Thursday, March 20, 2008
Discussion About Rabbi Lazer Brody's Letter & Free Will
In response to my link to a letter from a girl from a frum home who currently wants to go off the derech and Rabbi Lazer Brody's response, I received the following comment from a person that I respect very much. Here's his comment and my reply. Any constructive thoughts by the "Oilam" would be appreciated. :-)
[Quoting R. Brody's letter:] "G-d gives free choice, and no one has the right to take that away from you."
While I think that he otherwise handled this very well, I believe that this quote is inaccurate, inappropriate, and chas v'shalom counter productive.
Kol Yisrael Areivim zeh b'zeh. Free will does not mean that we as individuals or society are exempt from preventing others from transgressing Torah. A Jew who can prevent another Jew from transgressing and does not do so is guilty too. Parents certainly, explicitly, have the obligation to prevent there offspring from transgressing when possible.
The problem is that it seems probable that the efforts are counter productive and will not prevent transgression but perhaps cause more.
But it is not helpful to give her the impression that her parents have no "right" when they would actually have an obligation. Free will is a non issue here.
March 19, 2008 10:32 PM
You're thinking too theoretically and too idealisticly here. She is obviously not going to be listening to her parents here. Anything her parents or current rabbis do to get her to stay observant, at this point, will most likely have the opposite effect.
A young person like this needs to understand that she does indeed have free will. Rabbi Brody knows that only by helping "Linda" realize that when she makes Yiddishkeit her own choice, then she will be willing to embrace it. As long as she feels that she would just be living someone else's choice like her parents or teachers, she's going to reject it at this point.
Rabbi Brody accepts the fact that in the short term, neither he nor anyone else in this whole world can "prevent transgression." If she is going to continue doing aveiros or is going to do worse aveiros than the ones she's done so far, there's nothing that he can do to stop it. It's her choice. Other people must accept that they/we cannot make someone make the choices they should.
What he's trying to do is open a door for her; to show her that if she can turn to Hashem, she can have a relationship with Him that's not based on what her parents or her teachers or anyone else wants her to do. It can be based on her own choice to return to Him. As long as there is no break with the past, and as long as she feels like her Yiddishkeit belongs to other people, she'll never be able to get out of her rut.
You and I may not be able to relate to what she's going through because of our unique background. But there are thousands of kids like "Linda" in Brooklyn, Monsey and all kinds of other places. They must make their own choice to embrase Yiddishkeit. And until she is able to do that in her own way, she's going to feel too stuck to move forward.
March 19, 2008 10:49 PM
(Picture courtesy of middleeastinterest)
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