One People

Achdus is Hebrish for “unity”.

ba’al tshuvah–new to being Orthodox

This phrase, ba’al tshuvah, literally means a person who has repented, changed his ways, returned to the fold.  Frequently it is associated with people who never were religious, rather they turned inward at some point in their lives, sought out spirituality and meaning, and found it in Yehadus, Judaism.

When the find is Orthodox, then the Orthodox call them ba’alai tshuvah, persons who have returned.  Of course this bothers me.  They didn’t know anything much about the religion.  What’s this return, thing?

And it’s another way of stating that they, by virtue of having been raised Orthodox, are superior, which may be true in some ways.  I personally am in awe of some of the people I know who were raised religiously, meaning were raised to constantly look for opportunities to be helpful to others, who never miss an opportunity to do the right thing.  This is how we see service to the Creator.
That’s what it means to be a Jew.

Indeed, all of us are supposed to be better than we are, and all of us are supposed to be chastising ourselves (to a degree) for not being better than we are.  All of us are supposed to be in a constant state of improving, regretting how we’ve messed up the past couple of hours (if that’s the case, of course) how we’ve missed opportunities.  We’re supposed to do tshuvah between breakfast and lunch, before dinner, at bedtime.  By the time we get to Yom Kippor we’ve done tshuvah for the year, need only think about the day.

Great Jews do this.

There’s so much more to say on this topic, but I thought we’d start with definitions.  The correct response, you should know, when someone asks you if you’re a ba’al tshuvah (which is totally prohibited, you’re never supposed to embarrass someone, make them feel they’re not as good as you are),

again, the correct response when someone asks you, Are you a ba’al tshuvah should be:

Aren’t you?

Sensitively yours,


June 11, 2007 Posted by | ba'al tshuva, Judaism, tshuva, Yehadus | Leave a comment

This is what I mean by Jews not loving Jews

When I say that Jews just need to love one another unconditionally (all of us) this is what I mean.

I have some great neighbors and there are many “frum” (Orthodox) families on this block.

One summer a new couple moved in, nice Jewish kids, not Orthodox, but “affiliated.”  I don’t even quite know what that means.

Anyway, the whole neighborhood is pretty frum, too,  so the spirit rubbed off on the new couple and they got bit by it and became “frum.”  Then everyone said (behind their backs) “Isn’t it nice that so and so are now frum?”  And the smiles meant, to me at least, now they’re like us and they’re okay.

This upsets me.  These two were okay NOT frum.  They were better than okay, they were great.  Sure, it’s wonderful that HaShem will hear more blessings coming out of more mouths and will see more mitzvahs, etc. , and I’m certainly happy they’re happy and they love yehadus (Judaism) and love learning and meeting new people, making new friends.    It’s a lovely community.  The new couple is no longer new and they seem content here.

It’s this kind of statement, “Isn’t it great that so and so have become frum(!)” that annoys me.  It makes it sound as if there is something intrinsically wrong with people who aren’t.  And if, indeed, there’s something lacking in people are aren’t frum, it is likely that they sense this kind of an attitude when they’re around it and it’s unlikely that does not inspire anyone to be frum.

I think our new couple had a If you can’t beat ’em, Join ’em epiphany.

It’s the superiority complex that bothers me.  Someone tell me I’m nuts, that really we’re all quite humble and recognize how truly pashut (simple) we all, as homosapiens, truly are.

I really don’t like thinking like this, that frum people think they’re better than non-frum people.  One of my sensitivities is hearing things the way I think others, especially those who aren’t Orthodox would hear them.

Tomorrow I’ll write about a story I heard on Shabbas about how Jews talk about non-Jews.  That’s even worse.

A nonjudgmental week to us all, shavuah tov,


June 10, 2007 Posted by | ba'al tshuva, becoming frum, dumb things people say, frum, nonjudgmental | Leave a comment