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FACTIONS-----which one for me?


Ilana Posted - 03 January 2001 20:47

Recently deciding to become religious I have been faced with a sort of problem or conflict. That conflict is I don't know who I am. I come from an open-minded family who goes to an Orthodox synagogue. I've gone to public school, right now I attend a Chabad.

My basic concern is since I'm taking on new customs upon myself, I don't have an official 'minhag'. I like Chabad, but sometimes things they do conflict with things my family does. I like some aspects of Hasidis, and some I don't--just due to my public school upbringing.

I get mad when reform people say bad things about orthodox. but I also get mad when orthodox say bad things about reform, (I’m a believer that something is better than nothing).

I'm basically trying to find the 'right' path...and I can't. And while I'm searching for this path--of where exactly I fit in on the Jewish spectrum, I also deep down inside feel that a Jew is a Jew and should not need a label in the first place. Nevertheless, unfortunately our society has been filled with labels-including Judaism. Any advice as to what is 'right' to do?

MODERATOR Posted - 03 January 2001 22:01

Yes. Hold off your decision for the meantime and focus on getting more and more information about Judaism. Making these decisions with more information will maximize the chances of the decision being correct.

It's impossible to rely on your feelings when it comes to these things, because as we learn more and more, our perspective changes. So don't lock yourself in to any decision yet.

For example: "Something is better than nothing" in respect to Reform.

OK, if something is better than nothing, how about Jews for Jesus?

Jews for Jesus must believe in G-d, Reform does not.

Jews for Jesus believe that the Torah (Old Testament) was given by G-d literally. Reform does not.

Jews for Jesus are against homosexual lifestyles, premarital sex, and other forms of abomination. Reform are not.

Jews for Jesus believe in the wrong Messiah. Reform believes in no Messiah.

You are right. Let's get rid of the labels. Reform "Judaism" is only Judaism in the label. Otherwise, they are as anti-Jewish as Jews for Jesus.

So you see, in principle you are correct. Labels are wrong etc. But the question is how to properly apply the principles.

I would start by reading the book of Rabbi Avigdor Miller shlita. I do not know of any English books on the ideology of Judaism that come close to these. Start with Rejoice O Youth and then go to Sing You Righteous.

Learn a lot, and then decide where you want to be. Right now it's too early to make that decision, which is why you are lost trying to do it.

Ilana Posted - 10 January 2001 16:41

Thank you very much for your answer. It has helped me feel better about still 'being undecided' and has inspired me to research further.

Of course, yes I am going into some type of Orthodox Judaism-no questions asked. But I must say, I do a little bit resent some of the criticisms you said about Reform Judaism.

Yes I have seen Judaism at all levels--and I have also seen Reform at all levels. I do understand exactly what you are talking about, but I'd also like to say I have many friends who consider themselves 'reform' and are just as, if not more, religious than me.

They can not help what they've been raised to grow accustomed to. They still believe in G-d, and the torah. Many of my 'reform' friends even bench, and pray 3 times a day with tefillin, and say brochus, quote the torah or the scriptures, etc, etc, etc just like any other Jew. We are all Jewish, no matter what our 'label', and THAT is what should be remembered in the long run.

MODERATOR Posted - 10 January 2001 17:07

Well, they can consider themselves Reform, since Reform does not have anything against people believing in G-d, but they also give them the option of not believing in G-d too, and that's a serious problem.

So serious, in fact, that it takes reform Judaism out of the realm of Judaism. You are correct. We do not need labels. I don't know why, if your friends keep mitzvos, they consider themselves Reform and not Orthodox, but the point is not how religious you are, but what religion it is you are practicing. Reform Judaism and Orthodox Judaism are two different religions, despite the label.

And just as there are Jews who do not practice Judaism - such as Jews for J - there can also be Jews who do not practice reform Judaism, despite what they call themselves - like your friends, maybe.

Ilana Posted - 10 January 2001 21:36

I understand why Reform Judaism could be "dangerous", and why you feel you have to spread that word. I did not mean for this to be a discussion about that, but I would just like to point out that OUR Torah, the one that Hashem gave to ALL of us on Har Sinai, It Halachicly said that a Jew is a Jew-if they were born Jewish, they are Jewish and there is never any questions about it.

