Sunday, July 19, 2009

Where have you gone?

Tonight I ran into a bochur that I've known since I was a kid. He was putting on tefillin a few minutes before shekiah in a basement shul somewhere in Crown Heights. Instead of a har and jacket, he was wearing the most ridiculously low shorts I have ever seen-another inch and they would have been too-small pants. He also had a grey t-shirt on (no tzitzis), and lacked the large beard which used to accompany his face. The last I saw of him he'd been a relatively normal bochur. What happened?

I suppose there's lots of blame to spread around when a bochur leaves the path of his comrades. His mother for pushing him too hard, convinced her son was a genius and constantly trying to get him into the higher class, the better yeshiva? Or how about his friends, more interested in guitar than gemara, preferring Coltrane to Chassidus and F sharp to Farbrengens. Or maybe it's the fault of his teachers, who took him in expecting a genius and, discovering a very normal boy, never recovered from the shock and treated him as such?

Some would argue that in fact nothing terrible, nor even abnormal, happened here. Kid grows up, realizes it's easier to live life if you don't have to serve the G-d of the ancient hebrews, and there you have it-kid fries out. Pleasant thought, eh? So maybe it's the kid's fault. I don't know. I'm no expert on the matter in general, certainly not in this particular case. But you should know that it bothered me.

Oh, of course, it was a beautiful thing. Reb Levi Yitzchok of Berditchev would be proud. But does that mean we have to be proud? After all, what Reb Levi saw when he beheld those Jews smoking on shabbos was not what the rest of the people saw. Do the rest of the people have an obligation to sacrifice their and their children's religious affiliation because an ex-Lubavitcher has decided to park himself in Crown Heights? Or do we always have to strive to look for the good and positive?

I don't know.

17 comments:

Sebastion said...

Depressing post. Im glad he was wraping teffilin... So i guess we should always try to be positive while believing things will get better.

Zvi said...

TRS, sometimes we lose focus and occupy ourselves with the details. I think this is what was so great about Rabbi Levi Yitzchak of Berdichev.

The Bochur probably had some kind of falling out with Lubavitch for whatever reasons, but the fact is it seems his head is screwed on right. He knows where it counts.

It sounds like other than the way he dresses and the fact that he shaves, he still is frum in every other way (keeping kosher, shabbos, davening every day)...

Too many times people lose focus and will consider someone 'frei' just for eating OU D.

Reminds me of a true story which happened while I was a mesivta bochur in Montreal.

An Australian flew to America for yeshiva during the Omer. This meant that according to Chabad custom he had to keep like 3 days of Shavuos.

However, the Chabad custom also is that we take haircuts on erev Shavuos but on no other time in the Omer. He took a haircut on HIS ever Shavuos (which for everyone else was a day early), and got thrown out of yeshiva for doing it. The Rosh Yeshiva wouldn't listen to excuses.

Focus on the bigger stuff. :)

Modeh B'Miktsas said...

As a yeshivishe oisvarf I blaim the attitude of confusing minhag with halacha and stam shtusim b'alma with minhag. I have seen people frie out for this reason. They want to do mitzvos but want no part of culture and don't know which is which.

Zvi's example is perfect.

Nemo said...

I like Zvi's story. I think we should get lost in minhag and debate the merits of both the RY's opinion and the bochur's. It could be more fun than complaining about what causes kids to go OTD.

Modeh B'Miktsas said...

This is what you should see when you see this kid:

A Jew is putting on tefillin. He even knows that you aren't supposed to daven with your knees uncovered so he's a talmid chacham too.

jewpublic club said...

it looks like you trying to just find out what is personally wrong with this bochur. I am going to post a similar discussion, but about this phenomenon as a trend since late 90's and trying to think through this as a trend.

The Real Shliach said...

Yup, OCD TRS has hit the jackpot again-sometimes I wish I lived in Lakewood, where you can be discriminatory and a jerk and be proud!

C said...

"Oh we still love you..."

Zvi-you're story makes me want to punch someone.

The Real Shliach said...

I still love me too.

Zvi said...

TRS - I was pretty close to 'leaving the fold' as a Bochur. Mostly from bad influences, bad experiences, and horribly hypocritical people who were terrible examples including a Mashgiach in a yeshiva I was in (who outwardly was so chassidish, yet lacked basic decency).

But I had many more good influences, good experiences and incredible role models (which are in abundance in the Lubavitch area of Montreal) and somehow wound up on Shlichus in Russia. :)

Who knows? next time you see the bochur you speak of, it might be at a kinus banquet, where he will be giving the keynote speech with his guitar in his hand, telling about his shlichus in Dubai...

And you can be one of the good role models which would be the cause for that.

e said...

subscribing.

e said...

Just a thought: sometimes everything can be "right" and a person will fry out, because judaism doesn't suit him.

Zvi said...

True e, and from a frum point of view, we would want to minimalize the statistical percentage of kids frying out.

(Calling someone 'e', makes me feel like Betzalel in Agent Emes.)

:)

The Real Shliach said...

Zvi: Yes, you're right. It's a mystery.

e: So you would have us believe...

Altie said...

atthe risk of sounding repetitious...

'He was putting on tefillin ' thats the 1st line that jumped out at me, and stayed with me while i read through the rest. though i think you do make a point, when you argue abt 'Do the rest of the people have an obligation to sacrifice their and their children's religious affiliation because an ex-Lubavitcher has decided to park himself in Crown Heights? Or do we always have to strive to look for the good and positive?'

but you forget. he IS one of our own too. so wut do u do? disciplin him? reject him? accept him despite his wrongdoing?

its a problem without a solution. but i say, accept him all the way, and hope that it will be enough to bring him back. its the only thing u can do, and the others are not worth it.

e- a fool can fool the world, but a fool is foolish if he tries to fool himself.

Altie said...

i cant believe im still the last commentor here. no one else have anything intelligent to say?

The Real Shliach said...

That would appear to be the case.