Thursday, January 31, 2008

A Gevorener's Balancing Act


(Reb Lazer Berland of Shuvu Bonim - Photo from Here)

This may not be Part IV of my life's story, but it does voice some of my sentiments on part of what one who "switches" communities must endure. I don't say that I necessarily went through all the hardships that I mention here, but then again, I don't say that I didn't, especially some of them.....


They say Ah Gevorener Iz Erger Vi Ah Geborener - one who becomes is worse than one who is born - and there's much truth to that old Yiddish saying. Today it's used mostly to belittle those who join groups like Lubavitch and Breslov, and maybe some Baalei Tshuvah too, and it's used mostly by those "cool" to serious Judaism. For instance, a Heimishe guy who just goes through the motions and does what he needs to only so he can avoid drawing attention to himself - he would have a real problem with a guy who makes a serious change in life. A guy like this shows him that some people ARE serious about Yiddishkeit, and they DON'T just do it for their kids' sake or to avoid embarrassment. Then there are those that are currently part of their respective movements as well; many of them resent the fact that newcomers come and spoil their pristine environments, and they're pretty forward with those feelings. Some don't like any outsiders, and some like only certain ones; Kol Chad LeFum Shiuroh DiLey.

So, in some instances the Gevorener has lost both worlds; The world he left shuns him for turning his back on them, and the world he joins has yet to accept him for whatever reason. Yet, he perseveres, believing in the movement's/group's teachings and leaders, and less in the group's subculture. He tries to maintain some kind of relationship with his old friends and acquaintances, and ignores their hurtful remarks and jabs, knowing that they speak from ignorance and are basically harmless. He tries to fit in to the new surroundings by discarding any and all remnants of his former upbringing - for better or for worse - and adopting all of the current group's customs and habits. That may work, and it may not, depending on the age of our subject. Say, for example, that an Israeli becomes a Breslover, (or a Litvisher/American becomes a Skverrer) and he wants to sound like a Yerushalmi, Ashkenazi Breslover, (or a Skverrer) here too timing is everything. Just as it is when one moves to a new country and needs to learn a new language, so too when you need to change your Havoroh; it all depends if you Khapped Areyn and did it at the right time, otherwise you sound all mixed up.

Later in life the Gevorener - who thinks that he/she has already paid their "debt" to their new society - realizes that "not so fast." If he/she thought that he/she was a full-fledged members with full credentials he's about to have a rude awakening. It's Shidduch time, and everybody wants to know exactly where you spent your time, and who your parents/grandparents/siblings are. If your general Yichus is OK, and you're an all-around good guy then they want to make sure you spent your years in the same schools that they did/would've sent their children to. I'm not quite sure why that is, and what that's supposed to prove; after all, at a young age the choice of schools is up to your parents, not to you, but so goes it. So, what happens is that MAYBE you're "forced" to settle for someone of your own background, not that it's (necessarily) a bad thing, marrying somebody with a similar background, it's just that nobody likes to be told that they're second class. If you thought it ended there, Zog Ikh Dir Nein! It may go on for generations, if you're unlucky enough. Now, some of you Geborener may defend how you go about your business of "protecting" what's dear to you, and preserving the heritage your grandparents fought so hard to guard, and I'm not saying that it's a bad thing. I'm just trying to make you aware of what some people need to go through, and what many of you may take for granted.

43 comments:

HoIvri said...

It's not a chiddush, it's in the Chumash at the vey beginning.
HKB"H tells Avrohom HoIvri "Lech Lecha":
וַיֹּאמֶר יְהוָה אֶל-אַבְרָם, לֶךְ-לְךָ מֵאַרְצְךָ וּמִמּוֹלַדְתְּךָ וּמִבֵּית אָבִיךָ, אֶל-הָאָרֶץ, אֲשֶׁר אַרְאֶךָּ

And Rashi says that changing countries, like Avrohom did, is mema'et in shem, mamon and pirya verivya. And the midrashim have lots to say about how Avrohom cam to oppose Terach and leave them how his "own" people scorned him and wanted to kill him, and the people in Canaan were not much better.

