Rabbi, I live in a small town in America, and I recently became religious…
Rabbi, I live in a small town in America, and I recently became religious. My parents are not very happy about this, and I don’t get much support from my non-religious Jewish school mates in the Jewish School I attend. In addition, my teachers and professors – even the more traditional ones – don’t believe in Judaism the way I do, and sometimes I must admit that I also get some doubts about the truth of Hashem and His Torah. I believe 100 percent, but sometimes I get confused… maybe I need to work on my love and fear towards Hashem?
I also learned that Judaism believes in teaching others, so I’ve been trying to make my parents and classmates religious too, but they react badly to what I say. I explain to them how much of a sin it is to go against Hashem, and the terrible mistakes and punishments. But they just don’t get it!
I feel like life would have been so much easier if I was just born to a religious family, and if my parents would just let me go away to a Jewish religious school in a big Jewish city. Any help would be greatly appreciated. Thank you for your time reading this and for your website.
It sounds like you are in a very challenging situation, and it’s amazing that you are standing strong to do what’s right even against opposition and in the face of challenges.
1. The laws of Hashgacha Protis teach us that every situation we are put in is because Hashem trusts us to utilize this situation to its fullest, and because this is exactly the situation that is destined for us to complete our life’s mission. The fact that you are in this situation is because Hashem wants you to grow from it, both personally, and to help others grow.
2. There are different approaches to so-called Kiruv. The best – and the most effective – way of Kiruv is not by fighting evil, but by promoting goodness. Not by putting down people’s shortcomings, but by promoting the beauty of Torah and helping people connect. The Tanya points out that if one shows love to a person who is seemingly far, then even in the remote chance that the recip won’t realize the full spiritual effect, one has have at the very least gained the Mitzvah of Ahavat Yisroel – which is lacking by a person who uses threatening and negative tactics to bring people close to Hashem. Practically speaking, if you show care and compassion to every person you meet, and display a genuine interest in their life, they will become open vessels to receive the love to Hashem and to Torah, and then you will gain in so many different ways. They will also learn to love Hashem by realizing that a person’s connection to Hashem makes them more respectful, and not G-d forbid more cynical. And remember, that the three loves: of Torah, of Hashem, and of a fellow Jew – can never be experienced one without the other two.
3. In regards to growing in your own love and fear to Hashem, the optimal and most necessary way of doing this is by learning an abundance of Chassidus. Even if one finishes many Masechtot of Gemara and knows a lot of Torah, they should still spend time learning Chassidus. Chassidus is the best way to achieve love and fear of Hashem, and also to gain clarity in one’s way of life and expectations.
4. In regards to the specific questions that you ask about the truth of Hashem, firstly I want to point out that there is nothing wrong with asking the questions you ask. When a person is younger they naturally take things for granted, and as they grow they begin to question what they believed – not out of doubts, but simply because they never thought about these ideas in an intellectual way. The simple answers to these questions are actually quite straight forward, but to delve to the depth of it requires time, and much precaution, because with our limited understanding and with the foolishness of the Yetzer Hara one can be lead astray by his so called ‘deep intellect’.
Check out these articles from Chabad.org:
- Aren’t Moses’ and Mohammad’s Stories Similar?
- Letter from the Rebbe / Existence of G-d
- Key Jewish FAQ’s / Proof of the Existence of G–d
- How Do We Know that G‑d Exists?
I wish you much success in this very special mission that Hashem gave you, and much clarity, until the day that you will be able to devote your time in a Yeshiva that teaches both the revealed parts of the Torah and Chassidus, with your parents agreement and encouragement.