Originally posted on Baal Habos
22 FEBRUARY 2009
At least once a month, I get some unsolicited Email, and it's always of some interest to me.
What's your take of this letter below?
It included what seems to be a real name, but of course, I won't post that and I edited some other detail (number of kids).
I have a similar story to yours. Maybe we can compare notes.
First of all, although I'm really today frummer than I was raised, I do have a netiya to go OTD. When I was younger I was too embarrassed. Today I'm married and soon I'll have _ kids.
I have always realized that most people don't agree with each other. Chassidim don't agree with Litvaks, different streams in each don't agree with each other. But one thing everyone has in common: EVERYBODY is convinced that he's seeing things straight and if everyone else would just open their eyes they would see that WE are right.
Litvaks are convinced that every chassid deep inside knows that being litvish is right. Every Modern Orthodox I've ever met thinks that every Charedi secretly wants to be MO.
And every Satmar KNOWS that the only reason everyone else is not Satmar is because they're letting their taavos in the way. I could go on and on.
Most people would have decided that they're all a bunch of garbage, but I decided that maybe everyone has some truth and some sheker, and I love everybody and appreciate everybody for what they stand for. And I try understanding them from *their* point of view. I take what everyone says seriously, even after I make a decision I still respect the outlook of others (and to the disgust of some of my friends, I even respect Satmar!)
I also decided that I wanted to understand people with sfeykos in Emunah from their own point of view. After checking out their blogs I was shocked to see that they also are convinced that if only everyone else would just open their eyes then they would also have sfeykos. Of course, they realize that the people without sfeykos say the exact same thing,
Really, I shouldn't have been shocked at all. They're just like everyone else, who can't think out of their box. But I also started having sfeykos. Of course, sfeykos doesn't prove anything, and kashyos don't prove anything. Someone who has doubts about his atheism doesn't automatically start believing in Christ.
Maybe frum people are right that there are answers?
So what do we do?
The rabbonim are convinced that there are answers for everything. Have you contacted them? Just because I don't understand their answers doesn't mean that they are wrong. just because I don't understand bilogy doesn't disprove evolution, but neither does it prove it?
Right now I don't have alot of time for EMail discusions, and even less time to go to Footsteps to discuss this with live people. Do you have any eytzos?
My response was
"Have you read my story? I don't think it's similar at all. I had no Netiya to go OTD.
I'm also not exactly sure what you're asking. I have no eitsos as as evidenced by my blog.
BTW, are you trying to be Mekarev me?
I'm almost certain he was trying a Kiruv job. But why does he need to be so sneaky? Why not just come out and say it? Why the subterfuge? Can't Kiruv stand on it's own without deception? I can't imagine Footsteps doing anything as underhanded as this.
I haven't heard from him again, so I'm pretty sure I'm right.
Was I wrong? Was I too brusque with him? Is he another lost skeptic soul who needs my chizzuk? I don't think so. I think I had him nailed. I think he was a fake phony and fraud. But then again, you never know.
posted by Baal Habos @ 2/22/2009
I could bet my house (don't have one, but whatever), that you nailed him. It screams from the lines. I could see he doesn't get that the pettiness he is used to is not what our issue is. Don't worry about him.
Sunday, February 22, 2009, 3:56:59 PM
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To be honest, it doesnt really matter.
You dont have to feel annoyed be missionaries. We should accept the truth wherever it is. If a rabbi wants to throw down the gauntlet and convince you with his answers, wouldnt you go for it and try to prove him YOUR answers?
You dont have to feel bad if you were too brusque; you dont win a mitzvah by being mkerev frum people to be skeptics. The facts are out there, and anybody who possesses critical thinking skills and is willing to use them is welcome.
Sunday, February 22, 2009, 5:08:21 PM
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>You dont have to feel bad if you were too brusque; you dont win a mitzvah by being mkerev frum people to be skeptics.
No, I'm not trying to turn believers into skeptics. My concern is what if he's really a skeptic who's looking for chizuk. But a real skeptic would never use a real name.
Sunday, February 22, 2009, 6:57:26 PM
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"But a real skeptic would never use a real name."
You shouldn't say that. Some people are in a position to do so. He just souneded like a fraud.