We are always taught that yes, Judaism is definitely a religion, but it is more than that, it is also a race. Teachings also teach that new Jew is ever 'lost'. They always have their Jewish Neshama and they just may need to be reached in a certain way. We have to reach out to these people, include these people show them that our Judaism is their Judaism too, and not some foreign idea.

There is definitely a gap, but they are still fellow Jews, and speaking Lashon Harah about them will not help the situation at hand. Thank you very much.

MODERATOR Posted - 10 January 2001 22:00

Ilana, what you're saying is all true, except for the part about the Loshon Horah. To say that Reform Judaism is not Judaism is not Loshon Horah more than saying Jews for Jesus is not Judaism.

The Maharitz Chiyus writes (Kol Kisvei III:p.1113) that the Reform/Conservative Jews are indeed not responsible for their misguided beliefs because that's what they were taught. But those who taught them, those who should know better, are held responsible for them and their followers.

Ilana, someone who is reform is in the same category as someone who is Jews for Jesus. Of course they are Jews no matter what. And of course we need to show them the "way." But first and foremost we have to protect their potential victims from following them.

Every Jewish child molester, for instance, are also Jews. And we should get them to do Teshuva. But first we have to make sure they don't destroy any more lives. And if the child molester will leave our community unless we allow him to be a kindergarten teacher, then it's sad, but goodbye.

So too Reform rabbis, who destroy people's souls. You know the Halachah is that to save someone from becoming reform you would be allowed to violate Shabbos just as if the person was going to die? Do you know that Jews are obligated to die rather than believe that the Torah is not Min haShamayim?

Reform rabbis should be shown the light, true, but first and foremost we have to make sure that nobody believes what they say, that they are not really rabbis, and not practicing Judaism at all. They are just like Jewish missionaries for Jesus.

Another thing. Even though every Jew remains a Jew, if someone believes in another religion - like Christianity OR Reform Judaism - he attains the status of a non-Jew regarding all privileges. Meaning, he cannot be counted as part of a Minyan, his Brachos are not brachos (we do not answer Amen to them), and if he touches our wine we may not drink it. (All of the above is the opinion of the majority of poskim. If someone is a Tinok Shenishbah - innocently duped, totally ignorant about Judaism - there is a disagreement about this).

He remains Jewish regarding all responsibilities, but is not granted any privileges.

Ilana, you should help your father do teshuva, no question. And our religion does include him. But his religion, meaning the one he has chosen, does not include us. And I know it’s painful, but my job, and the job of all of us, is first to make sure that distinction is understood.

Ilana Posted - 11 January 2001 19:42

Just to let you know-my father is Orthodox, I don't know where you got otherwise. I don't like the way you compared to a child molester, but yes, I do understand what you are saying, and I do agree with the comment you made about being more mad at the 'instigators' than the people themselves.

Thank you for the information-I didn't know all of that. And I agree-- you mentioned people argue if the person is 'ignorant' than they are allowed to be included, taught. Well it’s my personal opinion that all who don't understand, or know the right way are 'ignorant'.

I too was ignorant once, I denounced certain mitzvot-they 'weren't for me'...then I read books about them, studied them, read their sources in the torah, and now I am full practicing them.

I'm glad we agree though, that a Jew is a Jew. I hope if we all realize this, we can bring the coming of the Moshiach very soon...those who are so called 'ignorant' (or whatever u want to call them) and those that know will walk through eretz yisroel hand and hand. thanks for your time.

Ibrahim Posted - 16 January 2001 23:12

I found your questions very interesting. I too am debating whether I should head more towards chareidi forms of orthodoxy or the ou style. I'm trying to decide to go to a regular university or yu go to yeshiva in Israel for a yr, or maybe 2.

Should I go for rabbi or architect. Do I want to be chasidish or not? Study tanya or is it forbidden? I want to go to europe/russia, but only ncsy goes do I want that. Do you have any good advice on this topic?

