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Kiruv Rabbi comes up with 10 reasons kids go off the derech

off the derech Just like the shidduch crisis before, the OTD crisis is hitting the frum community pretty hard. There are seminars, chinuch round tables, asifas, and a lot of discussion behind the scenes amongst gedolim and rabonom as to how to fix the problem. Some call it an epidemic, rather than a crisis, and one Rabbi recently came up with a list of 10 things that make people go off the derech. Many Rabbis agree that going off the derech is usually a response to some terrible thing, emotional problem, or dysfunctional family, but until now – no one has really come up with any concrete issues that the community can focus on. Thanks to this Rabbi, someone very involved in kiruv and chinuch I’m told, we can now try to fix the problems that some people in the community may have.

1) Using plastic tablecloths on shabbos: Unfortunately, people these days have more on their minds than preparing for shabbos. The plastic tablecloth is such a shame really, because it sends messages to people that we don’t care about shabbos. Children see this, they see our busy lives, they see that we don’t take time out for shabbos preparations. They see the hypocrisy.

2) Oorah Chinese Auction: I’m in kiruv and I don’t mean to say that Oorah isn’t an amazing organization, but their Chinese Auction catalogs make people think that giving tzedaka isn’t about the act of giving, it’s about the act of getting a prize or the chance to win a prize. The catalog is full of gashmias and shouldn’t we be teaching our children about giving for the sake of helping. It’s hard to find an organization today that doesn’t offer some sort of raffle, prize, or sefer in exchange for tzedaka.

3) Telz Charoses: Children see chutzpah and the Telz Charoses that everyone gets around pesach shows that chutzpah. It’s inedible, actually looks like cement, and one of the only ways to get children to stay up through magid is to make homemade charoses, not by using inedible things sent to us in the mail. Once again it teaches laziness and ways to get around doing the mitzvah.

4) Acting Outraged: One of the unfortunate claims of people who go off the derech is that the frum community is full of hypocrites who refuse to be outraged by their issues. They are right, we get outraged over something happening that doesn’t effect us, yet how often do we get outraged by the untznius billboards in our own neighborhoods? How often do we actually act on our outrage? Or does it just stay as outrage, we need to start acting on our outrage, instead of just getting outraged in shul or at the shabbos table.

5) Modern Orthodoxy: One of the biggest issues that I’ve come across in my work is explaining to youngsters why Modern Orthodoxy is assur. It’s a hard thing to do because some of them wear yarmulkes, tzitzis, and even beards, just like us. I’ve wondered why the rabbonom have never called a conference to talk about how to deal with this wolf in the sheep pack. How are we supposed to teach our children about wrong and right, when there are people claiming they are right, when they are clearly wrong?

6) Why didn’t Hashem kill me: “I turned on the light on shabbos and lightning didn’t strike” How often do we hear out at risk youth saying things like that? We need to stop preaching to them like they are college students juststarting to light shabbos candles, they need to know that much of what they are doing wrong, will affect their olam habah and probably bump them up to the nose bleed seats in the beis medrish. Lightning is not going to strike, but unfortunately those uneducated folks becoming Rebbe’s teach this sort of thing.

7) Too much focus on tznius: There has to be a more friendly way of telling women that the Torah considers them second class citizens that want to snare men in a sex trap. We can’t go on with this rhetoric of “no” and “don’t”, we need to come up with better ways of teaching them the beauty of being relegated to baby making machines. Women are only second class citizens if you go by today’s standards, really the Torah is very favorable of them, no other ancients gave their women any rights at all.

8) Sex Education: I know I’m going to get a lot of flack for this, but many of my colleagues and peers need to know something about sex. I don’t think sex abuse is the problem, I think the problem is that both Rabbis and talmidim don’t know anything about sex and so they go exploring their bodies without knowing it’s wrong. How we can we blame a rabbi for touching a student when they just thought of it as akin to tickling. We need to stop blaming these supposed “sex offenders” and start educating people as to the proper modes of touching.

