Why I went Off the Derech

I received this a while ago and just recently found it in my inbox. I remember thinking the first time I read it that it was one of the most interesting pieces I have ever received. I hope you like it too.

By Nataly Mor

If this were an AA meeting, I would stand up before you, raise my right hand to God, and say, “Hello, my name is Nataly Mor, and I am off the derech”.

Living in Brooklyn, especially in Boro Park, and being off the derech is like wearing the invisible scarlet letters “OTD” on your chest. Everybody knows you are otd, but nobody really wants to talk about it. It’s a very uncomfortable subject for people. We are out there, walking amongst you, and each of us has a unique story to tell. Going off the derech is often a life choice we make when we are too young to understand what life choices really mean. I made the choice when I was too young, but I had a very good reason.

You see, I grew up in a converted 3-story boarding house called The Boro Park “Meshulach” House. For those of you who don’t know what a meshulach is, they are those guys who look like Rabbis, and who knock on your door asking for tzedakah for their mothers-uncles-fathers-kallah’s-sick niece. A lot of them are genuinely very poor, but naturally there are some crooks in the bunch.

My house was the place where they would congregate at night to sleep, drink, smoke cigars, gamble, count the day’s earnings, and trade tips and tricks. Before you start thinking that someone should have called child services on my parents, let me explain their situation. My parents were very religious, but dirt-poor illegal Israeli immigrants who did not speak a word of English. They were given a free room and board, and in return they kept order amongst the tenants.  When I mean free room I mean it. My mother, my sister & I shared one room, my father slept in the kitchen. Every one in house shared one bathroom.  It was a very unstable environment in which to grow.

The Meshulachim seemed to have one favorite pastime of all. They loved to teach my sister and I all about “the business”. We were taught the hustle early on. We learned about the big fish, and the way to their hearts. We learned that you always had to have a good story, or else no one will care. We also learned that the driver always gets a cut. Don’t think it was all fun and games; There was the meth head that started a fire in his room, and barricaded himself in it. The goon, who felt entitled to steal our Chanukah menorah, but helped us with troubled tenants so we had to look the other way.  Oh, and the nice FBI agents who came knocking on our door, since apparently we were harboring a top ten most wanted fugitive.

While my happy classmates were learning their ABC’s, I was learning my COP’s. No one could possibly understand my home life, and I never tried to explain it. To my classmates, I was just a freak, a weird kid. So what does a 12 year old do in my situation? I flipped out. I was angry, with the world and with God. In school we were taught that religious men with long beards are saintly, but I knew better. The world in my eyes was a lie. Nothing made sense. I started rebelling. I started eyeing every Rabbi with suspicion. I ate Mcdonalds, shoplifted, wore pants under my skirt, and dark nail polish on my fingers. I also stole pencil cases from my classmates. Well, that was probably because my parents were too poor to afford one. I stayed out all night, because I hated going home. I also fell in with a bad crowd. I felt as if “normal people” could not understand me. I was a very confused kid, and I took it out on the one who I was angry at most; God.

Looking back, I realize that I was not alone. Many kids who go off the derech are just angry at life. They feel powerless with their situation, and take it out on God.  It’s easy to blame God, but not so easy to blame feelings and emotions that you cannot understand. Once you feel like your eyes are open to the world, the natural thing to do is to reject the values you were brought up with. For religious kids, the values they are brought up with are based in God. I always say that going off the derech is not the problem, but the symptom. It is a cry for help. One that is not easily identifiable.

It took me a long time to realize that God was not directly responsible for my situation. In fact, if I had the insight I have today I would have realized that my experience made me a stronger person. I was a shnookie little 12-year-old back then, what did I know?

The problem is that once you go off the derech, it is very hard to return to it. I have tried numerous times and failed. Although I have not found “THE” derech, I have finally started accepting myself, and finding my own derech. After a lot of soul searching I have found my peace with God, and I am in a good place. I look back at my childhood and I can laugh. I have many good stories that can entertain anyone for hours. I also know a house in Queens where they dole out $1,000 to anyone who knocks on the door with a good story… but my driver wants a good cut ;)

***I just want to make it clear that most meshulachim are honest, good people. It just so happens that I ran into a couple of bad apples in my day!


Nataly Mor

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • Anonymous

    you have a better reason than most! You should get a book deal. When did all this happen?

  • anon

    Thank you for sharing your story.

  • http://www.mazeartist.com Sergey Kadinsky

    And this is why I give my tzedaka to organizations rather than individuals on the street.

  • YY

    Thanks for sharing your very unique and interesting story. You grew up with some of the worst and worst-off people in the frum world. For balance’s sake, have you tried spending time among the best people? Like people regarded as tzaddikim, like Rav Shalom Arush? Just an idea!

    • fille

      It’s not only about the “worst off” people in the Meshulach house, I suppose,

      It is also the reaction of the “settled community”, the “best people” towards them.

      And the contrast fiction/propaganda – reality, which certainly is particularly striking from this perspective…

  • Shidduchmaven

    This would certainly make for an interesting short story.

    Quality post Heshy.

  • http://abandoningeden.blogspot.com abandoning eden

    “The problem is that once you go off the derech, it is very hard to return to it”

    yeah, no, that’s not the problem for me and many other people who go OTD. Because we don’t think the orthodox way of life is the right “derech”. I know way more people like that then I know people who left because they were “angry at life” or whatever. What does anger me is repeating the stereotype that we are leaving because we are angry at life. I love my life, and I had a pretty decent and stable childhood.

    • A. Nuran

      You have to understand, AE. The mind of the fanatic cannot stand the possibility of alternatives. With alternatives comes the possibility that they might be wrong. Their absolute obedience might be misguided. And they might be forced out of their comfortable rut into the cold, bleak wasteland of freedom. That is a scary place.

      Better to increase the restrictions, redouble the mumbled chants, stone, burn and murder the dissenters. Deny that anyone can be happy outside of the ever-narrower confines of Authorized Thought and Permitted Action.

      The alternative is too terrible to contemplate.

      • Anonymous

        you do both seem kind of angry, but nobody accused you of being angry in the first place…

        • http://gtorah.com Nosson Gestetner

          Anonymous – well spotted :)

        • Anonymous

          Exactly, if they weren’t angry, they wouldn’t be snooping aroung frum satire, commenting against religeon on every one of Heshy’s posts!

          • http://abandoningeden.blogspot.com abandoning eden

            interesting, I hang around frum satire cause I think he is funny, and he’s one of the few religious jewish blogs I can tolerate cause he doesn’t have the attitudes that I hate about many people in the jewish community. Most of my comments are not “against religion” at all, I would say most of my comments are just agreeing with something Heshy has said and saying it’s funny or something along those lines. But ok ms anonymous you must know better than me.

        • Anonymous

          You might want to consider actually reading the article.

          The author states that “many kids who go off the derech are just angry at life”. Seems like a very explicit accusation to me.

          This is a common game the sufficiently brainwashed play: attack a person’s character and supposed underlying motivations instead of their positions. The art of the ad-hominem is honed and crafted and applied liberally. It sure beats the alternative: actually having to make a case for ones religious convictions (or lack thereof) without resorting to the cheap personal attacks.

          • What?

            “The author states that “many kids who go off the derech are just angry at life”. Seems like a very explicit accusation to me.?”

