Kid Off The Derech

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    Kids need to understand that Judaism is about choice and freedom, within limits.

    Sorry, but Judaism is not ABOUT choice and freedom. There is choice and freedom within Judaism but Judaism is about using your freedom (bechira chofshis) to make the RIGHT choices. A choice as to whether or not to have a TV is not as important as what leads you to that choice – do you want your kids to be able to watch Barney the Dinosaur or Square Sponge whatever like their non-Jewish and non-frum neighbors do or do you want it because you want to watch The Discovery Channel with them and show them how to understand the topics shown there as “ma rabu maaseicha Hashem”.



    That is a very long schoolday – are you exaggerating or is that the way it is now?

    At one time, the boundaries between us and them were very strict and no one wanted to be like the drunken peasant or the illiterate Arab who surrounded us in the lands we left for America or Western Europe or E”Y.

    Now, the culture of the drunken peasant (which I am still zoiche to see here in Ukraine and will not miss when I leave soon for E”Y LOL) is varnished with glitz and even education, but the culture of the Wall Street parties with cocaine and gilui arayois, or the frat party of college infamy, or the tailgate party, is really nothing different than the celebrations of the drunken peasant or Cossack. However, it takes a lot of strength and exposure to Torah to be able to see through the veneer of fun, enjoyment and being “with it” and to realize that secular culture is just as low as it always was and just as far away from the way we should live as it always has been.

    Also, this culture is not off limits to Jews as its equivalent was in times of old – but it is just as inimical to Jewish values now as it was then.

    Therefore, some communities may have become a bit more restrictive and isolated lately – but at the same time even these communities embrace technology and other positive elements of general society.


    Between the ones who are patronizing and the ones who are just plain cold, I’m sure Gitty (and others like her, lurking) will often revisit this thread for advice.


    Itzik, Judaism is about choice and freedom. You choose your posek. You choose your lifestyle. There is plenty out there that is kosher, but not neccesarily recommended. We are not a nation of robots who follow blindly. Many times there are multiple acceptable paths, and we have to teach everyone how to choose for themselves. Perhaps we are arguing semantics more than anything?



    I do not think Gitty wants our advice. She has even tried to give someone else advice, which I, for one, find preposterous on a frum forum.

    She is looking only for justification, which she will never find here.

    If she convinces herself that she is right because of the responses given here, then I have to say, sadly, that we are better off letting her go for now. We have the truth and the fact that a few morons are hiding behind a facade and doing everything wrong while getting all the attention does not change anything.

    Gitty is also hiding behind a facade; she KNOWS she is wrong but is temporarily so infatuated with her wrong choice that she cannot face facts and go back to the right way.

    Just as Silvio Berlusconi said about the West versus Islam after 9-11 – we have the right to say we are superior to the frei world because we are, plain and simple. Of course we can’t always be that blunt, and I would not be this blunt on a general Jewish forum, but the truth is the truth. Whatever our problems are, they are nothing compared to those of the frei world, and many of our problems come because our yetzer leads us to want to copy the vapid materialistic values which surround us.

    In fact, I think part of the problem is that as much as America is a free nation and relatively devoid of overt anti-Semitism, we still are often made to feel like second class citizens especially by frei Jews who are in reality jealous of us, and it rubs off on us at times. In the business world, I never had any real problem with non-Jews because of my beard and black clothing, but Jews have gone out of their way to make me feel out of place. That is because the non-Jew knows I am doing what I should and has no problem with that, whereas the Jew knows I am doing what HE should and feels like he is missing out but does not have the strength to face facts.

    Gitty chooses candy instead of nutritious food because the candy tastes good and looks good. She also offers her candy bowl to others who are not sure what they should eat Wait until she gets that stomachache tomorrow morning or more likely, finds that after years of consuming that candy (or that Kool-Aid) and having to take Zantac every hour to mask the pain and discomfort, she is deficient in just about every nutrient known to man.


    To Gitty: If you truly do not believe in Judaism, there are people out there who can just about prove it to you (if you want to give them a chance – though none of them have appeared here on YW). But there is another phenomenon that could be making you say that you don’t believe – it’s called cognitive dissonance. Some of your posts indicate that this is what is going on. I actually know a lot about this (so maybe I’m unfairly projecting).

    As for happy/unhappy part of it, the discussion is silly. YOU are in control of your own happiness. No one else is. Therefore, you can be happy no matter what happens, whether you are frum or not. So if you say that you are happy, anyone who says they know otherwise is just full of garbage.



    That is not choice and freedom as the secular world sees it, and indeed your error was one of semantics. What is true is that there is plenty of choice within Judaism, and that Judaism recognizes free will. And you choose a particular TORAH lifestyle, not whatever lifestyle you see fit and then try to reconcile that to what you want to pick and choose from Torah. (That is either naval birshus haTorah or “conservative” depending on the details.)

    But freedom and choice the way the secular world sees it is that you can pick and choose what YOU feel is kosher, or as some people are supposedly said to do, pick a different posek for a different question so as to get the answer you want.