9) Gourmet Food: The best way to get a kid off the mesorah mentality is to serve gourmet food, not only does it hint to the kid that the gedolim had no taste, but it shows them that life is better now than it was in the shtetl. We want to get away from such apikorsusdike thoughts. If a kid believes it’s better now than it was in the days of yore, than why would he ever want to bring moshiach and go back to such times.

10) Shidduch Crisis: How would you feel if you were a 23 year old girl who’s the last in her class, you’ve said perek shira, gave money to kupat ha’ir, and davened all around the world at various kevarim with no help, your emunah and bitachon are wavering….unfortunately there’s no answer to this conundrum. Single girls are the most at risk, because they have no family and are rejected by society. If you are already a second class citizen who’s only goal in life is to make children, what better choice is there than to go off the derech?

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{ 41 comments… add one }
  • Yochanan January 14, 2014, 10:56 AM

    “Using plastic tablecloths on shabbos”

    I’m a BT. I never even heard of plastic table cloths before meeting frum people. If this causes people to go OTD, then no one would be frum.

    • Frum From BS January 14, 2014, 11:07 AM


  • Dumpster Diva January 14, 2014, 11:51 AM

    Wanting to save the planet. Children learn about ecology and loss of habitat of endangered animals from watching the Discovery Channel through shop windows. Suddenly their eyes are open to the fact that their family and every other family they know of uses plastic flatware and paper plates which will eventually kill off all living things on the earth.
    Whatever you do, never allow your children to watch the Discovery Channel. It
    is assur.

    • farher January 15, 2014, 8:09 PM

      Care to explain how plastic will kill off everything?

      • Dumpster Diva January 15, 2014, 11:28 PM

        Watch any nature channel ‘farher’ and you will find out. That should send almost anyone off the cliff, nevermind the derech.

  • Andy Abrams January 14, 2014, 11:55 AM

    I have no problem with you using my image of the “Kosher Pig” for this post, but a little credit for the origin of the image (http://tattoojewmovie.com) seems appropriate and reasonable. That said, funny post!

  • Rav Shmuel January 14, 2014, 12:02 PM

    11. The Aspen Tissues that are placed in every shul – not to mention the miniature one ply shabbos tissues in the bathrooms. When impressionable youngsters are allowed into the world and (sometimes by accident and sometimes under the influence of the evil media) squeeze the Charmin it’s all over…

    • Dumpster Diva January 15, 2014, 9:14 AM


    • SDK January 16, 2014, 6:34 AM

      Seriously. Kids know — somehow — that there is real bathroom tissue out there and that this crap is not required in schach. As soon as they realize that one can use the bathroom on shabbos without getting one’s hands wet, it’s all over.

  • Shragi January 14, 2014, 12:14 PM

    12. Out of town communities. Worse than the Modern Orthodox, kids from out of town communities undermine our control over our holy New York chinuch, they come to our yeshivos with their out of town ideas, thinking that you can be frum – even yeshivish! – and attend games at stadiums, or know what Spiderman is.

  • I'm a loser trying to impersonate A. Nuran January 14, 2014, 3:08 PM

    i went off the derech when i was 14 ….. twa`s a day i will never forget. its the day that i realised that my uncle has been doing terrible things to me… since my uncle is religous i hold much hate towards extreme orthodoxy…. and thats the story of my dreadfull life.

    • I'm the same loser trying to impersonate A. Nuran January 15, 2014, 2:23 AM

      i think everyone likes this A. Nuran better the other one is ssooooo boring and full of self hatred

      • Now I'm trying to impersonate Shragi January 15, 2014, 2:25 AM

        i agree!!! finally some action!!

      • Now I'm calling myself lakewoodhatyr and keeping up the conversation with myself January 15, 2014, 2:26 AM

        true say! but who is A. Nuran anyway?!?!

