Thursday, July 30, 2015

Time for change and hope - Relating to OTD children

Guest Post   By Yaakov Y. Freedman

There isn’t anyone I know who would argue that we don’t live in challenging and troubling times in the Jewish community.

Hardly a day goes by that we don’t hear or read about child abuse, nasty divorce cases, money scandals, and other horrible stories which bring Chilul Hashem amongst us Jews and the goyim. Connected or not, it has brought on what seems to be an escalating number of young people from the Orthodox community who bitterly leave the fold and lose all hope and desire for a religious life. It then further contributes to terrible consequences whereby persons of both genders take the next step of leaving the world. This is both so tragic and sad that it cries out loud for help from all of us.

You may ask, what can the simple bystander do? To start with, we must be informed about what’s happening around us despite the heimishe papers trying to keep a tight lid on anything that casts a negative light on our communities. Hiding one’s head like an ostrich in the sand won’t make these reported or unreported problems vanish.

Second, we must be honest with ourselves and be “don lekav zchus” people who go off the derech or behave different from what we believe in. We must be willing to try to be “mekarev” people who seem lost or troubled.

On the positive side, I’m amazed how every day new kiruv organizations pop up, small and large, who bring a professional approach to the masses that cannot bring themselves to even identify with Yiddishkeit in the simplest ways. There are B”H talented individuals in Israel and in America who have studied effective methods with which to deal with troubled or unaffilated Jews to try to get them on solid footing and bring them a meaningful religious life.

It is comforting to see good results coming from dedicated persons who tirelessly and selfishlessly devote energy and time to help others in need. But, it seems that it’s not enough to rely on others alone. We must begin by changing our set ways and think outside the box for the good of our brothers and sisters.

Which brings me to a letter that was brought to my attention and which was publicized online. It was sent by a chasidishe father to his daughter who went off the derech. Did he do the right thing? Perhaps so. I can’t help but think we could be nearing the time when Eliyahu Hanavi ushers in a new era of “V’heishiv Lev Avos Al Bonim V’Lev Bonim Al Avoisom”.

Here’s the letter from a chassidic dad to his adult OTD daughter.
My dearest Suri,

As I fasted today, I sat and reflected on what our fast is all about. Why was our beautiful home in Yerushalayim destroyed? Why did the presence of Hashem leave us? What did we do to drive ourselves into this long bitter golus?

I always knew the answer, but I don't think I understood it as well as I do right now. It was destroyed because we were judgmental of those who did not ACT the way we wanted them to act.

We were embarrassed of those who did not DRESS the way that we wanted them to dress. We looked down at those that did not TALK the way we wanted them to talk. And our misplaced ego caused us to think that we are better then they are. This is what caused us to destroy ourselves completely. Without having a ayin tovah, a favorable and understanding eye on those around us, we are not deserving of having the divine presence of Hashem live among us. We threw ourselves out with our self-righteous mindset.

Which group of us caused the destruction? The ones "on the derech" or the ones "off the derech"?

On this I sit and cry... my eyes fill with tears... the epiphany just hit me like a ton of bricks: It was not the ones wearing the jeans (as an example) that caused the destruction, rather, it was the ones not wearing jeans who then looked down upon those who wore the jeans! WE are the ones who destroyed the beis Hamikdosh and we have not yet corrected our sin! In fact, with Torah and mitzvos being so strong... we have perhaps even strengthened our sin... we have taken it to a higher level.

I look at myself... am I not part of the group who uses our beautiful religion to look down at others? And if so, am I not the one responsible for our current exile? What good is my fasting and sitting on a floor if I cannot face the truth that "I" am currently responsible for this tragedy?!

I now fully realize that it is not you and your friends who are preventing Moshiach from coming... it is me and my friends!

I wrote my own kinniss: Woe is to me for I have repeated and repeated the original sin that caused the churban! Woe is to me for I have stabbed my own flesh and blood! Woe is to me for I took the holy Torah that is supposed to be sweet and peaceful "dirachehuh darchei NOAM vichal nesivosehuh SHALOM" and I used it to form a dagger which I then used to stab you - and others - over and over again!!

And so after a long day of fasting and contemplation, I look back at the way that I treated you and for this I now sit and cry. My dear sweet beloved Suri !! How can I ever take back the pain that I caused you? How can I ever repay you for the smiles and hugs that you so deserved... but didn't get from me because I was too busy justifying to myself why it is OK for me to look down at you… to judge you harshly… and to actively destroy the Bais Hamikdosh? How can I give you back the lost years?

My dear Suri, a long long long time ago, I looked into the future and dreamed about the day that you would grow up, mature, learn right from wrong, wake up from your selfishness and finally come ask me for forgiveness… but after alot of inner searching... "I" grew up, and "I" matured, and "I" learned right from wrong, and now "I" finally finally woke up from MY selfish, haughty, egotistical, judgmental attitude! And now on this painful day I turn to you and I ask you – no, I BEG you - for forgiveness!!

I accept upon myself to shower you with love and affection, with hugs and kisses, and to do everything in my power to always be there for you through thick and thin! I pledge to work so so hard to make up for all of the pain that I caused you. I pledge to never look down at you, your friends, or on ANY JEW ever again. I am DONE with the negative attitude! I am DONE with being the judge and jury to another Yid! I am DONE with thinking that I am BETTER than ANY other Jew in Klal Yisrael. I am DONE being a part of the problem... and I pledge that as of right this moment... I will become a part of the SOLUTION!!

My Suri, please open your heart to me... please open your arms to me... hug me, hold my hand and let us build the beis Hamikdosh together…

What do you say?

Your loving Totty

Posted on Facebook – July 26, 2015
By Sarah Miller Gips
Baltimore, Maryland

My father sent me this letter today... I just wanted to share it, I wish more people would do things like this. I decided to post this publicly after I shared it with some people who really needed to see this and it was well received...

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