An apology to the Off The Derech community

off the derech Apologizing is always hard, because you’re admitting you did something wrong and since much of the time people are insincere when they apologize you may just be furthering your douchieness along. For all of you who don’t know, I wrote a post last week that was based on the quote of someone in a closed Off The Derech community on Facebook. I was a lurker, I rarely used the group to post my own links and I used it the same way I use any forum of people I sort of relate to. I used it mostly for ideas and chizuk.

Apparently my post caused a great debate in the community, I had no idea I was kicked out of the community until several folks had told me via email and facebook. Chefs generally don’t have time to stay up on the latest internet happenings, I didn’t even know the post was controversial until I went to check spam pretty long after I wrote the thing. I also had not realized that I violated any rules. I had written a piece about the OTD community’s halachic guidelines a while back and hadn’t noticed any rules about posting things on other sites, I also wasn’t warned, but I understand the need for chumros in the group. It was merely commentary on another post, being accused of plagiarism was a bit much, considering I never said that post was my own and as for the John Lennon theme, that was my own idea – I’m fairly certain other people come up with similar or same ideas for things all the time.

I take down a dozen posts or videos a year due to valid requests and I would have gladly done the same with this. However, since no one emailed said request I just left it up. Usually with such things I get an instant flood of emails asking me to take it down and I’m usually amicable.

Of course I had to go through a grieving period in order to flush any excitement or excuses out of my system. This grieving included something so douchy, it can only be compared to drunk dialing in facebook form. On Saturday night after someone from New York allowing me to take a look at all the debate about my post got me in a loony mood, I posted a status update that stated I had a number of fake profiles and I intended to spy upon the group as the debate over my actions raged. The debate was almost like a Chassidic Misnagdic rift of sorts and was highly entertaining.

In the end, my fellow blogger Abandoning Eden whom I’ve known for years of internet discussion compelled me to admit to my douchieness (not really how to spell this word) and figure out a way to apologize. I should also mention that YLove’s comment about being a OTD ally rings true, but they are absolutely right for kicking me out of the club. I may be a cynical skeptic who isn’t considered frum enough by the frum community and OTD enough for the OTD community (one comment on facebook mentioned how I was in purgatory) but I am still frum and in order to keep the OTD community safe it’s best I not even be around for it may tempt my yetzer to do egregious acts against the OTD halachic guidelines and mesorah.

The OTD community is a strange place and whenever non-OTD people comment on it, we tend to get it wrong. Yes, many of my friends are off the derech, but most of them are not really part of the OTD community. Most of them have left completely and have nothing to do with other folks who are still trying to figure out their lives. Before all you frummies jump in a judge these folks, it’s an incredibly diverse community just like any community and generalizing is wrong. It’s fun for sure, but when I write something serious about them it’s usually not a generalization.

Now here’s the kicker. I need to give a big yasher koach to the OTD community members for being the most respectful debaters in Frum Satire history. In general, when a large group of people get offended by something I put up, it degenerates quickly into personal attacks on me and my family. In all the debates on the OTD board, on my wall, on my blog and elsewhere – I did not see one comment attacking me or my wife personally. I know they will get kick out of this, but the OTD folks were far more respectful and tactful than any frum person who was angry about something I posted. I’ve had frum folks curse me and my family and call us disgusting things. I don’t take being called a douche personally, because I did do a douche thing. The commentary was mostly very thoughtful and I’m still shocked at how respectful. Also, this is the first time that dozens of people did not tell me they were never going to read my blog again, that is classic frum response to reading one thing that angered them.

In the end, according to Rachmuna Litzlon (one of the OTD chazal) I did more for OTD kiruv than he could ever hope to do, my wife and I also decided to give tzedaka to Footsteps as a way of our appreciations for the community.

I should note that Saturday nights facebook post ranks as the douchiest thing I’ve ever done in my life.

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