Monday, October 27, 2008
Where to Focus When Adults Go Off the Derech
I read Rabbi Harry Maryles' post at Emes V'Emunah yesterday about adults who go off the derech. K'darko bakodesh, Rabbi Maryles focuses on the valid problems within the frum community as reasons for this happening, when it does. However, when we have negative experiences with other frum Jews, we, as individuals, must look to ourselves, rather than at others when "deciding" to keep or abandon frumkeit.
I have noticed a common personality trait in the majority of the few adults that I have known who have become "less frum." That trait is negativity. And it shows its self long before it manifests its self in lower levels of observance. Some people have a personality whereby they seem to have a reverse-Azamra personality. They seem to see the negativity and the cynical side in anything and anyone.
I first met one friend of mine, who is slowly sliding in that direction, by the washing station on the way into davening one time on Shabbos. In his very first words to me, he commented to me that he thought the Shul was transgressing lifnei iver, causing people to sin, by having a washing station faucet that could give both hot and cold water, even on Shabbos. He's a nice guy but ever since that time, I have consistently noticed this trait in him showing its self again and again.
I think when someone always sees the negative side of things, they are much more turned off than others would be when they experience actual or perceived slights coming from other frum people. Over time, this leads to a greater cynicism toward Yiddishkeit its self. Since, in such people's minds, Yiddishkeit has produced the negativity that they always see in others, Yiddishkeit must be defective too.
While we should recognize and correct our own negative traits that hurt other people, we should not lose focus on the internal midos of those people who are prone to go "off the derech." Just as we do our community a disservice if we ignore our own faults that drive people away, we do also those people a disservice as well if we validate their false belief that their decision to leave the path is only due to "other people's problems," but not due to their own internal faults.
IY"H, we should see the time soon where we are zocheh to all correct our faults and when we only make a Kiddush Hashem to ourselves and to others, b'vias Goel Tzedek bimeheira veyameinu.
UPDATE: See also, Little Frumhouse on the Praire's very poignant response to Rabbi Maryles' and my posts on this subject.
(Picture courtesy of strategy team.com)
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