chavrusa with (in your home or theirs)? It could be a Rabbi, classmate, random neighbor 30 years older than you. It could be anyone. And, worst-case, learning by yourself isn’t so bad. You can get a lot done and really impress yourself. Make sure to write things down and feel free to share them in the Coffee Room. I’d be glad to comment on any Chiddushim that I see. 🙂

    🍫Syag Lchochma

    Sam2 – such a beautiful post!

    RYWannabe – I grew up modern but shomer shabbos and mitzvos. I went to a religious co-ed day school where almost every student was like me, but there were none who did not keep Shabbos or kosher. For high school I insisted on the co-ed school where I was with kids from conservative and public schools for the first time. I refused to go to the all girls school because I was sure they would all look down on me.

    Being in that school with less and non observant kids was very unhealthy for many of my classmates, but I found myself becoming more committed and it really sparked a search for me because I couldn’t understand why some people were giving up everything for religion, and my classmates/friends were giving up religion for everything. I ended up growing much more than I would have in the other school where everything would have been ‘a given’.

    Of course I told my parents that they shouldn’t risk sending any of the rest of the siblings to that school but for me it worked, and for you it could be just what you need. They say the grass is always greener, better to be here, wishing for a yeshiva, than to be in yeshiva wishing you weren’t.


    What an incredible post! I’m so happy to know that klal yisroel still has people with fire in their bellies and determination to succeed despite all obstacles. I was in your position for a number of years and it was very frustrating, isolating, and annoying. however, the best advice I can give you is from pirkei avos: “b’makom she’ein anoshim, hishtadel lihiyos ish.”


    Great post, Sam2, and interesting example, RDoniel. RYochananWannabe should keep in mind that if you switch to an opposite extreme (let’s say a high school with very little attention to secular studies) you might find problems with that too (no group within Orthodoxy is perfect). Sometimes the mean between the extremes is best. Sometimes it’s good to be around people to your right and people to your left, rather than just being around a bunch of people who are just like you.


    My advice is for this young man to pursue a prudent path; you can be well-educated, have a good career, and make Torah the soul of your existence and being, and it doesn’t matter what political label you attach to yourself, or what kind of headgear you wear. Many YU types are yeshivishe for the most part, anyways.

    ☕ DaasYochid ☕

    I will disagree with a number of posters on this thread. It is not a 15 (or so) year old boy’s job to choose his environment to be mashpia on others. Of course, wherever he finds himself, he should be as positive an influence as he can be, but he first has to worry about his own growth in ruchniyus, and this impressive young man sees his growth outside of the MO environment he finds himself in.

    For those worried about academics (and although I think they’re important, I think at this age the focus should be on a yeshiva which will help him grow in learning). Chofetz Chaim is reputed to have an excellent secular studies department, which they take seriously (as they should).

    It’s also probably one of the least “extreme” yeshivos around from the more “yeshivish” type of yeshivos.


    Honestly, the OP sounds like Joseph. He always quotes R’ Elchonon HY”D, and these are some of the things he loves to accuse MO of. I think this thread is a trolling job.


    DY: Yes, but this 15-year-old isn’t in the co-ed school with the non-Frum people anymore. It’s about someone in a good, Frum school who is upset about the school he went to as a 12-year-old.

    ☕ DaasYochid ☕

    Sam, he’s in an all boys yeshiva, but MO, which he doesn’t feel is conducive to his ruchniyus.

    DaMoshe, I think this is legit.


    DY: Read the post again. He’s becoming upset with the community because of the elementary school. That post did not contain a single word of complaint about his current school.


    How many 9th graders do you know of who learn Even HaEzer? Like I said, Joseph loves to quote R’ Elchonon when speaking about Zionism, so the user name is also suspicious. As for fathers not going to shul, how would a 9th grader know if the fathers go to shul or not?

    This thread is a troll job, posted to try and get some bad things said about Modern Orthodox people.

    Here’s what I know about the MO school my kids go to, as well as the MO community I live in. Most fathers go to shul every day. The daf yomi shiurim (there are 3 every day) are packed with parents from the school. Every night there is a shiur between mincha and maariv which is well attended. There are various shiurim offered daily, as well as chaburos.

    Most of the mothers cover their hair and don’t wear pants. Are there some who do? Yes, but the school teaches that it is incorrect. There are weekly shiurim offered for women in hilchos kashrus, hilchos Shabbos, and other areas which affect women directly.

    The school stresses that Torah and Judaism come before everything else.


    Sam is right. It is unclear from the post whether the OP dislikes his current school, or just his elementary school and community. More details would be nice.

    🍫Syag Lchochma

    or maybe not . . .

    ☕ DaasYochid ☕

    He didn’t complain about the school, but does say it’s MO, and he wants to leave the MO environment, which he sees as hypocritical.