Moshe Rabeinu faced a similar problem too when he was lmbasted by bais paroh and the Bani Yisroel.

The lose-lose scenarion, with variations, is usually part of the essenec and nisyon of what a geveroner has to go through.

That is why the Torah has to teach that HKB"H prtoects geirei emes, because nobody else.

So this challenge is nothing new!

Anonymous said...

Can you imagine?-) Moshe Rabeinu married a giyores. ;)

Akiva said...

anonymous - it's frequently noted that by the standards held today, NONE of the Patriachs, Matriarchs, head of the shvatim, Moshe Rabaynu, Aharon, etc, would be acceptable (or their children) for a shidduch today.

The Bray of Fundie said...

Beutiful and heartfelt post. d'vorim hayotzim min halev. Shkoyakh.

cp. the Mitzvah of v'ahavtem es hager

chnyock said...

is your subconcience telling you to hope your children rejoin mainstream orthodox judaism?

Johny Come Lately said...

When it comes to Shiduchim a large factor is how much of your past you are still holding on to. Some people don't want to give up their L'vush etc.

When you look around at the Gevorene, you will see that the ones that took on the lifestyle of a regular Bochur ednded up marrying a regular Lubvitcher family

MJR said...

very well written.

Keren Zovis said...

Nowadays who wears a shtrimel yirushalmes,chasidim and baley tshuva. I wonder if one becomes more jewish by wearing a shtrimel.
A daf gemara for sure changes a persons life.

Anonymous said...

I used to believe what Tzig wrote, but then I lived in Passaic for three years. For three years, I endured the obdurate, obstinate refusals of Ballei Teshuva to develope actual pnimius as opposed to the getting carried away with the externals of yiddishkeit. The ballei battim in charge of the community love them--after all they complrise fifty percent of the community--because 1) they have jobs and are not so much into learning that they would lose their parnassa and 2) the rabbonim don't have to work too hard to learn or give meaningful shiruim because their mispallilim cannot even read. In the end, I had to leave. I have several other friends who left, and only one more who is suffering because he has no one to talk to. The problem there is that one THINKS its a community of bnei Torah because they all dress like bnei Torah. But, have you EVER heard of a shul--possibly the largest one in Passaic--requiring that one who davens for the amud has to be able to pronouce ivrah? Is this a society of talmidei chachomim, bnei Yeshiva? No. These men had YEARS to matriculate, YEARS to learn how to daven and learn. THEY REFUSE. How on EARTH can such people be regarded as ballei teshuva? In the end, what is so Jewish about living an externally Jewish life devoid of learning and davening?

Hirshel Tzig said...

chnyok

I'm surprised you haven't noticed; but there is no "mainstream Judaism" anymore. It died a horrible death years ago. What you see today is merely a shadow of that.

Camp Runamok said...

Tzvika,

Allow me to offer my own personal travelogue to this discussion.

In my own development into the world of frumkeit I have experienced very little of the resistance and leitzanus you suggest. Indeed, the circles I have traveled have been much more outwardly oriented; Lubavitch, Yeshivish-kollel, other "pareve" chassidusen. Even when I regularly visit a more Satmar oriented place in people recognize me and wonder when I plan on moving to town (tounge firmly planted in cheek I am sure). Surprisingly, the only place I experienced anything like the "Geborener/Gevorener" dichotomy you describe was in the more "modernishce" NCSY/Young Israel type environments. So much for stereotypes of chareidim as too introverted.

AFA shidduchim are concerned isn't it a bit presumptious on the part of our "ba'al teshuvah" example to pretend whatever he did before has no bearing on the present? A man and woman are so different as it is that common backgrounds are extremely important. When I was "in the perek" I had the opportunity to meet a couple of young women from established families within communities. Yes, their parents did not find my being BT to be a michshol at all! Nevertheless, it quickly became apparent that our different upbringings led to different sets of values and desires for our future families. Ultimately, G-d made the shidduch with someone sporting a background much like mine. And, in the final analysis, I think we are both much better off for it.

