Returning To The Derech

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  • #1749636

    Joseph
    Participant

    What percentage of OTD youth eventually return to the derech?

    #1749741

    The little I know
    Participant

    Interesting question, but I cannot think of a reason to justify answering it. When we look to statistics, it is to have some basis for prediction. Can anyone say that an individual has a XX% chance of returning to the derech? I suggest that not, since there is a huge number of variables involved, and the true determinants are the factors involved for each individual. But it can good discussion, even though there is no practical value to it.

    The other part of the problem here is the age old question. “What is the derech?” The typical responses are woefully inadequate (I’m being overly kind – they are probably terribly misguided). Does returning to wearing the proper levush the indication of return? How about Shabbos? The questions go on. These issues might all be valid ones, but what truly indicates return to the “derech”?

    #1749771

    Grey matter
    Participant

    It’s seems to me like reasonable criteria to being considered on the derech would be same criteria as being observant. To consider oneself observant and to keep basic mitzvos Shabbos kashruth etc..

    #1749774

    AharonRottenberg
    Participant

    Are there statistics of kids going off the derech?

    #1749808

    mobico
    Participant

    Define “being Frum”. The basic definition that I have often heard is Shomer Shabbos, Kashrus, and Taharas ha’Mishpachah. If someone was not keeping anything, and now keeps these things, would not most people consider them back “on the Derech”? Would not most parents be happy with such a development?

    #1749810

    zahavasdad
    Participant

    There are no real statistics done how many people go OTD, nobody really wants to know the answer (Because its probably higher than anyone wants to admit)

    #1749857

    motchah11
    Participant

    It’s more complicated than that. My sister is Satmar, and lives in Williamsburg. She has a Satmar neighbor who told my brother-in-law that the only reason he makes a Sukkah is because of his wife. He, personally, eats at MacDonalds from time to time.

    Sadly, there are many frum-looking people who are not really frum at all. Who can say how many frum people there are when we don’t always know the truth?

    #1749989

    The little I know
    Participant

    mothcha11:

    That’s my point. The externals are not indicative of one’s true frumkeit. Our community has a lot to do to achieve the place where we stop using these masquerades as decoys, and behave as our true selves. Levush and chumros are not bad things, but these only show others that we are “frum”. What about our true בין אדם למקום?

    #1750016

    mseren
    Participant

    32%.

    #1750023

    Yserbius123
    Participant

    I don’t think there are any hard and fast statistics. And it’s kind of a grey area. What constitutes going OTD and what would constitute getting back on?

    #1750054

    The little I know
    Participant

    Yserbiius123:

    You ask two great questions.

    #1 – Correct. There are no statistics, or even agreement on what and how to assess.

    #2 – There is no operational definition for OTD. While it would differ widely if you were to survey many people, I think we are stuck with the court’s definition for obscenity. “You know it when you see it.”

    #1750143

    Uncle Ben
    Participant

    Motchah11; You describe a very sad reality. Several years ago I came across a website dedicated to people who are outwardly frum (for social reasons) but inwardly atheists. Essentially reverse Marranos! They even had a “warning” not to try to e-mail them to try to convince them to change as they they would be automatically ignored.
    It’s very sad but unfortunate reality and they are no doubt doing things even worse than eating at McDonald’s.

    #1750149

    Gadolhadorah
    Participant

    As all seem to agree, the answer to the OP is premised on what metrics you select to measure both “off” and “on’ the derech. It would be interesting to know on an anecdotal basis if anyone here has worked with what might generally be considered “OTD” and what their experience has been in terms of “success stories” among those they initially encounter. Similar anecdotal evidence would be what percentage of bochurim who enroll in yeshivos specializing in “ball tshuvah” talmidim ultimately stay on, graduate and move on to advanced torah studies. The latter group clearly begins with bochurim who have already made a decision to “return” if they went OTD or otherwise grew up in secular families and made a decision to “go frum”.

    #1750234

    TRUEBT
    Participant

    I agree with points 1 and 2 made by “The little I know”.
    Without a definition, there isn’t much point in having the discussion or gathering statistics.
    Basically, do the best you can with whatever you’ve got. It’s not something you can analyze. Each Ba’al Tshuva has his own story and can tell you about the Hashgachah Pratis he experienced. Make Hishtadlus and Hashem will help. That’s all you need to know.

    #1750299

    ari-free
    Participant

    There are lots of teens that are into Shabbos texting but keep everything else. People who eat treif from time to time, to see what the fuss is all about, but they keep shabbos. Some people are frum even though they say loshon hora and get into nasty arguments with other Jews! So some people have taavos to do things that you would never dream of, but they still have a connection to Hashem. I know someone who would go to non kosher places…but also davened. In private. It wasn’t to impress anyone.
    And others do a really good job at fooling people with how many things they keep even though they have nothing to do with Hashem….or so they want to think.