MODERATOR Posted - 16 January 2001 23:28

You should definitely be Orthodox because it's the only coherent version of Jewry. the rest are all watered-down man-made compromises for those who aren't willing to do it right.

Nobody says it is not permitted to learn Tanya - Tanya is a masterwork of Torah and Hashkafa, and it has nothing to do with the problems that are going on in Chabad today, which are happening against the teachings of the Tanya, not because of them. You just have to watch out who teaches you Tanya, is all.

But the truth is that where you are holding, where you don't even know if you want to be Orthodox, Tanya is not for you. The idea to teach Tanya to people who are not-et educated in Judaism is not a good idea. You need basics before you go to advanced studies.

There are numerous organizations that go to Russia besides NCSY. Try the Vaad L'Hatzolas Nidchei Yisroel, 718-252-5974.

As far as an architect or a rabbi, you have time for that decision. If you tell me what area you live in I would gladly recommend a place where you can learn more about Judaism on your own level.

Ibrahim Posted - 29 January 2001 23:42

I am not debating whether to remain orthodox or not. I am simply debating the value of the black-hatter (including chasidishe)way of life as opposed to the less "charedi" young israel format of orthodoxy.

I referred to ou meaning orthodox union which is a prominent American orthodox organization. I'm versed in the basics of Judaism as well as any other teenager who comes from baal teshuva parents and is simply confused about whose minhagim I should take on. Especially if my grandparents have no mesorah to give over. How am I to label myself and what aspects of torah true Judaism shall I focus on?

P.S. I am quite convinced of the relativity of non orthodox Judaism and am not thinking about that as a true option.

MODERATOR Posted - 06 February 2001 13:35

The differences between the "chareidi" Orthodoxy versus the Modern Orthodoxy are not Minhagim, but rather Hashkafa - perspective on the Torah and the world.

It's an important decision and you’re right for wanting to make it a wise and informed one. Please refer to the "Modern Orthodoxy" threads in this forum. The answer to your question is contained therein.

If you're still doubtful after that, please let me know.


zozo Posted - 20 March 2001 18:41

ibrahem I STRONGLY recommend you to learn Tanya!!!!!!!!!!! and moderator, I’m sorry ,but your are extremely wrong with saying that tanya is only for the advanced!!!!!

Tanya is meant for every single Jew!!! Whether chasidik or not,whether frum or not!!!! It is the way of life!!!!! Its not that hard to learn tanya these days. There is "lessons in Tanya” and many other books which explain the concepts very well. there is as well many tapes & cd's. there are also many well known teachers! you can even get it online!!!!! Moderator have you ever learned Tanya before? I mean really learned!!!!??? well its something you got to do!! and any one who reads this gotta also!!!
I know from experience ,its good stuff!!

MODERATOR Posted - 20 March 2001 19:20

Actually, the Tanya himself says in the beginning that he is talking to his Talmidim, meaning, that his words are designed specifically for them, not everyone in the world.

The Chidushei HaRim said that he never learned any Chasidic Seforim except for those of his Rebbeim because all CHasidic Seforim were meant for the specific souls of the people the Rebbe was talking to. That included the Tanya.

The Satmar Rav ZTL echoes this sentiment about the Tanya in Vayoel Moshe, end of Ch. 1.

The Tanya deals with specific topics that were relevant to the needs of his students. It is great for all Jews to know what he says. But you don't start from Tanya. You have to walk before you can run. As the Bais HaLevi said, someone who can walk on his hands is an acrobat - provided he can walk on his feet. But if he only knows how to walk on his hands and can't walk normally on his feet, he's a cripple.

Tanya is wonderful. But you have to start with the basics first.

Avi Posted - 25 April 2001 19:12


I just wanted to let you know that I found your post about Reform Judaism incredibly offensive. If you want to admit it or not, it is a very legitimate branch of Judaism.

Just because we don't act like Orthodox do, does not mean that we are any less Jewish.

In the Torah it states to love your fellow Jew, not your fellow Orthodox Jew. Do all Reform Jews believe in G-d? No, but neither do all Orthodox Jews. We interpret the Torah differently, but that does not make the way we do it wrong.