    I’m not mistaking his school to be coed, he clearly said it’s all boys, but between the lines, I’m seeing him having schoolmates involved in things which be doesn’t feel are appropriate for a Ben Torah.

    Either way, that wasn’t really my point. He obviously feels that moving to CC, for whatever reason, even if it’s just communal affiliation, is a step up for him, and I don’t think his role as a mashpia where he currently is should have a part in his decision.


    DY: You missed my point. I’m not saying he is or should be Mashpia on others currently. I was trying to explain why post-facto he shouldn’t resent being around classmates who weren’t so Frum years ago. Also note, he didn’t complain that he was led to do Issurim in elementary school. He just feels bad about his former classmates substandard level of Frumkeit. I was trying to explain why not to feel bad about that.


    DaMoshe, i think that if you think he is a troll just because you have never seen a community with these problems, you are very lucky. Unfortunatly there are many MO communities where that kind of stuff is the norm, and the parents dont go to minyan 3x a day, the mothers dont cover their hair or wear skirts etc.

    while this is unfortunate and I’m not listing communities, I think that just because you are luckily unaware isnt a reason to call another poster a troll


    I appreciate all the positive feedback and encouragement. It really makes me feel like I am doing the right thing.

    DaMoshe-I am not joking. Just because you don’t happen to know the type of community that I am describing, doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist. Also, my username just represents the fact that if I could meet one amorah, it would be Rav Yochanan based on various agadatas about him;nothing to do with Joseph.

    To clear up confusion, although it may have sounded that my main purpose was to rant about how bitter I am about my younger years, that was not actually my intention. I am trying to be forward looking, about how to conduct the rest of my life.

    Sem613- I really enjoyed reading your post. My parents do know how I feel and,

    to those who suggested it, I will bezras hashem bring up Chofetz Chaim or Yesodei Yeshurun.

    Rebdoniel- I am less interested in helping others at this time in my life, than I am in helping myself.


    When you’re a teenager you walk a delicate path of following your parents and figuring out who you are. You have a long time to develop and grow into who you want to be. It is good to have goals and aspirations about what kind of life you’d like to live, but at the same time, there’s no reason to “despise” any of your parents’ past choices for you.

    Everything that happens to you in the past is part of making who you are in the present and future. Do your best to grow and pursue the path you want while at the same time honoring your mother and father and preserving shalom bais and strong family relationships no matter how different you may eventually become. It may not seem like it now, but one day, if you have a family and are much more strict than your parents and live in a different type of community, if you’re all shomer shabbos and strict in your kashrus, you’ll realize that perhaps you’re not quite that different and that it is good to maintain strong relationships with family.

    You’ve got a long time to become who you want to be. When you’re a teen, you follow your parents. They’ve given you plenty to be grateful for- you could have been born to a secular family and been sent to public school and fed bacon cheeseburgers. And yet, many balei teshuva can maintain decent relationships with their family, inspire them and grow on their own.


    RYochananWannabe, you may want to edit the last line of your post above me.


    Unfortunately your attitude is not a healthy one. You are judging your parents without even knowing why they sent you to the school that they did. In addition you feel that everyone around you needs to be exactly like you in order to succeed. What will you do when you change schools and realize that people over there sin as well. If I am not mistaken Reb nosson zvi finkel zt’l went to a coed yeshivah high school and still became Reb Nosson Tzvi. If you want to change yeshivas speak with your parents and explain your reasons. Most importantly be proud of your parents- your father is a Rav in a shul- he is helping saving the Jewish people.

    If you focus on yourself and not on others life will be easier in your new school when you realize that all yidden have nisyonos they just come in different strokes for different folks. Hatzlacha.

    from Long Island

    Okay, let’s take a deep breath here. As a parent of a child who objected to MY school choice made for her, let me share how we reached an understanding.

    First of all, you must think clearly about your objections in your current situation, WRITE A LIST, then think about what you feel your needs are that are not being met. WRITE A LIST.

    You know your parents, you must have some understanding of the best way and time (timing is very important) to approach them.

    Do not be confrontational, you are not accusatory, you are simply sharing. You are asking for their understanding and most importantly, you are asking for their help.

    Start by saying that you are not as challenged as you want to be. That your spiritual growth is not at the pace you wish it to be. You need their help.

    Now, share give them your lists and ask them to read and discuss them. When they have done so, ask them to call you back in so the three of you can discuss them.

    Remember, you are not rejecting their values and lifestyle, you simply want to go deeper into the derech they have started you on.

    You need their help (with either a transfer, or transportation or paying for an extra chavrusah, etc) and it sounds to me, that your parents have wonderful values and would want to help you achieve your own.