    #1750362

    motchah11
    Participant

    Nimnu vigumru: The world is a mess.

    #1750386

    Gadolhadorah
    Participant

    Again, there are few statistics but there appears to be a high correlation between substance abuse and young men/women going OTD within the frum tzibur. Perhaps those disaffected from yiddeshkeit seek to find solace in drugs or whatever. The “good news” to the extent one can use the term is that there appear to be more resources focused on outreach and rehab for these segments of the OTD cohort than ever before as the scope of the problem is recognized as a public health issue as much as and “OTD” issue..

    #1750401

    anonymous Jew
    Participant

    There was a story in the 5 Towns Jewish Times by Rabbi Hoffman that dealt with the subject of the outwardly frum. Yanky was considered a great catch. Twelve years in the best local yeshiva followed by two years of learning in one of the top Israeli yeshiva’s. So, his wife was shocked when, by accident, she discovered that he was spending each morning having breakfast at a non kosher coffee shop, not at minyan. His wife pleaded with Rabbi Hoffman to find out why. Yanky told the Rabbi that he had no feelings for yiddiskeit. Yes , he had learned for 14 years but his studies had focused virtually exclusively on the Gemara. He never had any classes that dealt with emunah, davening, or how to relate to Hashem unless it was tangenital to a sugya he was learning. It left him indifferent to being religious. So, on Friday night he would go to shul with his sons, come home, make kiddush, sing zmiros and, after his wife and kids were asleep, go to the basement and watch basketball games on his laptop. He didn’t see it as a contradiction and added he wasn’t alone among his friends who felt that way.

    #1750524

    The little I know
    Participant

    GH:

    You referenced the substance abuse issue. It triggered a thought, I share it here.

    Over the past many years, we have read reams of articles and heard many hours of lectures and speeches addressing the problem of OTD, formerly known as at-risk kids, or kids in the parsha. A huge percentage tried to identify the most universal factor involved as a cause so that we can direct our resources. We heard the “bad friends”, the technology, abuse, unstable family, single parent family, and more. And there is at least anecdotal data to support correlation between such issues and children who become “OTD”.

    However, for anyone with the bits of education about science and statistics, correlation does not prove causality, and inferring that is a mistake. Does drug abuse cause OTD? Do access to a cell phone, smartphone, computer, social media and the like cause OTD? Many believe there is a true causal relationship. I disagree. In all those I have known (large numbers), and one can query any of the askanim and professionals that deal with these kids, the connection is usually the other direction. The kid that struggles with the issues of emunoh, the lack of cheishek for Torah and mitzvos, the feelings of abandonment and rejection, etc. will look elsewhere for solace. They find the welcoming arms of a spectrum of hedonistic drives, the excitement, the thrills of risk taking, the social connections that appear more real than the ones that failed them, etc. The cell phones, movies, and social media were not the first steps out of the fold. Surely these factors assist the outward trajectory but they are not the original cause.

    We need to look inward at ourselves to see where we need to make Torah and mitzvos beautiful for ourselves and families (and talmidim) so that we attract them to a Yiddishkeit they will enjoy.

    #1752328

    besod emuna
    Participant

    A few rabbonim who specialize in working with families with OTD children said that a majority of kids from frum families that went OTD eventually return to observance.

    #1752346

    👑RebYidd23
    Participant

    OTD and at risk can overlap, but they are not at all synonymous. A teen who fully believes in the Torah but gets caught up in a bad crowd and abuses drugs is at risk. A person who was born into a frum family but becomes secular is OTD, even if he is stable and successful.

    #1753060

    just a person
    Participant

    very misleading title

    heres something that fits better

    its very hard to return 2 the dereech. 4 the same reason they went off theyre not going back so fast even if they want to. it takes self control, motivation, etc. and dont kid urself that whoevers not otd has those any better.
    so its doomed 4 gehenim unless theres someway of committing suicide on the neshama. if there is let me know.

    #1753146

    ari-free
    Participant

    Yanky probably did have some classes but like most classes and shiurim, if you just listen to them and don’t actively work on internalizing them, it will be in one ear and out the other. Next time you go to a shiur that isn’t on Shabbos, bring a pencil and notebook. Test yourself, review and ask questions. Don’t just rely on osmosis and inspiration of the experience because that doesn’t last long.