    More than 150 posts later and the words go on and on.

    Teenager, you will find peace and contentment. Not everyone is happy in life. Some people are just content with life and that suffices for them. But you will find both, due to your trials and tribulations you have experienced so far and how you have made such an about turn.

    Just continue day by day and say each morning to yourself ” yesterday is the past, today is the start of a bright new day and tomorrow will be even better” Look forward to each day and hold on to one good thing that happens during the day and treasure it, even if it just the sun shining, or someone smiling at you.

    There are many teenagers who are a magnet to other people with issues, just as you say. So it is up to you to set them an example of how good, better and best can really become the very best! You are well on the way to becoming a mature, fine adult and an example to others. Go girl!

    Gitty, as I have said before there is no point in trying to argue with you as you seem to continuously come back with the I know it all and have been there, done that and got the ‘T’ shirt attitude. The fact that you need to continuously stress over and over again how happy and free you are makes me wonder if ‘Thou doth protest too much”


    LakewoodBubby, I was not saying that all problems arise from trying to raise the next gadol hador. I do see how one might read that into what I wwrote so I thank you for pointing it out.

    Nor do I mean to insinuate that all problems can be traced to cynical parents.

    I did just want to point out how difficult it is to raise inspired, not cynical (yet not ostrichy) kids now, not to mention keeping ourselves inspired and not cynical.

    I think we’re clearly on the same page.


    That is a very long schoolday – are you exaggerating or is that the way it is now?

    Not an exaggeration. Nor is it new.

    When I was in high school back in the 80s, We started with Shacharis at 7:30. The day ended at 6:20. Then, there was night seder from 7:00 until Ma’ariv at 9:00. Night seder started out with two nights a week in 9th grade and progressed up to five nights a week in 12th.

    The Wolf


    “My fellow Yidden, what are we doing wrong? Why have we been unable to transmit the truth and beauty of Yiddishkeit to so many of our children? Gitty and teenager and so many others that I meet in person just break my heart.”

    Do you REALLY want the answer to that? The answer will open a Pandora’s Box that you will not ever want to know about. The frum world does NOT want to really know why so many kids are off the derech, because the answer strikes at the heart of the Yiddishkeit that is being practiced by the Lakewood Bubbies and Zaydies. Fifty years ago, we were also frum Jews, but we lived NORMAL lives. Our boys and girls (horrors!) talked to each other after shul and in the street. Some went to Coed schools (like Crown Heights Yeshivah, as did I), and we were allowed to be normal kids playing in the street. We were tzniusdig, because the emphasis was not so strong on what we were wearing on the outside, but who we were INside. People were friendlier, more welcoming, more accepting, and less judgmental. Now there is a schism even among the various frum factions, where if you come from one frum background you may still not be good enough for another one. These are harsh observations, I know. But the truth is often harsh. I truly do not mean to climb on a soapbox, but it really does break my heart when I hear an intelligent, sensitive girl like Gitty say that she does not believe. Clearly she is one of MANY of our children who need to be shown that there are other equally valid ways of being a religious Jew, ways that do not necessarily “shtim” with being observant in exactly the way that the Yeshivish world is observant. I would be thrilled to hear that Gitty was keeping a kosher lifestyle and not being mechalel Shabbos. Those two things are critical to being frum, NOT how long the skirt length is, how many prakim of Tehillim are being said, or if she wears the color red. We focus so much on certain minutiae ( as perceived by those who eventually go off the derech), that we cannot see the forest for the trees.



    I think it is time to close this thread.

    First of all, I apologize for even getting involved as I see that what happened is that Gitty hijacked her mother’s thread and turned it into a thread about HER rather than what it was meant to be which was a thread about HER MOTHER.

    Second of all, it is becoming an excuse to present all kinds of krum viewpoints.

    Standards were more lax in the old days because it was barely socially acceptable to be frum and that was the best schools and shuls could do to keep people in the fold. In those days there was still some of the “miss work Saturday and look for another job on Monday” and even if you had your own business, it was hard to bring it to the level of a B&H because banks weren’t too anxious to extend credit to a shop that would not open Saturday. You could barely wear a yarmulke on the street without getting a rock in your face – and a Jew could just as soon be the one throwing that rock, especially if you were a “refugee”.

    You know that, yet you do not want to acknowledge it in your nostalgia for the old days which were just that – old, not good.

    This reminds me of the old excuse that between WW1 and WW2 standards were much lower – yes, of course they were because Europe was in a horrible depression and anti-Semitism was rife. Many could not even afford cheese, let alone worry about cholov yisroel, and hemlines were short because fabric was expensive and in short supply.

    I and most of my baal tshuva friends would have found little in the old frum lifestyle just as I see little real yiddishkeit and no emmes among the less observant, along for the ride, crowd that is found in every community and tends to look more numerous than it really is.