BTW, could everyone please add a Mi Shebeirach for Tzvi ben Gittel? My father will be starting a chemo treatment next week for [that problem]. Thanks in advance.

Hirshel Tzig said...

anonymous Passaic

I wasn't necessarily speaking only of BTs, but I see your point. For some, learning Ivrah is very difficult, and if you become frum at a later age may be near impossible to learn properly. How are you sure that they REFUSE?

The Bray of Fundie said...

I think that anonymous Pasaaic is being extremely uncharitable. "Years" or even decades to matriculate of 1-3 weekly shiurim is really less than equal to one full year in a fullltime BT Yeshiva in terms of skill acquisition for sure and maybe even in terms of Hasqofos.

First you demand pnimiyus then you bewail bad pronunciation??? Need I repeat for you the famous BaalShemsker stories of the whistling and/or reciting Aleph Bais.

Don't be so judgemental. ihr zult nish gepreevt vehrehn.

Hirshel Tzig said...

ihr zult nish gepreevt vehrehn.

That should be "GePruvt."

The Bray of Fundie said...

On a lighter note I once heard from a great Ba'al T'filah who resides in Baltimore (another community with a high BT demographic) "there are two types of Ba'alei Batim in Baltimore. Those who know Ivri and those vuss geyen tsu tsum omud"

The Bray of Fundie said...

"GePruvt."
Not where my ancestors come from! I'm not here to impress any Litvaks or Rasainers.

Bad enough that I'm a Tinok shenishbah l'bain HaLitoim :)

The Bray of Fundie said...

Tzig-

I do have one basic critique on the post but I don't know that erev Shabbos will allow me time to do it justice.

v'Oid Khazoin Lamoed

Camp Runamok said...

"ihr zult nish gepreevt vehrehn"

"That should be "GePruvt.""

Heh, bring on the Penimius gentlemen...

"BaalShemsker stories...whistling...reciting Aleph Bais"

Kukoorikooo!!!

Hirshel Tzig said...

Not where my ancestors come from!

All of a sudden you're a Rumanisher?! You've been playing Litvak all this time with us here!

Hirshel Tzig said...

Runamok:

A Pnimi does everything he does correctly, and pays very much attention to detail.

Camp Runamok said...

For certain. I'll add that he is less concerned with being a mefakpeik on what the other guy does, especially when the differences are only geographical.

The Bray of Fundie said...

Nope.

Full-bred Poilisher as in Kohn-gress Poylen not Galitzia but...as stated above I'm a Tinok shenishbah l'bain HaLitoim .

Alts is bashert I guess (including my formerly up'gegolteh punim)

The Bray of Fundie said...

sorry Runamok.. Your rooster-dika onomatopoeia meaning eludes me.

Camp Runamok said...

The story of the young boy crowing like a rooster during davening because he couldn't follow Nusach HaTefilah. Never heard it? I sure did. It probably had the same genesis as the alef-bais or whistling versions just in different levush.

Anonymous said...

>>I wasn't necessarily speaking only of BTs, but I see your point. For some, learning Ivrah is very difficult, and if you become frum at a later age may be near impossible to learn properly. How are you sure that they REFUSE?

Because they could try harder. That's all. They don't have to embaress their family, dress up like litvish Roshei Yeshiva or bnei Yeshiva and be completely unfamilliar with the Torah. There really is no excuse. Go to more shiurim, work a little harder.

>>I think that anonymous Pasaaic is being extremely uncharitable.

I am giving you the impression of what it is like for someone who went to Yeshiva to live in Passaic. Everyone who lives there who shares my background would agree with me. The only other group which benefits from what Passaic has to offer are the "shtark" (how I hate the term) YU guys who gain a lot from Rav Sacks.

>>"Years" or even decades to matriculate of 1-3 weekly shiurim is really less than equal to one full year in a fullltime BT Yeshiva in terms of skill acquisition for sure and maybe even in terms of Hasqofos.