Monday, February 23, 2009, 12:48:10 AM
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wow. seems to me, your response to that guy was way out of character compared with all the other thoughtful, measured, intelligent comments of yours that I've been seeing. Reading--and rereading--his email, I didn't see a single thing that really 'screamed phony'. Not terribly sophisticated, maybe---certainly not well-versed in the glib repartee some of your regulars favor---but to all appearances, sincere; simply someone bothered by doubts who thought he might've found a like mind. Trying to be mekarev you? Was that the part about everyone having some truth and some sheker... or maybe the admission that he has sfeykos? c'mon...
your assertion that you "don't think [your background/story] is similar at all" is a case of protesting too much. The similarity he referred to was plainly--and obviously--that both you and he had doubts, period.
Your reaction was too defensive. And the way some of the others applauded, with zero consideration of the possibility the guy was sincere, makes it seem uncomfortably like a closed circle reinforcing its own, ahem, orthodoxy.
just my opinion. (For the record, I'm only here because I saw, and enjoyed, many of your posts on various blogs.)
Tuesday, February 24, 2009, 3:15:43 PM
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Al Achron, Rishon.
>(For the record, I'm only here because I saw, and enjoyed, many of your posts on various blogs.)
Thank you. But there's really no need to apologize for stopping in ;)
> seems to me, your response to that guy was way out of character
Yes, I admit I was a bit curt, unnecessarily so, but I still stand by my suspicions.
> Not terribly sophisticated, maybe---certainly not well-versed in the glib repartee some of your regulars favor---but to all appearances, sincere; simply someone bothered by doubts who thought he might've found a like mind.
No, Anyone reading my blog, knows that I don't really have doubts, I was always way past that in all my blog posts, even from day one. And nothing in my blog ever mentioned a netiya to go OTD.
> Trying to be mekarev you? Was that the part about everyone having some truth and some sheker... or maybe the admission that he has sfeykos? c'mon...
It's that, together with what seems to me to be a deliberate unsophistication.
>your assertion that you "don't think [your background/story] is similar at all" is a case of protesting too much.
No, I did not protest enough! I've seen that in the past, the intimation that Skeptics are driven by a desire to go OTD and then "maybe the Rabbi's are right". It's a typical one two punch.
>The similarity he referred to was plainly--and obviously--that both you and he had doubts, period.
I didn't read it that way. But I admit, I might be wrong.
If I am, I apologize.
Tuesday, February 24, 2009, 10:45:44 PM
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OK... I was basing that on your 'byline' describing yourself as "just your typical Baal Habos, who's grown a little skeptical....".(Besides, it may have been evolutionary or revolutionary---but at some point, whether for years or for a day, you had doubts, no? that moment in the doorway between "of course things happened just that way in the year 1300BC"---and "waitaminnit--just because one well-meaning rabbi in the year 500AD makes an historical assertion, sans anything resembling evidence...")
also, one might arguably define being "way past" entertaining doubts as going OTD, if only 'in one's heart', an intrinsic part of said derech being emunah in certain principles of faith, no? Semantics, in any case.
(I'm not Jacob Stein, btw)
Wednesday, February 25, 2009, 8:47:22 AM
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JS, it was more revolutionary for me. Of course, that's not the case 100%. I was slowly accumulating knowledge that eventually turned me, but I was not aware of any internal conflict as it was building. I didn't agonize over things. It was just a kashya, and another kashya, etc. And you know the old adage, from a Kashya shtarbt men nisht. There was suddenly this terrible moment when it all "clicked" and suddenly the old model was just no longer believable. I hadn't yet replaced it with a new model, but the old one was destroyed. It's all described in posts of the past which are accesible in the side-bar (Getting to know me). Too bad the comments are in Blogger form and not accesible thru the current Haloscan template. It was very lively here back then.
So just to re-iterate. I simply don't relate to "having a tendency to go OTD" and my defences go up when that is insinuated.
While things have changed a bit, this http://baalhabos.blogspot.com/2006/08/private-orthoprax-continued.html
and the one linked to it in the beginning of that post explains it a bit better.
Wednesday, February 25, 2009, 5:48:27 PM
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JS, and see this - http://lonelymanofskepticism.blogspot.com/2009/02/buyers-remorse.html
So deception seems to be fair game for people into Kiruv. That does not prove anything about the one who wrote the letter to me. Yet it does show that at least some Kiruv people have no qualms about approaches that are less than 100% forthcoming.