Reform Rabbis are great as well. They do not "destroy people's souls." My rabbi is a wonderful person and has taught me so much about Judaism and has had such a profound impact on me that I have decided to become a rabbi as well.

I feel that if I am living the way I think G-d wants me too, then that's all that matters. I follow the commandments that make me feel closer to G-d, that make me feel more spiritual and religious.

I have been very moved at Reform services and by practicing traditions. If you are going to deny that this is Judaism, I think you are very wrong. I can't think of a better Judaism than one that helps people through tough times, gives them a way to live, and connects them with G-d. If you get that feeling from Orthodox Judaism, that is WONDERFUL, but I get that from Reform Judaism, and that is just as wonderful.

I can't believe that you, as a Jew, can be so discriminatory about another form of Judaism even if you do not practice it or like it.

Do you actually think G-d is as picky as you are being? We believe in the same G-d, although we live our lives differently. Your way may be better for you, but Reform Judaism is best for other people.

Religion and theology are just ways to talk about G-d, it's spirituality that lets you experience G-d. We are experiencing the same G-d in different ways.....but it's that experience that is the important part. without that, Orthodox, Conservative, Reform Judaism doesn't matter at all.

MODERATOR Posted - 25 April 2001 19:17

Why would you consider Reform a "legitimate" branch of Judaism and not, say, Jews for Jesus? After all, that’s their "interpretation" of Judaism, so who’s to say they’re wrong?

Obviously, just because someone calls their religion Judaism does not make it so. The Judaism that was given by G-d bears no resemblance to Reform, who do not even feel obligated to believe that G-d ever gave that Torah in the first place. You can call it Judaism, but it is not. Sorry.

Oh, and please don’t try the old Reform blood libel of "How can you say we're not Jewish?!"

Nobody is saying you’re not Jewish. You’re just not practicing Judaism. You’re like a Jewish atheist or a Jewish Buddhist or a Jew for Jesus.

They’re all Jewish, if they had a Jewish mother. But being Jewish is what you are. Practicing Judaism is what you do. One does not necessitate the other.

According to Judaism, Reform is simply another religion, regardless of what you call it.

Avi Posted - 25 April 2001 21:23


Once again, you are incredibly wrong in your statements. Reform Judaism is different from Jews for Jesus because WE DON"T BELIEVE IN JESUS!!!!!!

Also, you said that I was a "Jewish Atheist", which I am definitely not. I have spent years searching for G-d and asking religious questions. To say that I am an atheist is a great error in your thinking! an atheist is one who does not believe in G-d!

Again, you and I believe in the SAME G-d, we just practice differently. I'm Jewish because I celebrate the holidays, go to synagogue, study Torah, and believe in the "Jewish G-d" if you will.

Are you so arrogant as to say that your way is the only way to G-d? I have experienced G-d and am connected to G-d and THAT is what Judaism is about. If not driving on Shabbat doesn't make me feel any closer to G-d, then what good is it?

You are right that a large part of Judaism is your actions, but those actions have to mean something to you. Keeping Kosher reminds me that even eating is a great religious act, going to synagogue on Shabbat and praying helps me to connect with G-d and teaches me to be thankful for everything.

If you are denying that what I am practicing and feeling is, in fact, Judaism, then I am very sorry because you are indeed missing one of the greatest aspects of this incredible religion.

MODERATOR Posted - 25 April 2001 21:32

No. Your actions do not have to mean something to YOU. They have to mean something to G-D.

That’s the difference between Orthodox and Reform Judaism. Orthodox Judaism follows instructions that G-D gave us. Reform ignores those instructions and instead follows instructions that they themselves concocted. So Reform is not a religion given by G-d but rather made by men.

And you didn’t answer the question. Of course, there is no answer from a Reform point of view. Namely, why would you exclude Jews for Jesus as a "legitimate" branch of Judaism? Because they believe in Jesus? So what? Why can a Reform rabbi not even believe in G-d but a J4J "rabbi" can't believe in Jesus?

