Should a newcomer to religion give up the contact to his parents once he became frum ?
Many Baalei Teshuva, especially those who are planning to join a chassidic group, are asking themselves this question. Not only Baalei Teshuva but also converts to Judaism.
A Belzer Chassid told me the following:
"In case a newcomer (newly religious) is going to join a chassidic group, then he should end the contact with his parents !"
No matter if the person in question was born Jewish or converted to Judaism.
Sounds hard ?
What is the reason for such a statement ?
"When the newcomer's children are going to school with my children and suddenly start talking about watching TV, movies, worldly newspapers or other worldly matters, then this is influencing my children in a bad way".
Should a Baal Teshuva continue dealing with parents ? With friends from his past ? Or should he rather look for an entire new circle of friends within his new society ?
Especially chassidic groups seem to expect such a cut. When someone decides to become religious and follow the path of Torah - then fine. However, keeping up the contact with the old environment can disturb and influence the whole Teshuva process. And once you made the decision in favour of religion, why bother with "traveling" around in two different worlds ?
The reason why the contact should be cut off may sound hard and unfair. Doesn't it say in the Ten Commandments that you should honour your parents ?
That's correct but what if the past has extreme negative influences onto the Baal Teshuva ? The biggest problem whatsoever is when a Baal Teshuva has adult children from his former life or children at all.
The newly religious face a tremendous amount of changes and challenges once they started their Teshuva process. The religion, the environment and even problems with themselves. New priorities have to be set etc. Not an easy task at all and it surely takes time.
I told the Belzer that, according to my opinion, the contact to the parents shouldn't stop totally but take place in a more limited way. Instead of going and visiting the parents or sending the children to them, the parents should rather come to the house of the Baal Teshuva.
But, at this very moment, another problem comes up:
Who of the religious neighbours wants to see the secular part of the BT's family in the house ?
In case the Baal Teshuva lives in a religious neighbourhood.
What if the grandmother shows up dressed immodestly ? And do religious neighbours want Gentile parents or adult children in the house ? In case of the convert to Judaism.
As soon as Gentiles step into a religious buildings, all the red alarming light are start blinking anyway.
A very important point which I haven't mentioned so far should definitely not be neglected:
If somebody seriously does Teshuva, he isn't even interested in running back and forth towards his past. My own experience is that in case you visit old friends and siblings, their talks and subjects soon start going on your nerves. And I don't mean this in a negative way !
But if you are in a world of Torah and Mitzvot, many other things seem to have no meaning for you any more. As soon as you reach that conclusion, your visits are getting less and less.
The most serious problems are being faced by people with adult children. Especially converts to Judaism whose children are from a marriage with a Gentile. Thus, they are not Jewish.
I don't think that any Jewish religious society would tolerate the convert walking in with his Gentile children. Walking into the synagogue or to a Shabbat at other people's house.
The more people I meet who are more or less actively involved in the Teshuva process, the more I realize how many additional difficulties there are.