With the Off The Derech community growing at such a rapid pace, the Rabbonom who set community hashkafa have been unable to keep up. Splinter groups keep forming and I think they’ve reached a critical point, just last week, several of what some consider the gedolei ha’otd sat down for an impromtu discussion in order to figure out who is actually OTD. One of the biggest issues is that the OTD community centers around people who actually care about their former lives, those who’ve struggled in the real world, and many who have had to give up their entire lives in order to eat bacon, have illicit sex, and go to the library.
Should those who’ve merely taken off their yarmulke at college and hung out at Friday night frat parties be allowed to label themselves as Off The Derech?
Apparently it’s not such an easy question to answer. Amongst the OTD gedolim there are folks just learning to speak English with little more than a second grade education all the way to folks who’ve seen goyim first hand in the army and have gotten doctorates outside of the Touro or BTL system. It’s kind of like the supreme court in many ways. Unfortunately, the on the derech community is so charged in their anti-OTD propaganda that they usually paint them all as atheist, liberal, heathens, who’s only interest is to undermine the Baal Teshuva movement which is apparently replenishing those we lose to the OTDers. Just looking at who the OTD world considers to be their gedolim is an example that it is a diverse community and some of those gedolim still consider themselves culturally frum.
This may be one of the reasons why many in the OTD community don’t consider those who grew up Modern Orthodox to be one of their own. “When you grow up Chassidish or very Yeshivish, you already consider Modern Orthodoxy to be not frum” according to most OTD folks we interviewed. How can those who grew up with the freedoms that many have struggled to gain through sacrifice, be allowed to join the real OTD community?
And so the debate rages…
Others have pondered whether it was appropriate for converts and BT’s to be allowed in the club. Apparently, everyone is jumping on the OTD bandwagon and in the future it will be just like the frum community with varying levels of observance. There are OTDers that wash motzi for their big macs and use their old tefillin in sexual escapades. Maybe that’s why you don’t see too many pairs of tefillin on Ebay yet.
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