            Or she’s describing her own feelings, as well as the feelings of other people that she knows who went OTD. She assumes, like many people, that her experiences can be used to make valid generalizations.

        • Guest

          Additionally, most people are very good at justifying whatever behavior/stances/take on life they currently have. People who have no intention of returning to Jewish observance will frequently tell you that their life is better for it–no surprises there.

          The question is: is the religion that they abandoned the same religion that you love and practice? And what’s the difference between the two?

    • Blech

      Both motivations exist, and both are valid. You’re happy. Good for you. There are reasons for everything everyone does.

      • Blech

        (@ abandoning eden)

  • Anonymous

    That was a beautiful post. It’s one of the best posts I have ever read on your site. Well written, well balanced and so true.

    • Anonymous

      it is definitely interesting but ‘true’ I don’t think it is a common story. I’ve never heard of anything like this, maybe SATMARS but they are hardly normal even for frummies.
      I would like to know more!

  • Yaffa

    Ack. Now I kind of feel like a shmuck for giving that dollar to the guy outside of 770. :-P

  • http://www.leadel.net Alex

    I’m not religious, but doesn’t “off the derekh” imply that there is only one way, one path? And doesn’t that militate against the heterogeneous reality of Jewish belief and practice? (Hence the ironic photo no doubt.)

    Bring on the debate!

    b’shalom,
    Alex Cacioppo
    Leadel.NET
    Jewish Media Hub for the 21st Century

    • http://malkeerox.blogspot.com malx

      wow i totally agree with u! cant a person find thier own way is there really only one narrow path?

      • Anonymous

        I think the term “off the derech” implies a deviance from the path of observing the Torah and mitzvos rather than rejecting a certain hashkafah

        • Anonymous

          I prefer the term “frei” because thats what they’ll be doing in hell

          • oic

            So there’s a hell now? Shoot.

  • http://righteousrasha.blogspot.com Tova

    “Everybody knows you are otd, but nobody really wants to talk about it.”

    Well-put.

  • http://righteousrasha.blogspot.com Tova

    And yes, I agree with Anonymous above. Consider contacting a publisher, as this would make for a great read.

  • David

    I really enjoyed your post Nataly. At one point in my life, so bad things that happened to me triggered a similar anger within me, and I also became very angry with G-d as opposed to attacking the emotions/feelings troubling me dead-on. It was strangely easier to violate the Torah than to understand what was setting off my anger. Thank G-d, it took a few months but I have made my peace and would consider myself totally orthodox today. My suggestion to others that have experienced these situations is to seek out religious motivation. It could be a rabbi, a website/blog, a friend, or a parent. It could even be me! Please let me know if I can help!

  • http://malkeerox.blogspot.com malx

    i dont necessarily agree with the author. some poeple go off the derech for entirely different reasons. they can have a total happy life friends good home no fights but they simply dont believe in god i have many friends like that

    • rocker

      malx, how can one not inherently believe in Gd, ppl by natutre ALL belive in GD unless some external force interfres. at the end of the day “there are no athests in a fox hole”… for some (read: all) its their “anger” at Gd – which is a lack of emuna, since their “anger” implys they think they know what should be better for them, thus implying they lack emuna.

  • Phil

    Unfortunately, I’ve seen my share of crooked bearded rabbis, many sound like they would have fit in well in your house.

    Even more unfortunate that it affected you the way it did. The things you experienced would be enough to undermine any frum upbringing.

    If you do want to return, nothing and nobody stands in your way. Not the creep rabbi, not the fake chassid, nor what the neighbors might say. It’s all between you and God. Do so at your own pace, one issue at a time. And seek out genuinely good Jews if need be.

    One that fully repents for trangressing given sins, has their previous transgressions of those sins erased, and is considered on a higher level than a tzaddik in relation to those sins.

    It ain’t easy, but it’s well worth it in the long run.

    Good luck.

    • Zvi Lampert

      Excellent comment, Phil. Couldn’t have said it better myself.

    • ROCKER

      Well said Phil!

  • Baal Habos

    >The problem is that once you go off the derech, it is very hard to return to it

    Funny, my problem is the reverse. How can I go OTD without hurting everyone around me?

    • malx

      u cant unless u run away wich is stupid

      • rocker

        malx r u from PA?

  • http://www.kvetchingeditor.com Chaviva

    SCREAMS book deal. Almost too good (or bad?) to be true. This was a beautifully written post.

    I hope you find your derech, and even if you don’t, I hope that you spend your life searching for what makes you happy and for what constitutes, for you, YOUR derech.

  • Baruch Atta

    Excellent excellent post. Very touching and direct to the heart.

    BUT NOT SATIRE. I detect sincerity.

    And as to the content. Nataly, you did not GO off the derich. You were raised from birth off the derich. The way you were raised, is not the way most people are raised. So it is no suprise.

    My advice: go to a good baal tchuva school like Ohr Somayach or Aish Hatorah. Stay there a year studying hard. Oh, wait, you are a girl. So make it Neve Yerushalaim. Stay a year, be sincere, and then see what happens. I think that you will like the results, what ever they are.

    • Anonymous

      isn’t the motto of the site “It aint always frum and it aint always satire”?

      • http://www.frumsatire.net Heshy Fried

        It is indeed and there can be weeks of entirely serious or entirely funny stuff – it all depends on the weather. Bad weather makes me write funny stuff – good weather brings guest posts which are almost always serious – humor is tough to write.

  • http://skepticbutjewish.blogspot.com SkepticButJewish

    Not everyone who goes off the derech does so because they are rebelling or angry at God. I had a very different story when I went of the derech. You can read it here: ” skepticbutjewish . blogspot . com/2010/02/my-story . html “. It is not an interesting story but it comes from a very different point of view. I never was angry at anything, nor rebellious to anything. Instead, I was interested to test my own beliefs in a rational and skeptical way, until eventually I realized that Jewish beliefs, like that of all religious, are nothing but faith, not grounded on anything rational or empirical, so I had to give them up. I was only interested in finding out what was true and what was not. So I have a rather boring story.

    • 12Kid

      Hey, there is a huge percentage of professional academic philosophers in the academia who publish a lot and who defend theism in a very rigorous and thorough manner. Just two names, Alvin Plantinga and William Lane Craig. So I think you’re being naive when you say that religion is not grounded on anything rational. I am not saying that anyone succeeded in proving that God exists or that any particular religion is the true faith but to say that there is no rational ground for religion is simply ignorant. I’ll tell you more, there is no rational ground for the enterprise of science, because science rests on principles of inference, and there is no rational proof that inference is rational. Read any introductory book on Philosophy of Science.

      • Anonymous

        “Hey, there is a huge percentage of professional academic philosophers in the academia who publish a lot and who defend theism in a very rigorous and thorough manner. “:

        There is a huge percentage of professional academic people on any topic. A lot of feminists are professional academics. Being an academic is all irrelevant. Wearing a PhD tag next to your name does not mean anything.

        Yes, I know William Lane Craig and he is terrible at defending his own position. Just like every other theist out there.

        “I’ll tell you more, there is no rational ground for the enterprise of science, because science rests on principles of inference, and there is no rational proof that inference is rational.”:

        Read what I wrote regarding the “epistomological non-sense game”. What the ultra-skeptics, in the realm of Descraste, do is question how do we know that induction is a reliable method of finding truth. All of this is irrevelant. What is most revelant is that I actually make a serious effort to come to the truth about our world. I do not pull beliefs out of my own anus. Nor do I claim to have the truth about the world that is foolproof. I only make the statement that I make serious effort to understand what best can be understood.

