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