Thursday, August 31, 2006

Response to "Fade to Black"

Ezzie is going to be sorry he left his blog unattended now...

Please read Soccer Dad's post below before reading this one. I was going to put this in the comments, but it just got too long.

David -

No offense taken, and I do appreciate your desire to explain where the author was coming from. I have to admit that I have not read either article in its entirety, due to the fact that I don't get the magazine it came from. However, I still disagree with Mrs. Radcliffe's perception of the BT mindset being possibly destructive to family.

You write that “The question is no doubt one that parents whether they are born frum (religious) or not deal with.” However, Mrs. Radcliffe makes no such claim. She specifically states (from Kallah Magazine’s post), “Without the model of one’s own frum parents, a baal teshuvah parent often errs…” and “nothing can replace the day-to-day ‘knowing’ that come with having been raised the way you want to raise you own children.” This seems to make the claim that being raised by frum parents is without flaw, which I dare to say is not the case in many situations. How many people from frum-from-birth families choose to live a different derech than that of their parents, whether that is to the right or left of how they were raised? I know of many such examples.

Additionally, I don’t think that being encouraged to be an independent thinker is necessarily a bad thing. Honestly, and I know many people would disagree with me on this, I would rather see my child choose to not be frum because they have honestly thought it out and truly believe in their convictions rather than follow the crowd blindly, without thinking about what they are doing. As an independent thinker myself (who according to Mrs. Radcliffe will probably lead my children in the wrong direction – there’s goes any shidduch possibilities I had left), I do want to encourage my children to believe in what they are doing, not just “fit in.” The Orthodox world would be much smaller without the incredible numbers of baalei teshuvah that have thought for themselves and rebelled against their upbringing in order to proclaim the wonder of Hashem and Torah.

This is not to say that I want my children to not be religious. Conversely, I hope to instill in them the reasons why I chose to become frum, to model my love of Judaism, and to lead them by example in a frum lifestyle, one in which they are taught that love of Hashem, and other people, comes before judging based on appearance. And I think many baalei teshuvah have that asset to offer their children that frum-from-birth children don’t – that passion and zeal of knowing that they specifically chose to live a religious life, rather than just continued in what they had always done, without giving a lot of thought to it. (I'm not saying that there are no frum-from-birth people with zeal and passion.)

Additionally, the fact that Mrs. Radcliffe states that the fact that many baalei teshuvah keep associations with non-frum relatives and friends as a problem still bothers me. I think the fact that baalei teshuvah can have such relationships with their non-frum family and friends serves again as a great model for children in many Torah values, such as Ahavas Yisrael (loving fellow Jews), and the model that you can associate with non-frum people and still uphold your own religious standards serves to strengthen one’s ability to get along in the world as an Orthodox Jew.

You quoted Mrs. Radcliffe in saying that “the children may also be individualistic not necessarily willing to follow their parents’ example in Torah living.” I think the important point that people should be focusing on is not that individualism, independent-thinking or being BT or FFB will make the difference. I think it’s the kind of example you show your children that does. And we all need to be aware of that.