Then they should try harder. Why are the Rabbonim have to teach Torah on such a low level that these guys can never, ever grow? What's wrong with the yeshivos they attended that they did not pick up basic skills? Why wear a frock and not learn or daven properly? What, in the end, did they really become? Why are they so unfriendly? Why is it that the Yeshiva has nothing to do with the community?

>>First you demand pnimiyus then you bewail bad pronunciation???

Pronounciation is pnimius, too. If you care so little about your religion that you don't even know what you are saying or care to say it properly, you don't even have the basic prerequisite to daven. Heart is not enough. And if they had heart, they would care. And they WOULD learn properly. These guys are just having a nice buzz.

>>Need I repeat for you the famous BaalShemsker stories of the whistling and/or reciting Aleph Bais.

I do not think for one momemnt that the baal shem tov would say that all we have to know is aleph-beis, and you are fine. He would advocate that the fellow who only knew aleph beis would eventually have to know it, too. If you wear a beard and know close to nothing and you never change your condition, I do nothink you are a real baal teshuva. Changing a lifestyle hardly makes you a god-fearing Jew.

Anonymous said...

Let me a bit more clear: it could be that on some level, the bad I have seen is somehow good for ballei teshuva. The problem I have is that the community is a baal teshuva community and that somehow, on a realistic level, made it impossible for guys with a serious yeshiva background to live there.

Anonymous said...

. . .and that really should not be the case. There is no reason for people to be so divergent when it comes to the bread and butter of our religion: Torah and Avodah. I say the same thing the other way, too: Why is it such a big chiddush that ballei battime (some of them, at least) are really into learning. That's what Jews do. They learn. They are Jewish. I just don't get it.

big fan said...

ציג
we're getting a wee-bit off track here. The point was not whether or not BTs should do a better job at learning to read Hebrew? am I right?

Guravitzer said...

Let us all say together: Ich Bin Ein Gevorener.

Mottel said...

Are there any Geborener on this blog?

SatmarTC said...

HI
I am a proud Geborener

Hirshel Tzig said...

I'm a Geborener too, נאר נישט קיין ליובאוויטשער געבארענער
;-)

Anonymous said...

thank g-d for lubavitch, the only group in the entire jewish world to ahve overcome the primitive geborener-gevoriner distinctions !!

Anonymous said...

"thank g-d for lubavitch, the only group in the entire jewish world to ahve overcome the primitive geborener-gevoriner distinctions !!"

Yes, and they overcame the distinction in their usual fashion, by simply saying it doesn’t exist. Ay it dose exists, nu nu.

Anonymous said...

ein lubavitch pisht men oif a gevoriner,
ober m’ret em ain az es is g’ishmy b’rochah

Ah kuntz?

The Bray of Fundie said...

Passaic Anonymous-

Allow me to wax judgemental for a moment;

You sir, are WAY too judgemental. Of both BTs and the local Yeshiva. Your basic approach seems to be. "If only everyone could be more like me the world would be a better place"

You really sound clueless as to the manifold challenges facing BTs ESPECIALLY those who turn at a more advanced age and don't go to Yeshiva full-time for 2-3 years.

Who are you to decide how hard they're trying or whether or not it is "enough"? Are YOU trying hard enough? Given your superior education, peer-group/social-network, parental support,parent and in law financial support (all things the typical BT lacks or has in negative energy)are YOU holding where you should be in Torah V'aVodah? Are you perhaps wearing b'godim or assuming affectations that smell of Yuhara?

Really...cut your fellow Jews a little slack.U'vmeedah sheodom moded bo, modedim lo min hashomayim.

You may want to check out BeyondBT.com to see (in their own words)what these people, whom you are so quick to write off, struugle and contend with.

The Bray of Fundie said...

Tzig I'm ready to write my critique on your basic thesis. Question: Is it still k'dai or is this thread too old and stale?

Hirshel Tzig said...

there's always the comment-mine option...

The Bray of Fundie said...

maybe I'll email if time allows

Hirshel Tzig said...

do you have your own experience to recount?

The Bray of Fundie said...

nope

Hirshel Tzig said...

vARUM nICHS?

The Bray of Fundie said...

I guess I must have decided to stop shtaiging and growing.