Friday, September 5, 2008

Triple Jew

Three times in as many months I have listened to Bochurim describe to me their disenchantment with Chabad in particular and Judaism in general. I'd like to write a whole post explaining what they're going through, why it's quite terrible, and the six steps we can all take to prevent such things from occurring in the future. Unfortunately, that won't be possible, because there is no one answer, or indeed even three answers to this issue. Many would argue that indeed there is no issue. With most people I would simply shrug my shoulders and say something along the lines of, "You win some, you lose some," or, "Just separating the wheat from the chaff," or perhaps, "Good for them." But you see, these are three Bochurim who have not only entrusted their stories with me, but are also vain enough, even if they wouldn't admit it, to want to those stories be published, even if it is only anonymously.
Still, I'm hardly in the mood for biography tonight, and so I'll merely make some general comments on the state of Chabad in general and Judaism in particular.
One of my friends has given up the faith because he's lost his belief in the religion; another is terrorized by questions of deep religious import, and the third is disgusted with Jewish life (hypocrisy being a chief complaint) as we know it today. All in all, three different complaints, and yet they all do have one thing in common. The system has failed them. And it's not like they are of one stock: one is a scion of great Lubavitchers, while another only became fully Frum after his Bar Mitzvah, and the third is the son of Baal Teshuvahs in Crown Heights, and a product of the Lubavitch educational system in that great bastion of Chassidism.
It would seem that we've failed these guys. Or maybe we've failed everyone. Or no one. It's so difficult to understand what is really happening. There are guys who seemed to be failures at the age of fifteen, and yet ten years later they're a credit to their community. Others were early-bloomers, and like roses in December they have disappeared, all the glory of their religion and learning seemingly lost in the cold winter of reality. And yet...may there yet be a spring for them, may they one day come back and reclaim the heritage which they cast off so many years ago?
Who knows? This is the problem with pontificating on these matters; it's so hard to do so without sounding bombastic.
Perhaps I'll deal with the matter at a further date. Perhaps not. I'm sure ya'll'll survive either way.


e said...

You whetted our appetites for some serious kefirah and the heavy issues which face Lubavitch. But then you never served the meat. I hope there will be a follow-up post about this.

What's the difference between friend number one and friend number two?

The Real Shliach said...

If I get in the mood, which is probable, then you'll have some steak soon.
The difference is that the first wants out, while the second still wants to make it all work.

scion of great Lubavitchers said...

I feel bad for the guy who is terrorized by questions of deep religious import and became frum only after his bar mitzvah.

1. Nobody should have to be terrorized. Disencahnted, n'nu. But terrorized? That's really tough.

2. It's tough to make a journey, such as going from fry to frum or vice versa. But to make a round trip? That's tougher than tough.

So, to you mister friend #2, I wish you all the luck and hope that things straighten out for you. If religion ever seems too terrifying, just remind yourself that it's all bunk, and it won't seem that terrible anymore.

scion of great Lubavitchers said...

Yikes, didn't see The Real Shliach's comment before leaving my own. If the terrified BT wants to make it all work, then perhaps my advice isn't really good for him. I thought he was terrified the way Sholom Auslander is, i.e. he's scared of god even though he doesn't think god exists (a lose-lose situation). Whatever. I still wish him the best of luck.

The Real Shliach said...

Hopefully I'll address all these issues and more...

Cheerio said...

very whetted appetite here.
but i'd say that the hardest part about "pontificating on these matters" is not the threat of sounding bombastic, but the difficulty of actually saying anything meaningful at all. like you said, there is no one answer.
but we still struggle to come up with answers, and we should, for perhaps in the struggle, we'll come up with some of the answers, something to help these guys and girls find their way.
also - twas very poetic. i liked.
and sogl - just to be contrary, who's to say that the categories you grouped together are factual? perhaps your fellow sogl is the one terrified, and the BT is the one disillusioned by hypocrisy.
(ach, here i am, locquacing once again. maybe it's a weekly thing.)

The Real Shliach said...

Should I set this straight? The SOGL is tired of religious dogma and wants out. The BT wants to make it work, but he's confused. Does that help at all?

nemo said...

I was having a whole Hisbonenus on the bus this morning on the way back from NYC about the issues (as they relate to me, in my own life), but the contents of those two hours blew away like chaff in the wind (ooohhh, can't wait, I'm davening at the local Chabad House this RH ...)

Anyway, I think the point was that whether or not I believe in all this shtuff, it would be a personal moral failing for me to give it all up. Not so intellectually honest for a student of logic like me and I don't think most people could understand that, but that's just the funny standard I've held myself too. And cause deep down, I guess, I'd like to make this all work.

e said...

Nemo, I really don't get that. Why is it a personal moral failing to abandon false beliefs?