        All what the religious “philosophers” do is hide behind this epistologmical non-sense game because their silly beliefs have no basis whatsoever.

        • http://www.drewmazanec.com Drew Mazanec

          Why do you think that Craig and Plantinga are bad at defending their own beliefs? Have you seen them debate? If so, which debates? The attitude I have been getting even from many atheists is: “Holy crap. Does Dr. Craig ever lose a debate?”

          Do you think that only a skeptic can make a serious effort to find truth, or is it possible for a religious person to do so as well?

          Supernaturalism in general and theism in particular are experiencing a revival in secular philosophy. While you may be frustrated with religious fundamentalism, that doesn’t mean that no God exists.

          • http://skepticbutjewish.blogspot.com SkepticButJewish

            “Why do you think that Craig and Plantinga are bad at defending their own beliefs? Have you seen them debate? If so, which debates?”:

            Yes, I have seen many religious debates. You should watch Hitchens vs any theist. All their arguments are silly. You need to remember that the theist is the one who believes in talking snakes and reject the theory that life evolves. Enough said.

            If you read my posts on my site you will see many of my objections to Judaism.

            “Do you think that only a skeptic can make a serious effort to find truth, or is it possible for a religious person to do so as well?”:

            Yes, I do think it is possible for religious people to really honestly try to find the truth. However, that would be the case 300 and 400 years ago. Someone like Galileo or Newton were theists but they lived in a time where not much was known. And for their own time they were prepared to reject what religion said for a rational explanation. But in today’s day and age with the knowledge that we have accumulated over the years with hard work it is nearly impossible for a religious person to be a freethinker, everything we have discovered since then points away from religion.

            “While you may be frustrated with religious fundamentalism, that doesn’t mean that no God exists.”:

            That also does not mean that Santa does not exist. That also does not mean that Zeus does not exist. Your point?

            • http://www.drewmazanec.com Drew Mazanec

              I’ve seen Hitchens debate quite a bit. He did well until he debated Craig at Biola. It was the first time I saw Hitchens get utterly destroyed, and well worth the $100 I had to spend for the webcast. A more recent Hitchens loss is his second debate against Frank Turek, titled: “Which best explains reality: Theism or Atheism”

              • http://skepticbutjewish.blogspot.com SkepticButJewish

                I saw Turek vs Hitchens, and I have no idea how you can possibly say that Turek won that debate. Turek is a complete retard. The same with William Craig. Craig is a perfect example of someone who hides behinds fancy words because he cannot say what he trully believes head on. I am sure that William Craig believes in talking snakes and giants arks and impregnated virgins. That is supposed to be intellectual? If you think that is intellecual then no wonder you are a religious person.

                Besides read this: ” http://skepticbutjewish . blogspot . com/2010/03/all-arguments-for-god-refuted . html ” , that is why all religion fails. Because even if there is a God, and we can show it, whatever “God” would even mean, one is miles and miles away from deriving from that religion. All of religion thinks that if it can argue for deism then it follows that theism is justified. Which is a fallacy. Just skip the God part and get to the religious part. There are no arguments for religion. There are (weak) arguments for God, but as far as religion goes, there are none for religion.

  • pk

    Some people go off the derech because they want to be like everybody else. They see a big world out there and it’s more attractive to them.

    • Guest

      You’re right, but many people won’t admit that this factors into their behavior, because it makes them look stupid.

  • http://leahkleimblog.blogspot.com/search?updated-max=2009-11-11T10:43:00-08:00&max-results=7 Leah Kleim

    I come from a tiny little gigantic place called “The City Of Love”… Lubavitch. I was born into it, branded by birth, marked for life, and in it till death, I am one of the chosen ones. I am a
    proud Chabadnik… Call it the luck of the Irish. I grew up in Crown Heights and went to Bais Rivka. I was very sheltered and secluded from the world outside of our “shtetle”, there was no TV in our house, the books I had access to were filled with Torah and Chassidus. The gatherings I went to were filled with words of wisdom bottles of vodka and beautiful voices synchronized in unity and harmony singing the Tzoma Lecha Nafshi lulaby to me.

    Being the oldest one, babysitter became my unwanted title. I was a Mommy in training, being programed to care for the 8 kids of my own that I was expected to start having at 19, like the rest of the pre-fabricated clones.

    The interactions I had with the opposite sex were with men and boys clad in black and white wearing Borasalinos. They took place at the Shabbos table and Farbrengens. They were interactions that grasped me, comforted me, and serenaded me.The nigunim still replay in my
    head and captivate me while they emotionally stab me and grab me.My family name was not well known or talked about.We were not some big name or entity. Our name was none, no one. It grew into one,it became someone, if you dare…in a very unconventional way.

    The Chabad history and moments in life that molded me are far from your typical ones. The events and experiences that Chabad etched in me have been labeled, from amazing to special, to miracles and unbelievable. I was appointed to complete privileged tasks and I am the only girl alive who recieved one very special blessing that made it’s mark in Chabad history and I will gracefully wear it on my back while I glide through the rest of my life holding it dear to me,
    boasting it, and always questioning it… Why me? Why am I the lucky walking one … ?

    At a tender impressionable age life handed me lemons, so I added vodka. I discovered the unspoken underground world of Chabad and took a long bumpy stroll down it and burned bridges while I created memories and history that I cant quite figure out if I embrace or
    regret or just cant forget.

    I am the proud mother of 3 beautiful special children who daunt the honorable uniform’s of Yeshiva Tomchey Temimin every day and are the future of Chabad, they are dedicated soldiars in The Army Of Hashem, reciting Chumash Tehilim and Tanya and armed with mivtzoyim on the front line every day. bringing Moshiach one step closer one good deed at a time.

    Life’s little space ship has transported me to many different places. Some which I cherish, some which I regret, and some that were just pit stops to fill in empty spaces and inject me with questions that have no answers and reasons to have appreciations. I live in The City Of Love. No matter how long the journey the mother ship always drops me off in the comfort and security of what I know as home.

    If you saw me walking down Kingston ave you may be pleasantly surprised. I am one of the few last ones in the skirt that is covering my knees, yet I am a poineer of the famous Chilul Chabad
    skirt…how the tables have turned. On some occasions if you were to see me strolling through Central Park it would probably never cross your mind that I was a Lubavitcher, let alone a Jew…unless you got close enough to read the words, and then you would be full of shock and confusion and overcome with questions.

    There are moments in time that some may look at me on the surface and apply the ignorant method of judging a book by it’s cover and self administer the delirious conclusion and delusion that I am not frum. There are other shallow moments where the book is judged by its cover and I am perceived as a flawless Chabadnik with a pure Neshoma … Both assessments are incorrect. I am a Lubavitcher and I am human. I am not perfect and I justify my shortcomings with self
    gratifying excuses instead of dedicating the time it takes to repair them. Perfection is a flawed human creation in which we like to indulge and romanticize but reality is… it is something we can only fantasize.

