Monday, 30 April 2012

Are Our "Kiruv" Priorities Wrong? - 2

This entry in the "Torah in the News" section on our blog,, caught my attention and after taking a look at it, I wanted to further direct our readership to it and also post a comment. For reasons I explained in Part 1 of this post (see, I left these comments to Part 2.

I find this article in many ways most on point. Indeed, I have also experienced many times, someone, a product of frum schools, raising with me a question for which this person was criticized in the past, only to show this person that a rishon had already asked this question. That this occurs is clearly an indication of a weakness within our school systems. What I find interesting, though, is that the author of this article veered away from truly voicing this conclusion.

The bottom line question is really whether kiruv and chizzuk are psychological issues or philosophical ones. If we say that the problem in chizzuk is the family, then would we not have to also conclude that the motivation behind one's movement in kiruv is also psychological, a weak family environment. If we argue, instead though, that even one with a healthy family environment can become interested in Torah due to its philosophical integrity and strength, do we not also have to accept a conclusion that people may be leaving the Torah world because Torah is presented weakly and thus open to simple critique.

In certain ways, this article does identify the two main forces for life change -- psychological and philosophical. The point is, though, that he does really present them objectively, as two distinct motivations that apply to both kiruv and chizzuk. People become frum because of poor family environments and their acceptance of Torah has nothing to do with intellectual veracity -- they simply found a psychological home. And people become non-religious because they saw through the Pablum that was presented to them as Torah and all the warmth of their family life could not allow them to live as idiots.
There is something in this article, albeit that he does present some truths within our world, that seems to support a myth that the movement to Torah is all about the philosophical strength of Torah and the movement away is all about psychological problems especially on the family level. It is time we start to recognize that these reasons flow both ways and that we have to recognize that, with the success of kiruv, we are sometimes also facing other psychological issues which we may be ignoring to our and the individual's detriment. And that with the problems that demand a solution of chizzuk, we may be attempting to 'solve' the problem without meeting the real problem head-on which may demand a total overhaul of our educational systems and our acceptance, for many people, of Pablum because its easy.

Rabbi Ben Hecht


Avraham said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Avraham said...

my comment is that the orthodox world openly used the claim of family values to entice people. This was the reason for the whole emphasis on the shabat meal. This is an obvious scam. It does not however take away the fact that there are a series of books in the Torah world that are intellectually defensible like the Talmud.