    Much Hatzlacha

    ☕ DaasYochid ☕

    Sam, then yes, I agree to the ex post facto benefit. In case I was choshed b’ksherim, I give you a birchas hedyot that you should continue to grow in your learning and avodas Hashem.



    Several points:

    “send me to a school which is against the SA(EZR 21)”

    We don’t pasken from the Shulchan Aruch; we pasken according to today’s rabbis. Rav Soloveitchik z’tz’l, who qualified as a Gedol HaDor, was an enthusiastic supporter of co-ed schools, founding one himself in Boston. Your father is an Orthodox Rabbi and absolutely can follow Rav Soloveitchik’s position on that (and on anything else). When you get semicha yourself you might pasken differently but you have no right at this point in your life to question that! To doubt your father’s decision here may have put you over the issur of Kvod Av!!! Rav Soloveitchik was also an enthusiastic supporter of the idea that Jews need to have the best secular education; not only did he have an earned doctorate, but so did his wife, his son, both daughters, and both sons-in-law! All of them have remained completely dedicated to Torah and have inspired many thousands of Jews. Your father may well identify with that hashkafah.

    Once you accept that you are bound by your father’s psak, you should have a discussion with your father. Many MO communities do have a lot of people who are lax in observance of some important mitzvot. I know because I myself am in one of those communities and I try to be an example to inspire those folks! There is nothing wrong, however, with feeling that you are a better fit for a community that is on the whole more careful with mitzvot. But you will never find a perfect community so be careful lest you set yourself up for disappointment. Be open minded that your hashkafah will not be the only legitimate one, and accepting about the fact that not all Jews are fully observant — yet. May your life become a model to inspire all Jews. Good luck!

    ☕ DaasYochid ☕

    Charlie, be honest. Do you think R’ Soliveitchik’s father and grandfather would have sent their children to coed schools?

    I’m very skeptical that even he held it was at all l’chatchilah

    And precisely because of his secular education, and the impact it had on his hashkafah, he was far from universally accepted as a gadol hador.


    DY, do you think his father and grandfather held of the kollel lifestyle?

    Times change. To not take time/modern day into account is wrong.

    As to the OP, as others pointed out, what will happen when you go to a more RW school and see all the hypocrisy and aveiros going on? You left MO, and then you’ll leave RW? It seems to me that you don’t want to live with any sort of being uncomfortable, but guess what, life is sometimes uncomfortable. This is a good lesson for life. Make the most of it. When you get a career, you’ll have plenty of moments where something will be trying to tug you one way, and the way you act now will help you defeat the tug later on in life.


    I appreciate “From Long Island’s post”.


    You may, in fact, be rejecting their lifestyle, but since they presumably mean well and liSheim Shamayim, traditional Orthodoxy can be viewed as “the next step” as FLI mentioned.


    Reb Nosson Tzvi’s success does not at all mean that this can be applied to anyone else in a different time and place. B”H, people survive many bad choices; that doesn’t mean it’s a good idea to replicate those choices.

    As well, while everyone has a Yetzer HaRa, MO goes far beyond this by simply being mattir issurim, whether de facto or de jure, as the OP mentioned of his own experiences.


    Find a Rav who believes in the original and unadulterated Torah (i.e. non-MO). And also, understand that many have been unfortunately misled by MO and may Hashem help them, speedily, to discover the truth as you have.



    No, he is not bound by his father’s “psak”, for a number of reasons.

    Ask your fellow MO, the erudite Sam2, about the few exceptions to Kibbud Av. Certain marriage and learning-related matters are among those.

    As well, other than himself and his students, in whose eyes did Rabbi Dr. Soloveitchik qualify as a gadol HaDor? Rav Aharon Kotler, who was a gadol haDor, said some very harsh things about Rabbi Dr. Soloveitchik. Agudah’s rabbanim did not either seem to believe he was a gadol haDor; see, for example, their JO piece upon Rabbi Dr. Soloveitchik’s passing, which can still be found online. It certainly did not say anything of the sort. Other than MO institutions, what Yeshivos include any of his works in their curricula?

    As the founder of “MO”, Rabbi Dr. Soloveitchik obviously felt that he needed to found his co-ed day school in Boston. But this doesn’t mean that even he would agree that this was the proper thing to do elsewhere. It also doesn’t mean he would say to do so today when American Jewry has, B”H, advanced far beyond where it was then.

    As well, the gedolim of the time did not agree with him on this (among other things). So it is wrong to promote these failed, mistaken and condemned notions of MO.

    Finally, the end of your post (before the bracha that you wrote to him) is also ignoring a major flaw of MO, which is the only known Orthodox movement that is mattir issurim (for the sake of modernity).

    (The words “be open-minded” usually are code for “look the other way when issurim are committed; it’s okay”.)