    #1753147

    zahavasdad
    Participant

    Most OTD people didnt leave, they were pushed out. When you push someone out its not so easy to get them back

    #1754228

    MrSarahLevine613
    Participant

    “Most OTD people didnt leave, they were pushed out. When you push someone out its not so easy to get them back”

    I assume that the posters were talking about the Yeshiva/Chasidish world. I think in the modern orthodox world a lot of kids “drift” away. They go to secular college. Or, after college they work and live lives that are not so observant.. I think a some of them “come back” but i am not sure how strong their connection to Torah is when they do. I have posted about this in the past — take a look at the Modern Orthodox Survey from i think Summer 2017….it is very interesting (at least to me).

    #1756077

    5ish
    Participant

    “I assume that the posters were talking about the Yeshiva/Chasidish world. I think in the modern orthodox world a lot of kids “drift” away.”

    Even that is them being pushed away. They are presented with a system that is wildly hypocritical, devoid of value, and not all that enthusiastic with Torah and Mitzvos to begin with. Is there any wonder that when they are shown the alternative they jump?

    #1756091

    NathanZook
    Participant

    My daughter reported to me that there appeared to be a lack of joy being expressed in the service in parts of the orthodox world. I had to repent of what I said in gut response, but I believe strongly that OTD youth are the expected outcome if the parents cannot communicate joy in their service.

    #1756113

    Yeshivishrockstar
    Participant

    From Anonymous Jew: “Yanky told the Rabbi that he had no feelings for yiddiskeit. Yes , he had learned for 14 years but his studies had focused virtually exclusively on the Gemara. He never had any classes that dealt with emunah, davening, or how to relate to Hashem unless it was tangenital to a sugya he was learning. It left him indifferent to being religious.

    This. 100% this. This is exactly the reason i, and many others, turned to Breslov. Others have turned to Chabad or Carlebach.

    It doesn’t help when you have Rebbeim in in Litvish yeshivos making snide comments about other groups and insinuating that “their” derech is the only way to serve Hashem. (Joseph may be a top-notch troll, but I have had Rebbeim who would have agreed with him on everything – only nonironically – and would feel that all those who disagree with them are not on the true derech. As an aside, all those Rebbeim who shared that attribute were all graduates of one specific yeshiva.)

    #1756133

    Grey matter
    Participant

    I don’t think it is fair to characterize otd as a by product of a lack of joy in avoda. I am sure it i a significant factor. But it is one of many. Abuse confusion trauma etc.: Another overlooked “factor” is free will.

    #1756136

    MrSarahLevine613
    Participant

    “but I believe strongly that OTD youth are the expected outcome if the parents cannot communicate joy in their service.”

    Thats true — BUT — you would have to show me the data. Meaning — most OTD kids ar efrom homes were there is no joy in the service. That may or may not be true. Anecdotally — i dont think it is. I made this point about — i know parents who are warm, enthusiastic and joyful and their kids do not remain observant. I have seen the opposite without effect.

    As to 5ish’s comment. I can accept that — that kids are pushed away by something they dont believe has value. Thats a valid statement. I would note that both in the Yeshiva World and the MO world most kids do NOT leave.

    #1756137

    The little I know
    Participant

    Nathan:

    You’re onto something, but it needs much more articulation. The teaching that we do by pedagogy (teacher lecturing to students) is useful for the transmission of data. The computer world does this in 1’s and 0’s. People use words. But that is just a small fraction of what children need for their growth into adulthood as a genuine Yid, shomer Torah and Mitzvos. The lectures about these values can indeed be verbalized, which is what appears in the pages of sifrei mussar and chassidus. But all the tapes, lectures, phone lines, etc. cannot truly fill the need.

    What is needed is serious modeling of the midos we wish to see in our children. The joy of mitzvos and learning will go nowhere if it is only given to them as a written or spoken word. It must be modeled. However, our modeling, if only an act, will fail on contact. It is our own emotional involvement in Torah and Mitzvos that must be 100% real. If we allow our children to witness treating davening as a chore, or being disrespectful of it by behaving in shul in ways that we shouldn’t, that will be what they learn. They ingest and absorb what we do first, and only secondarily what we say, if at all.

    What do our children see in our mesiras nefesh to follow mitzvos? Daven? Learn Torah? Caring for others, tzedokoh, etc.? What is the health of the air in our homes? Have we made our homes a place where the shechinah is welcome? Do we behave in ways that show our propensity to physical pleasure, or do we prioritize the spiritual?

    It is the action – our action that makes the biggest difference. The best lectures, shmoozim, maamorim, etc., cannot shine a candle to the impact of bringing the simchas hachayim of Yiddishkeit into our homes. We communicate this by making this the norm of our behavior, not by verbalizing it.