    And so you ask… Who am I ?
    I am someone who has walked down The Yellow Brick Road and seen unimaginable things in life. At times I am full of passion and fire, dedicated and devoted to a cause that strikes a cord in me and plays a pleasant tune for me. Other times I am a careless selfish empty shell banging my head to tasteless heavy metal. My life is far from one that dwells behind a keyboard and a screen, those tools only express and document it. I have taken many walks on the wild side, I have lived the life of the daredevil and have escaped into content delirium in a life full of accomplishment, satisfaction and emptiness masked as happiness.

    I am a Chabadnik who will never forget it or regret it, who will always embrace it and appreciate it. For every obstacle in life there is one solution and I carry it with me where ever I may roam … Lechatchila Ariber.

    Leah Kleim.

  • Anonymous

    A very interesting and important book on the topic is Off the Derech, by Faranak Margolese.

    You can find it on Amazon here-http://www.amazon.com/Off-Derech-Observant-Judaism-Challenge/dp/1932687432

    or preview it on Google Books here-http://books.google.com/books?id=pHVz5to9c0UC&lpg=PP1&dq=off%20the%20derech%20faranak%20margolese&pg=PP1#v=onepage&q&f=false

  • http://Tevytown.wordpress.com Tevy

    “I always say that going off the derech is not the problem, but the symptom. It is a cry for help. One that is not easily identifiable.”

    Couldn’t of said it better myself.

    • http://skepticbutjewish.blogspot.com SkepticButJewish

      “Couldn’t of said it better myself.”:

      That is because you are ignorant. You cannot concieve of a possibility of someone living Judaism because the practioner thinks it is simply wrong. In your point of view an atheist does not because an atheist because he simply realizes the world for what it is but because he must be emotional disturbed. No wonder why all these outreach organizations towards atheists are all flawed because they cannot even understand why atheists leave in the first place.

      • http://leahkleimblog.blogspot.com/ Leah Kleim

        Ignorance is bliss… when I was 14 yrs old I walked off the derech. I was ignorant.

        • http://skepticbutjewish.blogspot.com SkepticButJewish

          How do you feel now?

  • Phil

    Skeptic,

    I don’t think outreach organizations target OTD atheist’s, they’re usually looking for people that were never exposed to begin with.

    Interestingly, this week’s Rambam portion actually forbids discussing or arguing with minim, mumrim and apikorsim. The reasoning is, that they will just end up using whatever info they learn to distort or make fun of the Torah. Though we are obligated to know what to answer to such people, apparently, that is more for ourselves than for the OTD atheist.

    On another note, I can’t figure out why anyone so uninterested or disconnected from Judasim and frumkeit would even bother reading a “frum” based blog, much less arguing with frummies about it. Yes, It’s not always frum and it’s not always satire, but to me, it’s sensless to do so.

    I don’t read atheist satire, muslim satire, hindu satire, etc., so why would any of the above read frum satire?

    • http://skepticbutjewish.blogspot.com SkepticButJewish

      “Interestingly, this week’s Rambam portion actually forbids discussing or arguing with minim, mumrim and apikorsim. The reasoning is, that they will just end up using whatever info they learn to distort or make fun of the Torah. Though we are obligated to know what to answer to such people, apparently, that is more for ourselves than for the OTD atheist.”:

      So what that they make of the Torah? Any time you debate with someone your opponent can make fun of you. I make fun of people when I debate against them and they make fun of me when I debate against them, satire is often a very useful way to expose sillyness in your opponents belief. If I was to tell you, “I do not debate because I am afraid to be made fun of” then you would probably think of me as a pussy, and rightly so. Religious Jews who are not willing to debate with atheists because they are afraid that the atheist might make fun of the Torah or their beliefs are likewise intellectual cowards.

      Besides the real reason why Judaism says not to converse with atheists is rather because Judaism is afraid that the atheist would challenge Jewish beliefs. I realized that when I became familar with the skepticism towards. Once I started listening to atheists I realized that they make so much more sense than the strawman version taught of them in yeshiva. Their arguments are so much more cleaner than the Jewish ones. So the real reason why Rabbis do not want yeshiva students to read books on atheism or evolution is simply because they are afraid that these books would challenge the studens. No atheists parents are every afraid of their kids reading books on Judaism because they know that religion is something that generally needs to be brainwashed into kids as they grow up.

      “On another note, I can’t figure out why anyone so uninterested or disconnected from Judasim and frumkeit would even bother reading a “frum” based blog, much less arguing with frummies about it”:

      Where did I imply I am uninterested in Judaism? And I am strongly connected to Judaism. I just do not believe in it. I think there are many nice things in Judaism, but overall, like all religions, it has a very dark and evil side to it. I believe that if Jewish people gave up the childish bedtime stories of talking snakes and people living inside a stomach of a whale then they would be able to make Judaism a lot better.

      • Phil

        Skeptic,

        From what I understood regarding that ruling, it was simply that the above mentioned people (which mayor may not include atheist and OTD’s), were more likely to scoff at the Torah thereby causing a chilul Hashem, than to actually benefit from hearing the arguments. In other words, a major waste of time, which is probably what I’d be doing if I further debated religion with you.

        As for you claiming to be interested in Judaism, that seems even more strange. You don’t believe in the religion, it’s foundation or rabbis, and you think that if people did the same Judaism would be better?

        Newsflash: If Jews stopped following Judaism and the Torah, we wouldn’t exist anymore, as we’d be assimilated. What would make us or our descendants any more Jewish than a non Jew?

        As a true atheist, why would you even care whether or not Judaism is a “nice” or “good” religion, since you think it’s all bogus anyway?

        • http://skepticbutjewish.blogspot.com SkepticButJewish

          “which is probably what I’d be doing if I further debated religion with you.”:

          Probably. I like to add insults to my arguments. Insult and no argument is just an ad hominim attack. Argument and no insult is just too boring. I like to mix the two together. But I will use very good argument against you too, they would just be presented in an offensive way. So yes I would scare you away with my giant penis of Reason and insult humor. I am the person that Rabbis told you never to talk to because, oh no, I might open your mind.

          “As for you claiming to be interested in Judaism, that seems even more strange. You don’t believe in the religion, it’s foundation or rabbis, and you think that if people did the same Judaism would be better?”:

          Judaism has a lot of nice elements in it. I do not have to believe in it to appreciate the good parts of it and to praise them. Many Greek mythologies are quite beautiful as well. But I do not believe in it. Requiem by Mozart is one of my favorite compositions, but I do not accept Jesus as my Lord and Savior, in fact I am skeptical that he even existed. But I still enjoy it.

          “If Jews stopped following Judaism and the Torah, we wouldn’t exist anymore, as we’d be assimilated. What would make us or our descendants any more Jewish than a non Jew?”:

          This is true but what is assimilation necessarily a bad thing? I do not think that Jews are superior to non Jews, so I see no problem with assimilation. Jew or non Jew we are all human. Assimilating our lives with one another is just part of the developing process which I see no problem with.

          “As a true atheist, why would you even care whether or not Judaism is a “nice” or “good” religion, since you think it’s all bogus anyway?”:

          Even someone as awesome and amazing and spectacular and unbelievable and Godlike like myself has limitations. I guess that this is a weakness in me.

      • http://leahkleimblog.blogspot.com/ Leah Kleim

        The Rambam also says “anything goes in the bed room” He is full of shit ! He smoked too much happy grass. it is assur to fuck in a room with seforim, it is assur to go down on your wife and vice versa, the list goes on. when Rabbonim paskin they go al pi shulchan Aruch, trust me …I know, I called them all. So dont pasken Rambam.