Maybe Jews SHOULD believe in Jesus? Who are you to say they shouldn’t? If this is what "connects" them to G-d, then what’s wrong? And are you so arrogant as to say only you know how to connect to G-d

Orthodox Judaism is not "my" way of worshipping G-d. I did not invent it. Hashem did. I just follow it. You are projecting the man-made nature of Reform religion onto Orthodoxy, making believe that they are both man-made and then you ask why is your concocted religion better than mine? But the answer is that we did not make up our religion. Hashem gave it us on Mt. Sinai.

Let me ask you another question that you will not be able to answer: What makes Judaism better than Buddhism? Or any other religion? They, too, say they are "connected to G-d".

But the reality is that your Judaism and their Buddhism has nothing to do with G-d. G-d did not give either religion.

ptgard2281 Posted - 26 April 2001 17:40

Two things . . that unanswerable question Is very answerable . . . Judaism was the first religion, wasn't it? That says something about the legitimacy. And as for the thing you said about orthodox Jews not feeling things -- since when do orthodox Jews not have a connection to Hashem? Your statement is ridiculous. Yes, we are supposed to follow instructions, but in doing so, we are also supposed to have a connection to Hashem and feel good about what we are doing . . . if not it's a chilul Hashem and our service to Him is meaningless.

MODERATOR Posted - 26 April 2001 17:46

First, Judaism was not the first religion. Before Avrohom Avinu came, as we say in the Hagadah, "In the beginning, our ancestors were idol worshippers."

But every religion holds it was the "first". Christianity holds that they are really the first religion. They hold Christianity was the ultimate intent of Judaism - like we hold Yemos HaMashiach to be - and they hold that the Jews went off the derech later and changed their religion. But according to them, what Hashem gave on Har Sinai is what they call today Christianity.

Although it is good to feel good about doing Mitzvos and feel "connected" to Hashem by doing so (that itself is definable in any number of ways), the Mitzvos are obligatory, and beneficial, even without the accompanying feelings. It is neither Chilul Hashem nor meaningless to do the Mitzvos without feeling anything. It is a Mitzvah to do them on whatever level you can - and if this is the best you can do today, you are still obligated to do them.

Not "feeling" anything by doing a Mitzvah does not de-obligate you from doing it, nor does it make the Mitzvah valueless.

ptgard2281 Posted - 26 April 2001 18:35

Oh I see the difference in what you are saying. Just how can you say that Judaism wasn't the first -- what about what Noach believed in? And Adam and Chavah?

MODERATOR Posted - 26 April 2001 18:41

Yeah, that’s true, they believed in it, and Adam HaRishon even had a Sefer Torah, Chazal say. What I meant was, until Avrohom Avinu, any Goy could have chosen to recognize G-d and start the Jewish Nation. Avrohom Avinu started the Jewish Nation.

yidfish Posted - 01 May 2001 1:18

I have a question to ask everybody. I was reminded of it when I saw the question about a "beginner", so to speak, learning Tanya.

I have a friend, lets call him "Al". He is a Yachad person, meaning that he has "special needs". He is a great person, and interested in learning about Judaism. He is a conservative Jew; the yachad group that he is with is not Orthodox. He lained in his conservative shul, and he also attends classes at the local kabbalah center.

From what I've learned, the "kabbalah" that they teach is not really kabalah; rather, it is a type of "Jewish Mysticism". I basically ignored it. We have a weekly chavrusa over the phone, where we discuss d'vrei torah out different English s'forim. He also reads a passage from "the Talmud".

Recently, he bought an English Translation of the Zohar, and he wants to learn it with me. I definitely don't feel comfortable learning it with him. I told him that really, it is more important for someone starting to learn about Judaism to study the "Bible" and learn basic Jewish laws. His rebuttal is that learning kabbalah is more inspirational to him.

I'm currently trying to get him involved with the local kollel, b/c they have learning groups. In the meantime, I trying to get him to consider learning simple Chassidus and chassidic thought ("The Empty Chair", a book of Rav Nachman's quotations, is a good example.)

My main question is: what do other people think I should be doing? Are there any other ideas? I'm living for Eretz Yisroel IY''H by the end of the summer; he will still be in the states (BTW he is in his mid-thirties), and I would like to make sure that he will have a good support system in place even before I leave.