    #1756445

    “it takes self control, motivation, etc. and dont kid urself that whoevers not otd has those any better.
    so its doomed 4 gehenim unless theres someway of committing suicide on the neshama. if there is let me know.”

    I’m not sure if he’s troubled or trolling.

    #1756720

    MrSarahLevine613
    Participant

    From the “Little I know”: It [joy] must be modeled. However, our modeling, if only an act, will fail on contact. It is our own emotional involvement in Torah and Mitzvos that must be 100% real. If we allow our children to witness treating davening as a chore, or being disrespectful of it by behaving in shul in ways that we shouldn’t, that will be what they learn.

    Me: Obviously you are right. But — there are homes where this is evident yet kids, for whatever reason, are not interested. Kids make decisions for various reasons. In my (not immediate family), a relative left observance at a young age because he wasnt interested. He is a great relationship with his parents, has a college degree and a profession. His parents wish he was observant — and he is aware of that — but other than that nothing much to do.

    #1756736

    Grey matter
    Participant

    Mrs Levine are you suggesting that it isn’t always totally the parents and teachers fault? That someone going otd doesn’t prove the system is necessarily broken? Do you think teenagers and young adults have free will and might make decisions we don’t like by utilizing free will?

    #1756739

    Yeshivishrockstar
    Participant

    For mods only: Am I banned? Nothing I posted today got through.

    Grey Matter: Teens have free will, but it takes a compelling reason to leave the derech. Many people get abused and stay frum, but those are the ones who enjoy yiddishkeit. If one doesn’t, he probably will stay frum due to inertia if he wasn’t abused, but if he was (and many cases where he was not) he will go off.

    We need to recognize that just like Rav Hirsh gave teens what they wanted in 1800’s germany – intellectualism – we need to give teens in 2020 America what they want -fun.

    #1756748

    ari-free
    Participant

    joy is important but there also has to be an intellectual component as well. Especially if people have questions and not only are they treated with no answers or superficial answers but even a “how can you even think of asking this?” kind of response

    #1761516

    Ayelets
    Participant

    Derech is a fluid concept. If the child was not that inspired growing up, talked in Shule with friends, didn’t daven etc. but kept Kosher and was not Michalel Shabbes; then started to work on Shabbos, eat trief, and worse, then comes back to where he was as a youth, many parents would take that, even though they want more. So the child is back on the derech. Goes to shule a bit, makes a minyan once or twice a week, eats Kosher, observed Shabbos.

    #1761522

    Ayelets
    Participant

    I know that a well known MO Rabbi in Teaneck stated 50% of MO go otd. In my limited exp. I have seen where friends, influence, one shleps the other out. I saw this with one of the boys of my son and should have gotten involved earlier in the process. If I couldn’t say something I should have asked the Rav to help. His best friend’s father was very verbally abusive to him growing up, would chastize him about his davening in front of many. He became very anti frum, drugs, non Jewish girls, etc. My son got influenced but is as I said elsewhere at least a little bit back. Now these parents want our son to work some magic which i am not happy about, of course we are talking about people already in their 20’s so you can’t really control to the same extent. It’s sad but I do feel optimism. But in our community, most of the boys he grew up with are otd. I would say 60-70%, some I include as on even though they are only going to Shule on Fri night and Shabbos day only.

    #1761545

    Care4others
    Participant

    Every person has their own unique derech! A great teacher is someone that sees each childs strengths and helps them develop it for the future, as we know the pusuk ‘Al pe darko’.
    If the system has not yet evolved enough to convey individualized chinuch, then no wonder people go off the derech.
    So for many, as painful as this may sound, going off the derech is really a distortedly good thing, as it is a sign of one’s yearning for a more authentic experience, so no wonder so many continue the search until they eventually are able to find their unique derech that they were looking for the whole time.

    (And no there is no need to give up or commit suicide on the neshama, hang in there and with Hashem’s loving help, you can build your own true connection, Amen)

    #1765005

    MrSarahLevine613
    Participant

    “I know that a well known MO Rabbi in Teaneck stated 50% of MO go otd.”

    Seems high to me just looking around the room and down the block. I had it more as 10 to 20 percent. Still nothing to particularly gloat about i would admit.

    #1765124

    Gadolhadorah
    Participant

    MrSarahLevine613. Agree with your assessment regarding relative percentage of MO going OTD….the MO shuls I’ve attended in the past several years are either growing or holding stable, especially among the younger crowd. The numbers seem to drop a bit during the summer months when many are travelling or working summer jobs OOT but nothing like the 50 percent estimate from the Rav in Teaneck.

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