        • Phil

          Leah,

          I don’t think it’s appropriate to insult the Rambam the way you did just because he argues with Shulchan Aruch. Many of Shulchan aruch’s teaching are based on the Rambam. And yes, I realize that we don’t always pasken like Rambam.

          When you become a rabbi and want to be machmir in your bedroom, go ahead. Until then, show some respect for tzadikkim.

          • http://skepticbutjewish.blogspot.com SkepticButJewish

            “Until then, show some respect for tzadikkim.”: Why? Respect has to be earned. I give no respect to anyone in a position of authority. I respect those who earn my respect.

            Rambam does not earn my respect. Just because he is in position of authority does not mean anything to me, the Pope is also in a position of authority, I give no respect for these people.

            I want to mention that Rambam leans to the geocentric model of the universe. Why is it that I never hear Jewish believers every point to this serious error? They talk about how great and smart his is and how he is scientifically advanced. He is smarter than all our scientists, they claim. But they never mention that he leans on the geocentric model, which by the way is the reason why some Charedim still foolishly believe in geocentrism.

            • Phil

              Skeptic,

              Easy to take little snippets of what you don’t like, and say you don’t respect. If you learned the Rambam’s teachings, you’d have nothing but respect for him, regardless of whther or not you agree with religion.

              Though I highly doubt you’ll agree, I challenge you to learn the entire Mishneh Torah even on a basic level, and come back to me after you’re done with the same attitude.

              His Torah knowledge as well as his knowledge of medicine, math, agriculture, are unmatched.

              As for the geocentric model of the universe argument, the Rambam’s commentaries explain that he followed greek astronomers calculations, which were accepted as fact in those days. No one ever said he was a Nasa expert, and nor did he claim to be. Furthermore, he only brings the geocentric model as side notes, none of the halachic rulings are affected.

              • SkepticButJewish

                “If you learned the Rambam’s teachings, you’d have nothing but respect for him”:

                Probably not.

                “I challenge you to learn the entire Mishneh Torah even on a basic level, and come back to me after you’re done with the same attitude. “:

                I have better things to do with my time. Why would I be interested in wasting my time on learning some religious non-sense? I do not deny he was smart. However, it is still religious non-sense after all.

                “His Torah knowledge as well as his knowledge of medicine, math, agriculture, are unmatched.”:

                His knowledge is matched by many people. I, for example, would annihilate the Rambam if we were challenged in mathematics. You claim that his knowledge in math is unmatched, but can you show me evidence to why you say so. I know you religious people think your precious Rabbis are almost infallible, but I would love to see evidence that will show his knowledge of mathematics. He might have understood medicine well. But his mathematical level was probably terrible.

                Let me tell you something which is indeed unmatched. Aristarchus and Erathotheses from about 1000 years before the Rambam was even born, where able to calculate the circumfurence of the earth and compute the distance from the earth to the sun! That is amazing. And that is unmatched. And none of these people claimed to have super magical religious powers. They used their basic trigonometric skills. That is unmatched. And that is amazing. Something I can respect. But show me what the Rambam did in math that was so amazing instead of just telling me he was unmatched.

                “As for the geocentric model of the universe argument, the Rambam’s commentaries explain that he followed greek astronomers calculations, which were accepted as fact in those days.”:

                Basically, he was wrong. That is what I want to hear. He was just as ignorant about this like everyone else. Which is fine. Not condemning him for that. I just do not like the deification of the Rambam.

                • Phil

                  Skeptic,

                  The Rambam was a scholar, first and foremost. He spent the vast part of his time learning Torah.
                  Whatever sciences he learned, were done so in his “spare” time, partially as a hobby.

                  If you would actually sit down and read Mishneh Torah, you’d quickly come to realize his genius. He didn’t go to university or have the resources, scientific calculators or computers we have today, but check his complex calculations about the moon phases regarding hilchot kiddush hachodesh, to see what I’m talking about as far as math.

                  No one deifyied the Rambam. No one claimed he had superpowers. In fact, there were Neviim, tannaim and Ammoraim on higher levels.

                  Before you make blanket statements about the Rambam, read his works. At least you won’t sound ignorant when stating your conclusions.

                  • SkepticButJewish

                    ” He didn’t go to university or have the resources, scientific calculators or computers we have today, but check his complex calculations about the moon phases regarding hilchot kiddush hachodesh, to see what I’m talking about as far as math.”:

                    The ancient Greeks were far superior to him in this subject. So I am not much impressed with the Rambam.

                    “No one deifyied the Rambam. No one claimed he had superpowers. “:

                    Jewish people do not literally deify the Rambam. The word “deify” was obviously metaphorical for turning him into a person above all others. But they put him on this on scale which they pretend far exceeds everyone else. But that is not the case. I told you about the ancient Greeks and they surpassed him in much of what the Rambam did. Thus, again, like I said, I am unimpressed with the Rambam.

                    “Before you make blanket statements about the Rambam.”:

                    Statements, such as what? What I said about the Rambam so far is accurate. In fact, it is your who make unfounded asserations about the Rambam. You claimed he had superior mathematical skills. So show me where he did. Show me and I will be silent. Nowhere did I ever see what he say to be on a high mathematical level. It was your who make an empty unjustified statement about his superior mathematical skills.

    • http://righteousrasha.blogspot.com Tova

      “On another note, I can’t figure out why anyone so uninterested or disconnected from Judasim and frumkeit would even bother reading a “frum” based blog”

      Why not? It’s a funny site and Heshy’s a funny guy.

      • Phil

        Tova,

        I don’t read “atheist satire” and “Hindu satire”, even if there might be funny people posting about those topics, simply because I’m not interested in the least bit.

        When one that claims they think Judaism is bogus and frum people are following some evil cult, you have to admit that it seems kind of strange for them to keep coming back to a blog that uses frum/orthodox Judaism’s views as it’s main focus.

        • Anonymous

          it is still our culture and our history, Judaism is not your private property. I don’t have to completely disconnect from my life and abandon everything, I can’t really and I tried to. I am on my own path to integrate MY religion and culture with my future, if that is OK with you.

          Let me guess, you’re a convert or BT?

        • http://skepticbutjewish.blogspot.com SkepticButJewish

          “I don’t read “atheist satire” and “Hindu satire”, even if there might be funny people posting about those topics, simply because I’m not interested in the least bit.”:

          However, if you were a Hindu once then you might. Apply that same concept to me. I was a Jewish believer one. If I was never a Jewish believer and had nothing to do with Judaism then it would be strange. But considering that I was a Jewish practioner once and I am among Jews, then that is understandable.

          “When one that claims they think Judaism is bogus and frum people are following some evil cult”:

          Judaism has a lot of evil in it. Yes, it is a cult, like all religions. In fact, the difference between “insanity”, “cult” and “religion” is only the number of people who follow it. One person who has a religious experience is “insane” and goes to an insane asylum. Few people who have religious experiences are a “cult” and are simply looked down upon by outsiders. But millions of people become a “religion”.

          All religion has an evil dark side to it. However, frum people themselves are not necessarily evil. I have known and do know some great frum people, much better than myself. Frum people have done some very beautiful and nice things. And I praise them for that. And they have helped me. Thus, if they needed my help I would help them as well. But nice frum people whom I really like do not vindicate Judaism.