MODERATOR Posted - 01 May 2001 1:24

You should not teach him Kabbalah. it will not help him. I would suggest teaching him something equally as "mystical" but not Kabbalah. Try the Ramchal's Derech Hashem, in English by R. Aryeh Kaplan as "The Way of G-d". It deals with Kabbalistic topics but designed for regular people. Hatzlachah.

mosheavinu Posted - 04 September 2001 16:20

In response to the mediator:

No religion is better than any other. When we die, we will all know the truth. We will be judged based on our deeds and actions, for those are what are left behind in the world. Our thoughts, besides our religious beliefs, are non-permanent. Jews have a special place in Heaven(ha-olam...).

However, we must work harder than non-Jews to fulfill our chances of ascension to Heaven. No religion needs to be right or wrong. According to Judaism, you could technically be Buddhist and Jewish. Buddhism does not prescribe a certain belief about G-d, despite many people's beliefs. Buddhists don't even worship Buddha, rather, they look to him for help in achieving enlightenment, as a part of the Ultimate Reality, which may be interpreted as Heaven.

Many Jews, especially Chassids, believe in Reincarnation. I myself believe in the reincarnation of the righteous, that they may continue to Tikkun Olam, and "enlighten" others so that they may become righteous, B'nei Noach if they are not Jewish. That's another point, are the B'nei Noachides wrong? they are not Jewish.

Reform Judaism is a great aspect of Judaism in that it attracts converts, and many of these become Orthodox, or Conservative. The Conservatives are no less Jewish if they accept Halachah. You might say that makes them Orthodox, but they might choose to daven in a Conservative Synagogue.

My point is, Orthodoxy is the religion prescribed to us by Hashem, and the true religion, but followers of other branches of Judaism are just as Jewish, and without the Reform and Conservatives, Judaism would cease to be a major religion.

MODERATOR Posted - 04 September 2001 17:19

Judaism does not need to be a "major religion", it just needs to be the will of G-d.

Conservative and Reform Judaism are not the will of G-d, since they are against the Torah, which tells us what the will of G-d is.

Davening in a Conservative Shul is against Halachah.

Buddhism is totally against the Torah. They do not believe in a sentient G-d, in heaven or hell, or in prayer, to name just a few. His "Eightfold Path" is totally against the Torah, since the Torah's definition of "right" (as in "right" living etc.) is different than Buddha's.

And according to the Torah, you cannot achieve happiness, certainly not eternal, without Torah.

Reincarnation is a basic Jewish belief, shared nowadays by all Orthodox Jews. There used to be those who disagreed with it, but ever since the Zohar and the Arizal revealed its truth, there have been no more dissenters of any significance. However, the Torah concept of reincarnation bears little or no resemblance to the Buddhist concept.

More: The Buddhist worship of relics of Buddha is idolatry. So is the Buddhist concept of Sila, meaning, Buddhist rituals and definition of sin; the idea of Karma is also heresy, since sin and merit is defined by the Torah, not human beings such as Buddha.

Reuben Posted - 10 June 2002 18:57

Orthodox? Reform? Conservative? Liberal?

I agree to extent with the so called "orthodox" community(I prefer traditionalists) that if some reform congregations doesn’t even require mikvah and circumcision to be a convert or reform rabbis who eat cheese and ham sandwiches is to reduce Judaism.

On the other hand I don’t feel that to label reform Jews non Jews is an insult to G'd, blessed is he, cos Judaism has never been a dogmatic religion and it is open to different interpretations.

if the traditionalistic community claims everything in the Torah is written by G´d, blessed is he, then why don’t they perform animal sacrifices anymore? The Torah states that you should do this to honor Him! Even they don’t do everything that the Torah demands or am I completely wrong?

MODERATOR Posted - 10 June 2002 19:07

You are wrong. First, nobody ever said Reform Jews are not Jews - that is one of the Big Lies that the Reform Rabbinate have come up with to slander the Orthodox. Never happened. Reform Jews are Jews. Its just that Reform Judaism is not Judaism.

