Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Baalei Teshuva going on People's Nerves


Last night I went to a self - service laundry near the Machane Yehudah Market in Jerusalem. I go there quite frequently when I am in town because I hate carrying around dirty clothes while traveling between two cities. The laundry is a family business owned by Kurdish Jews.
Usually Sephardic Jews in Israel have the reputation of being more religiously observant than Ashkenazi Jews. Not always frum but traditional. I think that especially European Jewry came to Israel with all kinds of modern and Reform ideas. Sephardic Jews, however, are still different until today and many of them keep Shabbat and kosher. So does the family owning the laundy.

Last night, however, the owner who is a man in his sixties, told me that his daughter (single and in her early thirties) who is running the place would drive him and his wife crazy. As soon as she arrives for Shabbat, she is telling her parents what to do and what not to do. This is not good enough and that is not according to Halacha.
The father told me that him and his wife are traditional but not religiously crazy. Their daughter N. became a Baalat Teshuva and involved with the newly Breslov movement of Rabbi Shalom Arush in Jerusalem. Everything Rabbi Arush says is right. And everthing has to be more and more extreme.

I remember I once caused a huge argument with her when I said that Rabbi Arush is not the most accepted in the Jerusalemer Breslov world. As a matter of fact, the original Breslovers from Mea Shearim let Baalei Teshuva pray with them but nothing further. This is why Rabbi Eliezer Berland, Rabbi Shalom Arush as well as Rabbi Lazer Brody founded their own Baalei Teshuva movement.
It is nice that someone is taking care of those Baalei Teshuva who want to become Breslov. Nevertheless, Rabbi Shalom Arush has the reputation of accepting former (or still) criminals such as drug addicts, thieves, etc. People coming out of jail and not each of them pretending to become religious really does so. Mea Shearim does not want local children running around in a neighbourhood where there could be a former child molester. "Almost everyone deserves a chance in life but, please, not in my neighbourhood !"

When I told this to N., she almost stuck a knife between my rips. Nevertheless, this is a fact and those who do not believe it are welcomed to investigate.

But the Breslover Baalei Teshuva are not my topic; rather the sometimes unbearable behaviour of the newly religious when they see themselves as something. Many want to get rid of their own secular past and do this in such a way that they start hating anything not too frum (in their eyes). Telling others what to do, becoming extreme and loosing a sense for reality.

People acting in such a way definitely have the wrong Rabbi because a Rabbi has to teach the newly religious how to do a slow transformation. And I think commanding the parents around and telling them what to do is in itself an act against Halacha. As soon as I see such people, I just keep away as far as I can. They drive me so crazy after a while that I get upset and then the fight starts.

Why are many Baalei Teshuva just not able to shut up, mind their own business and let others live their lives ?
In this respect, I very much prefer Haredim who were born into society.


  1. It's like a new toy. On the one hand, it's very exciting and new, on the other hand, you still don't really understand all the parameters.

    The best of the "settled religious" (I don't like the term FFB) can carry it off with an air of noblesse oblige, and are at ease in their own skin, thus putting you at ease in your own.

  2. B"H

    Baalei Teshuva don't have the best reputation. Not that anyone is rejecting the idea but, in Israel, it is their own behaviour and fault.
    Yesterday they had a cheeseburger and today they are yelling at you because you haven't prayed Shacharit yet.