        • http://baruchatta.blogspot.com Baruch Atta

          “atheist satire” would be hilarious. Is there such a site? Oh, soorry, atheists don’t have a sense of humor.

          • http://skepticbutjewish.blogspot.com SkepticButJewish

            Take Hitchens, for instance, he is humorous in all his debates. A lot of comedians are atheists, George Carlin the most famous one of them. Many actors have also been atheists. Go on YouTube and have all the entertainment you want. I am surprised why you would make a statement like that.

            • Anonymous

              ah yeah but they don’t laugh at themselves, they only laugh at other people. mostly people of other religions.

              • http://skepticbutjewish.blogspot.com SkepticButJewish

                “ah yeah but they don’t laugh at themselves, they only laugh at other people. “:

                What is there to laugh about? What will an atheist make fun of? What kind of joke can he say about atheism? “Wow, atheists are so stupid, because they demand evidence for claims and base their beliefs on empiricism. They must be so stupid for doing that. They accept the theory of evolution because it can be demonstrated. Haha, they are so dumb.”

                That is not good comedy. Religion, on the other hand, is a comics favorite topic to discuss because it is always easy to make fun about. Jewish people believe in a talking snake. They believe that people were giants and lived to ages of 900. They believe a man lived inside of a fish. Mormonism, haha, that is even more hilarous. And of course Scientology is the best.

                • Phil

                  Skeptic,

                  Atheism can make for good comedy. How about:

                  Hey, all this beautiful world we live in with all it’s biological, chemical and physiological makeup all started with some “big bang”. HAHA.

                  Or how about, “hey, you know where we all came from”? Monkeys! HAHA.

                  Remember that old picture of your great grandmother on the wall? Don’t you think she looked like an ape with her mustache and unshaved legs? HAHA.

                  • anonymous

                    It’s not that hard to dis an atheist. We have souls, they are simply talking breathing objects. We have rewards for our good deeds on this earth, they have an eternal grave awaiting.

                    Honestly, just say to an atheist- “oh look, a talking object!”

                  • http://skepticbutjewish.blogspot.com SkepticButJewish

                    “Hey, all this beautiful world we live in with all it’s biological, chemical and physiological makeup all started with some big bang. HAHA.”:

                    This is the classic strawman of the religious person. Athiesm does not say this. Atheism has no answer to the question of the origin of the universe. Science can point to, mathematics itself also, that the universe expanded from some certain point. That is all there is to the big bang theory. Atheists do not say that they know what is the origin of the universe. They simply say that all evidence points to this conclusion and so we have to accept it. Afterwards, the natural laws lead to the developed universe as if by natural selection. This is based on evidence. If an atheist said that they know where the universe can from and what exactly happened then sure make fun of him. But atheism itself never makes such a claim. Rather it is the religious people who strawman the atheists position into something else.

                    The atheist does not strawman the theist’s position. The theist really does believe there was a talking snake. And that people lived to 900. And that a man lived inside a stomach of a fish. My humor directed towards theists is not strawmaned against religion, your humor against atheism/skepticism is.

                    “hey, you know where we all came from?Monkeys! HAHA. “:

                    This is another strawmaned position of the skeptic. The skeptic does not say that monkeys gave birth to people. No person who accepts evolution believes in that. What the theory of evolution says is that the offspring of monkeys have slight variations from their parents. If these variations continue there would come a point of speciation when the new organism would be a separate species from the original parent.

                    Now let me ask you a question. Why is this (accurate) description of evolution funny? There are many different breeds of dogs in the world. How did we get so many breeds? Well, people used “artifical selection”. That is when people selected the traits in dogs that they liked. Therefore, poodles and great danes all were developed in the same process. Great danes did not come from poodles. Rather the process of artificial selection, over many generations, lead to different species of animal. Why is this funny? There is nothing funny to this, it is all based on how the world operates. What evolution is, is replacing “artificial” with “natural”, and realized that natural selection uses the same mechanism as artifical selection.

                    The atheist’s humor against the religious believer, however, is not strawmaned. When I make fun of religious people who believe the world was magically created, I am not strawmaning their position, I am saying exactly what they believe. Religious people are incapable of representing the honest point of view of atheists without strawmaning them.

                    Comedy based on reality is not good comedy. This is why it is so much easier to make fun religious people in comedy.

                  • Phil

                    Skeptic,

                    OK, so everything you don’t believe in is a “strawman”, and all the scientists that don’t know their elbows from their asses are geniuses.

                    Your first clue should be when you hear an absurd statement such as “we estimate the world to be 2-3 billion years old” or “give or take a few hundred million years”. If your accountant were off by a billion or told you “give or take a few hundred million”, I think you’d be looking for a new accountant.

                    I for one, don’t subscribe to something as ridiculous as us coming from monkeys that came from fish that came from a big explosion. I’ve experienced enough in life to see that things don’t just “happen” by accident or circumstance or luck, the odds are basically impossible.

                    Anyway, tough it’s been interesting debating this with you, looks like the Rambam was right about you using anything I say to attempt to poke fun at the Torah, and it looks like I was right about it being a waste of time.

                    Good Shabbos.

                    • SkepticButJewish

                      “OK, so everything you don’t believe in is a strawman “:

                      1)Look up the definition of “strawman” (it seems you have no idea what it means)
                      2)Look up the atheist position regarding big bang theory and evolution
                      3)Look at your description of the atheist position
                      4)Compare #3 to #2 and confirm that it satisfies condition #1
                      5)Now feel like someone who has no idea what he has talking about with regard to the theory of big bag and evolution

                      “Your first clue should be when you hear an absurd statement such as “we estimate the world to be 2-3 billion years old” or “give or take a few hundred million years”. If your accountant were off by a billion or told you “give or take a few hundred million”, I think you’d be looking for a new accountant.”:

                      Science has no problem admitting that it make a mistake. Science is not like religion, which desperately hold on to bronze-age superstitution garbage. Science will happily admit it made a mistake. Science is always constantly changing and our knowledge is growing more and more. But, and this is important, science changes within a certain context. It is not that all of previous science is suddenly wrong and we throw it away. Rather it changes within a framework. This is what was going on with the age of the earth. The age of the earth was constantly being changed in numbers because what scientists were picking up was inconsistent with other findings. Thus, unlike religion, science can admit a mistake and rechange their views. But their views, over time, get more and more accurate, and are getting closer to the actual number. Compare the age of the earth with the speed of light. Scientists kept on making a mistake finding the speed of light. This does not mean that the speed of light does not exist, but rather that they needed to recheck their results. Science is humble. Religion is arrogant.

                      “I for one, don’t subscribe to something as ridiculous as us coming from monkeys that came from fish that came from a big explosion.”:

                      Nor do I. I challenge you to find a skeptic who actually believes in what you said. No skeptic or atheist believes in your paragraph above. Because your parapgrah is a strawman of the scientific position, again look up the definition of “strawman”. I explained the actual position above. You willfully refuse to acknowledge the actual scientific position because it is hard to argue against it, you rather make up some strawmaned version of it because it is easier to argue against. Basically, you sound like Shumely Boteach when he debates. Misrepresenting your opponents views is exactly what Boteach does. This is why you would never be able to convince an atheist, because they would realize you do not even address their position.