Atheist Jews are Jews. Jews for Jesus are Jews. And Reform Jews are Jews.

All of the above are Jews. But none of the above are practicing Judaism.

Orthodox Judaism does include everything the Torah requires. Sacrifices are not applicable when there is no Sanctuary.

Orthodox Judaism means to do whatever the Torah says, regardless of what that may be.

And Judaism is only open to interpretations that do not violate the written and Oral Torah. Reform Judaism does not go in that category, and has no more right to be labeled an interpretation of Judaism than Jews for Jesus does.

In fact. Jews for Jesus are definitely closer to real Judaism than Reform. At least they believe in Torah as the Word of G-d; at least they believe in the concept of the Messiah, etc.

RochelYP Posted - 29 August 2002 18:52

I have been reading through the past years worth of posts and I think there was something lost in the very beginning. I could be wrong but I think the girl was trying to say she was having a hard time with the labels WITHIN Orthodox life.

I have been a BT for almost two years now and I have had this problem within myself. I am young still, just graduated Yeshivah (Hashem blessed me and I was accepted to an excellent Yeshiva for my senior year of high school) and am trying to figure out the answer the question everyone has.....who am I?

But the problem is not weather or not I should be frum, because I know I will be but what KIND of frum? It has been a great source of stress to me. Am I Yeshivish? Am I Lubavitch? Am I Modern? Am I bais Yakkov?

Then the question of politics with in the different groups. Then one group hates the other, that’s where I feel sad. We all keep kosher, keep shabbos, keep Tznius why must we feel that all others are wrong and what ever we are is the only right way?

The problem is closer to home then we are making it. Before we fight about the reform and conservative Jews lets look at our selves. I know it is easier to say "Lets gang up against the rebels!!" But that is just running away from the problems we have with each other.

Sure one person might think another person is totally nuts but we don’t have to hate each other because of it. Basically the question I am asking is more detailed then weather or not one should be reform or orthodox, but when one sees that being orthodox is the right path how should they go about deciding what "group" to be part of?

When I started off I was most inclined to the Yeshivish/Bais Yakkov side but as time went on I became rejected by more and more people within that world because of being BT that I became very upset with it. So what advice could anyone give me as to how to find my place in all this craziness?

MODERATOR Posted - 29 August 2002 19:48


Sometimes rejection of one Orthodox group of another is justified and sometimes it is not. Throughout history, we have had Orthodox groups - who kept Kosher, Shabbos, and Tznius - that were B"H rejected from Klall Yisroel. Korach's group was totally Orthodox, complete with Talmidei Chachamim and 250 Heads of Sanhedrin. Yeravan ben Nevat did more damage to Klall Yisroel than anyone in history and he and his group were totally Orthodox. Shabse Tzvi, the false Moshiach, was Orthodox, and so were his followers.

You can be sure that the followers of Korach said that "we too are Orthodox" and therefore Klall Yisroel's rejection of them was sinas chinam. In fact, that is exactly what Korach meant when he came to Moshe and said "The entire congregation is holy, why do you lord it over them?"

And I am sure that young men and women of Korach's sect also claimed that those who rejected them were just infighting, and better they should go fight with Amalek or something.

While it is true that it is difficult to know, sometimes, which group is Korach and which is Moshe, it is clear that even within Orthodoxy, there are groups that we must reject. That is because Torah is a lot more than just Kashrus, Tznius and Shabbos. You can keep all of those things and yet theoretically be an idol worshipper. An Ir Hanidaschas - an idolatrous city that the Torah commands us to utterly destroy - can be totally Tzniusdik, Kosher, and Shomer Shabbos.

If you want to be BY/Yeshivish, then you can successfully be that. A BT can sometimes feel out of place, but it is not because the community does not accept BT's, rather, some people in the community are not wise or mature enough to know how to express that acceptance.

There has actually been much effort recently in the Yeshivish community to integrate BT's into the community in a way that they feel totally part of the group.

An organization call Hashiveinu is designed to help BT's feel comfortable in the community that you are trying to be part of. May I suggest giving them a call. Speak to Rabbi Zakatinsky. Their number is 718-275-2200. Hatzlachah.

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