    So while people of all stripes unfortunately fall prey to the Yetzer HaRa, only in MO (among Orthodox movements) is it accepted to commit certain aveiros. Therefore, one cannot compare the negative effects of living in an MO area to that of living elsewhere.

    I would, instead, advise, as Pirkei Avos says, “Asei licha Rav”. It is also very unwise to disregard other maamarei Chazal like “Oy laRasha viOy liShcheino”. (No, I do not mean to imply that MO are, CH”V, rishaim, but the concept of being wary of undue influence still very much applies.)

    Finally, while there are indeed a variety of different valid mehalchim in avodas Hashem, that doesn’t mean MO gets to tag along simply because they feel like it. The majority of MO adherents may mean well (the same might be argued of Conservative and Reform as well), but that doesn’t make acceptable the theology of MO.


    The whole premise of MO was that traditional Orthodoxy would become no more than a museum piece unless he reformed/modernized Orthodoxy.

    B”H, the Orthodox world (i.e. non-MO) has, of course, not needed MO’s reforms to Hashem’s Torah; while Jews of all stripes face financial struggles, there are still successful businesses that are owned, and run by, and that employ, chassidim, besides for the traditional Orthodox who also run businesses or are otherwise employed in various fields of work, whether white-collar or otherwise.

    Rabbi JB Soloveitchik clearly stated he was deviating from his family tradition in the matter of Zionism. Yet the senseless and idolatrous worship of Zionism is one of the major mitzos of MO. They observe Israeli nationalist holidays as religious observances, etc.

    Put simply: Even without the (rather major) Zionism issue, MO is a mistaken ideology that is kineged our Torah. We are already seeing the initial stages of disintegration of MO (as prominent MO writers have been decrying for years now); those leaning “to the left” become, CH”V, Conservative or worse, while those leaning “to the right” become traditionally Orthodox, B”H.

    ☕ DaasYochid ☕

    Truthsharer, of course they would be in favor of kollel (I’m not sure what you mean by lifestyle).

    Nothing about “times changing” is mattir arayos or indicates compromising on separation to prevent issues if arayos where it’s unnecessary to.


    “We are already seeing the initial stages of disintegration of MO (as prominent MO writers have been decrying for years now); those leaning ‘to the left’ become, CH”V, Conservative or worse, while those leaning “to the right” become traditionally Orthodox, B’H.”

    To the contrary, it is in fact the Conservative movement that has been disintegrating for years, with many right-wing Conservative individuals and families becoming Modern Orthodox. Yes, there has been somewhat of a trend toward modern yeshivish, but Modern Orthodoxy is alive and well.

    ☕ DaasYochid ☕

    I say let the yeshiva community and MO community keep on debating who’s right and who’s wrong, who’s more frum and who’s less frum, who learns more and who does more chessed, etc. It’ll keep us all sharp and we’ll hopefully all raise our level.

    Kinas sofrim tarbeh chochmoh.


    I think that there is a distinction to be made within MO that is not being made here.

    There is the group that is using “its ok, I’m MO” as an excuse to be mekil/ over aveiros, bordering on Conservative, except being more widely accepted. But the other group, often called YU Machmir or Torah Umaadah is the group that is MO while still holding (mostly) to Halacha. The ones that do send their kids to non-co-ed schools, dont go mixed swimming,the mothers cover their hairs and wear skirts, some even wear tights. the fathers go to minyan 3x a day and have a chevrusa or 2 every day while doing daf yomi, etc. They are MO because they believe in Torah Umaddah, as a way of bringing them closer to Torah, following The Rav (r’ solevetchik as he is called in those camps).

    so the MO bashing on a wide level has got to stop.

    (and no, I am not saying this b/c I am MO, but I grew up in a house that was that second type of MO, going to schools of the first type, and very much saw the difference. Yet I still became Yeshivish)

    also, regarding what charliehall said that ” Rav Soloveitchik z’tz’l, who qualified as a Gedol HaDor, was an enthusiastic supporter of co-ed schools, founding one himself in Boston”. I think if you read the Teshuva thoroughly it implies that he did not see it as a lechatchila, but rather as a bdieved because this was the only way that the MO parents in Boston would send their kids to his school instead of the secular prep schools. And you can’t say that the fact that he allows it shows that he’s more modern because Rav Moshe, who even you can not deny was a Gadol Hador also has a teshuva about until what age Co-ed education is OK, and under what circumstances.


    Here we go again… HaKatan hijacking yet another thread to rant about Zionism.

    Mods, besides the hijacking, how can you allow him to blatantly attack a huge segment of frum Jews like that? Saying that Modern Orthodoxy goes against the Torah? Come on! Posts like that shouldn’t be allowed through!

    This was supposed to be support for a young boy, not a place to air our dirty laundry – thread closed for now

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