                      But what do you believe? And this is not strawmaned, just expressed in a satirical manner. You believe that an entity magically created the world 6000 years ago. There was two people, a naked man and women. And a talking snake that told them to each an apple, or whatever it was. From that time we were in the stage of sin. Yes, … um, yes, that really is intellectual. Sounds to me like a children’s bedtime story.

                      “I’ve experienced enough in life to see that things don’t just “happen” by accident or circumstance or luck, the odds are basically impossible.”:

                      I agree with you that things do not just happen by accident. What is your point? You want to refute the theory of evolution with that observation? You fail to realize that evolution does not operate randomly. Evolution is anything but random. Natural selection is a mathematical optimization algorithm. That is anything but random. Evolution works precisely because it follows a few basic non-random rules. You should study the theory of evolution to understand what it says. Rather than a strawmaned version you heard in your creationist yeshiva classroom.

                      ” looks like the Rambam was right about you using anything I say to attempt to poke fun at the Torah, and it looks like I was right about it being a waste of time.”:

                      You are wrong about two things.

                      First, if you read everything that I wrote to you, you would find that 90% of all I said was relevant and on topic addressing all the points that you bring up. The other 10% of it was satirical remarks making fun of Judaism. Thus, you and Rambam are wrong here. 90% of what I said is intelligent material.

                      Second, it follows from the above errors, that your other error is concluding that I am a big waste of time. I have corrected your views regarding what evolution really is and what the big bang means. Whether you will modify your views regarding evolution now is only based on whether you are intellectually honest or not.

                    • http://skepticbutjewish.blogspot.com SkepticButJewish

                      “OK, so everything you don’t believe in is a “strawman”, and all the scientists that don’t know their elbows from their asses are geniuses. “:

                      1)Look up the definition of what the strawman is.
                      2)Look at the point of view from an atheist or skeptic regarding theory of evolution
                      3)Look at your misrepresentation of #2
                      4)Compare #3 and #2 together
                      5)Realize you have committed a fallacy

                      “Your first clue should be when you hear an absurd statement such as “we estimate the world to be 2-3 billion years old” or “give or take a few hundred million years”. If your accountant were off by a billion or told you “give or take a few hundred million”, I think you’d be looking for a new accountant.”:

                      Because science always constantly changes. Science is humble. If it makes a mistake or does not have an answer it will admit its error or say “I do not know”. Religion is arrogant. It claims to know all the answers. Religion never changes its answers no matter how much evidence there is against them. Science changes, but it always changes within a framework. When Einstein corrected Newton he did not throw away all of the work of Newton, he simply added more knowledge to what Newton did not know. Likewise, this is how science changes. It is never fully thrown away, just slightly changed, and more knowledge added on. Religion can learn this humility from science.

                      The fact that science cannot give the dead accurate age to the earth does not mean that science is wrong. It simply means our ability to compute this age is not advanced enough. Consider the speed of light. For a long time scientists were unable to measure the speed of light. This does not mean, as your reasoning would imply, that the speed of light does not exist, it rather means our ability to measure light speed is limited. Again, science is humble.

                      “I for one, don’t subscribe to something as ridiculous as us coming from monkeys that came from fish that came from a big explosion.”:

                      Neither do I. There is no theory that says that. What you wrote about is the caricature version of the theory of evolution, it is not the true actual representation of the theory. Like I said, you strawman. I explained to you the theory of evolution in the most basic form above. The only reason why you refuse to acknowledge the theory in its true form and instead substitute your caricature version of it is because you are intellectually dishonest. Unwilling to open your mind to new ideas.

                      “I’ve experienced enough in life to see that things don’t just “happen” by accident or circumstance or luck, the odds are basically impossible.”

                      I agree with you that randomness would never develop the universe and life and all the wonders that exist. However, evolution (nor are the laws of nature for that matter) does not operate by randomness! Evolution is anything but random. The driving mechanism, the invisible hand, of evolution is natural selection, this invisible hand is the designer, it is the method by which selection takes place. Natural selection is a mathematical optimization algorithm in a sense. That is not random. That is a law of nature which organizes life the way it is. But you still insist that evolution is random, because you hold on to your strawmaned caricatured version. You would be so much more intelligent if you learned the theory.

                      “looks like the Rambam was right about you using anything I say to attempt to poke fun at the Torah”:

                      The Rambam is wrong here, and you are not intellectualy honest to admit it. If you read everything that I written towards you, you shall realize that about 90% of my content was intellectual content. Only a small percentage of what I written was satirical humor against the Torah. If all or most of my arguments were equivalent to “the Torah sucks and I hate it”, then the Rambam would have been correct and you would have an excuse to call me a waste of time. However, if you are intellectual honest, read everything I wrote to you, I have made direct refutations to your beliefs. Thus, I have actually been on point. Rambam is wrong, once again, and I have defeated him with my sword of Reason.

                    • Anonymous

                      comments like Phil’s make me so happy to be off the derech whenever I read this website.

          • http://baruchatta.blogspot.com Baruch Atta

            OK, granted, atheists can have a sense of humor. But not about their Atheism. That is sooooo serious.

            • SkepticButJewish

              There is not much to make fun regarding atheism. That is why they make fun of religion.

              • http://www.mazeartist.com Sergey Kadinsky

                Atheists are just talking animals. There. Who wants to top my anti-atheist dis?

                • http://skepticbutjewish.blogspot.com SkepticButJewish

                  Wow, I am no longer a rational thinking skeptic who demands evidence. That one liner was more profound than all that knowledge I have gained in the world. This statement is deeper than all the works of Nietzsche, Volatire, Jefferson, and Smith put together. I never realized that before. Now I am an Orthodox Jew. You have changed me life entirely. Thank you so much for now making me unskeptical and undemanding of evidence, and just accepting everything on faith. That makes so much sense. I am embarrased I never realized that before.

      • http://leahkleimblog.blogspot.com/2010/05/just-say-you-love-me-for-rest-of-my.html Leah Kleim

        I only read jewish things. I learn everyday. I have no interest in nareshkeit.

        • http://baruchatta.blogspot.com Baruch Atta

          “…I have no interest in nareshkeit….”
          Hi Leah.
          That’s why this blog is so important to you. Not narishkeit, I mean?

          Baruch

  • http://baruchatta.blogspot.com Baruch Atta

    A lot of the comments miss the very important point – that OTD is a departure from Orthodox Judaism.

    Orthodox Judaism is ten percent d’orisa and ninety percent d’rabonon.

    Orthodoxy means following the dictates of the Tanayim, Amarayim, Gaonim, Reshonim, Aharonim, and Roshei Yeshivos.

    Being “machmir” for the Rashba means that we need to soak our meat for a half hour before salting. The “ikar haDin” is just to wash the meat well before salting. B’dievad, if you just washed the meat, and then salted, and then washed, and then cooked the meat, it would still be kosher, and your rosh hayeshiva would eat it. Bottom line, cooked blood is only d’rabanon itself, so the whole discussion is in rabbi’s opinions of rabbi’s opinions. This is just one example. The whole religion is like this. So if you bought your meat at the A&P, you probably would not be over any d’orisas. As long as it’s not pork.

    Our poor Nataly seems to have been disillusioned by so called “rabbis” to not believe in what other rabbis are telling us. It is not an issue with belief or faith in the existence of G-d. It is rather a lack of faith in the mesora of rabbis. If you have learned in depth, you would too. It doesn’t take much to be disillusioned with rabbis.

