Monday, November 17, 2008

Q&A with a Simple Jew - Torah Lishma

(courtesy of

A Simple Jew interviewed me for an article on his blog. You can read my response HERE on the topic of when my Torah learning is not Torah Lishma, which is Torah learning for its own sake. This type of learning is very lofty, and void of ulterior motives. Its a level I don't think I achieve often, but it will be interesting to see if people of different ideas of what Torah Lishma is, and if I have set to high of a standard for it.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Bringing youth back to Yiddishkite

How can we inspire Jewish youth to return to their roots? Whether they grew up without a Torah Education or if they did and are slipping away, how can we bring these kids closer to Torah and Hashem?

As a Baal Teshuva, I feel I know how to use myself as an example of why a Torah observant lifestyle is most beneficial in the short and long term. However, I don't believe that this would have the same positive effect on a FFB as it would on a future BT. This is a dilemma that I think Klal Yisroel has yet to overcome and that is keeping kids on the Derech. I see in communities I encounter a sad phenomenon especially with Baal Teshuvim. They are frum but their children don't seem to follow suit. Is it because as a BT we are not prepared to raise 4+ children and keep them frum? Do are inspirational reasons for why we came to Torah not ignite the souls of the 15 year old neshamas that want to dress less tznuis or don't want to make it to minyan anymore?

I'm not sure but this article focuses on something that bothers me greatly. Usually when something bothers you its because that aspect is a reflection of a part of you. This is what the BESHT says, and I have yet to have that not be the case. There is an organization that specializes in Kiruving back FFB's. Kids that went to dayschool or yeshiva and just aren't interested. I want the group to remain anonymous, because Chashve Shalom I should slander them and prevent them from their positive and holy mission of Kiruv.

What can you do to excite kids about Torah, and Yiddishkite in general when they already grew up and lost interest? The organization is throwing a Shabbaton for high school age students and of course there will be great Torah lectures and other ways to get these kids to connect, but what is the main attraction that will pull kids in and get them excited?

A Breakdancing competition with Hip hop music is the main event. Maybe not for the ones throwing it, but it will be for the ones attending. This idea really bothers me on many levels. For one prior to my return to Torah, I was very involved in the Hip Hop // Drum&Bass // Breakdance scene, which causes a level of resentment for what i feel is a waste of my life. To expose this to Jews to "get them interested in Torah" makes no sense to me. I am very much against this idea of engaging Jewish youth and making them excited about Yiddishkite by adapting Goyish music and culture and "making it Kosher". Maybe I am wrong, and this is OK, and I am just bitter because of my past experiences. I was told I am missing the bigger picture, which could be true. I just feel there are many other options to engage Jewish Youth without using Goy Culture that will pull them farther away from Torah than before.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Change We Can Believe In

I don't use my blog for political purpose and I don't plan to start today, still this historical election will be mentioned in my blog. Today is a historical day for America, regardless of what political party you fancy. I think that with that said Barack Obama should be congratulated and I hope that his change is real and something that all Americans can believe in. With that said I want to get to the point of this article.

Some people are really angry right now, and of course some people are the happiest they could ever be, "finally proud to be American again". My question is what has changed since yesterday that they are proud? He hasn't even taken office yet, but somehow things have changed. Not sure, but this article might be on its way to a political rant. Its not, rest assured there is a much bigger picture. In other news, the statement of the year by a frum Jew "

Everyday as a Jew, myself and many many others pray to Hashem. We daven, and learn his Torah, and do what it is we are commanded to do as Jews. At least this is what we try to do, some days working out better than other days. We learn from our Sages that Hashem controls every aspect of our lives and that although we do in fact have free choice, nothing happens that Hashem doesn't want to, and EVERYTHING is a blessing regardless of our understanding.

I often think about how Moshiach will come, how all the Jews unite, and how they will get to Eretz Yisroel. I see from history that Hashem hasn't worked an open miracle on our behalf since the splitting of the Red Sea. Hashem has however performed miracles for us on a daily basis since then and it tends to happen in the most natural of means.

A major element in this equation is the Nations. The Non Jews that have ruled and continue to rule us even in the modern state of Israel. I believe that Hashem has put into effect a method to bring Moshiach much quicker than we merit. Since our exile, the nations have been a major factor in remind us that we can only rely on Hashem and his Torah. Every nation we have settled in has turned on us, some taking longer than others. Am I trying to say that America is going to turn into a nation like Middle Age Europe or even worse Modern Europe? It might, but probably not in 4 years, or even 8. Still people only remember the end of the bad and not the beginning of it, the part when it starts to get bad slowly when no one notices.

Regardless of what happens to the Jews, good or bad, we must remember that its all from Hashem and that we must rely on Hashem and not Obama and America. We must also never forget Jerusalem because that is our gravest error. Whatever happens, Obama is a messenger from Hashem and if things do get bad G-d Forbid, know that Hashem is simply longing for our Teshuvah. I hope that things will change for the better and America can continue to be a good place for the Jews, and for everyone.