Sunday, July 22, 2007


Good news from Avi Shafran: Baal Teshuvahs don't totally suck.

He begins with a heartwarming story about a BT named Dovid, and his new frum from birth wife, Chana. Rav Shafran makes a big show of telling us how enlightened her family is by even considering him as a match:
her parents – somewhat atypically for their circle – would not hesitate to consider an otherwise qualified baal teshuva as a potential marriage-partner for one of their children.

Truly, the next Mandela. Get Stockholm on the phone.

Not all is well and good in Hypothetical Frumville, though. Chana's parents have to search through Dovid's genealogy. And guess whose fault that is?
Sadly, the proliferation of intermarriage and substandard conversions over recent decades have served to call into question the halachic Jewish status of non-Orthodox families. Once upon a time, observant Jews could take for granted that a family, by simple virtue of its affiliation with a Jewish congregation, was halachically Jewish. But those days, tragically, are gone.

Uh huh.
Dovid’s yichus, thankfully, was ascertained to contain no mixed marriages or conversions.

His European forebears had in fact been religious Jews; and his parents, although they were not raised Orthodox, had grown deeply proud of Dovid’s and his siblings’ adoption of Torah and mitzvos.

And what if his forebears had NOT been religious? Exactly how pure does the yichus have to be? At what point does this cease to be a halachic background check and more about maintaining Chana's family's social standing?
They hoped, moreover, that their example might perhaps, in a small way, inspire other “frum-from-birth” Jews to entertain the possibility of such matches from outside their own community.

Seriously, guys. They aren't lepers. Not as long as they take their meds.
The importance of mishpacha is an understandable concern for many, to be sure; and there are other halacha-related issues that also come into play in such cases. To some, such concerns may even be paramount, and that stance is their prerogative.

Yeah, like what to do if your future mother-in-law dresses like a skank around the house. Collarbones? Not in my family!

To be fair, Rav Shafran does conclude on an up-note:
it cannot be denied that there is something real and valuable that is gained, too, when frum Jew from a frum family marries an equally frum Jew from a different background – gained by the latter, by the former and by Klal Yisroel as a whole.

That's right, BTs are always welcome at Rabbi Shafran's house. Remember guys, to him, you're only marginally damaged goods, as best exemplified by the title of his post:

Rabbi Avi Shafran: Returns Welcome

Even without a receipt? What menschlikeit!


Anonymous said...

Oy, funny.

Anonymous said...

great site for baalei teshuva