  • DCvpjrm18

    I second that about going to an off the beaten track (for Boro Park anyway) seminary, possibly a BT one. I strongly doubt Neve would be your speed, but what about somewhere like Nishmat?

    You’ve got the Hebrew skills. Plus you can go on the derech into an entirely different community, which could be healthy in its own right.

  • Rachel

    Nataly,

    Thank you for sharing your unique story. You are not the only one. While few ultra frum girls grow up in meshulach’s houses, many have lived parallel existences under similiar trying circumstances, all in the name of religion and piety.

    I just want to respond to a recurrent comment by readers who obviously find orthodoxy satisfying and meaningful, which I think is unfair to those of us who don’t:

    11 Anonymous May 11, 2010 at 9:05 AM
    “Exactly, if they weren’t angry, they wouldn’t be snooping aroung frum satire, commenting against religeon on every one of Heshy’s posts!”

    Phil: “On another note, I can’t figure out why anyone so uninterested or disconnected from Judasim and frumkeit would even bother reading a “frum” based blog, much less arguing with frummies about it. Yes, It’s not always frum and it’s not always satire, but to me, it’s sensless to do so.

    I don’t read atheist satire, muslim satire, hindu satire, etc., so why would any of the above read frum satire?”

    I can explain. As an “OTD” athiest, I can attest that Orthodox Judaism is still facinating and intriguing to me. It defines and permeates my culture, my heritage, my early childhood education, my ethnicity, my socioeconomic class. I am a formerly hasidic girl and I cannot escape that little detail of my life. I always found it difficult to grapple with the fact that my seven siblings had the same exact parents, education and upbringing as I, yet by the time we all reached adulthood, they and I had come to such completely divergent lifestyles and views on the world. They are very bright, analytical, educated, and inteligent ppl, yet somehow they find the same religion that I found repressive, ignorant, elitist to be fullfilling and meaningful. They are my family and I respect their choice to partake in a lifestyle that makes them happy. While I find the same lifestyle excrutiating, as a (partially) outside observer I am facinated by the ambience, the fervor, the rich history and the fact that it makes people close to me happy.

    Additionally, I would appreciate it if Frum Jews would respect my appreciation for my own culture and not make sweeping judgements about me based on my theological views.

  • http://leahkleimblog.blogspot.com/ Leah Kleim

    Dear G-D…
    I fell off the derech, I am a yossom, so you are my Tatte, why didnt you fix me? I learn every day, I give my last dollar away. What else do you want from me ? My arms ? YOU HAVE THEM, I put brochas all over them ! Tatte, geb mir a tirutz ! un mach schnell 1

  • FrumGer

    What is Funny is That all The OTDers Get pissed when someone says that they are pissed, which is a sure sign they are pissed. when someone is uber defensive you know there is some underlaying hurt or anger.

    Hitchens & Dawkins gets creamed by little old Shmuley Boteach in every debate. Dawkins thinks aliens sent life on earth now, and hitchens only argues about the so called immorality in the Torah. they are weak debators and their logic is cyclical, like any fanatic.

    • http://skepticbutjewish.blogspot.com SkepticButJewish

      “Hitchens & Dawkins gets creamed by little old Shmuley Boteach in every debate.”:

      Shmuley Boteach is a retard. I cannot imagine how someone who listen to his arguments. I heard Boteach say “infinite amount of time is the same thing as God” in one of his debates. Wow, your Shmuley is really one smart guy. I think he deserves a Nobel prize for a line like that.

      “Dawkins thinks aliens sent life on earth now”:

      Show me where Dawkins actually believes in this? Instead of pulling this statement out of your anus. You probably watched the propaganda piece by Ben Stein and therefore think that Dawkins believes in this.

      “hitchens only argues about the so called immorality in the Torah”:

      The Torah told Moshe and his army to massacre all the women who slept with a male from Moab. The Torah said to massacre Amalek, even the little babies and children and women. This is moral? Hitchens is absolutely correct that the Torah is a barbaric text of primitive men.

  • Ilana

    What a story! You should think about writing a memoir.

  • http://offderech.com Off the Derech Blog

    If you are religious or have lived a religious life and are finding yourself with many dilemmas and unanswered questions and are feeling completely alone with this struggle, then this place is for you.

    Visit my blog, leave a question or send us an email

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  • http://shilohmusings.blogspot.com Batya from Shiloh

    amazing story, good luck to you

  • http://www.rabbangamliel.blogspot.com Rabban Gamliel

    It is interesting to see skeptics (although only in regard to religion) on blogs who claim they were just driven to the truth without any bias but that someone religious cannot make the same claim. It is plain to see that such skeptics are being insecure in their beliefs so they need to feel that they arrive at them through some cosmic force all mysteriously making them see the truth of what just happens to pass for truth in their particular time and place.
    The same ones who demand objectivity on the part of their opponents turn themselves into pretzels on behalf of their own beliefs. If you see everything in black and white chances are you aren’t thinking. Too often skeptic bloggers are only skeptical in religion’s direction but the idea that a supposed concensus could be wrong and can be evaluated based on the evidence is anathema to them (although that is how science really works and when a scientist acts otherwise he’s making a fool of himself). Dawkins could say the moon is made of cheese and he’d be believed by these types. Stephen Jay Gould said that scientific concensus is usually a sign of trouble in science. Also a blog you would learn in college is just a blog. All sites are assumed to be crap for college professors unless you see otherwise.

  • http://www.rabbangamliel.blogspot.com Rabban Gamliel

    Let’s see what kind of a pink marshmellow I get by writing lightheartedly
    Here goes:Ha Ha.

  • http://www.rabbangamliel.blogspot.com Rabban Gamliel

    Ok so it became an angry cone…hmm.

  • anonymous

    This story is very funny but it is one big giant lie! I have known Natalie since first grade, and I can tell you for a fact she did not grow up this way! First of all, she lived with her aunt & uncle (I don’t think her parents are alive), and her aunt taught me piano in her living room. NO ONE lived in the kitchen!!!!! Natalie had her own room, and the only “tenants” in the house were her cousins! She didn’t even have to share a room with her little sister! She was always shy and quiet and read during recess. I don’t think she stopped being religious until college. Great imagination but I hope you realize this is not true!

  • Yechiel Goldson

    I want to know why, if people go off the derech, they are still angry at a God they dont believe in.

  • Zimadonna

    Don’t forget the Drug addict/sex addict myths that come with OTDers. I’m OTD and I love the nasty comments demanding us to read the mishna and other crap because we can’t possibly not believe there’s a God, we’re simply delusional god believers who didn’t learn enough toirah. Lol. Okay.

  • Yanky

    I must say, when I began reading this post I was sure the whole thing would be about poking fun at religion. To my pleasant surprise, it wasn’t and I must say I am proud of you (and I’m sure G-d is too.)
    I also had a very hard childhood, at home and at school but I hung onto it and chose to stick closer to G-d instead of the opposite and I must say it paid off a million-fold. I am now happily married to an understanding and loving spouse, bless G-d. I think sticking to G-d provided me with some much needed sanity.
    Anyway, I just wanted to let you know that although it’s certainly hard to change your life once again, there are many people and organizations who can help you with that if you really want it.
    Whatever you choose to do in life, I wish you much hatzlacha. Just know that Hashem always loves you no matter what you do and how you look – that was my biggest comfort growing up!!!

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