  • MalachHamovies January 14, 2014, 4:05 PM

    Talking about hypocrisy I once asked a friend of mine why is it not permissible to touch your own “shmekel” yet it was (is ?) perfectly okay for a rebbi in a yeshiva to touch it. And then having being told by the so called gedolei yisroel to sweep it under the rug.

    This should be a kal v’chomer. If someone touches you then sweep it under the rug. Al achas kama v’kama if one touches themselves and feels good about it then gedolei yisroel, Rabonim and rosh hayeshivas should tell the bochurim… don’t worry its alright.. nothing is wrong. just sweep it under the rug..the experience not the you know what. lol.

  • im off OTD January 14, 2014, 7:29 PM

    these are probably the most stupidest reasons i have evry heard in my life i was laughing reading this which ever rabbi wrote these 10 things is a complete idiot.

    • Maryland Maidel January 14, 2014, 8:15 PM


  • KNEIDELUNDRUM January 14, 2014, 8:57 PM

    Used to drink Gaytorade…. Now it’s got a hecksher so stopped drinking all flavors cold turkey

  • An-on January 15, 2014, 12:08 AM

    13) Lack of broadband internet. Kids will use the internet to look for porn no matter what. But when they are relegated to dial-up speeds this increases the amount of time spent looking for material and not in the bais medrash or getting a good night’s sleep many-fold. Often I see bochrim falling asleep at their shtenders and without even asking I know that this is a boy whose family has a windows 95 computer and a 24 baud modem in the basement.

    • A. Nuran January 17, 2014, 5:11 PM

      If you have 24 bawds in your basement you don’t need the Internet!

  • I'm still a loser and I'm still trying to impersonateimpersonate A. Nuran January 15, 2014, 2:15 AM

    thanx hesh for taking care of that annoying impersonater but ive got to admit its uncanny how much he knew about my life!

  • OTD but still believe January 15, 2014, 3:41 AM

    Whoever wrote this is a complete moron if this there way of trying to deal withthis OTD “issue” then the jewish relegion is doomed

    • Rebbetzin Shprynkle January 15, 2014, 5:17 AM

      It’s doomed either way because it is out dated

      • 4r3 January 15, 2014, 8:05 PM

        It’s indeed out-dated and that’s exactly why it will prevail.

        • Rebbetzin Shprynkle January 16, 2014, 5:17 AM

          We shall see. The OTD community is expanding all the time as this religion appears more and more socially and morally irrelevant and inappropriate.

    • 4r3 January 15, 2014, 8:08 PM

      The Jewish religion doesn’t need any support from those trying to deal with ‘issues’.
      It’s fine, we can cope without them.

      • Judiasm is from Sumerian religion January 16, 2014, 5:18 AM

        Cope and shrink.

        • 4r3 January 16, 2014, 6:45 PM

          I see the opposite of shrinking happening, dunno where you reside…

          • Judiasm is from Sumerian religion January 17, 2014, 5:53 AM

            I reside in reality. Just google the subject. A massive study on American Jewry was just conducted and we are disapearing.

          • A. Nuran January 17, 2014, 8:52 AM

            What you see is an increasingly visible, committed, insular Judaism. Overall affiliation is shrinking.

            • Judiasm is from Sumerian religion January 17, 2014, 11:26 AM

              well said

  • Challah Maidel January 15, 2014, 6:04 AM

    As someone who is moderately religious, I had days where I questioned my own faith. Growing up, the negative experience with religion outweighed the positive. Aside for living in a closed minded insular community that looked upon those who didn’t measure up to their frumkeit with contempt, disgust, and arrogance, I attended a school compromised of an administration with dogmatic views of religion. They heavily preached modesty and threatened Hell upon those who wouldn’t follow in their path. This experience concluded with my hatred and skepticism towards religion and it’s practitioners. I came to believe that their extremism was due to their willful (and woeful) ignorance of the world outside and around them and I wanted no part of it. I contemplated about “leaving the path” on several occasions. Their lack of middos, blind faith, inability to treat people from all walks of the earth with respect and dignity, intolerance for those who are not like them, their imposition of religion upon us “less frum folks”, their illusional picture that they paint of their society being pristine and free of sin, and their double standard hypocrisy nearly pushed me to the edge. The straw that nearly broke the camel’s back was the fact that people refused to set me up or go out with me because I didn’t receive a proper Bais Yaakov education. Their opinion of me is that I was a STD ridden whore of the lowest kind even though I never really had a boyfriend or touched guys at that time. Nonetheless , I was still tainted. And people wonder why there is a “shidduch crisis” which I believe is total bullocks. While my hatred simmered a bit, I still have my questions and doubts.

