Snarkodox


The community’s best-kept secret?

The frum community knows well that all people who have become less frum -or not frum at all- must have had miserable childhoods and “at risk” teen years. They were abused by a parent or teacher or both. They got into the hard stuff, like pot. After all it is inconceivable that anyone in their right might with good relationships with parents, teachers, and friends would decide not to be frum anymore, since the legitimacy of the Orthodox movement is so obvious that the only people who can’t see it are being blinded by their desires or unhappiness.

I remember a speech in high school by a well-known rabbi involved with kiruv. It was a great speech and I enjoyed it greatly, but I found one particular passage somewhat confusing. The rabbi was talking about a particular case in which he got involved and a phone conversation in which the case asked him all of her questions about Judaism that were plaguing her and turning her off frum frumkeit. After listening to the girl patiently, the rabbi gently asked, “Tell me, why do you hate your parents?” At this point the girl broke down and revealed the truth about her abusive parents. The rabbi helped her find an apartment, a job, a therapist, the works. When he called her a few weeks later to continue their conversation so he could provide her answers with her questions about Judaism, the girl was puzzled. Questions? What questions?

I was impressed at how the rabbi helped her in such period of time. My classmates were more in awe of the rabbi’s prescience. How did he know? He responded that since leaving the community means “good-bye” to her family, it was clear that she had some serious issues with them. Apparently she was no longer worried about her questions because naturally those questions weren’t real. Their only function was to mask her true misery.

So the moral of the story is that if you have questions about Judaism that are plaguing you and causing you to question your commitment to Orthodoxy, you are obviously a very unhappy person who is in denial. Likely you have been miserable for quite some time and are currently in the midst of an emotional breakdown.  Instead of dealing with your real issues, you are simply trying to escape your life by leaving the community. What you are pondering is clearly not the product or rational thought or a stable mental state.

Perhaps one of the frum community’s best-kept secret is that there are actually a few who leave the fold who do so knowing exactly what they are doing. They may have had healthy and stable childhoods and may indeed be stable adults. They just – for whatever reason – stopped believing. They debated this carefully, rationally, and took their time making a decision about how they were going to proceed. Such individuals are quite rare, but present. We just don’t talk about them. After all, that would be admitting that there are very sane and balanced people may not view Orthodoxy as obviously true.

It is far more comfortable to assume that the people leaving the community represents some sort of crisis, some lack in our education system or a breakdown in our families. After all we know how to handle crises. We know how to draw up resolutions, form organizations, present speeches, and train advocates to handle crises. It’s the well-adjusted, happy people that you need to look out for. They throw everyone for a loop.