    What is more, at least in my world, they are the ones who really have nothing except huge bills every month from overly high mortgages and lease payments that they fund with scams that, while illegal, are neither big enough nor creative enough to make the big time chilul Hashem headlines.

    Now, things are different and we have the ability to keep halacha as it should be kept. And that is what we are doing. If someone is uncomfortable, then there are still communities and shuls that are close to the old standard. But the shallowness there is amazing, as is the lack of a real feeling of community and the real frum values that are the rule in the more strict communities.

    Gitty WAS shown another way of being frum; she did not accept it either. Now, she is here looking for validation and acceptance – to have her cake and eat it too.

    Teenager is not looking for an easy way out; she has found herself but is being encouraged to get lost again by Gitty and other posters here. Stay the course, Teenager – yesh sachar lepeulatech – and don’t let the ones who aren’t as strong as you are, frum or frei, take you down with them. And don’t feel you have to save the world – if you want to help people with emotional issues then please get proper training so that you don’t end up doing more harm to yourself compared to any help you can provide to someone else. Whatever you do, don’t listen to losers explain away their own loserkeit by saying others are at fault.

    Anyway my day off is over; I am going back to my no posts rule as I did not accomplish a thing except getting fooled by a confused young lady who is far less sure of herself and far less mature than she makes herself to be, and helping to throw a thread off track.

    I should have responded at the very beginning in the spirit of “hake es shinav”, because some people need to be broken down so that they can rebuild again.


    Itzik- I have an innate need to help other people, and even more so after what I went through. I know I have to get myself to a good place before I can help others, but over the past few months I have chosen a better path and things have gotten much better. But I hate the philosophy of leave it to others, I cant do that because the “others” arent doing whats needed. And as I said before one of the reasons I became frum is so that I can help others.

    Feif Un- I am currently on leave from college so your idea is possible, when I was in seminary las year I was thinking of going to one of the neve programs for shana bet, something like shalevet, which has a high level of learning. but when i got kicked out of seminary i decided i wouldnt come back to seminary, and thats when i went otd. i dont think my parents would let me go to israel since thats where i messed up my life, but maybe thats also a good place to fix it. i will think about it.

    Nobody- Dont know why you have so much faith in me, but thanks for that.Thw problem with saying yesterday is the past, is that the past never stays in the past it always influences your present and your future no matter how hard you try not to let it. I hope I can be a good example to others. thanks



    I just would like to thank everyone for posting and for caring. It is fascinating to me to see how people want to respond, they care about another human being, they really want to reach out. It is quite uplifting, mi keamcha yisroel.

    As far as reasons why kids and adults go off the derech, there is an excellent book, Off the Derech: Why Observant Jews Leave Judaism; How to Respond to the Challenge: Faranak Margolese. There are many reasons why someone would choose not to be frum anymore, it can be very complex.

    May the geulah come bekarove, and moshiach should come and gather up all of klal yisroel and bring back those precious kinderlach that have been turned off to yiddishkiet. amen!


    There are two videos (very short, approximately a minute each) that I think many of you would benefit from watching.

    I did not read all the posts but I did read a few that the writer(s) expressed their view that the main thing is that the individual is leading a moral and productive lifestyle. As long as they are off drugs etc., they are okay whether or not they believe in G-d.

    This link will hopefully explain that away.

    An other video that came to mind upon reading one of Itzik_s’s posts (“And you choose a particular TORAH lifestyle, not whatever lifestyle you see fit and then try to reconcile that to what you want to pick and choose from Torah.”) was the following. Although, Rabbi Becher is referring to belief of the X-tians’ “Messiah”, I think it can be understood with other topics as well.$.asp



    Teenager, You may not see what I see in you because your self esteem and trust has been hit. But what I read between the lines is sufficient for me to make that statement.

    With regards to the past. You are right. It will always be there because you cannot take away what has been done. But you can elevate yourself to the point whereby hey! it doesn’t matter anymore because you have risen to the stage where the past no longer influences your decisions for today or tomorrow. It’s not easy. It takes time. But at your age you have so much time. There is a saying “Time is a great healer” That does not mean you forget but that time makes coping so much easier.

    Don’t worry about others right now,just worry about yourself, you have plenty of years ahead of you to worry about others.

    I am as my name says, Nobody from Nowheresville but if I can see your potential believe me so can others. Be well and be happy.



    While I said I was not going to post anymore, I did want to clear something up that I said to Teenager:

    Teenager, from your last post I see that indeed you are very sincere and that you are someone who is truly trying her best to do what we all should do as Jews.

    What I meant by not trying to save the world is that if you get too bogged down in trying to solve other people’s problems, or you try to help someone who really needs a professional, or you become discouraged because people you are trying to help do not respond, you yourself may become disillusioned.

    Are you studying for one of the helping professions? If not, you should at least take some courses that might help you become a trained volunteer counselor. You are a true asset to the frum world and it is great that we have you back!

Viewing 18 posts - 151 through 168 (of 168 total)
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