    • 4r3 January 15, 2014, 8:02 PM

      Thing is, these traits they pick up from their younger years in school.
      For example, in the various Ultra-Orthodox schools I attended, not even a slight focus was given on ‘Dracheha Darkeh Noiam’.. etc. and the message of peace and love for all humankind created with the image of God.
      Charedi education nowadays is basically a sport of who can learn the most Gemara..

  • yland January 15, 2014, 8:29 AM

    I don’t necessarily agree with these 10 facts. The plastic tablecloth is redicolous the going of the derech guy post bec of your uncle makes u look like a complete looser. The food in the shtetel back in the day was way better then any restaurant or gourmet food out there today. We as Jews who believe God is out there need to do what is right and believe in him. Not go to davenport 3 times a day bec u want to be seen in shall but actually talk and pray to God. Not keep shabbes by having cholent but actually separate ourselves from a working day and appreciate a day of rest. The word ofd is for kids real big boys know how to handle they relationship with God the proper way. We are all humans after all the right thing to do is stay away from judging anyone and do the right thing.

    • Anonymous January 15, 2014, 8:36 AM

      learn to spell

    • 4r3 January 15, 2014, 8:03 PM

      Cool story Bro

  • yland January 15, 2014, 8:37 AM

    Basicly if u feel like the plastic tablecloth will make u happy and u go out there to buy it for shabbes good for u. If u feel like having sex in your way and no way the rabbi thought u good for u, the key in life is to be happy and feel confident with everything u do the second u feel bad and know u should not do something because it will anger god don’t do it.

  • Aliza January 15, 2014, 10:08 AM

    Well, I think that we really need to separate two things that get mixed together on this blog way too often.

    Small Town Mentality – Flatbush and Boro Park for instance are infected with it for very obvious reasons. I grew up in a small, but completely non-Jewish town, so I see the similarities that have absolutely nothing to do with being frum or Orthodox Judaism in general.

    Small towns put an individual under pressure to conform. And it usually means to conform to the small town mediocrity. Now some individuals are unable to deal with this pressure and preserve their ambitions, individuality and fulfill their potential. They feel that they have to escape or they will be dead inside. Usually these are people which for whatever reason feel the heightened need to belong, to be accepted and not to feel as an outsider.

    I strongly believe it has nothing to do with religion but more with human nature. People in small towns don’t like to think that someone is better. So they will peck with their small beaks and use religion as a way to put others down.

    However it doesn’t mean that frum community is bad as a concept. I think that if people who are strong enough can do their own things without caring much about what other people say. They are able to change the community from within. After all Flatbush and Boro Park are really in NYC and it’s not a small town at all 🙂

  • SDK January 16, 2014, 6:39 AM

    You forgot — correct spelling. If you know English well enough to spell correctly, you are already lost to the Jewish people. Give up and just start wearing colored stockings already.

  • OTD Specialist February 13, 2017, 9:49 PM

    This Article should be removed from the Internet! This is the biggest piece of crap I’ve ever seen in my entire life.
    Apparently whoever wrote this article isn’t involved in the crisis of teens going off because your saying that it’s not because of abuse, when studies today show that it is abuse.
    And plastic table cloths! HAHA!!!
    This is so embarrassing how someone can write this for the public to see when they don’t know what they’re talking about.
    Obviously this person isnt involved and listen, this is a good life lesson for everyone,

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